Sandalwood smells like spicy aromatic woods with a warm exotic profile. The spiciness in sandalwood is piercing and its smell tends to linger for hours on the skin. Its oriental smell is easy to perceive as the scent is long-lasting. When used in combination with other ingredients, sandalwood has an invigorating role, spicing up compositions such as perfume.
What does sandalwood smell like?
The smell of sandalwood is long lingering and it’s used as a base note in perfumes for men and women. Its scent is unique and it is categorized within the floral oriental fragrances.
When you first hear that sandalwood (made from Santal) is woodsy, you might expect something similar to cedar in smell. But your nose perceives sandalwood as a spice which is why you might not even consider it woodsy at all.
The warm effect of its smell is something you might be familiar with from your wintertime café lattes. But sandalwood is a base note in perfumes as it ads longevity and vivacity to most compositions.
Key combinations for the sandalwood scent
As a default, woodsy notes tend to mix well with a large number of other accords. However, not all perfumes made with sandalwood are successful.
Slightly bitter and slightly floral, orange blossom is enriched by sandalwood. You can find these perfumes in many Arabic perfumes for the summer.
The delicate floral note of jasmine sits well on sandalwood which offers a bit more power to a mild note.
Gardenia mixes well with other fragrance notes but sandalwood with its spicy scent brings an oriental vibe to the delicate flower.
Tuberose might be expensive, but it mixes with sandalwood and other white florals to create complex perfumes for women.
Bergamot is already a bit spicy and bitter on its own. Sandalwood can be used to give it a piercing profile.
The sweetness of vanilla is often mixed with sandalwood to create a chai latte-like smell.
Where does sandalwood come from?
Most people believe sandalwood from India to be the most aromatic. You can still find good alternatives in Indonesia and Nepal. In the fragrance world, synthetic chemical sandalwood is largely used as a substitute.
Where to buy the best-smelling sandalwood?
You can buy sandalwood as a raw santal wood or you can purchase sandalwood essential oils.
- East Indian Sandalwood Essential Oil
- Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil
- Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood Essential Oil
- New Caledonian Sandalwood Essential Oil
- African Sandalwood Essential Oil
- Sandalwood chemical composition
You can buy sandalwood from authentic Indian sources online. Alternatively, you can buy it from resellers as long as it meets the chemical standards listed below.
Sandalwood chemical composition
Sandalwood is mainly made from 90% sesquiterpene alcohols with 50-60% is the tricyclic α-santalol (the compound has to have a minimum 41% concentration in the best essential oils), and β-Santalol.
These figures vary depending on the country of origin as well as on the time of harvest.
Best sandalwood-centric perfumes
You can find thousands of sandalwood perfumes to enjoy the aromatic wood smell every day. Here are 2 notable options.
- Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule for men and women
The oriental woody fragrance features cacao, Damasc rose, and sandalwood notes. Resinous and creamy sandalwood smells are often described when reviewing this perfume.
With 10/10 versatility, you can wear this perfume to any occasion. As most sandalwood perfumes, you can smell it on your skin for up to 10 hours.
- Nirvana Black Elizabeth and James for men
Woody, dark, and masculine, the fragrance comes with vanilla, santal, and violet notes. The sandalwood here is very dry and woodsy which is what turns it a bit towards the masculine side of perfumes even if there are plenty of women wearing it. Rich and dark, it’s the best sandalwood-heavy intoxicating powdery fragrance you can buy cheaply.
Sandalwood tends to dominate other notes
Sandalwood is very interesting as it often described as fresh and dark. These attributes aren’t easy to give to other notes. In these perfumes with limited notes (up to 5) sandalwood is the most dominating with its intensity even piercing through the cold winter months.