Looking at the scent: sandalwood

Looking at sandalwood

The aromatic scent of sandalwood is a favourite in woody and chypre fragrances.  We’ve put together some interesting facts about this East Asian tree.

What it is
Sandalwood and sandalwood oil comes from the evergreen sandalwood tree (the genus Santalum), a slender tree that grows to about 18m high with long droopy branches. The wood is fine-grained and a yellowish colour, and is known to retain its scent for decades.

Where it comes from
The sandalwood tree is indigenous to south and Southeast Asia.

Where it’s produced
It is thought that about 90% of the world’s sandalwood oil is produced in India.

How it’s used
A steam distillation process is used to extract sandalwood oil from the wood. This oil is a common ingredient used in fragrances and cosmetics products. It is especially popular in woody and male fragrances, as it gives a warm quality to the perfume. Sandalwood oil is also used in traditional medicine in Chinese and Indian healing rituals. It is thought to help relieve acne, chapped skin and rashes. The actual wood from the sandalwood tree is commonly used to make souvenirs and toys.

Why it’s so popular
Sandalwood was originally popular in India because it was (wrongly) believed that it was the only wood that didn’t get attacked by termites. It became a symbol of vitality, and since then, its popularity has grown so much that certain sandalwood tree species are not endangered. In the cosmetics world it is extremely popular for its warm, delicate scent, and for its capability to blend so well with other fragrance ingredients.

Interesting facts
In India, it’s common to create statues of deities from sandalwood, and many temples were also constructed from this wood.

The smell of the scent is meant to have calming properties and to reduce stress.

Sandalwood scents we love
Guerlain Samsara
Tom Ford Santal Blush
Burberry Body Intense
Estée Lauder Sensuous

Other articles you may be interested in:
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Get your winter scent on!
Fragrance notes: Oriental
Fragrance notes: Woody

6 Responses

  1. My first encounter with sandalwood was in the Vinolia soap. Years later I still like the fragrance.

  2. I do quite like the scent of sandalwood in my fragrances and oil burners as well. It has a slight touch of sweetness without being sickening and “sticky”.

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