Acqua di Gio Review: An Avant-Courier & Masterpiece of Aquatic Perfume

Key takeaways:

  • Benefits: If you don’t know what to wear, wear Acqua di Gio, you are the most welcomed guy.
  • Negative Sides: It’s so mass appealing that too many people (and may their gramps? lol) wear it.
  • What does Acqua di Gio mean: Italian “Gio’s water”.
  • Is Acqua di Gio unisex: yes, it’s neither femme nor butch.
  • What does Acqua di Gio smell like: floral, fruity and aquatic middle and base notes with a fresh citrus start.
  • How long does Acqua di Gio last: around 4 hours
  • Is Acqua di Gio discontinued: no, it’s in production.
Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio pour homme for women flanker review
Source: intothegloss

First released in 1996, Acqua di Gio Pour Homme is still one of the evergreen men’s fragrances even after more than two decades. Many think it as one of the avant-couriers of aquatic perfumes. Its application of Calone or “watermelon ketone”, which has an intense note of ocean breeze, ocean water and oysters, kept up with the tide of the perfumery’s marine trend beginning in the 1990s.

Acqua di Gio is evocative of the warm, salty, seaside breeze and welcoming ocean of the town of Pantelleria in Italy, where Armani himself enjoys his summertime basking in the Mediterranean sunshine.

Here is how Armani describes Acqua di Gio:

This aquatic, hyacinth fragrance opens with a splash of fresh, Calabrian bergamot, neroli and green tangerine. Light, aquatic nuances mix with jasmine fragrance, crisp rock rose, rosemary, fruity persimmon and warm Indonesian patchouli to create a men’s fragrance that is both fresh and sensual.

Table of Contents:

  1. What does Acqua di Gio mean?
  2. Is Acqua di Gio unisex?
  3. What does Acqua di Gio smell like?
  4. How long does Acqua di Gio last?
  5. Is Acqua di Gio discontinued?
  6. Which Acqua di Gio is best?

What does Acqua di Gio mean?

Acqua is the Italian for water, Gio ostensibly refers to the short version of Giorgio. Acqua di Gio literally means “Gio’s water”. But some Italian also mentions the word “gioventù”, which has the same beginning as “gio”, meaning “youth”. Besides its technical meaning, Acqua di Gio can probably suggest “water of youth”.

That’s so interesting. If this makes sense, Armani plays pun games creatively.

Is Acqua di Gio unisex?

I personally think Acqua di Gio is a unisex perfume. It’s officially labeled as “pour homme” (for men), but ladies, it isn’t a striking masculine scent thanks to the subtle flowers here. It makes you feel fresh all day long while being neither femme nor butch.

As a perfume for men, it does its job well. It’s such a successful masterpiece and ultimate lady killer that girls will say “yes”. In summer, if you don’t know what to wear, wear it, you are the most welcomed guy. It’s not overwhelming nor provocative, so even if you wear it with several sprays, it won’t annoy anyone when both working or hanging out.

This also means something bad: it’s so mass appealing that too many people (and may their gramps? lol) wear it. Besides, I also know some who has a headache and nausea towards aquatic perfumes like Acqua di Gio. If you don’t mind wearing the same with “all” guys around you, and you feel OK with aquatic notes, it works for you.

What does Acqua di Gio smell like?

I am disappointed at the first spritz: is every commercialized men’s perfume with fresh notes shares the same formulation and ingredients? I mean yep, it’s fresh. Lemon and other bitter citruses are nice, but this smells so familiar like many, nothing special.

But when it dries down after about 10 minutes, I want to smack myself! The floral, fruity and aquatic part matches with each other in a harmonious balance. There is nothing artificially compound, nor womanish powdery (seeing its various notes here, I do worry about this).

If you live by the sea, normally when the sea tide goes out, you will smell the mixture of ocean water and seaweed brought by the crashing waves. And the air is filled with something as spicy as ozone.

13 perfect beach GIFs to calm you when you're stressed | HelloGiggles
Source: hellogiggles

In Acqua di Gio, such fresh spiciness is represented through nutmeg. Lime and lemon blow fresh air, flowers and herbs smell like a vacation at the beach, but none of them is overwhelming nor predominant, instead, they play their part very well. Though they are trivial, Armani gives them an ocean-like formulation. If you are an ocean person, you can’t be more familiar with such smell you are immersed in.

Source: freepik

There is also some room for coriander. Though many hate it, here its smell alleviates my tension and anxiety – the same efficacy as the ocean gives to people.

