Best in Show Best in Show: Sandalwood (2017)

Best in Show: Sandalwood (2017)

03/12/17 06:57:45 (55 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison, Sergey Borisov, Sophie Normand, Elena Vosnaki, Miguel Matos, Rouu Abd El-Latif, Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta

Sandalwood chips

Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering and the color is pale yellow to pale gold. Sandalwood is a small evergreen tree growing to 18 m in height and 2.4 m in girth, with slender drooping branches. The tree reaches its full maturity in 60 to 80 years, which is when the center of the slender trunk (the heartwood) has achieved its greatest oil content. This classic oriental woody note offers milky, soft, sturdy, rich facets with a green top note and a satisfying lingering scent that has become a main component in many of the most famous perfumes.

The documented use of sandalwood goes back 4000 years to India, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Many temples and structures were built from Sandalwood while in Egypt, people used it in embalming. In India, people believed that termites never attack sandalwood. For that reason, they considered it a symbol of vitality. Sandalwood has been a part of the religious and spiritual traditions of India since prehistory and has been effectively used as a traditional medicine from ancient times.

Sandalwood is obtained from the trees of the genus Santalum. The wood is heavy and yellow in color, as well as fine-grained. It retains its fragrance for a long time. Sandalwood has been valued for its fragrance, carving, medical and religious qualities. The best quality used to be the Mysore sandalwood variety from India, nowadays greatly reduced to the point of extinction from perfumery due to a shortage of the natural material (the species is protected from harvesting because it is endangered). Australian sandalwood and New Caledonian sandalwood are other popular species with different odor profiles.

Sandalwood illustration

Sandalwood oil is obtained using steam distillation of powdered wood soaked in water for about 48 hours. Distillation is carried out at a steam pressure of 1.4-2.8 kg/cm2 for 48-75 hours. The oil content is about 10% in roots and 1.5-2% in chips which have a mixture of heartwood and sapwood. Chemical constituents of sandalwood are Sesquiterpenes; Sesquiterpenols; Sesquiterpenals; (includes 80 to 90% terpeniod alcohols including A and B-santalols [67%], which is a mixture of two primary sesquiterpenic alcohols), santalic and teresantalic acid, aldehyde, pterocarpin and hydrocarbons, isovaleric aldehyde, santene, santenone.

Sandalwood is a part of traditional medical systems such as Chinese medicine and the Indian healing science known as Ayurveda. It is commonly used for cosmetics and skin care, being useful for dry, cracked and chapped skin, rashes and acne. It is suitable for all skin types and is non-toxic.

Sandalwood is also used in various ways in numerous spiritual traditions. In India, for example, it is considered beneficial for meditation and for calming and focusing the human mind. It is used as incense in temples or on personal altars to remind us of the fragrant realms of the heavens. Deities of various kinds are fashioned from Sandalwood, then installed in a shrine or temple or placed upon the home altar. When Sandalwood was more abundant, the wood was used to construct parts of temples. Drops of sandalwood oils can be applied to the forehead, the temples or rubbed between the eyebrows before beginning rituals. In this way, it helps to set the stage and prepare the mind to begin its inward journey. This treatment is also used for meditation.

Sandalwood

Sandalwood is highly prized as a wood for carving and is also used for making souvenirs and other items requiring fine workmanship. In India, the sapwood of sandal is used for wood turning, particularly toy-making; the wood comes mainly from trimmings and immature trees killed by disease. Sawdust from heartwood prepared for distillation is valuable enough to be collected and sold for use as incense for religious purposes, as well as for scenting clothes and cupboards.

This week, our international writers examine some of the most memorable fragrances that feature sandalwood. We hope you'll join the conversation by sharing your own Best in Show choices in a comment below.

Intro by Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta from Fragrantica's Sandalwood page.

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Tom Ford Santal Blush

By: Elena Vosnaki, editor of Fragrantica in Greek

Tom Ford Santal Blush

Sandalwood comes with all the trappings of voluptuous legends told off the cargo ships coming from the Indian peninsula. The myth of the imperishable sandalwood (so sacred even termites abstain from it) informs many an old tale in the East, where sandalwood is the oriental wood scent par excellence.   

