“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had an oil in my routine, but sandalwood in particular is my favorite. It’s something that my sister and I used as children, my mother grew up with it, and our family has used it for ages. It is always a staple for me because whatever I’m struggling with, it seems to solve—whether that be dullness, dryness, or tired looking skin, they all seem to be resolved pretty easily with a very high quality oil.
“Sandalwood has a very rich history in Ayurveda. Any sort of crown jewel skincare treatment in India, it always contains sandalwood.
“It also has an interesting connection with royalty and rarity. About 300 or 400 years ago, the ingredient was banned for cultivation in India for a variety of reasons. One was that the royals wanted it to be very carefully stewarded because they worried that willy-nilly production of sandalwood may end up having the ingredient lose its allure. Only certain farms of certain families were allowed to grow it by royal decree. The ban stayed in place until about 10 years ago.
“But it’s also because the plant is incredibly difficult to grow and extract—it’s a tree that takes 20 to 25 years to mature. The investment horizon is so long and high that even when the ban was lifted, people were not really cultivating sandalwood.
“So perhaps of the rare luxury of it and the ingredient profile, it was treated with such reverence that it’s only used in high-quality formulas.”