More than Just a Good-Smelling, Sensual Ingredient: The Story of Indian Sandalwood

Traditionally known as healing and therapeutic, fragrant sandalwood oil is one of the most valuable, most ancient oils in existence.[1],[2] Treasured for millennia, sandalwood’s use dates back to ancient Egypt where its use ranged from spiritual rituals to cosmetics and perfumes.

                                                                           ©Quintis Sandalwood Pty Ltd.

The Many Uses of Sandalwood


Throughout Eastern cultures and traditions such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, it has served as a healing oil used in treating conditions from mood disorders to respiratory and skin conditions.[1],[2] 

These historic uses of sandalwood have been researched by modern science. Studies have shown Santalum album, the species native to India, to be an antioxidant, anti-microbial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-proliferative.[3],[4] 

A recent study in Cosmetics showed that Indian sandalwood has more antioxidants than Vitamin E. It can significantly decrease damage to collagen in skin tissues, and  could serve as a protective and anti-aging ingredient.[5] 


Indian sandalwood is believed to have strong spiritual properties. Said to bring people closer to the divine, inciting calmness and clearing the mind, it is the most commonly used incense for meditation, prayer, and other spiritual practices across multiple religions.

Sandalwood has been used throughout history for occasions such as aboriginal walkabouts and Gandhi’s funeral. It holds such spiritual value and reverence that more than three tons of sandalwood was burned in Gandhi’s funeral pyre.[6]


Its scent is multifaceted… with soft woody notes mixed with a creamy, soft, almost ‘milky’ notes. A sought-after scent in today’s high-end perfumes, sandalwood oil is central to many iconic fragrances like Guerlain’s Shalimar.

Sandalwood is a key component comprising the base notes in our heritage brand, Sebastian Signs’ best-selling niche fragrance, No. 17.

But it’s not only its scent that makes Santalum album such a popular perfume ingredient. It acts as a fixative, extending the life of the fragrance on the skin.

Sandalwood’s therapeutic properties and scent also makes it the perfect choice for our Align Ultimate Face Oil.

Sandalwood’s Exploitation

Sandalwood is a slow-growing plant with different species native to different parts of the world. It takes a minimum of 15 years for the tree to reach maturity, when it develops its rich, oil-bearing heartwood.[7] 

With such a high-demand, valuable natural product as sandalwood, several varieties, including the species native to India, Santalum album, have become exploited with illegal and over-harvesting. 

The combination of these two factors... its slow-growing nature and illegal over-harvesting... has led to wild populations of Indian sandalwood being pushed to the brink of extinction.

Salvation for Santalum Album

Roughly 24 years ago a rare source of Santalum album seeds was discovered in its native Mysore, India. The seeds were taken far away to a new home which featured prime growing conditions for this treasured plant… tropical, northern Australia. (Yes, there is actually a tropical region in Australia!) Through skillful experimentation, growers have mastered sandalwood growth and reproduction, saving the once-endangered species from extinction.  

Sustainability and quality are now key in Australian Santalum album production. The trees from which precious sandalwood oil is harvested are bred, cultivated, managed, harvested, and processed with utmost care by forestry and agronomy experts. Every part of the tree is used or repurposed so that there is little to no waste.

By carefully selecting seeds for optimal growth and heartwood production, without genetic modification or other artificial means, the producers are ensuring that Santalum album will be available long into the future.


Cleopatra was said to use sandalwood in her “secret” beauty rituals. Buy why keep a super-ingredient like sandalwood a secret?


Image by Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay

Align Ultimate Face Oil is the not-so-secret luxury face oil developed by our founder, Sherri Sebastian as a skincare treatment. Santalum album, grown and cultivated in Australia following strict, sustainable practices, is what she chose to gently scent Align. It’s an example of our Provision Golden Egg Standard… thoroughly researched quality and sustainability. 

Chosen it for its pharmaceutical properties and meditative, spiritual aspect in addition to its perfect scent, Align is infused with just the right amount of sandalwood oil for just the right scent in our moisturizing face oil.

As the founder of both Provision and Sebastian Signs, Sherri may show a bit of favoritism toward sandalwood…

…And that’s ok with us.

You’ll find Indian sandalwood in Align Ultimate Face Oil and Sebastian Signs No. 17.

Note/Disclaimer: We at Provision Scents and Sebastian Signs do not make any medical or healing claims about our products. Our products are made to enhance your life and we make no health claims about our products.


[1], Sandalwood

[2] Verywellhealth, The Health Benefits of Sandalwood Oil

[3] Moy, Ronald L, and Corey Levenson. “Sandalwood Album Oil as a Botanical Therapeutic in Dermatology.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 10,10 (2017): 34-39.

[4] Rajsmita, Bhattacharjee, and Vinay Keshavamurthy. “Re-discovering Sandalwood: Beyond Beauty and Fragrance.” Indian dermatology online journal vol. 10,3 (2019): 296-297. doi:10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_357_18

[5] Francois-Newton V, Brown A, Andres P, Mandary MB, Weyers C, Latouche-Veerapen M, Hettiarachchi D. Antioxidant and Anti-Aging Potential of Indian Sandalwood Oil against Environmental Stressors In Vitro and Ex Vivo. Cosmetics. 2021; 8(2):53.