Among the many scents inspired by this mystical material Tom Ford's Santal Blush is a gorgeous, clean, dry and creamy sandalwood fragrance with an immediate message of sensuousness and no boozy aftertaste. Both beautiful and wearable, it was composed by talented perfumer Yann Vasnier.

The bet wasn't an easy one: Composing a sandalwood fragrance evocative of the Indian splendors of the Mysore variety, revered for centuries, but without actually using the raw material due to its regional restrictions on use as an endangered species, was a Herculean feat. The result however more than compensates, entering into sandalwood fragrances' Hall of Fame, a genre always popular with perfume lovers. If you like Tam Dao, but prefer a luxe rather than bohemian presentation, this is a refined take on that scented cult memory.

Dependent on skin Ph acidity, the opening spices (I pick fenugreek and cumin especially) might be acrid or nicely piquant and maple-y on the skin. You probably need a small skin test before you get out that credit card.

Honorable Mentions: Santal Majuscule (Serge Lutens), No.23 (Ava Luxe), Sandalwood (Casswell Massey), Samsara eau de parfum (Guerlain).

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau

By: Miguel Matos, editor of Fragrantica in Portuguese

Lutens Jeux de Peau

Jeux de Peau is a fascinating fragrance and in my opinion it is one of the most risky editions of Serge Lutens. Quirky as it can be, this is a woody-gourmand scent that explores both sweet and milky facets of sandalwood in an extreme but demure way. While it's not a challenging scent, in my opinion, it's impossible not to doubt oneself when smelling it for the first time. There are references to freshly baked bread and hot milk, yes. But those accords, masterfully worked in conjunction with coconut, are kept within the "perfume" realm and they don't turn into a food smell. This is a perfect example of how gourmand can be avant-garde and elegant.

In my mind this perfume must have taken a lot of time to compose and fine tune, for it ends up being loud in conceptual proposition but it is a discreet fragrance that doesn't have great volume. It's even interesting as a work of art, a fragrance on the cusp, almost on the verge of falling into an error but never falling into it. All the elements are balanced in a provocative way and if differently dosed I feel like this could be a disaster. Instead they are juxtaposed so they work and result in a work of dreamy sugar coated sandalwood cushion of warmth and comfort.

Honorable Mentions: Samsara Eau de Parfum, Ahsan Attar Sandal, Caron Montaigne, Claudia Scattolini Amber

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Diptyque Tam Dao (EDT)

By: Marlen Elliot Harrison, co-editor of Fragrantica in English

Diptyque Tam Dao EDT

Sandalwood is one of my favorite aromas and as such I have experimented with hundreds of sandalwood fragrances and perfume oils. Let me start by saying that there is A LOT of variation in how sandalwood is aromatically interpreted. And of course, there are numerous varieties of sandalwood such as Mysore and Australian. Because I lived in Asia for a number of years, I typically associate sandalwood with Japanese incense and Chinese wooden fans - somewhat sweet, almost buttery, and heading towards cedar. When I first sniffed Diptyque's Tam Dao EDT (my favorite scent from the brand and the only one I still own), it was as if my ideal sandalwood had been bottled just for me!

Though sandalwood dominates in Tam Dao there is a lot more going on with cedar, cypress and rosewood all adding depth and complexity. This is no straightforward, citrusy sandalwood cologne, but a deep, warm, resinous aroma with ambery, musky basenotes that keep the scent lingering on the skin. I don't really detect the rose or pepper and I find longevity to be rather good. Tam Dao is so similar to some of my favorite sandalwood incense from Japan that surely I'm influenced by the power of association. If you've ever become mesmerized by the aroma of sandalwood while traveling through Asia or sitting in a Buddhist temple, then Tam Dao will be a revelation.