Maybe “bath” is another better word. Imagine you just take a quick bath in Acqua di Gio, cool breezes and winds in your hair. Acqua di Gio is those guys, young and handsome, wearing a white T-shirt, smiling like a child at you in shiny early summer weather, just feel easy and carefree.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio pour homme for women flanker review
Source: freepik

How long does Acqua di Gio last?

We cannot expect any fresh fragrance especially an EDT has a super long duration. Acqua di Gio has a fairly short duration of up to 4 hours on my skin. What’s worse, it has almost none sillage in middle and base notes.

It’s my personal opinion: in terms of the longevity itself, it’s not worth having a shower with Acqua di Gio’s price of nearly $100 at 3.3 oz (100ml). If you have some better luck with longer longevity, please let us know.

However, there are a few ways to sniff Acqua di Gio for longer hours in a day.

Source: dissolve

Fragrances love properly moistured and oily skin, especially in dry weather. Spray Acqua di Gio right after shower and let it dry off naturally, or try applying some unscented lotion before wearing this baby, both can be good methods blocking its fragrance.

Additionally, perfumes smell and behave the best on skins when they meld with natural oils on it. Compared with clothing “wearing”, skin spraying can disguise itself as your body odor (the aromatic one:)) 

Is Acqua di Gio discontinued?

No, it’s in production. You can easily check its price at:

Mini/ sample: Ulta, Surrender to Chance

Bottle: ArmaniFragranceXFragranceNet, London Perfume Company, SephoraAmazoneBay.

Which Acqua di Gio is best?

Usually when a fragrance is successful, its creator will create a series of flankers. Its heirs inherit part of DNA but they develop their characteristics and personalities. Acqua di Gio is a successful fruity family of flankers too.

In fact, as early as 1995, 1 year before the birth of Acqua di Gio, Giorgio Armani created Acqua di Gio for women, a couple perfume of Acqua di Gio Pour Homme.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio pour homme for women flanker review
Source: Amazon

In the beginning it’s fresh harsh fruity, a little provocative, but it dries down in a while, breezy greeny pretty lily of the valley, jasmine and other white flowers come out as they should. But this elegant smell doesn’t last as long as I expect. What surprises me is there is a proper kick of vodka. I smell the tropical beach, cool ocean breeze and a coastal summer!

This floral-fruity note fragrance was honoured Women’s Fragrance of the Year – Prestige (1996) by FiFi Awards.

Unfortunately, if you happen to see them at Sephora counter, these new bottles with a new name Acqua di Gioia are a completely different, unrelated fragrance – the original bottles are discontinued. This changed formula shares 80% similarity to original Acqua di Gioia, but it is less spicy with less deep touch.

Check price at:

Sample: The Fragrance Decant Boutique

Bottle: Armani, FragranceNet,, parfumdreams

Acqua di Gio ladies may have bad luck searching their original treasure, but Armani did expand Acqua di Gio for gentlemen. About 20 years later since Acqua di Gio’s birthday in 1996, it received 6 flankers:

  • Acqua di Gio Essenza (2012)
  • Acqua di Gio Profumo (2015)
  • Acqua di Gio Profumo Special Blend (2017)
  • Acqua di Gio Absolu (2018)
  • Acqua di Gio Absolu Instinct (2019)
  • Acqua di Gio Profondo (2020)

Sharing similar bottles and designs, how do they differ from each other? How do they compare with original Acqua di Gio?

Acqua di Gio Essenza Review

As the first flanker of original Acqua di Gio, Essenza earned a Fragrantica rating of 4.30 out of 5 with 1735 votes. Seeing from its perfume pyramid, I thought it differs greatly from the original one, but actually the similarity is obviously there.

Acqua di Gio Essenza by Giorgio Armani basenotes review
Source: Fragrantica

Besides adding grapefruit and pepper, in Acqua di Gio Essenza’s basenotes, I smell more woody notes than original. Essenza is a less sweet but spicier, deeper, richer, warmer, and longer-lasting version of the original.

If someone of you has tried Terre d’Hermes, Essenza is a “mixture” of it and original Acqua di Gio: it is romantic as Acqua di Gio, and mature as Terre. I imagine those who enjoy Terre d’Hermes might also enjoy Essenza.

Source: models

I also find Essenza, an Acqua di Gio eau de parfum, has quite a powerful multiplying performance of sillage and longevity than the original, so don’t overspray to lose its nice scent. Staying on fabrics for at least 2 days, Essenza is an ideal candidate for daily use, especially in hot stuffy summer days. Wearing this fresh scent out, it seems that the temperature has slightly cooled down!

