The Surprising Story of Indian Sandalwood

Sandalwood Trees India

One of the most potent, and precious, essential oils that we use is sandalwood. It’s a rare ingredient that is difficult to find now, even though it has had a long history of use in cultures around the world. This week, we’re taking you on a virtual trip to India so you can discover the history behind this power-packed ingredient.


Sandalwood is truly an ingredient with ancient, even sacred, roots. Sandalwood is native to India and was popular in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Imagine this: caravans laden with rich sandalwood were a common sight centuries ago because of its prevalence in social and religious rituals. Egyptians even used it in embalming. Roughly 250 years ago sandalwood became closely regulated by the Indian government, to the point where only already-established plantations, like the Uma Estate, were allowed to grow it. Though regulations have loosened in the last 7-8 years, sandalwood oil is still hard to come by, meaning products featuring real sandalwood are a true luxury.


Indian sandalwood plantations have been growing the tree for centuries, using the same painstaking, patience-testing process. Sandalwood trees take roughly 15 years to mature, which requires growers to carefully plan when, and how, they will harvest the tree’s wood. (To put that in perspective, your typical essential oil crop takes only 1-2 years to mature.) Also, and this may seem a tad obvious, but sandalwood is a tree not a farm crop, so there is a significant acreage investment just to plant it. And that’s just the growing process!

To extract sandalwood essential oil for beauty products, sandalwood must undergo a lengthy steam distillation. Despite the fact that regulations have loosened recently, given the high upfront investment cost and extended lifecycle of the tree, few have wanted to dip their toe into the specialized farming that sandalwood requires.

Sandalwood essential oil India 

Benefits for your Skin:

All this talk of government regulation and intense farming investments probably begs the question, why does the Uma Estate continue producing sandalwood essential oil? The answer lies in the oil’s incredible benefits, which makes it one of the highest quality beauty ingredients. Sandalwood essential oil is intensely moisturizing, and its most notable benefit is its ability to brighten skin—it works in harmony with your dermis’ natural processes to boost luminosity. Added bonus: it has properties that reduce inflammation. In layman's terms? That leads to a more even-toned, younger complexion! It’s no wonder we include it in our face oils, like Ultimate Brightening, Absolute Anti Aging, Total Rejuvenation Night Face Oil and Beauty Boosting Day Face Oil.

Aromatherapeutic Benefits:

With a sweet, rich aroma, sandalwood essential oil has been used extensively in social and religious rituals. In India, it’s known for its incredible Ayurvedic benefits. Today, it’s also a coveted ingredient used in Aromatherapy since sandalwood actually regulates the body’s limbic system. We won’t get into the complexities, but, the basic functions of the limbic system are to regulate emotion and store memories—and it’s tied to the part of your brain that controls sense of smell. All over, it’s pretty crucial to your mental and emotional well being. Using sandalwood essential oil in aromatherapy can reduce tension and anxiety by regulating emotional control aspects of the limbic system. It’s one our favorite ingredients for wellness oils, which is why we made sure to include it on our wellness blends: Pure Calm, Pure Bliss and Gorgeous for Good all boast this incredible ingredient.

Other Places to Find Sandalwood:

Besides high-end skincare and aromatherapy oils, sandalwood can be found in many exclusive perfumes and soaps. Perfume lovers will find it to be the perfect spring and summer scent, with a plethora of luxury options to choose from.

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