Honorable Mentions: L'Artisan Bois Farine, Geo. F. Trumper Sandalwood Cologne, Caswell Massey Sandalwood, Guerlain Samsara Eau de Parfum, PG18 Cadjmere, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc, Crabtree & Evelyn Sandalwood, By Kilian Sacred Wood, Affinessence Santal Basmati, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Santal Noble

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

By: Sophie Normand, editor of Fragrantica in French

Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

Lumière Blanche isn't a sandalwood "solinote", but it is one of my favorite creations that bring this wood to light. As with all fragrances of the brand Olfactive Studio, the perfume is inspired by a picture: A "cliché" photo taken by the artist Massimo Vitali of an Italian beach where the sand is so clear, and the light so white and bright, that we could confuse it with a glacier, a visual warm/cold sensation which is olfactorily translated into a contrasted fragrance and balanced between roundness and cold notes. The creamy side of sandalwood is dressed up with spicy notes, a milky touch, and a very musky drydown.

On one hand, an anise breath in the top notes meets cold spices such as cardamom. Throughout the evolution of the perfume, iris will bring its refined sobriety that highlight this coldness. On the other hand, the smoothness of sandalwood is twisted by hot spices such as cinnamon, emphasized by a molecule that reminds me of hot milk. In the drydown, the almondy notes of tonka bean highlight the roundness of the composition. Then, the perfume is lengthened on a very enveloping and textured musky bed. The creamy side of sandalwood and the milky notes also remind me of the very bright light of the perfume. A fragrance that I appreciate very much for its softness, and its power to highlight synaesthesia that exists between and visual and olfactory senses, it is a real pleasure to wear.

Honorable Mentions: By Kilian Sacred Wood, Guerlain Samsara Eau de Parfum, Tam Dao de Diptyque, Santal Blush de Tom Ford, Santal Majuscule (Serge Lutens), Sensuous d'Estée Lauder.

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Odeur 53 Comme des Garcons

By: Sergey Borisov, writer for Fragrantica in Russian

Odeur 53 Comme des Garcons

Odeur 53 Comme des Garcons was imagined by Comme des Garçons in 1998 as something new. “An abstract anti perfume. Smells never before used, with no precise name only abstract ideas. The Freshness of Oxygen, Flaming Rock, Freshly Mowed Grass, Wash Drying in the Wind, Sand Dunes, Pure Air of the High Mountains, Flash of Metal, Nail Polish, Burnt Rubber, and much more...” as the official press-materials said.

…And no sandalwood?

It’s so interesting to read this heroic prose with those chemical materials printed on its box: Hydroxycitronellal (usually described as lily of the valley), Linalool (used to be deciphered as bergamot, lavender and coriander), Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone (woody powdery smell of violets and orris), Butylphenyl Methylpropional (another lily of the valley, with watery green aspects), Hexyl Cinnamal and Benzyl Salicilate (sort of greenery). But these printed names do not cover everything – like, the biggest part in the composition belongs to Hedione, a transparent sparkling jasmine-gardenia smell.

…Still no sandalwood?

But, if you will be patient and careful, you will notice the semitransparent sandalwood tiger that goes unnoticed in the green jasmine bushes while everyone is blinded by sparks, flames, rays of sun, flashes of lights etc. The 90’s perfume style was based upon transparent watery flowers – so its warm base matched their character. Here there’re sandalwood and musks, and of course, they are all synthetic – as all Odeur 53 construction is man-made. I would say it’s Mysantol and Santaliff, due to the fact that Odeur 53 was made by IFF perfumers Martine Pallix and Anne-Sophie Chapuis. The Sandalwood Tiger is a warm and fluffy puppet, so cuddly and nice I have to keep it in my wardrobe just for those sunny mornings that put a smile on my face. And it’s so interesting to see how fashion makes perfumes smell different. The transparent airy Odeur 53 and sexy Samsara Guerlain both used the same jasmine-sandalwood accord, but this anti-perfume idea makes all the difference.

Honorable Mentions: Santal Blush Tom Ford, Samsara Guerlain, Santal Basmati Affinessence.

