The 12 Best Sandalwood Colognes for Men, Tested by a Grooming Editor

The 12 Best Sandalwood Colognes for Men, Tested by a Grooming Editor

Best Everyday Sandalwood Cologne

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

Best Everyday Sandalwood Cologne

Le Labo Santal 33 Eau de Parfum

At this point, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more ubiquitous sandalwood scent than Santal 33. That’s not a bad thing. The smooth, warm scent is distinctive, but not overpowering with warm notes of cardamom and ambrox, subtle floral notes of iris and violet and a trifecta of smokey woods from cedarwood, papyrus and, of course, sandalwood. There is literally nowhere this cologne isn’t appropriate, or identifiable.

Fragrance Family Fragrance Family
Notes Sandalwood, cedarwood, papyrus, iris, violet, cardamom, ambrox, leather
Size .5 oz, 1.7 oz, 3.4 oz

Best Budget Sandalwood Cologne

Ind. For Them Sandalwood

For Them Sandalwood

Best Budget Sandalwood Cologne

Ind. For Them Sandalwood

You don’t always have to shell out big bucks for a really good cologne. Case in point, this inexpensive unisex scent by Urban Outfitters, which smells just as rich and layered as the designer scents you find at the department store. Sandalwood comes center stage with this one but is freshened up with a bouquet of botanical notes like jasmine and bergamot with a shot of incense for spice and vanilla for smoothness.

Fragrance Family Woody
Notes Sandalwood, cashmere wood, vanilla, incense, jasmine, juniper berries, bergamot
Size 1.35 oz

Best Fresh Sandalwood Cologne

Creed Original Santal Fragrance

Original Santal Fragrance

Best Fresh Sandalwood Cologne

Creed Original Santal Fragrance

LIke all Creed fragrances, this sandalwood-forward cologne just smells expensive (and it is). There is a spicy warmth to it that dries down to expose the smooth sandalwood that’s bolstered by musk, cedar and tonka bean for a fresh, sweet, almost soapy vibe that not only smells masculine but lasts (and lasts and lasts) for hours. It might not be as in-your-face as some other of the brand’s bolder scents, but it’s just as distinctive.

Fragrance Family Woody, Amber
Notes Sandalwood, juniper berries, coriander, ginger, tonka bean, musk, cedar
Size 1.7 oz, 3.3 oz

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Best Warm Sandalwood Cologne

Tom Ford Santal Blush

Santal Blush

Best Warm Sandalwood Cologne

Tom Ford Santal Blush

Tom Ford might be known for his bold fragrances, but no one does refined subtlety like Mr. Ford either. This warm woody cologne is all about smooth warmth with top notes of spices like cinnamon, caraway and fenugreek, middle notes of ylang-ylang and jasmine and a base of sandalwood, oud and musk. It’s the type of cologne that begs people to lean in closer.

Read more: Best Tom Ford Colognes

Fragrance Family Woody, Amber
Notes Cinnamon, caraway, fenugreek, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, oud, musk
Size 1.7 oz

Best Classic Sandalwood Cologne

Davidoff Cool Water

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Cool Water

Best Classic Sandalwood Cologne

Davidoff Cool Water

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Chances are you don’t need an introduction to Cool Water. It’s one of the most popular (and iconic) men’s fragrances ever created (in 1988, in fact, and still going strong). What makes it stand out, particularly when it comes to the use of sandalwood, is the aquatic freshness. Many colognes lean into the woodiness of the ingredient, but this fresh cologne uses it to round out the aquatic elements with a smooth earthiness.

Fragrance Family Aquatic
Notes Sea water, lavender, mint, sandalwood, neroli, jasmine, musk, oakmoss, cedar
Size 2.5 oz, 4.2 oz, 6.7 oz

Best Clean Sandalwood Cologne

Acqua di Parma Sandalo Eau de Parfum

Sandalo Eau de Parfum

Best Clean Sandalwood Cologne

Acqua di Parma Sandalo Eau de Parfum

Paired with fresh notes of orange, calabrian bergamot, lemon and lavender, this version of sandalwood takes on a masculine, almost barbershop feel. It’s traditional, but not heavy, and has a soapy clean quality that many other sandalwood-forward fragrances lack. It’s ideal for daytime, when you don’t want to overpower the room, but also appropriate for a quick refresh in the evening.

Fragrance Family Woody, Fresh
Notes Orange, calabrian bergamot, lemon, jasmin, lavender, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber
Size .67 oz, 3.3 oz, 6 oz

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Best Fruity Sandalwood Cologne

Montblanc Legend Eau de Toilette

Legend Eau de Toilette

Best Fruity Sandalwood Cologne

Montblanc Legend Eau de Toilette

This legendary cologne is almost instantly recognizable because it somehow smells unique and familiar at the same time. It’s sweeter and fresher than most of the other fragrances on this list thanks to the top notes of pineapple, lavender, and bergamot as well as middle notes of red apple and dried fruits. These fruity notes give it a freshness, not an overly sweet feeling, that complements the smooth, earthy sandalwood at its base for an incredibly wearable scent.

