Sandalwood Scented Dreams

India and sandalwood. Long before I became interested in perfume as vocation, I knew of this connection. More than a stereotype, it reflects the significance of this wood in India’s traditions, from birth to death, from a wedding to a funeral. Sandalwood makes one’s skin more beautiful and gods more pleased. It smells divine. In my new FT column The Scent of Sandalwood, I explore how Indian and modern European perfumery were inspired by this precious material. Also, I touch upon an issue that rarely clouds the romantic accounts of Mysore sandalwood groves–their overharvesting and near complete devastation.

puja

“My mother-in-law rubbed a piece of pink-coloured wood on a rough stone until it turned to paste. My husband and I were about to travel back to Europe and in the Hindu custom my mother-in-law performed a puja, an act of worship, to ensure our safe journey. She lit joss sticks around the deities and dabbed some of the paste on the figurines of gods arranged on her small altar and then on our foreheads – the fragrance of sandalwood rose in the warm air. Many hours later as I sat in the plane, the creamy, floral perfume lingered around me, carrying with it the memory of a caring touch.” To continue, please click here.

One of my favorite sandalwood perfumes today–it uses a mixture of Australian and synthetic sandalwood–is 10 Corso Como. A niche classic. Do you enjoy sandalwood?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved

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131 Comments

  • Hamamelis: What a warming post on such a grey and cold day here in the lowlands! I think sandalwood smells divine too, and I adore the note. I just hope the sandalwood poaching can be stopped of devastating the Mysore groves, but it must be a very hard crime to contain, as all wildlife crimes.

    I love Trayee (as a matter of fact this post prompts me to put on some), Santal Majuscule, Santal Blanc and Bois des Iles. The sandalwood note in Heure Exquise never fails to move me. And ofcourse the wonderful Mysore soap that just keeps on scenting my bathroom! August 11, 2016 at 8:29am Reply

    • rainboweyes: Thanks to your sample I utterly fell in love with Trayee. I still haven’t decided which one I need first – Trayee or Mohur. But I definitely need both, that’s clear 🙂
      What sandalwood soap have you got? Any particular brand you can recommend? August 11, 2016 at 9:18am Reply

      • Hamamelis: I’m wearing it now and slowly the creamy sandalwood is coming to the surface, very beautiful…strangely enough Mohur didn’t work for me at all (scrubber!) and I tried it a few times, but it is a good thing considering the necessary investment…
        The sandalwood soap I have is the one Victoria gave 5 stars, it is called Mysore Sandalwood, in a green and red box. It is very cheap, 3 euro’s! I use it to scent the bathroom and to wash my hands, for me it is too drying to use it on another bodyparts.
        I’m totally exploring your skincare samples again, will report back. The odacite oils irritated my skin somewhat, so I don’t think they are good for me. Now I’m using the Santa Verde cashewnut oil serum, which I love! August 11, 2016 at 9:51am Reply

        • rainboweyes: Your comment on Mohur made me laugh out. I have difficulties imagining the majestic, regal Mohur being a scrubber but well, perfume and chemistry are such an individual thing…
          I’ll try to find the Mysore soap you mentioned but since my skin is somewhat dry and sensitive, I won’t use it in the shower. I’ve found the perfect shower soap for my skin anyway – babassu oil + honey, nothing else. Very gentle to the skin.
          Have you ever tried sandalwood hydrolate? It’s such a treat… August 11, 2016 at 10:57am Reply

          • rainboweyes: Skin chemistry, I mean… August 11, 2016 at 10:58am Reply

          • Hamamelis: It is, isn’t it, and it is strange when a fragrance which is ‘objectively’ high quality still can turn up as a scrubber…But, I am intrigued by your shower solution because Rainboweyes & Honey = not happy combination I seem to remember? How do you prepare it, in what proportions? I think one day you ought to start your own organic skincare line!
            I never tried sandalwood hydrolate, will try it. August 11, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

            • rainboweyes: The soap I use in the shower is not my own creation – it’s called Mel Ba and I buy it online at waldfussel.de (it’s unscented, so no honey issues for me 😉 ). But I do use a blend of honey (liquid variety, e.g. acacia) and oil (mostly jojoba, apricot or rice bran) as face cleanser. Honey alone works fine too.
              And surprisingly, I’ve found a kind of honey I like – the dark fir honey.
              Rainboweyes Skincare would make a nice brand name, I’ll give it a thought 😉 August 11, 2016 at 11:40am Reply

              • Victoria: You can consider me a fan of Rainboweyes Skincare already. 🙂 August 12, 2016 at 9:28am Reply

                • Hamamelis: Me too. August 12, 2016 at 11:53am Reply

        • Victoria: There is a French brand called Marius Fabre, and they also have a good sandalwood soap.
          http://boisdejasmin.com/2013/08/marius-fabre-soaps-provence-at-home.html August 12, 2016 at 9:25am Reply

          • rainboweyes: I like Marcus Fabre soaps and must definitely try the sandalwood one.
            I found a sandalwood mask manufactured by Khadi in one of the online shops yesterday, I can imagine it blendend with some sandalwood hydrolate and honey, it should make a wonderful face treatment! August 15, 2016 at 4:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Lots of corruption, which is why it’s especially hard to contain the poaching. Australia is doing pretty well replanting their groves, but I’m still waiting for more time to pass and the quality to improve. I think some of the issue is that a lot of sandalwood is harvested far too young, so you don’t get the round, warm scent. But it’s improving with every year.