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Guerlain Santal Royal

By: Rouu Abd El-Latifeditor of Fragrantica in Arabic

Guerlain Santal Royal

I have to make a confession. Guerlain Samsara EDP was my first choice which is a decisively sandalwood icon; but what to say that hasn’t been said already?! Luckily I came across Guerlain’s more recent masterpiece, Santal Royal; Oh My, cherry-picked sandalwood it is.

Santal Royal is a very interesting fragrance offering a whole new oriental experience among Arabic aromas. Nonetheless oud is still a main note. Santal Royal is basically presented as an initiation of Les Absolues D’Orient collection in a black shiny bottle decorated in golden arabesque details, a piece of art itself. At first glance, it appears to be another oud combination but it heads in a completely different direction. It opens enormously loud; a rose-animalic top takes the lead where oud is a little dominant in a soft way. Sandalwood's creaminess then emerges equitably with the oud/rose combo. The scent is very well-blended and unique while the notes are entirely familiar. Upon developing, the oud/rose and  dark leather initially work together to give the scent its aroma but sandalwood does all the harmonious backstage work, forcing those accords into the background rather than allowing them to remain an overwhelming, expensive yet typical Middle-East scent. Santal Royal goes reservedly sweet, slightly creamy and mysteriously woody, and is more resinous than harsh or fresh. Regarding longevity and sillage, this scent is impressive and surprisingly it works even better in warm weather. By Guerlain standards this perfection is typical, monsieur Wasser doing brilliant work as usual.

Honorable Mentions: Guerlain Samsara Eau de Parfum, Santal Blush Tom Ford, Gucci Rush Pour Homme, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc

 

Sandalwood illustration

 

Which are your favorite sandalwood aromas?
Join the conversation by sharing your thoughts in a comment below!



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kisnatek
kisnatek

Many great examples have been mentioned; let me add Amouage Lyric Woman, which has a delicate sandalwood with rose and vanilla - to me this is the Samsara rival in the house of Amouage.

May
01
2017
Center
Center

Atelier Cologne Santal Carmin.

Apr
30
2017
JacquieDS
JacquieDS

Samsara I love...
But I actually have an old bottle of Sandalwood essential oil from Mysore, about 16 years old and 7ml left.....its like no other.
I was big in aromatherapy and some oils when kept well remains potent for decades...
I have a small 3ml left pure Jasmine essential oil from 1995.....
I also have 16 plus years old cedarwood, frankincense, vertiver and patchouli.
I still use them, mix a bit of this and that to jojoba oil for aromatherapy use....
That said, perfumes are awesome, everything is amplified and much more complex than a bunch of raw essential oils mixed together...
I adore both...

Apr
30
2017
sistermoon
sistermoon

Smugglers Soul by Lush is a wonderful little gem I discovered with a very classic interpretation of sandalwood and whiffs of chanel no 5 and shalimar. Worth testing for fans of those fragrances and the golden sandalwood note. Woody Sandalwood by The Body Shop was on the other hand very hippy, earthy, dirty and rich - another favorite of mine but alas discontinued.

Apr
30
2017
savageinstrangeland
savageinstrangeland

I LOVE Sandalwood. I am a absolute sucker for almost any fragrance that's heavy on the sandalwood. Surprisingly though, my absolute FAVORITE sandalwood scent (and perfume in general) is Adam Levine for Women. It is just magical with my chemistry and it has a really calming, comforting effect on me. Bonus that it's super inexpensive without smelling obviously of a low price tag.

Apr
30
2017
CElmlund
CElmlund

Kanon Norwegian Wood is a surprisingly good sandalwood and it's dirt cheap. Longevity on me is around 7hrs with 5-6 sprays.

Apr
30
2017
brada
brada

My fab:Samsara edp, Sacred Wood by Kilian.

Apr
30
2017
cath.duckett
cath.duckett

I have Serge Luten's Santal Blanc which I love to smell from the bottle but it lacks personality on my skin. Feminite du Bois has a great sandalwood note in it...if you can get past the medicine chest on the way through! Personal favourite. Bought it when i was 14 in a chic little shiseido travel rollerball and have owned it ever since.

