Sandalwood : Roses & Cream Perfume Ingredient

My first whiff of real sandalwood came from a necklace my aunt’s husband sent her while he was working abroad. As fate would have it, he had to leave for the Middle East just as they got married, and his letters and gifts were always a big event for us. As my aunt read one of his passionate love letters, the necklace was forgotten on the table, and I came closer to inspect the small carved beads. Tan brown and small, they didn’t look like much, but their perfume of roses, warm milk and incense was so vivid that today, more than two decades later, I can recall it perfectly.

sandalwood chips

This early romantic and exotic association with sandalwood inspired my love for this materials. When I look at the notes I took during my perfumery training, the part on sandalwood covers about 10 pages. Although classified as a wood, sandalwood smells of cream and flowers. It has none of the raspy sharpness of rosewood, the pencil shaving bite of cedarwood or the earthy or damp tang of vetiver. Sandalwood is reminiscent of something one can enjoy in a dessert sprinkled with candied rose petals, and in some parts of India sandalwood flavors milkshakes and sweetmeats.

Unfortunately, the tree Santalum album, or Indian sandalwood, is on the list of threatened species. The oil is harvested from the wood of the branches, trunk and the roots, and usually the whole tree has to be chopped down before the wood is steam or water distilled for oil. Because of overharvesting, the prized sandalwood groves in the Mysore region of Karnataka are today a sorry sight.

The good news is that efforts are underway to regenerate South Indian sandalwood production and save the trees from extinction.  In Western Australia, for instance, Indian sandalwood took up successfully, and it’s now grown alongside the Santalum spicatum, a sandalwood species native to Australia. Sandalwood is one of the slower growing trees, and the quality of the oil increases with age. In the past, trees younger than 40 or 60 years were never felled, but today the age of the tree before one goes into production is 8-16 years.

Unless you come across vintage fragrances, you won’t find Indian sandalwood in anything new on the perfume market. Even Guerlain Samsara which at one point was purported to contain around 40% sandalwood was reformulated years ago. But I don’t mean to paint a depressing picture, because you can still discover a wide range of sandalwood fragrances and enjoy the sultry and comforting perfume of this precious material.

Names like Javanol and Santanol may not mean much to the average fragrance consumer, but they are among the excellent sandalwood aroma-materials that have been used widely to replace the rare sandalwood oil.  You can find the effect of these notes in Tom Ford Private Blend Santal Blush, an elegant and polished perfume. Australian sandalwood oil is another material that has been used to replace Indian sandalwood. It smells crisp and sharp, with a distinctive pencil shavings note, but in the hands of a talented perfumer, it can shine. In Donna Karan Black Cashmere, a pairing of cedar and Australian sandalwood creates a  multifaceted effect, warmed up by incense and spices.

The sweetness of sandalwood lends it to gourmand interpretations. I’m currently addicted to Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche, in which sandalwood is wrapped in luscious notes of milk, cardamom and tonka bean. Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau contrasts sandalwood with the toasty darkness of caramelized bread and apricots. Another Lutens beauty, Santal Blanc, is liberally garnished with cinnamon, rose and musk. In contrast to this high-calorie confection, Hermessence Santal Massoia is a delicate vignette of sandalwood drizzled with coconut syrup. True to the style of its creator, Jean-Claude Ellena, it remains transparent and light.

If I don’t have a taste for anything overly sweet, I reach for Annick Goutal Sables. Here sandalwood is the tall, dark and handsome stranger that makes this simple blend into a sultry fragrance.  Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore is another bombshell, with cumin lending it an animalic growl. Chanel Égoïste is likewise sensual and brooding.  Diptyque Tam Dao and 10 Corso Como are somewhat less dramatic, but are among the best perfumes exploring the woody theme. The sandalwood is blended with plenty of amber, cypress and cedarwood to create a nuanced impression, while the dry finish feels sophisticated.

The challenge with using a rich dose of sandalwood is that it tends to overtake the composition completely, but even more subtle accents can create memorable effects. I love the creamy layer of sandalwood in the drydown of Bvlgari Omnia, where it gives the crisp amber and tea accord a pleasing softness. The dark roses of Caron Nuit de Noël are given an exotic twist thanks to sandalwood. It’s amazing how much difference it can make to give a fragrance a full, rounded character. One of my favorite illustrations is Elizabeth Arden Red Door. Spray it on the blotter at your local mall, take a quick sniff and forget about it until the next day. Then take a deep inhale. After the bling of the aldehydes, ylang-ylang and rose in the top notes of Red Door, the creamy darkness  of sandalwood feels unexpectedly rich and glamorous.