      You named all of my favorites. And the soap, of course! August 12, 2016 at 9:18am Reply

  • Sandra: This post is very sweet!
    After reading your blog for some years if we were ever had a chance meeting we would have a lot to talk about. (or maybe even complain about 😉 )
    My in laws are also Gujarati and perform pujas when they leave or when we visit them and leave, also they won’t travel on certain days OR say goodbye on certain days..its too much for me to keep up with. My mother in law makes a sweet creamy dish when she performs pujas but I don’t know the name..and we eat it afterwards. It has its own perfume..smell and taste! August 11, 2016 at 8:36am Reply

    • Sandra: forgot to add my favorite sandalwood is Samsara.. August 11, 2016 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I was thinking the same thing. 🙂

      My MIL make a semolina sweet (prasad), which is essentially cream of wheat cooked in ghee, with cardamom, sugar and milk added. Some temples in India are visited as much for their prasad as for the veneration. The best one I tried was in Gujarat, which tasted exactly like a butter cookie but in a crumbly form. August 12, 2016 at 9:20am Reply

      • spe: Wow – this sounds delicious? So you have a favorite prasad recipe?😊 August 12, 2016 at 3:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Typical prasad (offering) my MIL makes is semolina halva, which is made by cooking roughly equal amounts of clarified butter and semolina and then adding sugar and milk. The texture is like thick paste. I can’t say that any of us like it that much, because it’s too sweet and heavy, but the flavor of semolina roasted in ghee and cardamom is wonderful. August 14, 2016 at 9:24am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: A most welcome post on this chilly, rainy day.
    I can enjoy sandalwood, although my favorites are green, bitter, dry perfumes.
    In the seventies, Coty had a Sandalwood oil. Drugstores sold it, not perfume shops, and it was not expensive. Oh, how good it was! I still miss it. Have an empty bottle with that marvellous smell in it. There were also Patchouli and Musk oil.

    I like Sandalo by Etro and Santal Noble MPG.
    The Lutens are too sweet for me.
    I think I smell sandalwood in the drydown of some perfumes, for ex. in Arpège, or in Mahora. Anyhow, lovely drydown. August 11, 2016 at 8:44am Reply

    • Hamamelis: Hi Cornelia, I didn’t know your preference was green and bitter! What are your favourites in this category?
      And…I bought a very cheap bottle of Shalimar Eau de Cologne, as I seem to remember this is the one you can bear when your migraining (and Bach ofcourse) and it supposed to be a lovely flanker. What a mostly miserable summer we’re having, it is good we have so many other blessings to count. August 11, 2016 at 8:57am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Hamamelis! This summer is miserable indeed. But you are right: let’s count our blessings!
        I love all kind of perfumes (disastrous for my wallet) but most of all : Y, Sous le Vent (discontinued!!), Scherrer, Ivoire (vintage),
        Mitsouko, Jicky…
        How about you? We share a love for Quel Amour!
        How nice that you remember my love for Bach! August 11, 2016 at 9:09am Reply

        • Hamamelis: I always wanted to try Scherrer, and am still working hard to learn to love Guerlain ;-). My favourite bitter and green is no 19.
          Like you I am a perfume omnivore, I love all kinds…last year was an iris year, and I adore it still, this year I am exploring rose, besides Quel Amour! I love Rose Absolue, and yesterday I tried a Mona di Orio sample Rose Etoile de Hollande which I loved (with lots of peach).
          I think Heure Exquise will always be number one!
          I seem to remember you sing your migraines away with Bach chorals, and wear Shalimar EdC…I am going to try the latter as a new remedy 😉 August 11, 2016 at 9:58am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: The former is even better!
            I sing recitatives and aria’s from Bach’s Matthew Passions, and songs by Bach. Extremely helpful.

            Lots of peaches sounds good!

