Most people will remember their grandmothers suggesting that they cover themselves in yellow sandalwood paste in the throes of summer to soothe skin in the hot weather and to even out skin tone. Famed for both its woody, intense scent and its long-revered healing benefits, sandalwood has made its way into countless at-home skincare recipes and high-end Ayurvedic formulas. Used as a powder, paste or oil, sandalwood is a powerful antiseptic, emollient and anti-inflammatory agent that can benefit your skin in myriad ways. Here’s why you need to bring it back to your skincare routine.
In the form of oil or powder, sandalwood is able to sooth inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, as well as calm irritated skin and flatten breakouts. In Ayurvedic texts, it is known to relieve the pitta dosha, which means that it has cooling properties. It is an astringent, which means it can induce minor contractions in the soft tissue, therefore soothing and tightening skin and reducing the appearance of pores. This is why it is an important ingredient in aftershaves too. Sandalwood’s antiseptic properties also help reduce infection in areas hosting pimples, cuts or superficial wounds, while its anti-microbial nature aids in keeping the skin clean. Moreover, it has a drying effect, so when sandalwood paste is applied to a red, inflamed zit, it can dry out and heal faster—making sandalwood a great oil or face mask ingredient for those with sensitive, acne-prone skin. Plus, sandalwood helps to sooth a sunburn and brightens skin due to its mild exfoliating properties as well. A painful sunburn or prickly heat can be quickly cooled down by applying sandalwood paste on it.
While sandalwood can be used on all skin types, it can cause irritation to super sensitive skin. Make sure to do a patch test to check for an allergic reaction before applying on inflamed areas. Despite being a mild ingredient, sandalwood oil should be mixed with a carrier oil and diluted before use—rosehip oil, almond oil or evening primrose oil are best for this. It is important to note that most dermatologists do not suggest mixing sandalwood oil with another aromatherapy-based oil like lavender or bergamot, as that can cause irritation.
Sandalwood oil or paste can be used in a face mask for different concerns. For dry skin, mix sandalwood paste with honey to make a hydrating mask. If you’re struggling with an excessive tan, mix sandalwood paste with cucumber, lemon and yogurt and apply liberally. The light exfoliating properties help to lift off the tan, as well as dark marks or scars. For oily, acne-prone skin, mix sandalwood paste with turmeric and rose water to create a wet mask that hardens upon drying. The anti-inflammatory properties of both turmeric and sandalwood lessen the redness and irritation on the skin.
If you don’t want to do the hard work yourself, and want the benefits of sandalwood presented to you in a jar