What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

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What Does Sandalwood Smell Like ⋆ Beautymone
Published by Simone de Vlaming on April 17, 2023

Sandalwood is the prized scent of aroma craft-makers. It’s a scent that has been used in perfumes, incense, and even skincare products for centuries, and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down.

You have undeniably heard about it, but what does sandalwood smell like? If its name brings to mind seductive woody tones and a hint of oriental nostalgia, then you are on the right path.

We will uncover what sandalwood smells like and much more. I will guide you through a deep dive into sandalwood’s distinctive aroma.   

Meet The Expert

Simone is the founder and writer for Beautymone, but did you know that in the beginning stages of starting this site, she also worked as a Beauty Advisor at a local beauty store? Fragrances were a huge and important part of this job! And believe it or not, she sniffed at least a thousand different ones.

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?

Sandalwood is a unique fragrance with a rich and complex scent that has captivated people across cultures and time periods.

Its sweet, woody aroma is often described as warm and inviting, with hints of balsamic, musky, and floral tones that create a unique olfactory experience.

Some also detect a creamy, buttery note in sandalwood, while others describe it as having a slight smokiness or spiciness.

What Is Sandalwood?

Sandalwood (Santalum album) is a precious tree primarily found in the southern regions of India, as well as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Australia.

Not only is it one of the most expensive woods in the world, but it has also been treasured by Eastern and African civilizations and religions as part of their culture and rituals.

The heartwood of the sandalwood tree holds the key to the coveted oil that has been used for perfumery, aromatherapy, traditional medicine, and sacred rituals throughout the ages.

The major component of sandalwood that is responsible for its distinctive scent is called santalol. However, sandalwood is not just a pretty scent!

For centuries, sandalwood oil has been used in Ayurveda and traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine for its therapeutic properties, also attributed to santalol.

Modern studies also showcase sandalwood’s antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been recommended for their potential use in skincare and other therapeutic applications.

Finally, the fragrance of sandalwood has been shown to elevate mood and arousal. While others support its ability to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation.

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

What Scents Are Similar To Sandalwood?

Sandalwood is a unique fragrance with a complex and multi-faceted aroma. Still, some scents share similarities with this coveted fragrance. For example:

  • Cedarwood has a similar woody and earthy scent, with a slightly sharper and resinous quality.
  • Vetiver is another fragrance often compared to sandalwood due to its earthy and woody notes. However, it also has a smokiness that sets it apart.
  • Patchouli, with its musky, earthy aroma, is another fragrance often associated with sandalwood, though it has a more pungent and intense scent.
  • Agarwood, also known as oud, is another fragrance similar to sandalwood, with its rich, woody, and slightly sweet aroma.

While these fragrances may have their unique qualities and nuances, they are often compared to sandalwood due to their similar earthy and woody notes.

What Scents Go Well With Sandalwood?

Sandalwood is a highly versatile fragrance that can be combined with a wide range of other scents to create unique and captivating fragrances. One popular approach to fragrance blending is layering scents, and sandalwood is a perfect base note for layering.

Some examples of popular combinations:

  • Sandalwood + Rose or Jasmine: Floral scents added to sandalwood create a sweet and delicate fragrance that is perfect for romantic occasions.
  • Sandalwood + Bergamot or Grapefruit: Citrus scents added to sandalwood create a refreshing and uplifting scent that is perfect for daytime wear.
  • Sandalwood + Patchouli or Vetiver: Patchouli and vetiver, just like sandalwood, are earthy scents that can create a grounding and centering effect.
  • Sandalwood + Vanilla: My personal favorite combination, which creates a warm and comforting fragrance that is perfect for cozy evenings.

What Fragrances Contain Sandalwood?

Sandalwood aroma is a favorite staple ingredient in some of the most classic and well-known perfumes. Sandalwood is typically used as a base note in fragrances, as it has a long-lasting and lingering scent.

However, some fragrances do feature sandalwood as a top note, which can create a brighter and more prominent sandalwood scent.

Here are some fragrances that feature sandalwood as a top note:

  • Tam Dao by Diptyque: This fragrance has a strong sandalwood top note, along with other woody and floral notes like cedar and jasmine.
  • Santal 33 by Le Labo: This fragrance is known for its warm, woody scent, with sandalwood as a prominent top note. It also features notes of cardamom, iris, and violet.
  • Black Orchid by Tom Ford: This fragrance has a luxurious, exotic feel, with sandalwood as one of its main top notes. Other notes include black truffle, ylang-ylang, and vanilla.
  • Somebody Wood by Phlur: It is a warm and creamy unisex fragrance with a prominent sandalwood note that’s complemented by other woody and earthy notes like cedarwood and guaiac wood.
What Does Sandalwood Smell Like


Tam Dao

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

Le Labo

Santal 33

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

Tom Ford

Black Orchid

Here are some popular perfumes that contain sandalwood are:

  • Chanel No. 5: The legendary fragrance with a complex composition of floral, woody, and musky notes that create a well-balanced and captivating fragrance.
  • Narciso Rodriguez for Her: A seductive and modern fragrance with a floral and musky composition that’s soft, and delicate yet also deep and complex.
What Does Sandalwood Smell Like


No. 5

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

Narciso Rodriguez

For Her

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like? A Conclusion

To sum up, sandalwood is a unique fragrance that has been treasured for centuries for its distinctive aroma. It has a sweet, woody scent with hints of balsamic, musky, and floral tones.

Sandalwood has been a key ingredient in Ayurveda and traditional medicine. And now, we begin to recognize its potential antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and mood-elevating properties.

Sandalwood blends well with a wide range of scents, and many classic and well-known perfumes feature sandalwood as a top or base note.

Whether you prefer it as a standalone scent or blended with others, sandalwood is sure to captivate your senses and elevate your mood!

Frequently Asked Questions

Sandalwood and vanilla have some similarities in their scent profile, but they are not the same. Sandalwood has a woody, earthy, and slightly sweet aroma with a hint of spice, while vanilla has a sweet, creamy, and warm aroma.

Sandalwood is not necessarily a feminine scent. It is a versatile scent that can be enjoyed by people of all genders. The perception of sandalwood as a feminine or masculine scent may vary depending on cultural and personal associations, but it is not inherently one or the other.

You can wear a Sandalwood scent whenever you want, of course. However, I would say that Sandalwood is more suited to wear in winter due to its warm, woody scent.

Sandalwood has a distinct scent that is often described as warm, woody, and earthy. It can also have a slightly sweet and creamy aroma, especially when it is used in perfumes or other scented products.

The sweetness of sandalwood can vary depending on the source of the wood and the way it is processed.

Generally, the scent of sandalwood is not overwhelmingly sweet, but it can add a subtle sweetness and depth to fragrances and other scented products.

How we reviewed this article

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