            My Iris number one is absolutely Iris Silver Mist. Followed by Dior Homme Intense. August 11, 2016 at 10:07am Reply

            • Aurora: Cornelia, we share a love of Dior Homme Intense, I find it very tender and it makes me feel very put together when I wear it. August 11, 2016 at 12:49pm Reply

            • OperaFan: How fascinating! I never considered singing to rid myself of headaches. I’ll have to track more carefully the next time I’m singing when I have one. The Matthews Passion arias (Sop) are among my favorites. August 12, 2016 at 9:50am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Hi OperaFan!
                Singing is very helpful when you have a migraine. You can do it with opera or Lied as well (Se una volta sola…..Ah non credea mirarti..is excellent) (Songs from Winterreise do the job for me) but Bach is the best. I guess it is the spirituality of the music. Nevertheless, in all music the controlling of your breath is helpful when you are in pain.
                I sing all the recitatives (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and the aria’s for soprano. You know doubtless how difficult Aus Liebe is for the breathing…very good contra the pain!
                I also know a lot of Bach’s songs.
                And I sing excerpts from the Cantata’s (” Mein Wandern auf der Welt.” is helpful)
                Really, it is worth trying!
                Do you have a soprano as well? August 12, 2016 at 10:03am Reply

                • OperaFan: Yes, I’m a soprano. I love singing Aus Liebe, and believe it or not, Ah non credea was the first aria I learned when I began my college studies at Peabody.
                  I guess, if nothing else, the concentration and the breathing are enough to both distract from the discomfort and bring oxygen into the body. 🙂 August 12, 2016 at 10:48am Reply

                  • Karen A: When were you at Peabody? I am involved with Annapolis Opera and our Artistic Director, Ron Gretz, teaches there! Ron is amazing – kind, generous and incredibly nice. August 13, 2016 at 6:32am Reply

                    • OperaFan: Ha! I didn’t think anyone would pick that up. It was a loooong time ago – back in the ’80s. Wayne Conner was my teacher and Roger Brunyate the director of Opera. It’s good to know that they still have good people on the faculty. 😊 August 13, 2016 at 9:35pm

                    • Notturno7: That’s wonderful, Karen A. Are you working with Annapolis Opera?
                      It’s wonderful you play harp, too. Hope you’re practicing well these days. 🌼🌻🌺 August 14, 2016 at 6:25pm

                  • Notturno7: Thank you for these music facts, OperaFan and Cornelia. It’s funny, after hurting my finger and having to take a break from playing, I just started practicing today and was reminded again how much deeper we breathe when playing an instrument and being emotionally involved. August 14, 2016 at 6:38pm Reply

                    • Karen A: I volunteer and am on the board. We are a small company, only two paid employees. I was so surprised to discover the extremely high quality of the productions – fully staged and concerts. Ron and Braxton have a gift for finding incredibly talented up and coming singers (focus of AO is on new talent). Everyone involved is really nice – none of the nonsensical pettiness that affects many arts (and other!) organizations.

                      My harp playing is fun, it’s folk music not classical, mostly Celtic. Have always loved Celtic music, and after visiting Scotland and hearing lots live in local pubs, only came to love it more! August 15, 2016 at 7:13am

                    • OperaFan: I see we’ve managed to hit “bottom” on the maximum thread level. Cornelia and Hamamelis, see what you’ve started?!
                      It’s great to find all the musicians among our perfume loving community.
                      I think that among all musical endeavors, we all share something in common, and that is phrasing – and good phrasing requires good breathing technique. That is actually quite athletic and requires the use of the entire body.
                      The side benefit is it improves our ability to smell wonderful perfumes! August 15, 2016 at 10:17am

          • rainboweyes: I tried Scherrer a few weeks ago, so beautiful!
            I can send you my sample when I’m back home. August 11, 2016 at 11:01am Reply

            • Hamamelis: That would be wonderful, it is not easy to get a sample from. Are you considering buying a bottle? August 11, 2016 at 11:13am Reply

              • rainboweyes: I surely will, it’s very reasonably priced, so it’s not a huge investment.
                Cornelia, are the EdP and EdT formulations very different? August 11, 2016 at 11:45am Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Rainboweyes! I don’t know, I have only the edt, never smelled the edp.
                  Most people say that the edp is better, but I am very content with the edt. August 11, 2016 at 11:51am Reply

                • Victoria: They’re slightly different at first, with the EDP being more floral and darker green. But the drydown isn’t dramatically different. I prefer the warmth of the EDP over the EDT, but both are very good.

                  Here is our discussion (including the comments):
                  http://boisdejasmin.com/2013/03/jean-louis-scherrer-original-perfume-review.html August 12, 2016 at 9:31am Reply

              • Aurora: Hello Hamamelis and Rainboweyes, I wanted to offer to send you some H., I have a bottle won on eBay, I discovered it’s EDP, now I want to get my hands on EDT as well. August 11, 2016 at 12:57pm Reply

                • Hamamelis: Hi Aurora, if Rainboweyes’ sample is EdT, I can send it to you after I have tried it, and then you can send me the EdP, which after I tried it I will send to Rainboweyes! Now what is that for perfumista logistics 😉 ! August 12, 2016 at 3:36am Reply

                  • Aurora: Makes perfect sense to me! I’ll prepare it and send it to you next week. As we are finally having a summer in England, I’ve been living with Eau de Rochas (both vintage and modern), Fidji, PC Jasmine White Moss and Liz Earle No1. I discover new nuances by staying faithful to these scents. August 12, 2016 at 5:45am Reply

                    • rainboweyes: My sample is EdT and I will send it to Hamamelis after my holidays 🙂 August 12, 2016 at 10:28am

                    • Hamamelis: Sometimes faithful is very good! August 12, 2016 at 11:54am

        • Notturno7: Sorry about your miserable summer weather. What country do you and Hamamelis live in?

