I was standing in line at The Coffee Bean at West Third Street and La Cienega when I smelled it for the first time. I had just moved across the country to start my new job as a beauty editor for Byrdie, and it was literally my third day in Los Angeles. As the girl in front of me walked by, the perfume she was wearing overtook my senses (in a good way). It was such an intoxicating, unique scent that I actually thought to myself, “You will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t ask her what she’s wearing—you must find out.”
Keep scrolling to read what happened next…
I approached her and said, “This is going to sound incredibly creepy, but you smell amazing, and I have to know what it is.” Thankfully, she was super sweet and told me it was Le Labo Santal. “It’s right across the street!” she said, gesturing in that direction. I took out my iPhone and wrote the details down.
Of course, the new job and brand-new life in L.A. got in the way of making a pit stop to purchase this alluring new perfume. But a few days later, when I was sent to the DpHue Salon in Studio City to try its new services, my scent obsession was reawakened. I was meeting with Justin Anderson, a renowned stylist who has given Jennifer Aniston, Miley Cyrus, and Emma Roberts their iconic California-blond color.
As I sat in his chair and he began playing with my hair, inspecting the color, discussing what we were going to do with it, a powerful smell wafted over me—but I didn’t immediately connect it to the girl from Coffee Bean. I pretty much inhaled him to get more of it, and then asked: “What in god’s name are you wearing? It’s incredible.”
“Santal,” he laughed. That’s when it hit me. “No way—it’s the same one!” I whipped out my phone to look at the note I had created for myself, and sure enough, there it was: Santal. That mysterious word that sounds like a secret password to an underground society. Santal.
I couldn’t believe that the girl from Coffee Bean and this masculine celeb hairstylist wore the same perfume—and that it smelled slightly different but equally amazing on them both. I knew then that I would never get the perfume out of my head—nor did I particularly want to—and I had to get it. I decided it would be the scent to commemorate my move to Los Angeles. I would buy it, own it, wear it, and forever associate it with this moment in my life.
That weekend, I went to the Le Labo store on West Third Street and excitedly bought a bottle. At Le Labo stores, they print each customer an individual label, with whatever you want it to say. They even have the ability to print emoji. I chose to get “Alina.”
It’s funny because coming from the East Coast, I had never once smelled Santal before—anywhere. Even on my many trips to New York where there is a Le Labo store in Nolita, the heady, spicy, potent smell of Santal had never hit my nose until that morning in The Coffee Bean. Since buying it, I have smelled it wafting through the air on someone at almost every L.A. event and party. And everywhere I go, someone asks me what I’m wearing. The full name is Santal 33, but most people simply say “Santal”—myself now included.
Keep scrolling to shop our favourite Santal products.
Have you ever smelled Santal? If you live in L.A., do you wear it? Tell us in the comments!