• Stunningly scented Sandalwood is one of the world’s most expensive essential oils, prized for its extraordinarily fine fragrance, which is described as soft and sweet, rich, woody, and balsamic.
  • Sandalwood has been valued throughout history for use in religious rites and traditional medicines. It retains a prominent role in folk remedies and in spiritual practices and has also risen to prominence in luxury consumer goods such as perfumes and cosmetics.
  • Classical Sandalwood Essential Oil comes from the East Indian variety, Santalum album. Due to the slow maturity rate of this species and traditionally high demand exceeding sustainable supply, cultivation of Indian Sandalwood is now heavily restricted. NDA sources its Indian Sandalwood only from licensed producers who purchase the raw material through auctions conducted by the Government of India under strict sustainability controls.
  • As an alternative to East Indian Sandalwood, Australian Sandalwood from the Santalum spicatum species has gained popularity. This oil is aromatically close to the classical Indian variety and easier to sustainably produce.    
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil's benefits for aromatherapy include grounding and quieting the mind, promoting a sense of peace and clarity, as well as enhancing mood and sensual feelings. Sandalwood Essential Oil's benefits for cosmetic use include moisturizing and cleansing properties that help to balance the skin’s complexion and to promote full, silky, and lustrous hair.




Sandalwood is a luxurious essential oil with an exquisitely soft, sweet, and woody scent that is characteristic of Oriental perfumes and incense. Sandalwood oil comes from the heartwood of trees in the Santalum genus. It is one of the most expensive oils in the world on account of the trees’ extremely slow growth, taking decades to mature before they can be harvested for oil production.

There are approximately 30 species of sandalwood trees that occur throughout Asia, Australia, and the Pacific region but only a few are widely used for essential oil. East Indian Sandalwood from the Santalum album tree is the source of the classical essential oil, which is still considered the best quality. However, due to aggressive overharvesting, this species is now endangered and produces a limited supply of oil. Efforts are underway to increase sustainable cultivation of East Indian Sandalwood. NDA sources its Indian Sandalwood only from licensed producers who purchase the raw material through auctions conducted by the Government of India under strict sustainability controls. As the supply of this oil is likely to remain limited for some time, a popular alternative is an Australian Sandalwood from the Santalum spicatum tree, which is aromatically similar and also easier to sustainably produce.

The use of Sandalwood has been documented back 4000 years, originating in India and spreading through ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Applications for this material were versatile, spanning the aesthetic, the practical, and the spiritual. Ancient Arabs used pulverized Sandalwood to make incense and solid perfumes while in China, Tibet, and Nepal, this thick and hardy wood was used to build sculptures in temples and monasteries. East Indian Sandalwood oil has further been used as an ingredient in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines for centuries, as part of treatments for the common cold, muscle and digestive problems, infections, inflammation, and to address mental health.

There is a longstanding association between Sandalwood and divinity; the Ancients were fond of building temples and other sacred structures with it, Egyptians used it in embalming and religious rituals, and Indian Muslims burned it as incense to elevate the souls of the recently deceased. Sandalwood still plays a prominent role in Indian spiritual rituals, as it is considered a meditation aid and is often burned on altars as a means of divine communication. In Buddhist practices, it is considered one of three integral incenses, along with Agarwood and Clove.

Today, Sandalwood remains one of the most commercially valuable trees, although its applications have been drastically reduced due to overharvesting and it is now mainly used to produce oil. Inimitably rich and creamy, Sandalwood’s essence is so highly valued and costly that it is often referred to as “liquid gold”, appearing frequently in high-end perfumes and cosmetics. It is further one of the most prized aromatherapy oils, renowned for its superb fragrance and reputed benefits.




Sandalwood oil retains a prominent place in many traditional medicines due to its purifying nature, having demonstrated anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative activity in controlled laboratory studies. It also retains a strong reputation for addressing emotional imbalances due to the calming and uplifting character of its scent.

Used in aromatherapy, Sandalwood Essential Oil is known to help ground and quiet the mind, supporting feelings of peace and clarity. A renowned mood enhancer, this essence is reputed to facilitate all kinds of related benefits, from reduced feelings of tension and anxiety to higher quality sleep and increased mental alertness to enhanced feelings of harmony and sensuality. Centering and balancing, the smell of Sandalwood complement meditation practices by promoting a sense of spiritual wellbeing. A calming oil, it is further reputed to help manage feelings of discomfort due to headaches, coughs, colds, and indigestion, promoting feelings of relaxation instead.

Sandalwood Essential Oil is composed mainly of the free alcohol isomers α-Santalol and β-Santalol and of various other sesquiterpenic alcohols. Santalol is the compound responsible for the oil’s characteristic aroma. In general, the higher the concentration of Santalol, the higher quality of the oil.

