Sandalwood oil’s benefits: history and science

The sensual, sweet, deep aroma of sandalwood and sandalwood oil have been used for centuries in rituals, purification, and incense.

More recently, science has revealed a whole host of benefits and uses for sandalwood oil.

It turns out that sandalwood trees create a unique variety of compounds rarely found in any other plant. They’re called santalols.

Thanks to the research on santalols (and the combination of other natural components found in sandalwood oil), we now know that sandalwood oil may help to:

  • Soothe irritation, such as itchy or damaged skin
  • Purify the skin to reduce breakouts
  • Help create a smooth, even, radiant complexion
  • Support wellbeing during cold and allergy season
  • Massage tender, hardworking muscles and joints
  • Create the perfect environment for deep, restorative sleep
  • Calm anxious, nervous feelings with its intoxicating scent

And of course, sandalwood oil’s gorgeous, sensual aroma makes it a must-have for natural perfumers. Base notes like sandalwood are “fixatives,” meaning their heavy aromas help the scent of natural perfume stick around for a longer time.

How to use sandalwood oil: 7 recipes

1. Deepen your meditation with sandalwood oil

Add a few drops of sandalwood oil to skin-soothing lotion. Use it before meditation to feel grounded in your body and connected with inner peace.

2. Make enchanting sandalwood + citrus perfume

Experience one of the most time-honored uses of this intoxicating oil with a sensual perfume oil that blends woodsy sandalwood with sparkling grapefruit.

3. Sink into relaxation with sandalwood oil

Work stress and knots out of your muscles with the relaxing, tension-relieving touch of sandalwood in a massage oil.

4. Clear your complexion with sandalwood facial care

Get a smooth, matte complexion by balancing your skin’s oil production with this aloe-based sandalwood skin gel.

5. Soothe itchiness or irritated skin with sandalwood gel

Massage those itchy toes with this cooling aloe and sandalwood foot gel! Toss it in your gym bag and give your feet a treat after your shower.

6. Face cold season with confidence

Moisturize your skin with this protective sandalwood blend to support your immune response against seasonal threats.

7. Use sandalwood oil to massage your muscles and joints

Need some TLC? Massage tender, puffy-looking areas with this comforting blend of sandalwood, cinnamon, and other soothing oils.

Sandalwood oil safety tips

Sandalwood oil is a safe, gentle oil when diluted properly (learn more about diluting essential oils safely here).

Robert Tisserand, co-author of Essential Oil Safety, suggests sticking with a maximum topical dilution of 2% (10 to 12 drops of essential oil per 1 oz/30 ml of carrier), to avoid overwhelming your skin and causing irritation.

Sandalwood oil is often adulterated with synthetics. Be sure you’re getting sandalwood oil from a reliable, conscious company. One of the best ways to do this is to ask the company you’re purchasing from for a GC/MS report. This lab report will map out all of the chemical components present in the oil you’re purchasing. That way, you can see the amount of santalols and other components that are present.

Learn More About Essential Oil Safety

Sandalwood oil and sustainability

sandalwood plant material

Because sandalwood (Santalum album) has been so prized for such a long time (over 3,000 years!), overharvesting is a problem—as is smuggling.

It requires close relationships with other plants to thrive (sandalwood is semi-parasitic), and it must be carefully cultivated for decades before the wood is ready for harvesting.

At Aromatics, we get our sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oil from friends in Australia who cultivate organic sandalwood trees on their plantation—where they have plenty of space to focus on nurturing sandalwood trees at every stage of growth. They harvest and distill their essential oil in a sustainable, ecologically friendly way.

Learn More About Sustainability

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Sandalwood Oil
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Adorjan, B. & Buchbauer, G. (2010) Biological properties of essential oils: an updated review. Flavour & Fragrance Journal 25, 407-426.

Baylac, S. and Racine, P. (2003) Inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase by essential oils and other natural fragrant extracts. International Journal of Aromatherapy 13, 2/3, 138-142.

Erligmann, A. (2001) Sandalwood oils. International Journal of Aromatherapy 11, 4, 186-192.

Mitoshi, M., Kuriyama, I., Nakayama, H., Miyazato, H., Sugimoto, K., Kobayashi, Y., Jippo, T., Kuramochi, K., Yoshida, H. and Mizushina, Y. (2014) Suppression of allergic and inflammatory responses by essential oils derived from herbal plants and citrus fruits. International Journal of Molecular Medicine 33, 1643-1651.

Price, S. and Price, L (2007) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals 3rd Edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

August 10, 2020 — Karen Williams