Sandalwood is such a popular ingredient. But when I started my Feather & Bone journey, I didn’t realize how complicated of an ingredient it was. And it is a complicated and special ingredient for good reason. Let’s start at the beginning.
Where does sandalwood come from?
Sandalwood is a class of wood. It is the 2nd most expensive wood in the world. It is a naturally aromatic wood, and unlike other woods, it retains its aroma for decades. There are three species of sandalwood, based on where the tree grows:
Although these species now grow in other parts of the world, these are the three original locations.
Why is sandalwood special?
How precious sandalwood is, primarily depends on the concentrations and quality of the main oil chemical called santanol. Santalol is what gives sandalwood its strong woody aroma and antiseptic properties. Santanol is usually 90% of the chemical compound in sandalwood.
Santanol is made up of two chemical compounds: one of which has the stronger properties of aroma and antiseptic versus the other. This is what differentiates the three species of sandalwood. For example, the sandalwood found in India has the stronger compound, making the sandalwood from India stronger and more potent versus the Australian and Hawaiin sandalwood species. Hence Indian Sandalwood is far superior than the other two.
It is also important to note that the sandalwood oil increases with the age of the tree. The older the tree is the better quality of the oil;in fact, the minimum age of the three needs to be 15 years before any oil can be taken, usually most farmers wait between 40-80 years before they cut the tree down.This is another reason sandalwood oil is expensive, it is a long arduous process to successfully grow the trees.
As a result of the popularity of sandalwood, the trees have been diminishing, especially the Indian sandalwood; and this specific species is considered under threatened vulnerable risk. As a result, countries like Australia are not only mass producing its own species but also mass producing the Indian sandalwood, to prevent from extinction. Further, the Indian government, has extremely strict laws when cutting the natural sandalwood forest trees down.
What are the benefits of sandalwood?
Sandalwood in the west is primarily known for aesthetic reasons, such as skincare or aroma therapy. However, in India, sandalwood is also a key ingredient in spiritual and ceremonies, where sandalwood incense sticks are lit during prayer or an event. Below is a summary of sandalwood’s benefits:
• Prevents skin aging
• Because it is a natural antiseptic, it is known to help decrease acne
• Helps give you bright clean skin
• Promotes mental clarity
• Relaxes and calms your nerves
How much the sandalwood can help with these depends on the species you are using. Since the Indian sandalwood is the most potent in the key santanol chemical, it is known to help the most. For this reason, it is considered a very important ingredient in India Ayurveda.
Oil versus powder?
Using the sandalwood oil versus powder, comes down to the benefits. For skin benefits it is better to use the powder. However, for mental benefits the oil or incense is better.
How to decipher which sandalwood you are buying?
As you may know Feather & Bone Face Gems use sandalwood. I was very specific and clear that we must use Indian sandalwood. We work with the Australian companies that mass product Indian sandalwood, but also have an understanding with the Government of India to get Indian sandalwood. The reason I mention this is because, Indian sandalwood, can only be legally bought from these two sources. Furthermore, exporting Indian sandalwood in the form of powder and sticks illegal but oil is allowed. At Feather & Bone we have a special contract and permission to export the powder.
Many consumers are unaware of this, and so companies may not tell you the full truth of what sandalwood they are selling. Furthermore, the official name for Indian sandalwood is Santalum album. So, when figuring out which sandalwood you are buying it is important to look for the official name. If you don’t see this specific biological name, then you are buying sandalwood that is from Australia or Hawaii. It is important to note, this doesn’t mean the sandalwood isn’t good, but simply means, that the aroma or the antiseptic properties are not as strong. Therefore, due to the stronger properties of Indian sandalwood, it also commands a higher price –something to keep in mind.
I hope you enjoyed this article and understand why sandalwood is special. I feel it is important to know and understand where ingredients come from. You might be thinking, if Indian sandalwood is so expensive, why are our Face Gems price friendly. It is because of my personal belief that everyone should have access to good quality products, even if it means I make a little less money. I am a consumer just like you 😊.