There are many sandalwood oil benefits for the skin, hair, and mood. For example, sandalwood is an astringent that tones and moisturizes damaged skin, which is why it’s used in aftershave and moisturizers. Then, it boosts the hair’s shine and body and has antimicrobial properties that may reduce dandruff. Finally, the woodsy aroma eases anxiety and calms the mind, so it’s no wonder that it’s used for meditation and massage.
Unfortunately, sandalwood essential oil tends to be expensive because the tree it comes from takes a long time to mature. Worse, the tree has to be felled to extract the oil, so sandalwood isn’t as renewable as other essential oils distilled from flowers and leaves.
Don’t be fooled by a cheap price tag. Real sandalwood essential oil is worth the expense, especially if you’re using it for skin care. If all you want is the best sandalwood essential oil for a diffuser, you might get by with a fragrance oil instead.
But if you’re serious (like Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr) about getting the most from sandalwood essential oil, read on.
In the reviews below, we’ll show you the best sandalwood oil for skin and explain why certain brands are better than others. We’ll also explain the difference between Austrian, Indian, and Hawaiian sandalwood.
What is sandalwood essential oil good for?
Sandalwood has been worn as a perfume since ancient times. It’s also recognized as having medicinal properties and was used to preserve mummies in ancient Egypt (1).
One of the key components in sandalwood is called santalol. It’s antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory. Very high quality sandalwood essential oil made from mature trees is rich in santalol.
If you use sandalwood for skincare, it purifies and calms the skin. It helps regulate sebum production, too, making it effective for managing acne. Add a drop to your moisturizer to soothe and hydrate after hair removal or exfoliating.
If you’re struggling with dry, dull strands, hair loss, or dandruff, add sandalwood essential oil to your shampoo and conditioner or dilute it with a carrier to make a hair mask.
What other essential oils go well with sandalwood?
Our favorite anti-acne blend includes sandalwood, rosemary, and lemon. Feel free to add sandalwood to frankincense to maximize its healing power.
Expert aromatherapists suggest blending sandalwood with florals like jasmine, lavender, and geranium. Also, citrus oils like bergamot and lemon go well with sandalwood.
Calm sensitive skin with rose (essential not absolute oil), sandalwood, frankincense, and patchouli in a base of grapeseed or sweet almond oil.
Since sandalwood oil is very potent, it’s necessary to dilute it with a carrier. Diluting doesn’t weaken the oil. It just makes it safe to use to avoid allergic reactions and sensitizing the skin from repeated use.
If you plan to diffuse sandalwood, don’t dilute it. By nature, it’s a viscous oil and some diffusers may struggle with it. However, if you blend it with a few drops of other essential oils like the ones above, it will help the diffuser cope.
How to recognize the best sandalwood essential oil
Sandalwood has a soft, woody aroma with hints of balsam and earth. It’s yellow and thick.
If you have any doubts about the quality of the essential oil you’ve purchased, contact the manufacturer. The reputable brands have batch-specific tests ensuring the oil’s purity.
For instance, laboratories use GC/MS testing. GC, or gas chromatography, vaporizes the oil into a gas and checks the components like santalol and if there are any contaminants.
Next, MS, or mass spectrometry, counts the number of molecules in a sample to get the weight of the oil and make sure it matches what’s standard.
Many facilities also use RI, or a refractive index test, to make sure the oil isn’t adulterated with additives. And some quality control teams perform organoleptic testing where they smell and feel the oil, too.
The differences between Indian, Australian, and Hawaiian sandalwood
The original sandalwood essential oil, Santalum album, came from Mysore, India. Although the trees are still raised and harvested legally in that country, the Indian government restricts sales to licensed producers and many essential oil brands have turned to Australian and Hawaiian-grown sandalwood trees instead.
(There’s also African sandalwood, AKA Muhuhu oil, which is used in perfumery, but it’s not a true sandalwood. And don’t forget the West Indian sandalwood, Amyris balsamifera, which is much less expensive and sometimes used to thin true sandalwood essential oil. That’s why you want to go with a reputable manufacturer).
Australian sandalwood, Santalum spicatum, has a lower amount of santalol than the original Indian oil, so it’s claimed to be less therapeutic. It also tends to have a more woodsy aroma. However, it’s easier to raise sustainably than Indian sandalwood.
Hawaiian sandalwood, Santalum paniculatum, grows at a high elevation on the Big Island. It smells a little sweeter and a bit like leather. Sadly, this species is heading down the same road as the original Indian sandalwood as it’s over-harvested (2).
The reason why sandalwood essential oil is so expensive
Sandalwood trees are evergreens that can live up to a hundred years old. They start as parasitic little shrubs that rely on neighboring trees for food during the first seven years of life.
At three years of age, they start producing fruit that birds eat. That’s how the seeds spread in the wild.
But they don’t start producing essential oil until they’re about thirty years old or at about 20 inches in diameter. The oil starts in the roots and gradually spreads through the tree, but it can take decades to reach every part. The most expensive sandalwood essential oil comes from trees that are at least sixty years old.
Once the tree is ready for harvest, it’s uprooted, not chopped down, because even the roots have value. Usually, this happens in the rainy season when the trees have the richest oil.
In traditional tree farms, the loggers let ants eat the bark, leaving the heartwood exposed. If you’ve ever been around sandalwood, you know it smells delightful just like the oil.
