Sandalwood is believed to be one of the most valuable woods in the world and has been used in fragrance and as incense for thousands of years. The scent is so popular that it is used as a base in more than 50% of all women’s perfumes. It is sweet and woody and one of the most diverse scents available.
However, because sandalwood is so prevalent in the fragrance industry, it can be challenging to set apart the elite sandalwood fragrances from those that are not quite as beautiful. We believe that these are some of the best sandalwood perfumes on the market today.
Introduction to Sandalwood Fragrance
Sandalwood comes from a tree known as the Santalum Album, which can grow up to 20m in height. The tree is found throughout southern Asia in places like Indonesia and Sri Lanka but is most notably grown in India. Sandalwood forests can also be found in Australia and the Pacific Islands. However, it is thought that the best quality sandalwood comes from the forests of India, Kerala in particular.
The tree’s wood is incredibly fragrant and can hold its aroma for many years after it has been cut. Essential oil is extracted from this wood for perfumes and other fragrances such as cosmetics and incense.
Sandalwood is an incredibly diverse scent that is often mixed with a range of other fragrances, including amber, lavender, citrus notes, and many floral scents. It pairs particularly well with jasmine and geranium.
As an ingredient in perfume, sandalwood has retained its popularity because of its strong aroma. This potency is the main reason that it often features as a base note. However, owing to the tree’s threatened class, much of the modern sandalwood scent is synthetically produced for perfume.
It is not only diverse in the sense that it can be successfully paired with other scents, but it can also be used in men’s and women’s perfumes and across all seasons.
17 Best Sandalwood Colognes & Perfumes
Sandalwood is so well-loved and versatile that you will find it in an incredible number of fragrances. This can become confusing, especially if you are not sure which sandalwood cologne is the best. Here are our top picks of the best sandalwood fragrance.
1. Jo Malone Orris & Sandalwood
Jo Malone brings us this beautiful unisex sandalwood fragrance that comes in a black bottle labeled with the easily recognizable Jo Malone branding. From the first glimpse of the bottle, you know that the contents will be nothing short of luxurious.
This is an Oriental Woody perfume that is powdery and unique. It is an excellent choice for people who want an intense sandalwood accord without being overpowering. It delivers just the right amount of scent on the dry down and will leave a delicate trail behind you for hours.
Unlike some of the other Jo Malone fragrances, there is a slightly more complex blend of scents, adding to this perfume’s unique personality. It combines orris, labdanum, violet, musk, amber, and geranium.
The perfume is extraordinarily diverse and works well in a variety of situations and times of the year, making this a good choice for your everyday fragrance.
2. Montale Santal Wood
If nothing else catches your attention about this fragrance, the chic, shiny gold flacon will. From the get-go, you can tell that this is a modern and vibrant sandalwood perfume. The Oriental woody fragrance has been designed for men and women and was launched in 2012.
There is a more masculine air to this scent, but it would work well for the androgynous woman who dares to be different and bold. There is a unique contrast between fresh seawater notes at the head and sandalwood and cedar at the heart. The fragrance dries down to an oakmoss base that delivers longevity that cannot be beaten. The sillage is intense, and there is little doubt that your presence will go unnoticed when you wear this perfume.
3. Tom Ford Oud Wood
Coming in the classic Tom Ford packaging, this fragrance is one of a collection of 14 from the Private Blend range. It is a unisex fragrance released in 2007 and remains a very popular choice among woody fragrance fans today.
This is an intense and rich perfume that doesn’t hold back. To wear this, you need to have a confident and bold personality and not be afraid to stand out from the crowd. The perfume is classy and versatile and works well for both daytime and evening wear, especially when you want to make a statement.
It blends sandalwood with oud, amber, Brazilian rosewood, vanilla, and Tonka bean. This gives it an intensely aromatic quality that appears to go on for days.
4. Tom Ford Santal Blush
In 2011, Tom Ford launched a makeup range with a fragrance collection to complement it. One of those fragrances was Santal Blush, a feminine Oriental Woody perfume for women. This scent blends spices, with caraway and cinnamon at the head and a beautiful floral heart of jasmine and ylang-ylang. The base is deep and rich with sandalwood, oud, and benzoin.
This is certainly not a perfume for the faint-hearted and will leave a heady trail wherever you go.
