If everyone keeps walking around wearing Le Labo’s Santal 33, is that just the way the earth’s going to smell now? Have we reached herd fragrance immunity? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
Don’t get me wrong. I can think of far worse things than living inside a warm, sexy bubble of Australian sandalwood, cardamom, and cedar, but… alternatives. We need some Santal 33 alternatives, right?
Don’t answer that. We do. And that’s exactly what I’m going to present you with today. Five fragrances that expertly mimic some of the cult favorite’s signature notes yet somehow manage to seamlessly create a distinct profile that won’t blend in with the crowd.
Like Santal 33 itself, you’ll notice that most of my top picks are going to serve you best during the fall and winter. Even so, you’ll still be able to lean on their floral and citrus notes for the summer and especially late spring. Versatile, alluring, and just left of Santal-33 center is what we’re going for here.
To find the best Santal 33 alternatives, I began by poring over dozens of note profiles, ingredient lists, customer reviews, photos, and even my own stash of fragrances.
The resulting five are the best of the best based on factors that include but aren’t limited to top, middle, and base notes, versatility, longevity, and projection. Edging out the competition is my top overall pick of Diptyque’s Tam Dao, followed closely by the wallet-friendly Palo Santo from Cremo.
Why it’s great: Founded in 1961, famed French perfumer Diptyque knows a thing or two about crafting an elegant fragrance that everyone wants to be around. Close your eyes and point to a bottle. Doesn’t matter, they’re all fantastic. For today, though, we’re focusing on Tam Dao, a masculine amalgamation of sandalwood, cypress, amber, and musk. It’s pretty damn close to Santal 33 both in terms of its longevity (between eight and 10 hours depending on your skin’s pH) and its core notes.
How to use it: Like most Santal 33 alternatives, this one is best deployed during fall and winter, preferably while sitting around a ski lodge fireplace sipping bourbon and weaving tales of your adventures on the high seas. Or, you know… other scenarios.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: While Santal 33 tends to even out toward the end of its wear thanks to more subtle floral notes, Tam Dao powers through with those heady notes until the very end. Look elsewhere if you want a projection that’s more subtle than or matches that of Santal 33.
Top Notes: Cypress, Rose | Middle Notes: Sandalwood, Cedar | Base Notes: Spices, Amber, Musk | Size: 3.4 oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Fall, Winter | Longevity: 8-10 hrs
Why it’s great: Cremo has always been there for you with improbably outstanding fragrances with improbably low price tags. And once again, here comes the Laguna Beach-based grooming brand with its masculine Palo Santo eau de toilette. Palo Santo, a wild tree native to South America, casts a sexy, complex fragrance consisting of rich woods and vibrant citrus. Combine that with cardamom, papyrus, and your wrists, and you’re left with a budget- and newbie-friendly spritz that easily holds its own against Santal 33.
How to use it: Despite its warm, earthy dominance, Palo Santo maintains a softer profile throughout its six to eight hour lifespan. This places it firmly in everyday-wear territory, be it to the office or on a day date.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: While Palo Santo’s six to either hour longevity can certainly play ball, it falls short of Santal 33’s shelf life and those of several others on this list.
Top Notes: Cardamom | Middle Notes: Papyrus | Base Notes: Palo Santo | Size: 3.4 oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Fall, Winter | Longevity: 6-8 hrs
Why it’s great: You didn’t think you’d get out of this without me lobbing a Tom Ford fragrance your way, did you? If so, for shame. If not, yay. The luxury fashion house’s Ombre Leather is arguably one of its finest scents. Punctuated by leather, cardamom, amber, and patchouli, this one is all about making the most of those outdoor fall days and moody winter nights. Santal 33 fans will certainly appreciate Ombre Leather’s sultry tones, but also its lasting power of up to 10 hours. Bonus: it won’t set you back much more than a same-size bottle of Santal 33—a coup in the world of Tom Ford fragrances.
How to use it: Rather than being a cheaper alternative to Le Labo’s famed scent, Ombre Leather is for the guy who wants to up the wood-and-spice ante. Use it to make a statement in a crowded bar at the foot of the mountains, on a fall leaf-peeping date, or during any other occasion that calls for smelling better than everyone else. So, all of them.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: With Ombre Leather, you’re lacking some of Santal 33’s signature notes like sandalwood and cedar. That said, there’s still enough of a spicy, woodsy throughline to achieve a similar fragrance profile.
