Sandalwood in Perfume

It’s the second most expensive wood in the world.  The tree itself is treasured the world over for its warm woody, notes that are indicative of mid-winter.  For more than 5,000 years, it has been so treasured by ancient peoples from all over the world that is has been used not just for its warm, sophisticated notes but in various religious ceremonies.  The ancient Egyptians even used the wood for its supposed medicinal benefits.  We are talking about the prized Sandalwood tree which grows from Indonesia in the east to Chile in the west and from the Hawaiian Archipelago in the north to New Zealand.  Its oil is used in a variety of cosmetic, aromatherapy and pharmaceuticals products but is most often used as a base in perfumes.

What is Sandalwood?

Sandalwood oil comes from the wood and roots of the Santalum album which belongs to the family Santalaceae.  (It is also referred to as the East Indian sandalwood tree).  The finest quality of sandalwood oil comes from India where Sandalwood tree harvest is carefully protected by the government.  The main benefit of Sandalwood as it is used in fragrances – apart from its distinctive, milky, wood scent – is the that fact it combines well with other fragrances which is why its aroma can vary from citrusy, to floral and most other fragrances in between.  Sandalwood oil is extracted mainly from the roots of the tree by a process known at steam distillation.  Using this process super heated steam is passed through the wood.  Eventually this steam is cooled which gives us sandalwood oil.

Sandalwood’s use in Perfume

The use of Sandalwood as perfume goes all the way back to 700 B.C. particularly in the Eastern Indian Ocean region and the Pacific.  It was so valued in these places due to its use in religious ceremonies and because 16 different species of Sandalwood were once common to these regions.  While the East continued to use Sandalwood in incense and for its value in aromatherapy, the West began to use it chiefly in perfume when in the 1920’s the French began discovering its fragrance.   Today, Sandalwood is used in a variety of colognes and perfumes.  Some of the most popular perfumes that use Sandalwood include:

  • Hypnotic Poison Christian Dior
  • Waikiki Pikake Pacifica for Women
  • Samsara Eau de Parfum Guerlain for Women
  • Dior Addict Christian Dior for Women
  • OP Blend for Women Ocean Pacific

All these perfumes demonstrate not only how coveted Sandalwood is, but also how it mixes well with so many other notes.  For example, it mixes well with the middle notes – tuberose, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, rose, Brazilian rosewood, and caraway – present in Hypnotic Poison.  At the same time, it also blends in smoothly with the notes present in Samsara Eau de Parfum Guerlain for Women (iris, tonka bean, amber, musk and vanilla).  If you are looking for perfume whose aroma is as rich and vital as its history, you could not make a more sound choice than Sandalwood.

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