          That is delightful about Bach helping with your migraines. I ‘used’ Scarlatti in a similar fashion. While we were dating my husband used to bring home some classic and scary thriller and horror movies. It took him few weeks to see how that really didn’t agree with me, and yes, ha, I did voice my opinion but part of me wanted to see why these films were cult films.
          I would play Scarlatti sonatas at night after watching a scary movie and all those happy, little trills in the music made it lovely to go to sleep afterwards. 💖✨🌙 August 14, 2016 at 6:16pm Reply

    • zephyr: Cornelia, I don’t mean to insert myself here but your mention in your comment of the Coty oils triggered a long-buried memory for me Sometime in the early seventies, my parents gave me a Coty solid perfume compact – probably for Christmas or my birthday. I loved the design on its beige cover, maybe floral or paisley? Inside were three solid perfumes – one patchouli, one sandalwood, and the other I didn’t like as much, maybe the musk you mentioned? Or amber? I favored the patchouli, and still like that scent to this day. Mom loves Shalimar and Samsara; they’re her favorite perfumes. I like sandalwood, but I think Mom does even more!

      Victoria, this is a wonderful article! August 11, 2016 at 10:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve smelled those Coty oils before, and they were excellent. If you don’t like sweet sandalwood, then 10 Corso Como might hit the spot. August 12, 2016 at 9:23am Reply

      • zephyr: I’ll look for it and try it out; thank you! August 12, 2016 at 12:43pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: What a lovely post Victoria! I love the smell of sandalwood. My favorite sandalwood perfume is Trayee. August 11, 2016 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m wearing Trayee today. August 12, 2016 at 9:25am Reply

  • OperaFan: Wonderful read, and calming for one of the hottest and muggiest days so far this year in the NE US. Kicking myself for not wearing Un Air de Samsara today… August 11, 2016 at 10:11am Reply

    • Hamamelis: It is so strange as we are having the coldest August day here ever recorded (whatever that means 😉 ), with nightfrost to the ground in some parts of the Netherlands! August 11, 2016 at 10:38am Reply

      • OperaFan: Well… I’d be happy to trade my hot humid weather for your frosty evening if it wouldn’t kill all the tomatoes in my garden… 🙁 August 11, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

      • Victoria: Not sure about the frost here, but it’s definitely cold. I was wearing a sweater and a jacket yesterday. And a wool scarf. In August. August 12, 2016 at 9:27am Reply

        • Notturno7: Wow,that’s very cold for August!
          Victoria, thank you for a lovely article and sharing about your life 💖
          I love Samsara and Shalimar for sandalwood but end up wearing those in fall and winter.
          Just bought Allure pure perfume in duty free and as I’m wearing it today, I remember your description- jasmine and yellow peaches- and it is so delicious.
          I’m on a holiday in Europe and was trying not to bring many perfumes with me as I’ll be traveling around. So, I got Extrait in No 19 and Allure but then couldn’t resist bring in a whole box of Lutens samples to try them out (8) and a Carnal Flower sample (that I know I love but couldn’t bring the big bottle with me.)
          And this is trying to be sensible!!! But the whole month without any of our perfumes would not be as much fun as we all get so much delight from it. Right? August 14, 2016 at 6:59pm Reply

          • Karen A: Wow! Lots of goodies! Did I tell you I ordered Songes? Sending back a bottle from a discounter (definitely not new as promised…), called up one of the Annick Goutal stores in NYC to order a bottle, and had a delightful conversation with one of the SAs. Looking forward to receiving my bottle! August 15, 2016 at 7:18am Reply

          • Victoria: Allure parfum is almost a different perfume from the other concentrations, and yes, the jasmine and yellow peaches are prominent. There is also a beautiful sandalwood accent. August 15, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

            • OperaFan: I just saw these comments about Allure, something I’ve become interested in since I read that it is similar to MDCI’s Promesse de l’Aube. The MDCI is very expensive, so I wonder how different they are. I do love the scent of a ripe peach (both yellow and white), my favorite summer fruit. August 29, 2016 at 10:27am Reply

              • Victoria: Granted, I smelled Promesse a while ago, but I don’t recall thinking that it was much like Allure, fruity notes notwithstanding. Have you tried Rosine’s Rose d’Ete? It has a beautiful peach note. August 29, 2016 at 11:11am Reply