It has a romantic character that makes it ideal for a first date, particularly when you consider the seductiveness of the fragrance. The perfume is ideally suited to a charming woman who wants to display her sexy side elegantly.
The scent comes in a delicate, clear, feminine bottle that is representative of the Tom Ford brand.
5. Byredo Blanche
Byredo presents this gorgeous fragrance in one of their signature bottles, and the scent has been popular since its release in 2009. The inspiration behind this perfume is the color white, and as such, you get a clean, crispy, and fresh fragrance that is quite unlike any other sandalwood perfume out there.
It begins with aldehydes, rose, and pink pepper before revealing a heart of peony, African orange flower and violet. The base opens up, and we are treated to sandalwood, musk, and woody notes.
Byredo has not over-complicated things with this fragrance; it is airy, light, and simple, but it definitely has a unique quality. It would suit a woman who is innocent and joyous and who wants to show off her feminine side without being too intense.
6. Byredo Mojave Ghost
This is another offering from Byredo, who, in 2014, launched this Oriental Floral fragrance for men and women. A lot of sandalwood perfumes are versatile and suitable for wearing at any time. However, this one is suited more for daytime wear thanks to its light and fresh nature. But that is not to say that it doesn’t pack a punch and get you noticed.
There is a delicate musky air to the perfume with a head of musk mallow and sapodilla. The middle notes comprise sandalwood with magnolia and violet. Once the fragrance dries down, a base of cedar and ambergris is revealed.
This would make a wonderful signature scent as it is unmistakable and would work well for people who want to make a quiet, sexy, and welcoming statement.
7. Creed Original Santal
This is a unisex fragrance, but there is no denying that it errs more on the masculine side. It is an intensely aromatic Oriental Woody perfume that is perfect for use in the cold winter months. At times like this, the warmth of the perfume can be truly appreciated.
The fragrance was inspired by the spirituality of India, a country filled with mystique and magic. This is perfectly reflected in the intense sandalwood notes that are perfect if you like a strong aroma. This is blended with cinnamon, coriander, lavender, and ginger before drying down to a sweet Tonka bean and vanilla base.
Anyone who wants to create an air of seduction would likely fall in love with this perfume. It is ideal for evening wear to a nightclub or a more formal event.
The packaging is as captivating as the scent with an ombre bottle that fades from red to orange.
8. Chanel Bois des Iles
Chanel is the epitome of luxury, and it certainly delivers on the reputation with this gorgeously luxurious Oriental Woody fragrance for women. However, while this is a women’s perfume, it has a very masculine personality and could be used as a unisex fragrance.
The perfume is presented in a classic Chanel-style bottle and was released in 1926. For the scent to still be as popular today, there must be something special about it.
The unique blend of aldehydes, peach, and bergamot gives a beautiful fresh start. The middle notes of iris rose and ylang-ylang gives way to a base of sandalwood, amber, musk, and vetiver. This is rich and intoxicating and ideal for an intimate affair.
Bois des Iles is an aromatic and intense fragrance that has a wonderfully romantic personality. This makes it perfect for time spent with a lover of a first date.
9. Diptyque Tam Dao
Diptyque is a brand that you can instantly recognize thanks to the consistency in their packaging, and if you’re a fan, you’ll be excited by this scent. This is a floral, woody musk perfume for men and women.
It has a very fresh air to it, and many would say that it almost feels spiritual, which is fitting since sandalwood is often used in rituals. It feels calm and soothing and would make a great choice for anyone who doesn’t like to be garish with their fragrance.
Top notes of myrtle, rose, and Italian cypress instantly gives this a unique flavor. The heart is woody and intense, cedar and sandalwood, and the base comprises Brazilian rosewood with amber and spices. This is indulgent without being overbearing, making it incredibly diverse.
10. Diptyque Oud Palao
If you prefer some of Diptyque’s more attention-grabbing fragrances, then you will immediately fall in love with this scent. This is an Oriental Woody perfume launched in 2015, and it has been hugely popular. But keep in mind that it is extremely intense and not for those who like a more subtle scent.
Notes include sandalwood, Madagascan vanilla, rose, patchouli, rum, and tobacco, for a more smoky character. This is an utterly unique scent that would make the ideal signature perfume for a daring and bold individual. It’s made for men and women, so it is wonderfully versatile too.