More sandalwood reviews can be found at my perfume note directory, under sandalwood. I touched upon only a few, so please share your favorite sandalwood fragrances.

Image: crushed sandalwood. Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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76 Comments

  • Suzanna: I really enjoyed this one, V. Sandalwood is my favorite woody note, but I often find it somewhat obstructed by too much musk.

    Samsara is a favorite of mine, but your mention of various other frags containing an appreciable amount of sandalwood has me wanting to investigate.

    I used to wear MPG Santal Noble, which was like a creamy sandalwood cake. July 18, 2012 at 8:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Santal Noble is my pile of sandalwood perfumes to sample, so I’m happy that you mention it. MPG isn’t mentioned that often, or maybe it’s just because they don’t release a new fragrance every quarter. July 18, 2012 at 12:44pm Reply

  • ambroxan: I always get excited when I see another one of these articles from you. Ok, to answer your question, my favorite sandalwood is Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore. It smells like Indian sandalwood chips to me! I also like Floris Santal. It’s simple but oh so very good. July 18, 2012 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I’m glad that you’re enjoying these posts. As I’m organizing my school notes, I write some of these posts. It’s fun to know what’s inside our perfumes.

      Floris Santal is new to me, so onto my “to try” list it goes. July 18, 2012 at 12:50pm Reply

  • Lucas: Looks like we’re both sandalwood lovers (but I’m a smaller one compared to you). How great you got to know how raw sandalwood smells like. The only raw tree I had a chance to smell was a rosewood. My grandma has a rosary which beads are made of real rosewood. After all these years it still smells gorgeous.
    You mentioned some great perfume there. I love Sables (want to have it one day) and now I know what other sandalwood perfume should I try.
    Lumiere Blanche has just been added to my niche perfume boutique offer. I need to get a sample of it, but seems to be a must-try after your recommendation. July 18, 2012 at 10:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Rosewood is incredible material, and these days it’s quite rare. You’re lucky to have such a special rosary in your family. The old rosewood smells even better. It becomes richer, deeper, warmer. I have a tiny rosewood jewelbox that I keep on hand just to enjoy its scent.

      Sables is a gem, isn’t it! It’s easily one of the most original and distinctive fragrances in the AG line. July 18, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

      • Lucas: That rosary is like a family treasure

        I wouldn’t say it in better words about Sables. When I wear it I imagine myself having a trip on a huge, warm desert. Immortelle also makes it very dry which is a big plus. July 18, 2012 at 1:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: Immortelle is such an interesting note. It really brings out the molasses note of sandalwood in Sables. If you like it, another fragrance to try is Christian Dior Eau Noire. July 18, 2012 at 2:35pm Reply

          • Lucas: I have the original Dior miniature of Eau Noire but it doesn’t suit me. I really like the opening of herbal, medicinal lavender, but later on, caraway and coffee make me say “NO!” July 18, 2012 at 4:36pm Reply

            • Victoria: Oh well, at least you have your precious sample! Keep it around anyway. You can always revisit it later and compare it to some other fragrances in the same family. Plus, those original minis are getting more rare. July 18, 2012 at 5:47pm Reply

  • marsha: Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! Sandalwood!!!!!!!!!!!!! My holy grail fragrance!!!!! Corso Como, Black Cashmere – ahhhhhhhh. I’ve just had the opportunity to sniff some vintage Samsara extrait – OMGoodness – I almost wish I hadn’t sniffed it! It was absolutely extraordinary!! I even like the sandalwood cologne from The Art of Shaving!!! Please excuse all the exclamations but sandalwood has been my favorite since I was a little girl. I’ve never cared for florals in perfumery (except for lavendar). But sandalwood – Yesssssssss!!!!!!!!!!! July 18, 2012 at 10:28am Reply