VS the original: spicer, deeper, richer

You may also like: Terre d’Hermes, Bvlgari Pour Homme

Check price at:

Sample: The Fragrance Decant Boutique, The Perfumed Court

Bottle: Amazon, eBay

Acqua di Gio Profumo Review

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio pour homme for women Profumo review
Source: Sephora

The original Acqua di Gio, with its salty ocean notes, is a summer memory for many. Generally, flankers may find it hard to surpass the original. It is almost impossible for flankers to reserve the original notes plus proper extra creativity. But Acqua di Gio Profumo, the “Acqua di Gio black” did it.

Based on ocean-like notes of the original Acqua di Gio, Alberto Morillas, the creator of original, makes Profumo another masterpiece by adding patchouli and frankincense; Profumo as a whole turns mature, spellbinding, sexy and warm. It’s unbelievable an aquatic perfume can be such fascinating.

Alberto Morillas at home in Geneva

In my personal opinion, Profumo is a mature, masculine scent of original Acqua di Gio, the scent of boss, manager and people who have high authorities in their job. It’s more suitable for formal occasions like a meeting or business negotiation. But thanks to the occasional ocean notes, it’s not strange for the unformal occasion either.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio pour homme for women Profumo review
Source: Pinterest @PERRIN

Sillage is moderate, but longevity is excellent. It’s solid at 8 hours on my skin. That’s good for a half-fresh fragrance. Additionally, I recommend wearing it in winter or other cool days. If you like it in summer, maybe wearing it on a summer night or staying indoor rooms could make it less boring.

Acqua di Gio Essenza vs Profumo: fresh, citrus, soapy clean (Essenza); mature, masculine, a work scent (Profumo)

You may also like: Chanel Bleu de Chanel, Loewe 7

Check price at:

Sample: Scent Split, The Fragrance Decant Boutique

Bottle: Armani, FragranceX, FragranceNet,, parfumdreams, Amazon, eBay

Acqua di Gio Absolu Review

Honestly I am allured by its wood cap and amber liquid. Reading Acqua di Gio Absolu notes pyramid, I thought it has at least 70% similarity to the original. But the beginning made me doubt it was a flanker of Acqua di Gio: the DNA of original Acqua di Gio is too weak to find. I feel reluctant to associate the two if I don’t know about it before.

Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio Absolu perfume review
Source: Fragrantica

The original Acqua di Gio is a hit, so many people have a high expectation of Absolu, one of the heirs of Acqua di Gio. But I personally think it fails to be named on the same day with Acqua di Gio. Though Absolu is in the group of woody aromatic note, it’s not the mature woody notes I expect it to have.

I mean it’s not terrible, but just too generic, too “safe”, like many other fragrances which you couldn’t name. Its scent is easy to be forgotten and ignored. I’m not sure what Alberto Morillas wanted to express in Absolu after he created the original Acqua di Gio masterpiece.

There is a passionate, cloyingly sweet fruity note at the beginning, it will last long until the end. But from the middle note, a subtle hint of oceanic vibe starts to emerge, patchouli and woody note as the “base” overwhelms everything else. 

If you’re OK with sweet fragrances, you’ll feel Absolu pleasant. Or in other words, Absolu, a young but safe fragrance, keeps to the sweet “trend” these days. But it’s not oversweet to fit summer days; I find it suitable all year around. Sillage and longevity of this Acqua di Gio eau de parfum are awesome, lasting a solid 7-8 hours on my skin easily.

You may also like: Dior Sauvage Eau de Parfum, Dolce&Gabbana The One for Men Eau de Parfum

Check price at:

Sample: Scent Split, The Fragrance Decant Boutique

Bottle: Armani,, parfumdreams, FragranceNet, FragranceX, Amazon, eBay

There is a flanker of the flanker: Acqua di Gio Profumo Special Blend, a major flanker Acqua di Gio Absolu Instinct, and the latest flanker released in February 2020: Acqua di Gio Profondo. I am curious about them but haven’t found a chance to try yet.

Acqua di Gio Profumo Special Blend, from eBay
Acqua di Gio Absolu Instinct, from Pinterest @Ваш-Аромат.ру (
Acqua di Gio Profondo, from Fragrantica

When people tend to compare these flankers to the original one, how many variations of the ocean vibe can Alberto Morillas depict for us?

Now it’s your turn:

When do you wear Acqua di Gio?

Which flanker is your favourite?

Let me know in the comment.

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