Oud Palao is also a very warm fragrance, so it is best suited for use in the colder months when you can really appreciate this quality.
11. Guerlain Heritage
Launched in 1992, Heritage from Guerlain is a men’s fragrance in a classic, simple flacon. It is a woody, spicy perfume that blends its notes effortlessly, giving you a smooth and rich fragrance.
It begins with lavender, clary sage, and lemon before revealing a heart of cyclamen, orris root, and patchouli. The base has a real depth to it with sandalwood, musk, and amber – a classic yet effective combination.
This is a fragrance for the refined gentleman who exudes class and style without trying. It is incredibly fragrant and grand and doesn’t shy away from attention, all the while being exceptionally masculine.
It could be worn for all occasions by the right person but would typically work well as a more formal or evening fragrance.
12. Guerlain Samsara
Looking at this perfume, you are instantly struck by the incredibly red bottle that exudes an air of mystery. This perfume was launched in 1989 and, as such, is suited to a woman who likes a classic and timeless fragrance.
But that is not to say that this scent is dated, far from it. Samsara is chic and sophisticated, seductive, and alluring. It is a powdery scent that can be worn during the day, and with brilliant longevity, it will carry through to the evening.
Top notes include ylang-ylang, lemon, and bergamot with a heart of iris, jasmine, and rose, some of the most sensual floral fragrances. These scents are complemented by a base that blends sandalwood with tonka bean, vanilla, and amber. The result is a rich, strong aroma.
13. Guerlain Les Absolus d’Orient Santal Royal
The opulent black and gold flacon provides a visual clue to what this fragrance might smell like. You get a vibe akin to being in the Middle East, and this is no accident. The perfume was designed with Arabic culture in mind; it is dark and mysterious, exotic, and inviting.
This is a unisex fragrance that is ideally suited to evening wear, but if you are bold enough, it could make a noticeable signature scent. There are fragrance fans who have referred to this as a masterpiece, and it only takes a quick glance at the blend of notes to see why.
Jasmine and neroli are apparent at the head before middle notes of rose, cinnamon, and peach come through. The base is deep and rich with oud, sandalwood, and leather. You certainly will draw attention with this scent, and it has an extremely strong sillage that will captivate those around you.
14. Le Labo Santal 33
This is another unisex sandalwood perfume from one of the most highly-acclaimed luxury perfumers in the USA. You instantly recognize this with the branded bottle and what is inside is representative of the quality that Le Labo offers.
Santal 33 is a woody fragrance that is highly aromatic. It is also very unique and, as such, can be used when you want to draw attention and let everybody know that you have arrived. Wear it just a few times, and it will quickly become your signature.
It blends sandalwood with papyrus, leather, iris, violet, and cedar, but its longevity is most impressive. A few squirts of this and the scent will stay with you throughout the day. Thankfully, it is excellent for use in the evenings, too, and those few sprays will see you through to after-work cocktails or a dinner with friends.
15. Nest White Sandalwood
While this fragrance is advertised as being for men, it has a quality about it that could easily make it unisex. But what strikes you the most is the beautiful bottle. This is a black flacon decorated with an image of a bird flying towards a sandalwood tree. It is quite unlike any other fragrance bottle and more of a work of art.
It is a woody, spicy perfume that features Australian sandalwood and white sandalwood. These aromas are blended with almond, spices, and white musk for a truly unique fragrance experience.
There is a calming quality to the perfume that makes it perfect for a cozy night in by the fire with loved ones. That being said, it would work just as well at a social event., further proving the versatility of sandalwood.
16. Comme des Garcons Blue Santal
This is a modern and bold fragrance for men and women that captures your attention before you have even opened the bottle; it is presented in ombre blue packaging with bold black lettering, demanding to be noticed.
It is a woody, spicy fragrance that definitely works better during the day. A walk through the woods in fall or a late lunch with friends would be the perfect occasion for this. The perfume is part of the Blue Invasion Collection, which was designed to be contradictory. In this case, the juxtaposition between warm and fresh can indeed be felt.
The blend of accords is not over complicated featuring Australian sandalwood, pine, pepper, and juniper.
17. Arden Men Sandalwood by Elizabeth Arden
Launched in 1956, this has long been a staple fragrance for a lot of men. It comes in a beautiful, elegant bottle and is an Oriental Fougere fragrance.