    • Victoria: Marsha, don’t apologize, because you’re talking to a sandalwood fanatic. 🙂 I’ve been fascinated by this wood for a very long time. Also, when I got married, our wedding hall was perfumed with sandalwood incense. So, to this day I get emotional smelling smoky sandalwood scents. July 18, 2012 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Anna Minis: Roses..incense..wood..could THAT be the smell I sniffed in the Amsterdam Kinkerstraat, coming out of the traditional clothes of an elder gentleman from (I guess) Morocco? I never forgot that smell, I never sniffed a better one and I never found it in a bottle. From your description, it could have been sandalwood. I followed that man for a while like a sniffing dog, but I did not dare to ask him what it was. My favorite is Samsara and Morny Sandalwood soap. July 18, 2012 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Anna, that does sound like an attar, and attars are the co-distillations of certain notes (rose, vetiver, jasmine, etc.) with sandalwood. The traditional attars have an incredible scent, and they can retain their potency for months on the blotter. When I was shopping for attars in Oman, I was told that a good quality attar survives on fabric through several dry cleanings. Imagine that! July 18, 2012 at 12:59pm Reply

  • silverdust: Alas, sandalwood and wood resin oils irritate my skin like no other ingredient, so I mostly pass on sandalwood frags and even my very favorite, cedarwood.

    V., your aunt’s surprise post gift reminded me of my uncle, stationed in Hawaii during the early days of WWII. Still newlyweds, he mailed my aunt a coconut — no wrapping, not in a box — with her address and the correct amount of postage — and it arrived as any other common piece of U.S. mail! July 18, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

    • Victoria: S, is it also a problem if you wear these perfumes on fabric? Or on your scarf? Of course, it’s probably better just to be extra careful.

      I love this coconut story! The fact that it has arrived is impressive. Sometimes I wonder how my uncle’s letters and packages arrived, but they did and nothing was ever lost. July 18, 2012 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Elisa: I cherish the last bit of Egoiste Cologne Concentree I have in a bottle from the ’90s. The sandalwood is so rich!!

    There’s a nice sandalwood note in SSS Nostalgie as well. July 18, 2012 at 11:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Elisa, I envy you. Egoiste Cologne Concentree from those years is outstanding.

      Off to find my sample of Nostalgie! July 18, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

      • Elisa: I’ve tried to buy a couple of bottles of the CC on eBay, but always underbid. If I ever see one again I’ll plunk down more $$ July 19, 2012 at 1:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s worth the investment! Chanel today is still high quality, but back then it was something else. So special. July 19, 2012 at 4:38pm Reply

          • Elisa: Eee! I’m very excited. After commenting here I went on eBay to see if there were any bottles floating around. I found a half-full 2.5 oz bottle of the Cologne Concentree with a few hours left on the auction and no bids yet. I was able to take it for the going price. I sincerely hope it’s the vintage stuff as advertised!! July 19, 2012 at 7:10pm Reply

            • Victoria: Congrats, Elisa! I’m thrilled for you to be able to score such a great perfume. Please let me know how it turns out when you receive it. Once you’ll smell it, you’ll know right away if it’s an older blend. That sandalwood is unmistakable. July 20, 2012 at 3:32am Reply

  • Jillie: As I began reading your beautiful post, my mind immediately conjured up Samsara, and I was chuffed to see it’s the first perfume that you mention! I wore it when it debuted, and it made me feel sophisticated but comforted (and I got followed by several different men on occasions, who all asked what fragrance I was wearing!). Such a shame that it is so changed nowadays.

    Like Anna Minis, I used to be a fan of Morny Sandalwood soap, but my favourite was Roger & Gallet’s. My boss (who was like a father to me) gave me a box as a little going away present when I got married, and I was captivated by its warm, lasting scent. Sadly, as it seems with nearly everything else sandalwood these days, the current version is pretty awful and coarse, and I miss the nostalgia I used to experience when I used it (my lovely boss is long gone). But after reading your news, perhaps there is hope??? July 18, 2012 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Jillie, I’m going to see where I can find Morny Sandalwood soap. In the States, I used to buy sandalwood soap from the Indian shops, and it was labeled Mysore Sandalwood soap or something like that. It really smelled incredible, and it contained the real sandalwood dust. Also, I bought a tiny packet of sandalwood chips and left them with my sweaters. Today all of my woolen things smell of sandalwood. A nice drawer sachet idea for those who like this scent.