α-Santalol is known to:

  • Possess a light woody aroma
  • Be present in a higher concentration than β-Santalol
  • Demonstrate antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic activity in controlled laboratory studies
  • Contribute to the calming influence of Sandalwood Essential Oil and others

β-Santalol is known to:

  • Possess a strong woody aroma with creamy and animalic undertones
  • Possess cleansing properties
  • Demonstrate anti-microbial and anti-carcinogenic activity in controlled laboratory studies
  • Contribute to the calming influence of Sandalwood Essential Oil and others

Sesquiterpenic alcohols are known to:

  • Contribute to the purifying properties of Sandalwood Essential Oil and others
  • Enhance the grounding influence of Sandalwood Essential Oil and others
  • Contribute to the soothing touch of Sandalwood Essential Oil and others

In addition to its aromatherapeutic benefits, Sandalwood Essential Oil benefits for cosmetic purposes are abundant and multifaceted. Used topically, it is gently cleansing and hydrating, helping to smooth the skin and balanced complexion. In hair care, it is known to help maintain a soft texture, and to promote natural volume and lustrousness.




Sandalwood trees are elegant evergreens with slender branches, shiny leathery leaves, small pink-purple-colored flowers, and smooth grey-brown bark. While the Santalum genus encompasses over one hundred species of trees and shrubs around the world, most varieties are native to India, Hawaii or Australia. While shrubs can grow up to 3 meters (10 feet) tall, trees can reach a height of approximately 8-12 meters (26-39 feet) when mature and can live up to 100 years.

Sandalwoods are hardy trees, preferring full sun but capable of growing in partial shade and thriving in poor, dry clay or sandy soils. They are also tolerant of high winds, drought, salt spray, and extreme heat. Young Sandalwood trees are parasitic, extending specialized roots into nearby host trees to siphon nutrients for roughly the first 7 years. Trees produce fruit after about 3 years, at which time birds spread their seeds in the wild. For the propagation of plantation-grown trees, seeds are dried and stored for a period of two months, during which time they are dormant, before being sown to produce the next generation of Sandalwoods. Seeds may be treated with an acidic solution prior to sowing to facilitate germination.

Essential oil does not appear in growing trees until they are roughly 30 years old, and their circumference has exceeded 50 cm. Oil first develops in the roots and spreads gradually throughout the tree. The quality of the oil depends on the age of the tree, and It can take up to 60 years before a tree is considered ready for harvest. The most prized (and most expensive!) oil comes from trees that have been allowed to mature for at least 60 years.

Harvest is a delicate process; the trees cannot simply be chopped down because the oil is spread throughout the roots, branches, and trunk. Rather, trees are carefully uprooted, typically in the rainy season when their oil content is at its richest. Once trees have been uprooted, loggers expose them to white ants, which eat the sapwood and bark, leaving behind the oil-rich heartwood. This is light yellow to reddish-brown in color, fine-grained, heavy, and hard. Sandalwood retains its aromatic character for many years, accounting for its historically luxurious status as a building material.

Once collected, the heartwood is turned into a coarse powder to optimize its quality for extraction. Both the powdered heartwood and the roots undergo steam distillation to produce the pale yellow to gold colored Sandalwood Essential Oil (appropriately nicknamed “liquid gold”). The most highly regarded Sandalwood oil is produced in this fashion from the Mysore district of India’s Karnataka region; this is the variety of oil that is used by most famous fashion houses for their fine fragrance lines.




A base note, Sandalwood makes an excellent fixative for perfumes, as it has strong staying power on the skin and its pleasant dry-down scent is compatible with most other notes. Immensely popular, Sandalwood can be found in as much as 50% of feminine perfumes. It blends especially well with Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Rosewood, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Rose, and it is known to support the less intense middle notes in a blend. Widely considered an aphrodisiac aroma, Sandalwood is often at the base of seductive Oriental fragrances with bold and sumptuous silages.

Incorporating the soothing silage of Sandalwood into your aromatherapy practices will add a serenely grounding influence with a subtle sensuality. Whether used in diffusion, a massage, or a bath blend, Sandalwood Essential Oil has a wonderful influence on the senses, stirring relaxed, uplifted feelings and superb sensuosity. For a calming blend to use in a relaxing bath, combine 5 drops each of Sandalwood, Lemon, and Geranium essential oils and dilute in 5 ml (one teaspoon) of preferred carrier oil. You can make an uplifting blend to help balance negative emotions by combining Sandalwood, Melissa, Rose, and Neroli essential oils in a concentration of 10% each. Add Tangerine oil to this blend in a concentration of 60%. This blend can be diffused, or it can be diluted in a carrier oil for use in a massage or bath.