Apr
29
2017
cath.duckett
cath.duckett

Escentric Molecule is my favourite thin shiny sandalwood scent. That shimmery iso super e mimics the terpene quality of Australian Sandalwood perfectly.

Apr
29
2017
jamie81
jamie81

Vintage Bal a Versailles, vintage Chanel Bois des Iles, Guerlain Vega, Profumum Roma Santalum, Tam Dao, Adam Levine for Her.

Apr
29
2017
framorena
framorena

Do not forget Perri's Santal du Pacifique extrait!

Apr
28
2017
Calvini
Calvini

I like Immortelle Tribal (Givenchy) more than Santal Majuscule (Serge) :p
Illuminum Black Rose is also very good and heavy on sandalwood.

Apr
28
2017
krmarich
krmarich

What about Chanel Egoist, Paloma Picasso Minotaure, Chopard Cashmir and Dior Dune? YSL Opium was radiant up until 2007. Oh, and YSL Kouros? Its strange how the passage of time lets us forget the giants of the Sandalwood department.

Apr
28
2017
goldenfire5
goldenfire5

I really like Bois 1920 Sandalo e The. The sandalwood and tea notes are well-balanced, and it's a very meditative scent. Worth a try.

Mar
15
2017
RkrChk
RkrChk

Sandalwood! One of my favorite notes!

My faves are 10 Corso Como, EL Sensuous, TF Santal Blush and Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black...I'm sure I'm missing a few here and there...I must say I am *not* an Adam Levine fan in the least...Lumping that fragrance with other gorgeous sandalwood ones just doesn't mesh in my book or on my skin...I just don't get the hype...

Anyway, excellent write-up on the authors' faves & honorable mentions...

Mar
14
2017
StellaDiverFlynn
StellaDiverFlynn

Great list! I'm most interested in Lumière Blanche among the selection.

I recently got to smell Mysore Sandalwood EO diluted in alcohol. It was such a soft and round milky woody scent, not as majestic as I thought, but gives out a very serene aura. I haven't tried many sandalwood centric fragrances. My favourite are the three Santal by Lutens and By Kilian Sacred Wood.

Mar
14
2017
Sanskilainen
Sanskilainen

Om my skin the vintage Dolce Vita is the ultimate sandalwood. And what a staying power! It is absolutely beautiful.

Mar
14
2017
FeltFace
FeltFace

What an interesting article! It has encouraged me further to sample Tam Dao. I love dusty dry cedar.
So far I only enjoy TF Santal Blush, another dry one, as well as Lush Smuggler's Soul. Vintage Dolce Vita also features a healthy dose of sandalwood.
Many obvious one don't work for me, such as Samsara, Sensous or any by Serge Lutens.

Mar
13
2017
TaleOfTheRose
TaleOfTheRose

Thanks for this article and everyone's contribution. I love vintage Crabtree & Evelyn Sandalwood (red box with elephant), Chanel Bois des Iles and of course vintage Guerlain Samsara and its flanker Un Air.

For contemporary, Frederic Malle Dries Van Noten, By Kilian Sacred Wood, Santa Fe Botanical Natural Fragrance Collection Prophetisima, Jo Malone Orris & Sandalwood and Ajmal Santal Wood are among my favorites. The last three are not sandalwood centric perfumes but with great sandalwood scent.

Need to test Estee Lauder Sensuous and Ahsan Sandal Attar.

Mar
13
2017
Perfumeaddict777
Perfumeaddict777

I love sandlewood! It's very calming to me and works like an anti depressant. I love reading this article , now i have more sandlewood scents to discover! My favorite ones right now are.. Estée Lauder Sensuous, Swiss Arabian mysore oil, Adam Levine, Tom Ford Santal Blush, Guerlain Samsara. Im looking forward to smelling many more!

Mar
13
2017
vintage_scent
vintage_scent

Samsara will always be the sandalwood queen too me...vintage EDP

Mar
13
2017
lulu169
lulu169

Sultane L'Eau Fatale Jeanne Arthes - my sandalwood favourite, not expensive but in no way cheap smelling.