      I still like Samsara, and last year I bought a new bottle of the EDP, which I’m enjoying. But when I smell my old parfum, I see the difference very clearly. You might remember how Samsara settled into this luscious, creamy drydown. Now, it feels sharper and woodier, with less of “roses & cream.” Still beautiful, but different. July 18, 2012 at 1:08pm Reply

  • Rina: My favorite and oldest love! I too have Egoiste from the 90’s or earlier but my oldest and most treasured is Elizabeth Arden Sandalwood for Men! I have a large bottle still sealed that I can’t bring myself to open, and a miniature I dip into when I need to smell something old, familiar and comforting (which is more and more these days…). I’ve also come to love Hermes Poivre Samarcande and Kilian Straight to Heaven…

    Funny memory: the sweet older ladies that used to work the EA counter at the local dept. store in the late 70’s thinking it was so nice that I was buying my Dad a present and then seeing their face when I said it was for me…Priceless!

    Thanks for the memory, V! July 18, 2012 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Rina, I worked with someone who swore that the best sandalwood fragrance he has smelled was EA Sandalwood for Men. I smelled it only on the blotter, and I remember thinking that it was a stunning woody blend. It smelled creamy and rich, but it has so much sparkle too. That’s always unexpected in sandalwood fragrances, because this note is very heavy and opaque.
      Now, you make me wish I had that sample on hand! July 18, 2012 at 2:38pm Reply

      • Rina: V, if I ever bring myself to break the seal, I will send you a sample! July 18, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, dear Rina, please don’t break the seal! Sandalwood fragrances only get better with age, and if you keep it someplace cool and dark, it will last for ages. July 18, 2012 at 3:04pm Reply

          • Rina: I agree. I’m going to look at the box tonight and see if I can see a date… July 18, 2012 at 3:08pm Reply

            • Victoria: At one point when I was really collecting vintages, I would label each bottle I bought with the purchase date and its production date (if I could date it somehow). That was so helpful when I started using the vintage bottles to compare my more recent samples to them. July 18, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

  • HB: I’m a newbie to sandalwood, but have recently started wearing Ava Luxe No 23. I have Corso Como on my to-try list, and am very curious about some of the vintages you list. July 18, 2012 at 1:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Corso Como is a must try! It also has oud and lots of amber. It has such a beautiful, delicately smoky drydown. July 18, 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Apollonia: I’ve been an avid fan of Bois de Jasmin for well over a year now, but this is the first time I’ve added my two cents to the conversation. My favorite, long-lasting sandalwood comes in a tiny 1 dram bottle of perfume oil made by Triloka. I first bought it in a boutique in Los Gatos, California while there for a religious retreat, and I’ve reordered several bottles since. It’s pleasantly sweet, easy on the wallet, and appropriate any season of the year. It’s also easy to tuck into the smallest clutch purse at night, but a drop on each wrist, behind each ear and one deep in the cleavage should do it for the whole day! Their musk is outrageous too! Not the usual stuff. July 18, 2012 at 1:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Apollonia, welcome to BdJ and thank you for delurking! 🙂 Triloka oil sounds very good. Your description reminded me of an oil a friend brought from India, and it also had a super long lasting finish. I would put a tiny drop on my scarf, and it would last for days. July 18, 2012 at 2:32pm Reply

    • Barbara: Wow, that oil sounds incredible! July 19, 2012 at 10:48am Reply

  • Cybele: Oh I love sandalwood, do you know what kind of sandalwood is used in Bois de Iles today and also L’Heure Promise? July 18, 2012 at 2:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t know for a fact, since I haven’t seen the formula, but when I smell the drydown of Bois des Iles, the sandalwood really smells to me like a mixture of Australian sandalwood and one of the sandalwood aroma-materials I mentioned. The sandalwood note has enough roundness and complexity that it’s not just the sandalwood synthetics. July 18, 2012 at 2:22pm Reply

      • Alyssa: These raw material posts are so magical, V. I chased vintage Bois des Iles extrait forever because I was determined to find some with real sandalwood in the base. I did, and it was incredible–and also highly allergenic for me! It only takes a wearing or two to raise hives, but *whispers* I wear it in anyway. Because it is that good. (And because I am a crazy perfume person.) July 18, 2012 at 2:38pm Reply