Fragrance Family Fresh
Notes Pineapple, lavender, bergamot, red apple, dried fruits, geranium, oakmoss, sandalwood, tonka bean
Size .5 oz, 1.7 oz, 3.3 oz

Best Refined Sandalwood Cologne

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Eternity for Men

Best Refined Sandalwood Cologne

Calvin Klein Eternity for Men

Another icon in the men’s fragrance world, smelling Eternity is like an instant time warp back to the 90’s. In a very good way. Crisp, fresh and woody, it’s a romantic, youthful fragrance that has stood the test of time and remains a guaranteed attention getter. It can be subtle or it can be bold depending on how you wear it but it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Fragrance Family Fresh, Woody
Notes Lavender, lemon, bergamot, sage, juniper berries, sandalwood, vetiver, musk
Size 3.4 oz

Best Designer Sandalwood Cologne

Chanel Eau de Parfum Spray

Eau de Parfum Spray

Best Designer Sandalwood Cologne

Chanel Eau de Parfum Spray

There’s a complexity to this cologne that makes it extremely versatile. It’s fresh at first spray but dries down to a woody, sexier base that is modern and masculine. This parfum version is bolder and stronger, and lasts longer, but doesn’t lose any of the versatility that makes this iconic cologne appropriate for day, night and any time in between.

Fragrance Family Fresh, Woody
Notes Grapefruit, lemon, mint, pink pepper, ginger, nutmeg, jasmine, sandalwood, cedar, incense
Size 1.7 oz, 3.4 oz, 5 oz

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Best Niche Sandalwood Cologne

Perfumhead Somewhere Extrait de Parfum

Somewhere Extrait de Parfum

Best Niche Sandalwood Cologne

Perfumhead Somewhere Extrait de Parfum

What makes this sandalwood-based scent so good is how it evolves on your skin. At first spray is fresh and floral with notes of bergamot, neroli and blood mandarin and then the musk emerges to give it a sweaty, skin-like element. Finally, the neroli stays around but gets brought down to earth with the help of sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss. The subtly evokes the way your skin naturally smells; only way, way better.

Fragrance Family Floral, Fresh
Notes Bergamot, neroli, blood mandarin, cumin, jasmine, orris, sandalwood, musk, oakmoss
Size 1.7 oz

Best Cozy Sandalwood Cologne

Memo Paris Inverness Eau de Parfum

Inverness Eau de Parfum

Best Cozy Sandalwood Cologne

Memo Paris Inverness Eau de Parfum

Inspired by the mossy, green, earthy landscape of Scotland, this warm, soothing fragrance is as cozy as they come. Grounded in cedarwood and sandalwood, there are also notes of orris butter and amyris oil to give it a smooth, creamy, almost powdery finish. It’s less “sitting by the fire” and more “a cup of tea after traversing the forests.”

Fragrance Family Woody
Notes Orris butter, amyris, cedarwood, sandalwood, mate
Size 2.5 oz

Best Outdoorsy Sandalwood Cologne

Every Man Jack Sandalwood Cologne

Sandalwood Cologne

Best Outdoorsy Sandalwood Cologne

Every Man Jack Sandalwood Cologne

Ok, let’s not forget that sandalwood is still a wood, which means it lends itself incredibly well to outdoor-inspired scents. This manly mix of amber, vanilla, sandalwood and vetiver is fresh and smooth and undeniably woody; the type of scent for guys who would rather be hiking. It’s also surprisingly long lasting so less is more with this one.

Fragrance Family Woody
Notes Sandalwood, amber, vanilla, vetiver
Size 3.4 oz

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What Is Sandalwood?

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When you see sandalwood listed in cologne notes, it’s probably referring to sandalwood oil, which comes from the Santalum album tree, which is native to India and Southeast Asia. there are 19 species of sandalwood trees and can also be found in places like Hawaii and Australia, but Indian sandalwood is the most desireable for fragrance. It is still an extremely rare type of tree; and is very, very expensive because of how rare it is. In fragrance, using pure sandalwood oil can make the price of a cologne skyrocket, so you’ll often find synthetic sandalwoods which are molecules created in labs that smell like the real thing.

How is Sandalwood Used in Cologne?

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Most often, you’ll find sandalwood used in the base notes of a fragrance. Base notes are the foundation of a fragrance and these notes tend to linger on the skin for the longest period of time. Deeper notes like woods, amber, vanilla and oud tend to work well in base notes. Increasingly, you’ll find sandalwood used in middle notes as well, which are the “heart” of a fragrance and act as the bridge between the top notes and base notes.

What Does Sandalwood Smell Like?

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Sandalwood is an extremely common note in fragrance, particularly men’s cologne, because of its versatility. Pure sandalwood has a warm, smooth, woody scent to it, which makes it ideal for wintertime scents. But depending on what it’s mixed with, it can take on sweet, creamy, smokey, light and amber elements in addition to the woodiness. It mixes well with all the fragrance families like fresh, floral, spicy and amber.

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How We Selected

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For this story, editor Garrett Munce tested over a dozen sandalwood colognes to find the best ones from a variety of fragrance families and price points. And as a grooming expert with more than a decade of experience trying colognes, Munce is constantly researching the best men’s fragrances worth shopping.

Read More About the Best Colognes for Men to Shop Now

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Headshot of Garrett Munce

Garrett Munce

Garrett Munce writes about men’s style and grooming. He’s written for Esquire, New York Magazine, Spotlyte, and Very Good Light and held staff positions at GQ and W. Follow his skincare obsession on Instagram at @garrettmunce.

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