In the dry heat, sandalwood can be a boon. To tether loose ends. And while many ‘sandalwood’ perfumes these days can be sickeningly ‘cashmeran’ and buttery in their base notes  – an accord both D and I I avoid like the plague –  it is possible to find alternatives that make up for the lack of true Mysore sandalwood oil available by playing with other ingredients to make individualistic boisé perfumes that will see you through to the evening, and beyond.





Santal Nabatea, from Mona Di Orio’s Monogram collection, doesn’t ‘read’ as a sandalwood per se, but I like its dry peppered elegance. Inspired by the culture that flourished in the 4th century BC around Petra and the Arabian peninsula, there is something in this very wearable perfume that reminds me of the long disappeared bright, wood floral for men, Insensé by Givenchy: black currant bud and oleander in the top notes along with apricot and a tart dose of freshly pressed black pepper cede to opoponax and tonka bean in a way that is subdued and unimpinging but also quite contentedly ‘lost in your own reverie’. You can imagine actually touring the ancient palaces of Jordan wearing this, leaving your hotel fresh and clean.





Olfactive O promises to find you a ‘perfume for your personality’ ( ; the idea is that you read the description of the character traits provided and select the scent that seems closest to your inner self. I am not sure if people can be reduced so easily, nor whether any of the personas presented would directly speak to me (if I were a woman or otherwise), but Skin, the scent in the collection that is designed to be used either alone by itself or layered with other selections, is a nice rendition of a skin scent sandalwood/vetiver/iris that is well balanced and affordable.  Ambrette and beeswax add a touch of musky sweetness, while a fresher top note of magnolia adds a linen-close intimacy. The scent blooms on skin in a familiarly sandalwoody fashion that is nevertheless not overdone or flagrant : for those that like the Prada Infusion D’Iris style of office-wearable floral warmth but tire of that perfume’s insistency, this would make a quieter, pleasingly intimate, alternative.





Also from the UK is former Gorilla perfumer Simon Constantine, who has formed his own eco-conscious and ethically sustainable house Typically off the radar and olfactively challenging, I found this perfume at first quite off-puttingly weird; sweet spearmint-like ethereal floatings above banana and cardamom pod in a peculiarly high-pitched heart of Australian sandalwood, labdanum and benzoin   — the blend didn’t speak to me at all. As it settles, though, this turns out to be a very unusual and original take on the sandalwood trope that sings in its own key (probably A#) : and is strangely appealing. Centering. Even haunting. What is it about sandalwood? It is far from being my favourite note in perfumery, and yet there is something so cooling psychologically about the essence that warms the spirits while strengthening the outlook. For nervine sustenance, and if you like to prevail in the woodier notes in summertime, all three of these perfumes are probably worth your attention.










Filed under Sandalwood


  1. Z

    I am so, so grumpy(read in italics please) about the state of everything, but reading this helped immensely. The Olfactive O pick sounds lovely. Obsessed with anything “skin but better”. Have you tried Dōjima by Mona di Orio? I love it, though as possibly evidenced by the skin scent preference, I’m a freak for anything with “rice” notes. (couldn’t find anything about the name, dōjima, is it an island?)

    • I tried that one this morning and really liked it actually. You read my mind.

      Skin might be a little ‘everyday’, I don’t know – but I immediately thought it was well done when I smelled it. Woody enough; sweet enough; very pleasant. And as intended, it could also be really good for layering.

      Glad to be of assistance in your mood boosting. We all need to do that for each other right now.

  2. bibimaizoon

    Olfactive O’s fragrance sounds like something I would definitely wear. (I really don’t understand how fragrance can reduced to personality traits as scent associations are largely cultural and certainly not universal by any means.) The And Fragrance with banana and cardamom sounds really interesting though.

    • It spooked me a bit at first I must confess (I must be getting very boring in my old age), but then I found I kept coming back to my wrist to smell it, whereas when I hate something I just hate it and want it off me. The Olfactive O is definitely good for a casual Friday where you just want something easy and snug.

  3. Robin

    Can’t say I’m a massive fan of sandalwood-centric fragrances, but. You make these sound like they’re worth looking out for. I especially like the Mona di Orio label and all the notes you mention appeal to me. Their vetiver is one of the oddest and yet best I’ve encountered. Wonder if you’ve tried it? I know you like vetivers in principle.

    • Have it on my hand as we speak! Quite liking it. The Di Orio Santal is pleasing, too.

    • Re the Sand by And; I tried it again, and the first 30 minutes are too much – like eating mint choc chip ice cream in a barnyard .The dry down is quite nice but I couldn’t go through that each time. I need to be seduced from the very first second.

      • Robin

        Me too. A crucial part of the whole experience is the first inhalation. And the next half hour? What’s the point if that 30 minutes has got to be endured or even suffered through and not experienced as intense pleasure? Nope. I’m with you. Something’s wrong with a composition that behaves that poorly! Fatally flawed, imo. When I think of all the fragrances that bring deep joy every second of the way. That’s where I want to put my money. Life is too short.

  4. Tara C

    My favourite sandalwood is 10 Corso Como. The MdO is nice as well, though longevity is not great on me. House of Matriarch Coco Blanc is also an enjoyable sandalwood.

  5. I’ve always loved sandalwood in a fragrance composition, I have never really worn a scent where it was the star of it all, well unless one counts the copious amount of sandalwood in Samsara. I remember when i worked for Elizabeth Arden they made a wonderful Sandalwood for men fragrance and that was out of this world. I don’t think it is still being made though.
    I have never tried a Mona di Orio scent, and I call myself a parfumista; heresy I know. Which ones in her line do you feel are outstanding?

    • I think you would definitely find her perfumes at the very least not boring (did you like any of those Barcelona Almah ones by the way or were they just too harsh?I thought some of the masculines were quite good)

      The Di Orios always have something enigmatic blended in; more indecipherable than other niche scents, although I haven’t found a personal ‘bingo’ moment with any of them yet that makes me scream with joy. I would definitely recommend trying the sample sets though if you would like to try something authentic. Lux is quite similar to Mouchoir De Monsieur (she was never afraid of dirty base notes); I can imagine you getting along well with Rose Etoile De Hollande as well. The house’s perfumes have a quiet authority.

      • The Barcelona Almah scents aren’t bad, per se, but they are a little rough around the edges for my liking. I much prefer the Carner Barcelona fragrances, but again, there is a rough quality in some of those as well.
        I shall take the plunge and order a sample set of MdO fragrances, well next month, my budget has been exhausted this month already.

      • I definitely think ‘rough around the edges’ is the perfect description (and there are too many), but I personally really liked the Halong Heaven and a couple of others.

        Mona di Orio will at the very least not bore you, I think.

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