        • Victoria: Alyssa, thank you so much for your nice compliment!
          If it gives you a reaction like that, just do what Operafan suggested in Saturday’s thread–put some on the cotton ball. This way, you can keep it in your pocket and enjoy the perfume without it touching your skin. July 18, 2012 at 3:06pm Reply

          • Alyssa: Yes, that would be the reasonable thing to do. But…skin….it’s just not quite the same. I’ll try it though! July 18, 2012 at 3:10pm Reply

            • Victoria: No, not the same at all. The warmth of the skin make the perfume blossom. On paper or on fabric, you don’t get the same dramatic development. But what to do… You’ll only worsen the allergic reaction by the repeated exposure. 🙁 July 18, 2012 at 3:13pm Reply

      • Alyssa: P.S. Corso Como was my introduction to the heartbreak of reformulation. The sample I tried was the rich, oud-heavy original and it made my knees weak. But I never found it again. The current formulation is still very, very nice but the effect on me is not the same. July 18, 2012 at 2:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: I know what you mean exactly, but that’s what experienced not with 10 Corso Como, but with its twin Tam Dao. It used to smell so rich, expansive, dark. Now, it’s crisp and sheer. Very good, but not what it used to be. As Robin and I were wondering the other day, why wouldn’t Diptyque release it in the EDP? July 18, 2012 at 3:10pm Reply

          • Alyssa: I walk by their gorgeous Bleeker St boutique nearly every day on this trip. I’ll pop in and suggest it next time. 😉 July 18, 2012 at 3:11pm Reply

            • Victoria: Oh, see if they have the EDP for L’Ombre Dans L’Eau! It’s such a stunning fragrance. Roses, black currant buds, vetiver–a perfect summer day bottled. July 18, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Emma: I just got Lutens Santal Majuscule; sandalwood, cocoa and rose, so beautiful! The dark cocoa does for this rose attar what it did for Borneo 1834, I love it! July 18, 2012 at 3:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Emma, I’ve been enjoying too lately. I put it on nearly every day. Like Lumiere Blanche, it’s another addictive sandalwood. July 18, 2012 at 5:38pm Reply

  • Cristina: I love these articles. I’m finding it to be the best way to make sense of perfumes and understand their nature. Seems to make their enjoyment so much more complex. July 18, 2012 at 4:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Cristina. Discovering more about materials that go into my favorite perfumes makes me appreciate them more. But maybe, I’m just a perfume geek. 🙂 July 18, 2012 at 5:45pm Reply

  • MB: Hi V! A great piece, as always. I love hearing what you’re currently addicted to! I sent my dad the Tam Dao soap this year for Father’s Day! He loved it! And recenty a friend returned from India and brought me a small vial of sandalwood oil – the vendor told her that in India they rub it into their temples as a headache remedy! Works for me. July 18, 2012 at 5:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Lately, I’m definitely even more into sandalwood. I’ve always loved it, but recently I’ve revisited Kenzo Jungle, and that really made me crave more and more sandalwood. Such a gorgeous fragrance! Plus, the new Santal Majuscule is another winner for me. July 18, 2012 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Emma: Victoria, me too I put it on everyday 😉
    I wasn’t particularly impressed with Santal Blanc and Mysore but Majuscule is definitely a winner! July 18, 2012 at 7:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love Santal de Mysore, but wearing that fragrance requires a degree of emotional commitment that I don’t always want to give. 🙂 Santal Majuscule feels just right though. July 19, 2012 at 6:07am Reply

      • MB: This is the most fascinating remark I’ve heard all year! Could you elaborate on the “degree of emotional commitment?” Does the scent uncomfortably tweak a nostalgia gland? July 19, 2012 at 8:41pm Reply

        • Victoria: Some fragrances feel like they have so much character or so much gravitas that they require a certain attitude. For instance, I can’t just throw on De Profundis by Serge Lutens and run around doing my errands. But Chanel Cristalle is perfect for that. It has little to do with the fragrance itself, I guess, and more with my own associations. July 20, 2012 at 3:44am Reply

          • MB: I know exactly what you mean! Most of my scents are “ready to wear” as opposed to high couture. That’s why if I’m just going to be sitting at the computer all day in cut-offs w/ unwashed hair, I’ll I can still wear Aqua Motu or Labyrinth Libertin. But if I know I have to go out and put on a bra I’ll “up” my scent to L’eau d’Issey or Melagrano Selvatico. If it’s a friend’s birthday or dinner out – anything that requires a manicure/pedicure – I’ll break out the Lys Mediterranee or Fleurs d’Oranger and on and on. Of course there are idiosyncratic exceptions – Poivre Piquant to barbecue! July 20, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

