Sandalwood is the Way to Go if You Want to Smell Sultry This Summer

Because not everyone wants to smell flowery in the warmer months.
Publish date:
April 21, 2015
sandalwood, fragrance, summer fragrances, unisex fragrances, fall fragrances

I've never been one for light, floral fragrances. Even in the spring and summer I prefer fragrances that are dark, musky, spicy, and sensual. Still, I'm not crazy--I put aside my beloved Tom Ford Black Orchid until winter.

Instead, I'm reaching for sandalwood fragrances as the weather warms up. My goal for the summer is to wear only the skimpiest of black clothes and a golden (fake) tan, and I feel like sandalwood pairs well with that aesthetic.

Here are my three favorite sandalwood fragrances that both men and women will love, and that you can wear year-round.

Nest White Sandalwood, $68

First off, the sillage and longevity of this scent is insane, which automatically gets it a high rating from me. It lasts from one day to the next, clings to my clothes, and wafts through the air whenever I move. The only downside to that, of course, is that I can't use it if I have a headache.

White Sandalwood is a unisex fragrance, but I think it leans rather feminine. It is composed of white Indian sandalwood, creamy almond, spices, and white musk. The final result is intoxicating: the perfect mixture of sweetness and woodsy musk.

It's warm and sultry, and like I said, it positively emanates off of the body for hours. It's the perfect scent to wear when going out on a summer night.

Find it at Sephora or

Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule, $95

Santal Majuscule, as opposed to White Sandalwood, is more of skin scent; you have to put your nose to your wrist to sniff it. It has good staying power though, and seriously smells delicious. When I first sniffed it I literally exclaimed "Mmm!" It has notes of sandalwood, cocoa, and damask rose--all blended so well that it leads to a multi-faceted, complex scent experience.

The opening blast on my skin is quite spicy, but then the dry-down settles into a warm, cozy sandalwood base with a sweet touch of fresh rose. I don't usually like rose, but it's amazing in this fragrance.

The end result is surprisingly soft, and not overpowering at all. This would probably be the best of the three to wear during the day in the summer. It truly smells like the bottle looks: a warm, amber brown with just the right mix of masculinity and femininity.

A tip: You can get Santal Majuscule with a large discount at $95 instead of $115. (They also offer 20% for joining their mailing list.)

MEMO Paris Italian Leather, $250

I'm not sure I could pick a favorite of the three, but if I had to, it would probably be this one. I guess I have expensive taste. Italian Leather is relatively new, launched in 2013. It actually reminds me of Diptyque Volutes, another favorite of mine.

The top notes are tomato leaf, vanilla and leather, while the base notes are sandalwood, myrrh, and musk (those are just a few; read the full list of notes here). It's a very complex, layered fragrance.

When first sprayed, the opening notes are a bit harsh to my nose (I blame the tomato leaf), but the dry-down is amazing. I love that, despite the name, it's not a pure leather fragrance. You can definitely detect the leather throughout, but once the green top notes fade away, you're enveloped in a warm daze of sandalwood and vanilla.

It is very much a niche fragrance, but if any of this sounds appealing to you, I suggest seeking out a sample to try. And if you end up splurging on the full size (available at, it comes in a beautiful box, and the equally beautiful bottle is extremely generous in size. Memo puts a lot of thought into every aspect of their fragrances and it shows.

Honorable Mentions

I really love Demeter Sandalwood ($20), which is a great budget option. It's just pure sandalwood: nothing artificial or synthetic about it. They actually source high quality sandalwood out of Tamil Nadu.

It smells very masculine, but I personally love that on my skin; I think it's sexy.

Pacifica Sandalwood ($22) is also a good budget option, especially if you prefer something a bit lighter; it has strong citrus notes over a sandalwood base.

Both the rollerball ($12) and the solid perfume ($9) are ideal for toting around in your purse or pocket all summer.

Finally, I'm excited to try Chanel Bois des Iles and Tom Ford Santal Blush. What can I say? I'm addicted to sandalwood at the moment.

  • Do you like sandalwood fragrances?
  • Which of these sounds most intriguing to you? Have you tried any of them?
  • Did I leave out anyone's favorite sandalwood fragrance?