                • OperaFan: I Have tried the Rosine. It’s one among their sample set – lovely and sheer. I don’t get much rose, but the entire composition is very cheerful and lacks the violet note that runs among many of their fragrances. Sadly, a lot of violet perfumes come across sour against my skin – unless it’s Apres l’Ondee, of course…. 🙂 August 29, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Sandalwood is cooling, so it would have been a perfect perfume to wear on a hot day. It’s cold and rainy here, but no matter, I’m still wearing sandalwood today. August 12, 2016 at 9:26am Reply

      • OperaFan: Many folks wear woods scents for warmth, but I’ve always felt that sandalwood provides the opposite effect. I love it in the summertime as well.
        The Florida-like weather is continuing through the weekend, so I still have plenty of chances for wearing my sandalwoods to keep cool. August 12, 2016 at 9:54am Reply

        • Victoria: I also find incense cooling, especially if it’s blended with dry woods, rather than vanilla, patchouli or balsamic, heavy notes. August 12, 2016 at 9:59am Reply

          • OperaFan: Which reminds me that I also enjoy wearing Andy Tauer’s Incense Rose in the hottest days of summer….
            🙂 August 12, 2016 at 10:04am Reply

            • Victoria: Few fragrances are seasonal for me, but this one is especially good for hot days. August 14, 2016 at 9:16am Reply

          • rainboweyes: Oh yes, definitely cooling – think Aedes Signature or Eau de Gentiane Blanche! August 12, 2016 at 10:34am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes! Two of my favorites. August 14, 2016 at 9:17am Reply

  • Vishishta: Hi Victoria!
    What a beautiful post!
    Sandalwood is my favorite–Mysore preferred. As a longtime Vedantist, I have attended many pujas scented by Sandalwood, and even before as a young girl, I loved Kiehl’s Mysore Sandalwood (no longer available).
    My best Sandalwood story is from a former co-worker from Singapore, who said her family lived in a house built entirely with Sandalwood! Just to imagine waking, walking and breathing constantly warm air, sandal scented is wonderful! My favorite house fantasy!
    I will try your Corso and perhaps the Trayee also. Samsara has been on my shelf for years. Thanks again! August 11, 2016 at 12:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: A sandalwood house is the ultimate fantasy. I visited a palace in Gujarat where some of the furnishings were made of sandalwood, and although they were 100 or more years old, the scent was still noticeable. I can just imagine how an entire sandalwood house would smell like. August 12, 2016 at 9:32am Reply

  • Tijana: Dear Victoria,

    Such a lovely post! I’ve been thinking about sandalwood fragrances a lot lately, actually!

    I must admit sandalwood is a hit or miss for me (and I am probably one of the rare people who isn’t enamored by it). My issue is that some sandalwood fragrances smell like hamster cage on me (i.e. Santal 33, Nirvana Black) and that to me is very unpleasant.

    With that said, one of my favourite fragrances is sandalwood based – Santal Massoia (probably because it is is very light on sandalwood and more figgy) and I also love Bois des Illes, and have a strong artistic appreciation (although I can’t pull it off IRL) for Dries Van Noten. I also appreciate Santal Majuscule on my husband, but never felt like wanting to wear it myself.

    I have been looking for more sandalwood-dominant fragrances that don’t have that hamster cage feel, so if there are any recommendations out there, I am very open to hearing them!

    Thanks! <3 August 11, 2016 at 12:42pm Reply

    • Surbhi: Chanel coromandel ? I also love vetiver extraordinaire (but I have never tried it on me) August 11, 2016 at 9:14pm Reply

      • Tijana: Thanks, I didn’t think Coromandel had sandalwood. I love it though! August 11, 2016 at 9:26pm Reply

        • Surbhi: It smells only sandalwood on me August 11, 2016 at 9:32pm Reply

          • Victoria: I also notice a lot of patchouli. August 12, 2016 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I can see what you mean about the hamster cage effect. It’s mostly the Australian sandalwood, which also has a slight musty accent. Sometimes it’s overdosed, and the dryness becomes pronounced. Ultimately, it depends on the blend, rather than the material. Santal Blush by Ford uses Australian sandalwood in combination with sandalwood synthetics, jasmine, milky notes, etc. and it smells creamy enough.

      Have you tried Santal Blanc or Santal de Mysore? I sound like a broken record, but I really love these two. Both are by Serge Lutens. August 12, 2016 at 9:36am Reply

      • Tijana: Thank you Victoria, this is incredibly helpful, I actually meant to write you on this topic a few weeks ago and ask for your thoughts, but never got around to so it’s great that this post came up!

        I knew you would know the reason, I figured it had to do with the type of sandalwood since not all formulas exhibit that. I will try both of these SL fragrances you recommend. I do like Santal Blush and you are right, it is definitely creamier!