Mar
13
2017
Betsywoolbright
Betsywoolbright

I'm not a big sandalwood fan, but I tolerate it when it is done properly. Many of my favorite perfumes feature it, though not noticeably. Aside from Adam Levine (which I'm on the fence about. I like it, but there's some funny note in it), Christian Dior's Dune (Vintage) is what came to my mind from my own collection. I smell benzoin and what I assume to be rosewood more than sandalwood, though. Dune is dry, to my nose, like a vast field of dunes in the Sahara or Rub al-Khali, and sandalwood has a "plump" or almost moist smell to my perception. I think this is the butteriness that Dr. Harrison mentions.

Mar
12
2017
Angelica 000
Angelica 000

Thank you all for another very informative article. There are some I have & some I must try...perfect.

Mar
12
2017
gypsy parfumista
gypsy parfumista

HOUSE OF MATRIARCH The Maj
FRAGONARD Zizanie
DIPTYQUE Tam Dao EDP
FRESH Cannabis Santal
CREED Original Santal
TOM FORD Santal Blush
SERGE LUTENS Santal de Mysore
GUERLAIN Samsara parfum
XOXO Kundalini
LE LABO Santal 33
BY KILIAN Sacred Wood
PG 18 Cadjmere
HERMES Santal Massoia
SONOMA SCENT STUDIO Champagne du Bois
APRIL AROMATICS Precious Woods
GUCCI Rush for Men
BOIS 1920 Sandalo e The
YVES ROCHER Ode au Reve Elixir de Parfum
KEROSENE Santalum Slivers
CALVIN KLEIN Euphoria Gold Men
SMELLBENT Bollywood or Bust
MATTHEW WILLIAMSON Warm Sand
FL PARFUMS Peau d'un Homme
CJSCENTS Sandalwood Vanilla

Mar
12
2017
AveParfum
AveParfum

I had to add a comment because somehow I missed Marlen Elliot Harrison's description of sandalwood as "somewhat sweet, almost buttery, and heading towards cedar", and that is spot-on for me as well. That was my experience in smelling the essential oils of atlas cedar and Mysore sandalwood. But an actual piece of sandalwood doesn't smell identical to its essential oil. I think cedar occurs in perfumery a lot as an aromachemical, such as in Light Blue, so it has been grossly underrated as an incredible woody aroma in its natural form. I mentioned Resist Me by Liaisons de Parfum, and the interplay between sandalwood and cedarwood in that perfume is sublime! It's all about these two woods.

Mar
12
2017
AveParfum
AveParfum

Enjoyable read, thank you! A lot of the ones that have been mentioned are good, but for me there are better ones. The best sandalwoods for me are Bois des Iles parfum, Sonoma Scent Studio's Champagne de Bois, April Aromatics' Precious Woods (incredible, intense woods), and I am really enjoying the discovery of Resist Me by Liaison de Parfum although I am trying to figure out just how prominent the sandalwood is.

Mar
12
2017
kapted
kapted

I am completely and utterly repulsed by sandalwood now. I adore Samsara when I'm in the mood, but beyond that I avoid sandalwood scents like the plague.

Having said that, I gingerly tried Le Jardin Retrouve's Sandalwood Sacre because of the reviews. It is a sandalwood I can wear and have no adverse reactions to. It is an airy scent and has no oud qualities to it at all. It is akin to a chili having a chili flavour, but no heat. It may be a sacrilege to some of you, and I respect that. This is the only one I'll wear gladly.

Mar
12
2017
cincobayou
cincobayou

Delighted to learn about all of these sandalwood frags!
Thank you for the entire article. Happy to see SAMSARA so beloved and I shall get a bottle soon. I had it maybe 40 years ago but my tastes and chemistry have changed since then; plus, I have learned so much more.
Adored Estee Lauder's SENSUOUS until after 6 months of intense chemo-therapy which changed my body chemistry and the way things smelled on my skin and to my nose. Had to give it away.
So enjoy learning about so many perfumes from you folks here at Fragrantica!
It's my only way to shop now

Mar
12
2017
kristenboris1997
kristenboris1997

Vegas Pauli - Vicks Vaporub does have menthol in it which overpowers all the other smells. There is no sandalwood in Vaporub, but cedarwood is there. The other thing is eucalyptus and another deadly one - camphor. I haven't touched this stuff in years - it is just petroleum jelly with all these oils mixed in. Not awful but sticky stuff that I don't really want to wear. Straight away people are asking you if you are sick - because when else would you wear that stuff?!!