Used in skincare, Sandalwood Essential Oil is known to be mildly astringent, soothing, and purifying. It can be added to cleansers or moisturizers by adding one drop to a single-sized amount of your regular product for enhanced benefits. It can also be incorporated into masks, lotions, and compresses with complementary oils for deeply cleansing and comforting skincare. For one such formulation to help balance the skin’s oils and improve the appearance of acne, combine Sandalwood, Bergamot, Thyme, and Rosemary essential oils in a concentration of 10% each. Add Lemon oil to this blend in a concentration of 30% and Palmarosa oil in a concentration of 20%. Further, add Juniper and Peppermint oils in a concentration of 5%. A small amount of this blend can be added to the facial treatment of your choice.

For an elegantly scented moisturizing blend suitable for dry or sensitive skin, combine 2 drops of Sandalwood and Frankincense oils with 4 drops of Patchouli and 3 drops of Rose. Blend with 30 ml of sweet almond or macadamia nut oil to dilute. You can make a mask or massage blend to perk up tired-looking skin with 4 drops of Sandalwood, 5 drops of Petitgrain, and 3 drops of Chamomile essential oils blended with 24 ml of apricot kernel carrier oil (or another carrier oil of your choice). Apply as a mask for 10 minutes or massage gently onto the face. As an alternative facial massage blend to replenish moisture in dry skin, combine 3 drops of Sandalwood and Patchouli essential oils with 4 drops of Neroli and 2 drops of Rose or Rosewood. Blend together with 24 ml Jojoba oil and gently massage a small amount into the skin.

Used in haircare, Sandalwood Essential Oil provides moisturizing care for the scalp and tresses, supporting the hair’s natural body and enhancing its shine. The simplest way to use Sandalwood oil in haircare is to add a few drops to a single-use quantity of a regular shampoo or conditioner to promote a silky soft texture and endow it with a lingering lush fragrance. You can make a simple scalp massage blend with 3-5 drops of Sandalwood Essential Oil diluted in 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil. Gently rub this blend into your scalp and rinse with warm water to promote thick and healthy-looking hair. You can also leverage the moisturizing properties of Sandalwood oil to restore a beautiful texture to dry hair simply by adding a few drops to your locks after a shower. This will help to keep the hair hydrated, which enhances a soft and lustrous look. 




Sandalwood Essential Oil Variety & Botanical Name

Country of Origin

Main Constituents

Aromatic Character

Reputed Aromatherapy Benefits

Sandalwood (Australian)

Santalum spicatum


(15 - 25%)

Soft, sweet and woody with a dry, spicy and resinous nuance

  • Grounding, calming, and clarifying
  • Promotes sensual mood

Sandalwood (East Indian)

Santalum album



Soft, sweet, rich balsamic and woody; fuller-bodied, than the Australian varieties

  • Grounding, calming, and clarifying
  • Promotes sensual mood

Sandalwood Organic

Santalum spicatum


(15 - 25%)

Soft, sweet and woody with a dry, spicy and resinous nuance

  • Grounding, calming, and clarifying
  • Promotes sensual mood

Sandalwood (East Indian) 3%

Santalum album


Essential oil diluted in Jojoba Golden carrier oil to a 3% concentration

Mild Sandalwood aroma

  • Grounding, calming, and clarifying
  • Promotes sensual mood





Sandalwood Essential Oil is one of our most luxurious essences. If your olfactory palette has a preference for high-end aromatic ingredients with extensive social histories and symbolism, check out our articles on the perfume powerhouses Rose Absolute and Jasmine Absolute. Or if reading about Sandalwood has given you a finesse for fine forest fragrances, have a look at our article on Cedarwood Essential Oils for more insight into the wonders of woody essences.




As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, Sandalwood Essential Oil is for external use only. Due to the highly concentrated nature of Sandalwood Essential Oil, it must be diluted with a carrier oil prior to topical use. It is recommended to seek the guidance of a medical practitioner before using this oil if pregnant, nursing, or on medication. Use of this oil should be avoided for those who have recently undergone major surgery. A physician should also be consulted before using this oil for those who are at a heightened risk of heart attack, stroke, atherosclerosis, or severe allergic reaction, or for those who have a pre-existing health condition of any kind.

Potential adverse reactions from the use of this essential oil include headaches or nausea from inhalation, and skin irritation or allergic reaction from topical use. To avoid such reactions, it is recommended to perform a skin patch test prior to using this oil topically and not to exceed recommended concentrations for aromatherapeutic use.

To perform a skin test, mix 1 drop of Sandalwood Essential Oil with 4 drops of carrier oil and apply a dime-sized amount of the blend to a small area of skin that is not known to be sensitive. In the event of an adverse reaction, discontinue use of the product and see medical healthcare professional for appropriate remedial action. 

Sandalwood Essential Oil must not be used near the eyes, inner nose, ears, or on any areas of the skin that are known to be sensitive. This product should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, particularly those under the age of 7.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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