        Thanks so much! August 12, 2016 at 12:15pm Reply

        • Tijana: I meant to say with the “type of blend” 😉 August 12, 2016 at 12:16pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s hard to figure out from the note listing what type of sandalwood a perfume contains. Some brands do list Australian sandalwood, especially if they are trying to portray themselves as ethical and sustainable. August 14, 2016 at 9:18am Reply

  • Aurora: This puja is a wonderful tradition, and such a poetic article.

    Sandalwood indulges contemplative moods, I find and I often wear it on my wrists when alone, Samsara, The Cotswolds Company vintage Cymbelline, and at this moment Yves Rocher Voile d’Ambre which lists Australian sandalwood being used (along with mandarine, patchouli, incense, black pepper, tonka bean, myrrhe and opoponax oils). August 11, 2016 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Aurora: Oh, it’s a cheap thrill compared to Trayee which I am glad to have tried and liked very much, but budget reasons do not allow me to contemplate a bottle. August 11, 2016 at 12:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, such a good reminder to revisit Yves Rocher Voile d’Ambre. I like it very much, and it’s also affordable. August 12, 2016 at 9:37am Reply

  • spe: That’s a beautiful tradition – the puja!

    I’ve never smelled real sandalwood, but the sandalwood – predominant perfumes have a “chokey” feel to me; kind of smothering. August 11, 2016 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Surbhi: The smell of pure sandalwood oil or sandalwood… absolutely love it. Though I have never worn it as a perfume.. but I put few drops of it on my head sometimes at night or in humidifier in home. Very very relaxing. August 11, 2016 at 9:11pm Reply

      • Victoria: I keep a bag of sandalwood chips in my closet. Wool and cashmere absorb its perfume so well. August 12, 2016 at 9:43am Reply

        • Kari: What a lovely idea! I’ve done that with cedar as a moth repellant, but the smell of sandalwood-YUM. August 12, 2016 at 9:50am Reply

          • Victoria: One of my husband’s aunts in India keeps bars of sandalwood soap in her linen closet, but I don’t know what moth repellant function, if any, it has.

            On the other hand, my MIL keeps cloves with her saris. Apparently moths hate the smell of eugenol. August 12, 2016 at 10:00am Reply

        • Surbhi: I am going to do that today when I get home. Thanks for the idea. August 12, 2016 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s done before any important event, whether wedding or leaving on a trip. Of course, it’s also done by the observant Hindus every day, usually early in the morning. It’s a beautiful ceremony. August 12, 2016 at 9:39am Reply

  • Bastet: Victoria (or anyone else here), have you tried a recent version of 10 Corso Como? I’m wondering if a new bottle would be something worth considering, or if only the vintage is good. August 11, 2016 at 1:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was talking about the modern version. I have a recent bottle and one that’s 10-12 years old. There are differences, of course, because of the regulations and raw material availability, but the current version is excellent. August 12, 2016 at 9:41am Reply

      • OperaFan: I’ve been meaning to try 10CC for years. Thanks to this post I finally went and ordered a sample.
        Looking forward to it! August 12, 2016 at 4:37pm Reply

        • Victoria: Can’t wait to hear what you think! August 14, 2016 at 9:26am Reply

          • OperaFan: I got my sample and tried it. Surprising light, but not surprising since the sandalwood oils I have (s. album, sourced from India) also smell very light, though very long lasting. The 10 CC doesn’t last very long, so I wonder if it’s my scent-eating skin or the synthetics used in making the perfume. I love the sandalwood aspects which persists throughout all phases of the fragrance, but not the oud. It’s the one note that keeps my finger in check from clicking the “buy” button. I may try the ancillary products first before buying the perfume. The lotion sounds attractive…. August 29, 2016 at 10:36am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you for coming back and adding your thoughts!

              I also notice oud in the lotion, but it’s softer than in the perfume. August 29, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

              • OperaFan: That’s good to know, thanks V! August 29, 2016 at 1:08pm Reply

    • Tara C: I have a current bottle and a vintage bottle. The vintage one is magic, although the current one is good too. August 12, 2016 at 1:45pm Reply

      • Bastet: I’m sorry to be so late in getting back to you, but just in case you are still reading thank you Victoria and Tara C for your answers to my question. I am glad to hear that 10 Corso Como is still good (although maybe not as good as it used to be) and will try a sample of the current version. August 15, 2016 at 10:40am Reply

      • TaffyJ: Tara,
        Does the vintage bottle of 10 Corso Como look much different from the current bottle? What are the differences, if any?
        Thanks! August 20, 2016 at 11:42pm Reply

        • Tara C: Unfortunately the bottles are identical. August 21, 2016 at 6:39am Reply

          • taffyj: Oh dear, that’s unfortunate. Thanks for the response, Tara! August 22, 2016 at 10:50pm Reply

  • Alicia: Santal, how I love thee! Let me count the ways…
    I love you Samsara way most of all. Tam Dao first bottle some years ago was a fine way, but in a recent bottle you seem to have changed.The jasmine, iris and distant rose you offer in Bois des Iles is a fine way, and often I pass through those of Santal Majuscule and Santal de Mysore. In their different ways they all remind me of my first encounter with you in my grand mother sandalwood fan, which I couldn’t stop smelling when I was very little. Since then, nearly half a century now, I have loved you, Santal. August 11, 2016 at 2:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, Tam Dao is less sandalwood and more cedar now. I still like it very much, but it’s different.