Mar
12
2017
kristenboris1997
kristenboris1997

I love sandalwood incense so I am sure I would love the perfume oil. I think I will just buy a cheap sandalwood oil because I get the sandalwood scent but don't have to pay big money for it. I do like the sound of these perfumes however. :)

Mar
12
2017
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

Thank you all Editors for your contributions. Sandalwood is a great personal favourite note of mine and either as a strong note or together with others it is always a joy to experience. Tom Ford Santal Blush, Fragonard Santal Cardamom, Teef by Nabeel, Caron Montaigne (mixed with bitter orange). I need to check that Al rehab khaliji and Ahsan Santal attar...

Mar
12
2017
SuzanneS
SuzanneS

Samsara, and in Opium first editions it was just beautiful.

Mar
12
2017
Catty
Catty

Etro Sandalo is amazing!

Mar
12
2017
Filomena1941
Filomena1941

Bois de Iles and the original Samsara are my very favorite sandalwoods, but Tam Dao is a close second and Tom Ford's Santal Blush, Serge Lutens Santal Majustcule coming close behind and then Le Labo Santal 33. But nothing even comes close to the original Samsara.

Mar
12
2017
Vegas Pauli
Vegas Pauli

Is it just me, or can sandalwood give of a menthol vibe if not done properly? I can't shack the menthol Vick's Vapor rub vibe of Bond No. 9 Sandalwood, and its lighter and less abrasive cousin Marc Jacob's BANG BANG.

Mar
12
2017
Douceamere
Douceamere

I totally agree with Elena's pick: Santal Blush is amazing. For me it is a dry yet full-bodied sandalwood, thanks to the skillful handling of musk and spices.

Mar
12
2017
Rose_Noire
Rose_Noire

If Chanel ever discontinues Bois des Iles I'm gonna cry:) Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule is another interesting one. Also L'occitane Ambre Santal is beautiful and long lasting.

Mar
12
2017
nexangelus
nexangelus

My favourite sandalwood perfumes are all the vintage Samsara interations (it is even strong in Un Air and Shine), Chanel Bois des Iles (oh the drydown!), Avon Casbah, Yardley Sandalwood and Lush Smuggler's Soul. Honourable mention to Al Rehab Khaliji, which is a gorgeous cumin sandalwood. It is one of my favourite notes.

Mar
12
2017
ProfessionalWidow
ProfessionalWidow

I personally prefer Parfumerie Generale's Praline De Santal to the Serge Lutens. They're very similar but the PG one is drier, nuttier, and I like the "bready" accord here so much better- it's more yeasty. The overall composition feels smoother to me as the Serge Lutens milk + licoriche + fruit accords clash a bit for me. Praline de santal is just smooth, sweet, woody goodness.

Mar
12
2017
Nomen
Nomen

I can see that Tom Ford Santal Blush is highly praised, but I don't think it's worth the price. The "design" may be very sophisticated, but the ingredients might have ruined it for me: it had that slightly acidic, Australian sandalwood quality. I swapped it away eventually, because of that.
My favorite sandalwood is Trussardi Python: the sweet, powdery one, which reminds me a lot of Samsara.
A completely different take on sandalwood is the dark, heavy, dusty DuPont Oud Santal.
Yes, both of those have costed me only a fragment of Santal Blush's price, and I would never swap those away and would never want to be without them. The sad truth is that both are becoming almost impossible to be found.

Mar
12
2017
PerfumeEmpress
PerfumeEmpress

Great Article! I adore sandalwood.