At first sniff, you get a 1960s vibe, as if you are being transported back to the hippy movement. In contrast, the fragrance is also bright and fun, but it certainly has a mature edge to it. This makes it perfect for the classic gentleman who is looking for a timeless perfume.
It has a surprisingly sweet blend of notes, including lavender, lemon, and clary sage at the head. The middle notes are sandalwood, basil, patchouli, and these give way to a base of oakmoss, amber, and Tonka bean.
There is no doubt that the elegant gentleman will be noticed with this long-lasting and delicious fragrance that leaves an intoxicating trail.
How To Choose Your Sandalwood Fragrance
Sandalwood can be a powerful scent, and so when choosing your perfume, you must keep this in mind. If you do not like something that is rich and woody, then sandalwood perfume might not be for you.
One of the greatest things about this scent is how diverse it is. If you are looking for a fragrance for summertime, then it would be best to choose a sandalwood cologne that blends florals or citrus scents. In contrast, winter sandalwood perfumes may contain spicy scents and other woody notes.
Sandalwood works very well with musk, but this can be too much for some people. If you want something opulent and seductive, then this is a good choice. However, if you prefer something a little lighter and fresher, you should avoid this pairing.
Full Guide On Fragrance with Sandalwood
Sandalwood is one of the most valuable woods in the world and is hugely popular in fragrance. It is usually used as a base note but can sometimes be seen as a heart note. The santalum album tree grows mainly in India, and it is here that the fragrance has been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes.
In Ayurvedic medicine, sandalwood has long been used for its skin smoothing properties and its ability to calm inflammation. What’s more, it is also used as a mild stimulant as well as a diuretic. But Ayurveda is not the only practice that is used in.
In ancient Hawaii, in the Pacific ocean, the tree grows in abundance, and it is here that people used to use it to treat various skin conditions, including lice and dandruff. It was also used here to treat sexually transmitted infections.
In modern times, we see sandalwood essential oil is used in a variety of skincare cosmetics, but most notably in perfumes. That being said, the sandalwood tree is now being treated as threatened, and so a lot of fragrances contain a synthetic version of the scent.
In India, there has been a lot of illegal harvesting of the wood, and this is what has led to its demise. Unfortunately, this has meant that the endangered wood cannot be harvested as it once was in this country. However, Australia now has a large number of plantations and is producing some excellent quality sandalwood.
In India, sandalwood is respected for its soothing aroma, and this often sees it being used to aid meditation. People here believe that the calming scent of this wood can help to quiet a busy mind. It is also widely used in rituals here and is usually applied to the head. People will also use it as incense at an altar, and it is thought to be able to help communicate with heaven.
Thanks to the strong aroma that lasts for years after the wood has been harvested, it does not look as though sandalwood will wane in popularity.
Frequently Asked Questions On Sandalwood Fragrance
What is sandalwood fragrance made of?
Sandalwood fragrance is made from oil that is extracted from the Santalum Album tree. This oil is found in both the wood and the roots of the tree.
What does sandalwood smell like?
Sandalwood is a strong scent that is woody and sweet.
What scents work with sandalwood?
Since sandalwood is a versatile scent, it can be easily paired with many others but works exceptionally well with lavender, cloves, musk, jasmine, and black pepper.
Is Sandalwood a musky scent?
Sandalwood itself is not musky, but it can be paired with musky scents like jasmine and white musk to create a lovely summer fragrance.
When to wear sandalwood cologne?
Sandalwood is very diverse, and as such, it can be worn for various events and seasons.
Which type of sandalwood is best for cologne, Australian, or Indian?
The type of aroma that you prefer will depend on whether you like Australian or Indian sandalwood better. Australian sandalwood has a woodier aroma, whereas Indian is more buttery.
Which part of the sandalwood tree contains the most fragrance?
The wood of the tree contains an incredible amount of fragrance. It is known that even years after it has been harvested, the wood will still give off an enormous aroma.
Final Thoughts On Sandalwood Fragrance
Sandalwood is an intense, aromatic, and woody scent that complements a huge number of other aromas. This is one of the reasons that it is so popular.
However, since sandalwood is now endangered, many fragrance houses are forced to use a synthetic version of the scent. But this does not prevent them from creating beautiful, heady, and intoxicating perfumes with sandalwood that are incredibly versatile.
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