      Sandalwood and jasmine as well as sandalwood and rose are great duos. August 12, 2016 at 9:42am Reply

    • MrsDalloway: Tam Dao EDP is beautiful and still sandalwoody – the EDT is quite different. August 12, 2016 at 2:23pm Reply

  • kayliz: I recently fell unexpectedly in love (schockverliebt, I would say in German) and emerged from the local Parfümerie with a bottle of Santal Pacifique by Perris Monte Carlo. It’s all I can do not to wear it every day — which I would, happily, but the bottle is completely inscrutable, no way of knowing how much I’m using, and it’s revealing my inner anxious hoarder: if no back-up bottle, then no gay abandon.

    Fortunately the EdP appeals more than the Extrait, which to my nose is less sandalwoody and more floral.

    And: Mohur. Not an immediate love (although never a scrubber;)) August 11, 2016 at 9:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Now that sounds very nice! August 12, 2016 at 9:42am Reply

    • Hamamelis: shockverliebt, great word! August 12, 2016 at 11:56am Reply

  • Aisha: I didn’t realize it took 15 years for a sandalwood tree to accumulate enough oil in its wood!

    Wonderful article, Victoria. I’m going to go take a whiff of that little bottle of 10
    Corso Como I have stashed in a drawer. 🙂 August 11, 2016 at 9:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: The longer the better, really. Long time ago it wouldn’t be cut until it was 40, but today nobody has time to wait for this long. The wood of such old trees is priceless. August 12, 2016 at 9:44am Reply

  • Kari: How very timely, because I’ve been head over heels in love with Lush’s Smuggler’s Soul fragrance line-the perfume, and then the lovely limited edition shampoo bar-these past couple months. It’s a beautiful woodsy, creamy sandalwood that has some rawness to it but isn’t harsh.

    I’ve tried a sample of Samsara. It’s beautiful, but perhaps too rich or sweet for me. I’m on the fence.

    As a total Serge Lutens fan girl, I can’t believe I’ve not sampled ANY of their famed sandalwood fragrances. I need to remedy that.

    Le Labo Santal 33 is indeed a bit sharp for my taste. Its composition is nice but it kind of makes my nose sting.

    Your description of Trayee and Corso Como sound incredibly appealing to me. August 12, 2016 at 9:47am Reply

    • Kari: A word about the shampoo bar-sadly it was a limited edition for Father’s Day (at least in the US and I think in UK too), but is well worth scooping up if you also adore sandalwood. The fragrance comes out more strongly when the shampoo bar is in use. It’s bright purple, moisturizing without being heavy (think of Lush’s Jasmine-scented Godiva bar), and long lasting (use like a bar of soap, dry between uses, and it’s supposed to last for something like 60-80 washes, which I’ve found to be the case.) I love washing with it and then topping up on the perfume when I’m done. August 12, 2016 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, you’re in for a treat. I think that those are some of the best in his collection. Lutens’s El Attarine is another fine perfume with sandalwood. August 12, 2016 at 10:01am Reply

      • Tara C: +1 on El Attarine. Very nice scent. August 12, 2016 at 1:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: For some reason very underrated. August 14, 2016 at 9:18am Reply

  • Patricia: 10 Corso Como and Tam Dao are favorites, as is Bois des Iles. I need to try Trayee again! August 12, 2016 at 11:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I have a feeling you will like Trayee. The downside to this is the expense… August 14, 2016 at 9:17am Reply

      • Patricia: I tried and did like Trayee! Once I finish my sample, we’ll have to see if it’s one I need to have :). August 14, 2016 at 6:40pm Reply

        • Victoria: Learning your tastes over the years, I suspected you might like it. 🙂 August 15, 2016 at 11:11am Reply

  • Marsha: Do I enjoy sandalwood? What are you talking about? It’s just my holy grail of all fragrances and anytime you ask what we are wearing that day for whatever reason, my answer is usually 10 Corso Como. I really wish I could find some sandalwood to burn like in the photo above. I would absolutely die of pleasure! I don’t live in a major metropolitan area so I’m not likely to find any in a shop. Thank you so much for this lovely article. We can always depend on you to come up with something wonderful. (I purchased some sandalwood oil from Enfleurage and I can’t smell it. Would taking a few drop out and diluting it with Everclear or dabbing a small amount on skin open it up? Just asking.) August 12, 2016 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, try diluting it in alcohol. Another reason might be that the sandalwood was too young. I encountered this problem a lot with some of the suppliers. August 14, 2016 at 9:26am Reply