Mar
12
2017
emt1986
emt1986

My fave is Adam Levine for Her. A seriously luxe-smelling sandalwood scent that can, currently, be had for as little as $12 shipped for 100ml? Yeah, shut the front door. Also composed by Yann Vasnier, of Tom Ford Santal Blush fame. It smells so much more high-quality than many, many scents that cost 3, 4, 5 times the price. Really excellent stuff, VERY much like Sensuous.

Mar
12
2017
Magdalena23
Magdalena23

Beautiful article for a precious raw material! Thank you!
My all time favorite sandalwood perfume is Chanel Bois Des Iles (I'm quite surprised not to see it mentioned actually),Ava luxe 23 and Sacred Wood by Kilian. ❤

Mar
12
2017
subtlemocking
subtlemocking

Le Labo Santal 33 is an interesting modern (Australian) sandalwood.

Mar
12
2017
smellagent
smellagent

The first time I fell in love with sandalwood was the first Crabtree and Evelyn Mysore Sandalwood. It came in a tall tombstone type bottle with a picture of an elephant on it. It needs to be added btw. It was for "men" and it was supposed to be a gift for a boyfriend but we broke up before I gave it to him. So I got the perfume(it was the better end of the bargain)and just loved it. I also love vintage CD Dune. The sandalwood in Dune is beautiful. I also have others but these two stick out.

Mar
12
2017
LadyPilot
LadyPilot

I've never owned natural essential sandalwood oil but I do have the West-Indian natural essential sandalwood oil. It's now boiling in my oil-heater - it smells just beautiful, round, a bit like pencil just being sharpened - only sweeter.
As regards the proper sandalwood and the perfumes that hold its note - yes, Samsara but also Mesmerize Black.
I read about Hypnotic Poison - NO NO NO!!! The note is killed here by vanilla, by too much vanilla (if that's possible). I'm sure there are many many more, not listed.
It is an amazing note in perfumery, giving the sense of exotic and sensual coziness, without too much sweetness or without intoxication. I love the note, I want more perfumes to be widely available with sandalwood!

Mar
12
2017
RJ Watson
RJ Watson

Very informative article, as usual.

My favourite sandalwood fragrances are, in no particular order: Bois des Iles (Chanel), Sandalo (Erbe, a NYC spa; scent has been long discontinued) and vintage Caswell Massey's Sandalwood.

Mar
12
2017
Rouu
Rouu

@ladyiva
i have to say i already prepared an article about samsara but to be honest when i accidentally tried santal royal i felt like this scent deserve getting some attention. As you mentioned samsara is the ultimate sandalwood perfume every perfume lover knows. Best in show is about enlightening new choices and bringing hidden scents into the spot. But out of record i have 3 samsara bottles myself including a vintage and I'd recommend samsara for a sandalwood blind buy as a safer choice than santal royal :)

Mar
12
2017
Aafridi
Aafridi

Wonderful article!
My favorite Sandalwood based fragrances are: Ajmal Santal Wood, Guerlain Santal Royal, Guerlain Samsara, Gucci Rush for men, Ralph Lauren Polo Explorer and Lush Smuggler`s Soul .

Mar
12
2017
LadyIva
LadyIva

It's interesting that ALL editors have included Guerlain Samsara into their honourable mentions, but didn't dare make it their first choice...! I mean, why avoid the obvious? Samsara is THE sandalwood masterpiece. When one hears 'sandalwood', 90% of perfume lovers will immediately think of Samsara.

Mar
12
2017
LaVieEnParfum
LaVieEnParfum

I like SANTALVM from PROFVMVM ROMA the most.

Mar
12
2017
Bourgognais
Bourgognais

Fragonard's Santal cardamome is bliss. FYI.

Mar
12
2017
lemonzest
lemonzest

Glad to see the Caswell Massey sandalwood mentioned. I have had a bottle for about ten years, and it seems to improve with age. Great for straightforward sandalwood. Good to layer with other sandalwood fragrances.

Estee Lauder's Sensuous series are my favorite sandalwood scents. For a cheaper sandalwood, Adam Levine for Women is surprisingly good.

Mar
12
2017

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