            • Victoria: This makes perfect sense to me, although for me it sometimes depends on my mood. On some days Shalimar and yoga pants seem just right; on others, Shalimar and a cocktail dress don’t go well together. But I have a few fragrances that I can wear anytime, anywhere–Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, Chanel No 19, by Kilian Sweet Redemption, Dior Eau Sauvage. July 20, 2012 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Amer: I just love sandalwood! I do have a bottle of what I believe to be Australian sandalwood (and not Indian grown in Australia) and I am just fascinated by it. It ages very well. I have my bottle for three years now and whenever I reach for it I am surprised by its evolution. In the beginning it was quite medicinal (but still very pleasant). Now it is more creamy-rosy and its tenacity has improved significantly. It feels more luminous. I can’t wait to see how it is going to change in the following years. Samsara I have tried is the reformulated one but it still is an amazing and unconventional sandalwood. It is not at all gourmand or sugary but rather musty to my nose. It smells as a piece of antique velvet kept in an old sandalwood box. Easily unisex IMO July 18, 2012 at 8:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m glad that you confirm my impression that Samsara can work really well on a man. It doesn’t have anything obviously sweet about it, and it evolves so dramatically.

      What never fails to amaze me about sandalwood is how incredibly long lasting it is. As I was preparing the post, I discovered a sandalwood scented blotter from some raw material presentation I once attended at work among my notes. It’s 1 year old at this point, and it still smells very strong. July 19, 2012 at 6:10am Reply

      • Amer: I have a blotter of Black Afgano on my desk. It’s been sitting there for over a month now and it still perfumes the whole room with sandalwood. It seems everlasting on blotter. Also Tam Dao is the most long lasting Diptyque on me and since it is mainly sandalwood its character remains pretty much the same till it vanishes.
        Natural sandalwood oil I have used never had that kind of persistence I’m afraid. I get six hours on average on skin without the use of other fixatives. I guess it is about quality. The Australian one I am currently using has improved with years in that department too. July 20, 2012 at 3:52am Reply

        • Victoria: Black Afgano is one of my longer lasting fragrances I’ve smelled. For me, that’s almost too much tenacity. At some point, I only want for it to go away, but it lasts on my skin inspite a good soapy scrub! July 20, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

  • OperaFan: Your description of your grandmother’s sandalwood beads reminds me of my mother’s sandalwood fan that she used to carry in her purse when I was little. It was a gift she received and each piece of wood segment that makes up the fan had cutouts that gives it the appearance of a piece of lace. The smell was heavenly and seemed to never fade.

    Smelling Samsara in 1990 reminded me of that fan, but more recently, I discovered that Tam Dao, although light, reminded me even more of that pure sandalwood smell. I also find that the pre-’70s Chanel No. 5s have very prominent sandalwood bases. One other fragrance off most radars is Clarin’s Elysium. I don’t know how much of that sandalwood base was real vs. synthetic, but it was very beautiful to me.

    Thanks for this wonderful and nostalgic post! July 18, 2012 at 10:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such a lovely story! A Japanese friend gave me a very simple, little sandalwood fan, and I wish that I still had it. I remember that it was wonderful. I would take it out on hot days as I was studying for my exams. I love your description of your mom’s fan as a piece of lace. It makes it sounds like a work of art.

      Clarins Elysium… I remember liking it, but it has been a while since I’ve smelled it. July 19, 2012 at 6:13am Reply

  • minette: great article, as usual. i like sandalwood mixed down, not as the star of a fragrance. two of my favorite uses of the note are in egoiste and bois des iles. also dig tam dao, but have to be “in the mood” for it. ditto samsara, which is quite sweet to me. i have sl santal blanc, but it nauseates me slightly, so i wind up not wearing it much at all. the indian sandalwood soap that whole foods carries is quite nice – it leaves the bathroom smelling great. July 18, 2012 at 10:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds like my experience of Santal Blanc. I think that it’s gorgeous, but I can’t wear it myself. One of my aunts uses Indian sandalwood soap to scent her linen closet. Whenever I visit and sleep on those sandalwood scented bed sheets, I dream the most beautiful dreams. 🙂 July 19, 2012 at 6:15am Reply