  • joana: I am addicted to sandalwood. If I had to choose two natural scents for the rest of my life, it would be sandalwood and jasmine (Not together though). My favourite out of all my sandalwood oils is a santalum album oil from India. Sandalwood notes in perfumes I know include Le Galion 222, Etro Sandalo, Samsara, Burberry Brit Gold, SL Santal Majuscule and others, but nothing is as good as the pure oil… August 12, 2016 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Surbhi: Fracas have both of them together (with tuberose) not bad at all actually. August 13, 2016 at 12:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for mentioning Burberry Brit Gold, which is excellent! August 14, 2016 at 9:27am Reply

  • elisa p: I also love the smell of sandalwood and have a small bottle of Mysore Sw eo from one of the Indian shops here in NYC. As others have mentioned Samsara, Mohur, Bois d’Iles have the creamy sandalwood that smells heavenly. Other perfumes that list sandalwood as a note sometimes smell like sawdust or burnt toast to me (Le Labo Ylang 49 for one).
    I tested Auphorie Miyako recently and it has a very potent, pungent sandalwood drydown that goes on for hours. It almost smells cheesy to me. I really like it, but it’s a bit unrelenting-similar to Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne du Bois, which I can wear in small doses. August 12, 2016 at 8:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t like Auphorie Miyako mostly because of this unrelenting, persistent and unvarying note. After a while, I felt like turning it off/washing it off. But on a blotter when I catch whiffs of it time to time, it’s appealing. August 14, 2016 at 9:35am Reply

  • Anne-Catherine: Hello everybody,
    I love this most evocative piece on sandalwood, which is my favorite note together with cedarwood in perfumes. if i choose a perfume without knowing the notes, very often it contains both of them. Holy grail feminite du bois has it, but i also love santal 33, Saltus (liquides imaginaires) and the discontinued Love by Aveda. I recently bought bois des iles, very poetic with a soft sandalwood.
    Aveda reminds me of the Ayurveda way of life, which was a passion about 15 years ago. I still believe in it, but don’t have the time anymore to read about it.
    Victoria, correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that sandalwood is balancing the pita dosha.
    When I was fighting against Epstein Barr-virus, last year, I sprayed a bit of Samsara EDP to get rid of the fever(cold and hot)feelings. It helped a lot to fall asleep.
    I adore the extrait from Samsara, David De Puydt sprayed it on a paper which I keot in my wallet. It lasted at least 8 weeks, and reminds me of the first version, which to me is much warmer ( cherrylike trail) than the current EDP. It’s gorgeous and nr 1 for my next purchase.
    No wonder that sandalwood plays an important part in the Indian culture, it’s magic!

    xxx August 13, 2016 at 3:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I think so, because the pitta dosha requires something cooling to balance it out. Maybe, that’s why I like sandalwood so much. August 14, 2016 at 9:36am Reply

  • Karen A: It’s taken a little time and trying a variety of sandalwood perfumes, but now I’ve got a few favorites. Dries Van Noten, Bois des Iles, Santal Majeste are all favorites for me. After reading your article and the comments, I gave Dries Van Noten a spritz yesterday, close to 100′ and super humid here, but DvN wore beautifully.

    I was thinking maybe like eating seasonal foods, perfumes based on ingredients found where extremely hot weather is, oud, incenses, sandalwood, work well in similar weather. Not sure that’s phrased right, but hoping it conveys what I mean! August 13, 2016 at 6:52am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s an interesting theory!

      The sandalwood facet in the drydown of Bois des Iles is one of my favorite parts of the perfume. Of course, everything else is perfect too, but whenever it wears down to sandalwood, it feels especially beautiful. August 14, 2016 at 9:37am Reply

      • Karen A: A while ago, you had commented about Sahara Noir being marketed to the Middle Eastern buyers. Which got me thinking about certain notes – incense, oud, sandalwood, in an entirely new way.

        Serge Noir was a complete surprise for me. I was really apprehensive about trying it after reading some reviews, but was thrilled to discover this incense rich fragrance – curls around you like smoke from a censer. August 15, 2016 at 7:36am Reply

        • Victoria: Some people find cumin in Serge Noire too much to bear, but for me, it adds a smoky, animalic touch. August 15, 2016 at 11:13am Reply

  • Lifestyle Lodestar: After cleaning the house I, without fail, light a sandalwood incense stick, there is certainly a mystical purifying element to the scent. Just heavenly September 12, 2016 at 4:14am Reply

    • Victoria: I like to do that too. September 12, 2016 at 10:07am Reply

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