I Fell for Le Labo's Santal 33 Just Like the Rest of the World and I Don't Care if That Makes Me a Sucker

I mean, even Justin frickin' BEIBER wears it.
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Publish date:
December 22, 2016
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cult favorites, perfume, fragrance, le labo, Justin Bieber, Santal 33, Cult Scents

I live in Minnesota, where we have zero access to Le Labo fragrances. Yes, you can order them online, but it's way more fun to pick one out in-store and have it hand-mixed right before your very eyes. That's why I always pick up a new bottle when I visit New York. They're not cheap, but I get so obsessed with a certain fragrance that I can't forget about it and neeeeed to own it.

On my last trip (with my mom and my BFF John in tow), I thought I was destined for a bottle of Lys 41. I'd enjoyed it during a trip to Las Vegas, enough to where I was ready to take the plunge and purchase. However, I stopped to try out Le Labo's most famous aroma, Santal 33, and things changed.

Everyone wears Santal 33 in NYC and LA. Justin frickin' Bieber wears it. I was like, No thanks, I don't want the cult favorite. I want something different! I'm ~*unique*~ and different, OK?

Mom, John and I popped in to the NoLiTa Le Labo before dinner one night and I spritzed some on just to test it, and for the rest of the night I could not stop sniffing my wrist. It was masculine. It was feminine. It was smoky. It was floral. It was shapeshifting in my nostrils. It was elegant but edgy. It was sophisticated but down-to-earth. It was love.

Le Labo considers Santal 33 a fragrance the Marlboro Man would love, and while I get that, I find it much more enticing on a woman than on some dusty ole cowboy. Its main notes are violet, iris, cardamom and a spicy leather note, which does convey the idea of a cowboy (or cowgirl!) on horseback on a bright spring day, cantering through some flowers all chill and stuff.

Santal 33 is much more unisex than its description would suggest; in fact, at times it feels almost powdery. It's the kind of thing my boyfriend or my brother can swipe from my dresser when they're at my house and feel perfectly at home wearing, but I can totally wear it with an evening dress, too. It's a scent that's out of my comfort zone, which is why I enjoy it so much. Le Labo tends to make fragrances like that, cementing its status as one of my favorite fragrance lines. Their stuff is expensive, but it isn't boring (If you're curious, my mom took home Rose 31 and John snagged Iris 39).

It's easy to think, OK, so this is a really popular product, which means I'm supposed to hate it by nature, right? That's how I felt about Santal 33, but it turns out that it was right up my dang alley. Things are cult faves for a reason! Now that I've smelled the smoky-powdery-violet-cowgirl vibes of Santal 33, I'm addicted. I even want the body oil and the laundry detergent so my whole life can smell like the stuff. I'm taking solace that because no one in Minneapolis wears it yet, I'm still kind of a special snowflake.

  • Have you fallen for Santal 33?
  • What are your favorite cult scents?
  • How do you think a cowgirl should smell?