  • Safran: Thank you for the great article! Apart from my long time favourite sandalwood scents Santal Noble and 10 Corso Como I have a new love, which is not often mentioned, Loggia dei Mercanti by La Collina Toscana Reserve. It’s sandalwood, cedar wood and oud, (which to my nose is not very prominent) – it feels like a sweet and milky sandalwood blanket. A lot simpler, that the affore mentioned two, but most comforting! And it reminds my a bit of the Frederic Malle Candle Santal Cardamome (Lumiere Blanche as well in the top notes). It has the same milkyness.

    Cheers
    Safran July 19, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it! 🙂 You could not have described better Loggia dei Mercanti to temp me than by using worlds like milky and sandalwood blanket. I also loved that candle by Frederic Malle and wished that he made a perfume around the idea. Wouldn’t it be great? July 19, 2012 at 10:13am Reply

  • Lynne Marie: Santal Blanc is one of my very favorites – to me it smells slightly masculine but warm and comforting at the same time. I wear it when I want to feel brave! Reading your description, I’m looking forward to trying Jeux de Peau – I have such a love for Serge Lutens fragrances!

    I love your posts – they are always so interesting and informative! July 19, 2012 at 9:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Lynne Marie! Sounds like you’re a fellow Lutens fan. I think that you will enjoy Jeux de Peau, especially if you like Santal Blanc. And you will also enjoy the new Santal Majuscule, which is another fantastic sandalwood. July 19, 2012 at 10:26am Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Hi, Victoria-

    Gorgeous post! I might add that sandalwood is sacred to Buddhists-it is the favored incense for rites of purification and blessing (a good choice for your wedding by the way!)and for defining a sacred space. I like to burn sandalwood incense while I meditate as a subliminal reminder of my goals and also to relive any anxiety or bad vibes that might linger (not surprisingly, my bedroom is full of them.) In a perfume, it adds a sense of gravitas. Namste, y’all! July 19, 2012 at 6:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lynn, it is such a warm, enveloping scent, and I love the idea of scenting your bedroom with it. July 20, 2012 at 3:30am Reply

  • Isabeau: I love Sandalwood! Great post!
    My all time favourite is Geo F. Trumper Sandalwood Colgone!
    Amer my husband is totally in love with Black Afgano the lasting power is just great, I can still smell it even after he has taken a shower 😉 Oh now I am even more curious about Lumiere Blanche 🙂 July 20, 2012 at 6:15am Reply

    • Victoria: I once stopped a guy in the street to ask him what fragrance he was wearing (and ordinarily I never ever do this). He was wearing Geo F. Trumper Sandalwood. It really smelled great on him. July 20, 2012 at 9:15am Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: I must be a sucker at detecting natural sandalwood, because I enjoy a lot Bois des îles and Samsara drydown on fabric (2 hours after), and “oriental loundge” of Celine Elena (who admitted on her own to use a non-natural one!).

    I could almost swear to smell real indian sandalwood in some other perfumes of my own. Sometimes I get the feeling the natural one would lack something : I’m so used to smell the accord of iris-rose-santal-amber-tonka-vanilla, I guess the natural one would lack something (I smelled the oil once in a german bio shop).

    India SW seemed to have been overharvested, first for the own indian burial process. Like when people are cremated on the sida of the Ganga.

    And I hate the australian one (maybe apart for Manoumalia), too rasping and funky cedar like, when I expect warmth. The milky rosy woody one.
    Did you pictured how it is paired in the drydown of old (and some new) florals : old caron, Chamade, actual Carnal Flower, etc.

    (P.S.: the extrait of Chanel are newly available, but I dont recommend them, not really. Bois des iles smelled to me only as a exactly the EDT, only more concentrated. I put the paper strip in my purse, and a week after, a slap of chanel luxury hit me when I last expected it : at the cashier’s desk of my suburban supermarket) July 26, 2012 at 11:22pm Reply

  • ahmad: I am crazy of perfumes.indeed the perfume is the only thing that can relax me.I love your website for great information about perfumes.my favorate is bulgari aqua. August 17, 2012 at 6:11am Reply

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