Top Notes: Cardamom | Middle Notes: Leather, Jasmine | Base Notes: Amber, Patchouli | Size: 3.4 oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Fall, Winter | Longevity: 8-10 hrs
Why it’s great: Dior Fahrenheit is a true classic. Warm and complex through and through, it shares Santal 33’s sandalwood, violet, and cedar notes. These familiar masculine scents then give way to notes that are softer around the edges like vanilla and tonka bean. Thousands of 5-star Amazon reviews praise its versatility and long-lasting scent.
How to use it: This is one of those bottles that should hold court on your vanity for a full year until it comes time to re-up during the holidays. It’s not a special occasion fragrance per se, but it’s also not an everyday number. Give your pulse points a dab whenever it feels right.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Fahrenheit is yet another fragrance that doesn’t quite live up to Santal 33’s longevity. But at up to around eight hours, it’s nothing to sneeze at either.
Top Notes: Violet, Cedar, Citrus | Middle Notes: Rum, Sandalwood, Cumin | Base Notes: Leather, Amber, Tonka Bean | Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de Toilette | Season: Fall, Winter | Longevity: 6-8
Why it’s great: Right next to that occasion-specific bottle of Dior Fahrenheit should live Lake & Skye’s everyday-friendly Santal Gray. Sandalwood: present and account for, of course. Violet and musk: you bet. Cardamom: that too. It’s the perfect storm of Santal 33-adjacent notes, all on standby to make your world a better-smelling place.
How to use it: You name it. An everyday fragrance like this is built for action—just don’t overdo it with the application. A little goes a long way.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Santal Gray isn’t the cheapest fragrance, especially for a daily go-to.
Top Notes: Sandalwood | Middle Notes: Violet Leaf, Musk | Base Notes: Cardamom | Size: 1.7 oz | Type: Eau de Parfum | Season: Fall, Winter | Longevity: 8-10
Buying Considerations For Spicy, Sandalwood Alternatives
To pin down the right Le Labo Santal 33 alternative for you, start by looking for similar spicy, woody notes of Australian sandalwood, cardamom, and cedar. When comparing your options, make sure they also offer a delicate balance of musky notes combined with prevalent floral fragrances like violet and iris.
If you’re looking for Santal 33 alternatives in order to pay less than the real deal, you won’t have an issue finding plenty of solid options under $50. If you’re in it to avoid smelling exactly like the countless other people wearing the popular fragrance, the labels doing it best typically hover just above or below the $100 mark. Weigh what you’re comfortable paying against how similar the alternative scent is to the original.
Santal 33 is a long-lasting scent that will typically get you between 8-10 hours of longevity depending on your skin’s pH. Some of its best alternatives have shelf lives a few hours shorter than that range, but the majority can and should hover right around that time frame. Let your lifestyle be your guide when figuring out how long you need a cologne to last.
Why You Should Trust Us
As a fashion and grooming writer at FashionBeans, I compare, test, and research the products that make a gentleman a gentleman. If it can be worn, carried, or used in a way that elevates your look and feel, I’m into it.
For this review, I pored over trusted sources, fragrance profiles, ingredient lists, customer reviews, and my own fragrance collection to understand what makes the best Santal 33 alternatives. After comparing dozens of scents, I chose the resulting five based on considerations like longevity, top, middle, and base notes, versatility, and projection. Ultimately, I want to see everyone find the best cologne at the most accessible price for them.
Santal 33 is an incredibly popular fragrance from Le Labo characterized by formidable longevity and rich, warm notes of Australian sandalwood, cedar, and spices.
Several perfume houses have attempted to recreate the cult favorite scent to mixed results. The ones I’ve highlighted in this list have managed to do so with impressive accuracy, which is certainly the case when it comes to my top pick of Diptyque’s Tam Dao.
Though nothing quite nails the Santal 33 DNA as well as the original, my top five Santal 33 alternatives are about as close as it gets. When you’re sniffing around for a similar bottle, lean into those featuring distinctive notes of sandalwood, cedar, spice, and even tobacco that eventually give way to softer essences like violet and iris.