Finally, the wood is chopped into a powder and the oil is extracted with steam distillation. As you can see, it’s a long process that ends in the death of the tree, which is why the oil is so expensive.
If you’re ready to treasure and enjoy the benefits of sandalwood essential oil, here are our top picks below.
|The best sandalwood essential oil
|Why we love it
|Plant Therapy Sandalwood Australian Organic Essential Oil
|Plant Therapy Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil
|Rocky Mountain Oils - Sandalwood
|NOW Essential Oils, Sandalwood Oil, 14% Blend of Pure Sandalwood Oil in Pure Jojoba Oil
|Edens Garden Sandalwood- Hawaiian Essential Oil
Best Sandalwood Essential Oil in 2023
Plant Therapy Sandalwood Australian Organic Essential Oil
At the time of writing, 100% pure, undiluted sandalwood essential oil might cost over three hundred dollars an ounce. That’s why you often see it sold in tiny 5ml bottles. They might only hold one-sixth of an ounce, but at least they’re affordable.
On the bright side, you can get about a hundred drops out of a 5ml bottle. Since you should be diluting the oil to use it on your skin or hair, a small bottle might last you a while. If you do aromatherapy with an ultrasonic diffuser that uses water, you still only need a few drops. Try adding five drops of sandalwood with two drops of bergamot for a relaxing aroma to clear the mind.
Plant Therapy offers both USDA-certified organic and non-organic versions of Australian sandalwood, and the organic costs more. But in either case, the oil is sold directly to the public to keep prices down, and they are extensively tested for purity and quality. Each bottle comes with a code to double-check the GC/MS test results. Plus, the oils are packaged in amber-colored glass with a Euro dropper top to keep them fresh.
If you have any questions about the oils, the company employs certified aromatherapists to answer them.
- USDA-certified organic, pure, undiluted
- Each batch must pass organoleptic and GC/MS testing and results can be verified by the customer
- Certified aromatherapists available to answer questions
- Sold directly to the public
- The organic version is a little more expensive than the nonorganic below
Plant Therapy Australian Sandalwood Essential Oil
You can save cash by getting the regular Australian Sandalwood essential oil. It’s undiluted and has passed multiple rounds of testing for purity and quality. Plant Therapy uses third-party laboratories to verify each batch of the oil with gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and organoleptic review.
- Has passed multiple rounds of tests including GC/MS, and organoleptic review
- Less expensive than organic essential oil
- Not certified organic, but it has undergone testing for purity
Rocky Mountain Oils – Sandalwood
If you’re looking for the best Indian sandalwood essential oil, pure Santalum album from India, this is the good stuff.
Rocky Mountain uses gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to check the purity and potency of each essential oil they sell. They vet suppliers before purchasing from them, and those suppliers must abide by strict guidelines.
When the oils arrive at the facility, the company tests samples from each batch. They rule out any oil that contains diluents, contaminants, or synthetic ingredients.
Lastly, a third-party laboratory verifies that the oil is as advertised.
Although this brand doesn’t manufacture essential oils, we are confident in the quality of its products. Also, they don’t use a multilevel marketing scheme with middlemen to make money – the sales are direct to the public.
- Santalum album from India
- Has passed multiple rounds of testing for purity and quality
- Sold directly to the public
- Little bottle with a big price tag
NOW Essential Oils, Sandalwood Oil, 14% Blend of Pure Sandalwood Oil in Pure Jojoba Oil
As mere mortals and not ancient royalty or billionaires, we appreciate pre-diluted sandalwood oil. Not only is it ready to use directly on the skin or hair, but it carries a reasonable price tag. (Especially considering it’s a 1-ounce bottle).
Although it’s not ideal for ultrasonic or nebulizing diffusers, it’s perfect for skin care. Moreover, feel free to mix it with drops from other essential oils like lemon or lavender.
The jojoba oil base is excellent for moisturizing dry skin as it mimics the skin’s sebum. Also, it doesn’t have a strong scent that could alter the pleasant aroma of the Santalum album.
Furthermore, this North American brand NOW performs extensive in-house testing to ensure the purity and high quality of its essential oils. Check out their website to learn about the stringent process it follows and check out the extensive list of certifications it holds.
- Santalum album pre-diluted in jojoba oil
- Ready to use on the skin or hair
- Affordable 1-ounce bottle
- From a reputable manufacturer that performs extensive in-house testing
- Not suitable for diffusing
Edens Garden Sandalwood- Hawaiian Essential Oil
This California company is woman-owned and family-operated. It’s been voted the number one essential oil company that does not use multilevel marketing.
One of the reasons we respect this brand is that customers can check the results of the GC/MS reports on each batch of the oil. What’s more, they also have certified aromatherapists available to answer questions.
If you’re curious about Santalum paniculatum, this little bottle is an excellent introduction.
- Santalum paniculatum with batch-specific GC/MS test report available to the public
- California company is woman-owned and family-operated
- Certified aromatherapists available to answer questions
- The oil is available in various sizes of bottle
We hope our reviews of the best sandalwood essential oils helped you find what you need today. Check back soon to learn more about all the goodness Nature has to offer.
1. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/sandalwood-essential-oil-benefits-and-uses.html Sandalwood Essential Oil Benefits and Uses, published May 12, 2021
2. https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/108/table-of-contents/hg108-feat-sandalwood/ Big Island, Small Planet: Challenges and Failures in Conserving Hawaiian Sandalwood Trees by Susan Leopold, PhD