Think of sandalwood as a gateway note—it’s an easy place to start if you’ve been loyal to scents like floral and vanilla, but are looking for something slightly richer and more sophisticated. Its smooth warm notes feel particularly right mid-winter, so we suggest taking the plunge now. From spicy to sweet, you’ll find a wide spectrum above.
Let’s start things off with a fragrance that the perfumer himself describes as “sandalwood written in capital letters”: Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule Eau de Parfum ($150)
Notes: Sandalwood, fresh rose, bitter cacao
What to Expect: A warm, woody opening note tempered with light floral notes and a snap of cacao at the end to keep things sharp.
As the name suggests, Byredo Parfums Blanche Eau de Parfum ($220) was built around perfumer Ben Gorham’s perception of the color white.
Notes: Blonde woods, sandalwood, musk, white rose, pink pepper, violet, neroli, peony
What to Expect: The lighter side of sandalwood—a great option for everyday wear.
Chanel Coco Eau de Parfum ($85), a classic fragrance created by Jacques Polge, was inspired by Coco Chanel’s home.
Notes: Coriander, pomegranate blossom, mandarin orange, Bulgarian rose, mimose, cloves, amber, sandalwood, Tonka bean, vanilla
What to Expect: A sensual but not overpowering scent that’s great for date night.
Dior’s classic fragrance, Dior Addict Eau de Parfum ($82), blends fresh top notes with the warmth of bourbon, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Notes: Mandarin leaves, mulberry flowers, orange flower, bourbon vanilla, sandalwood
What to Expect: Reach for Addict if you love vanilla but want to try something a little more complex.
Diptyque Tam Dao Eau de Toilette ($120) is a tribute to sandalwood, inspired by Goa, India.
Notes: Rose, myrtle, Italian cypress, sandalwood, cedar, spices, amber, white musk, Brazilian rosewood
What to Expect: The masculine notes of this fragrance give it a ‘borrowed from the boys’ appeal.
Frederic Malle Dries Van Noten ($265) is the first in a series of “olfactory portraits of extraordinary individuals” by the niche French fragrance house.
Notes: Sandalwood, guaiac wood, Tonka bean, vanilla, saffron, jasmine, musk, bergamot, lemon, nutmeg, cloves
What to Expect: This comforting unisex scent was just released last year and is already a classic.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier Eau de Toilette ($145) is one of the sweetest on our list.
Notes: Fig leaves, almond milk, sandalwood
What to Expect: The fruity fig and dries down to warmer, woodsy notes—this scent feels just as right mid-summer.
DKNY Pure DKNY Scent ($65) is a clean sandalwood experience.
Notes: Dewdrop petal, lotus flower, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, freesia, orchid, white amber, creamy sandalwood
What to Expect: Our favorite wood serves as a backdrop for soaring vanilla, making it perfect for those interested in trying out the note within a bouquet of classics.
Maybe a sandalwood scent isn’t for you. Instead, try adding a few drops of this C.O. Bigelow Sandalwood Essential Oil ($24) oil to hot water before steaming your face; it’s both healing and moisturizing.