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Is sandalwood skincare worth the hype?

Sandalwood has long been part of the Indian beauty routine. We tried a skincare brand for two weeks that uses the wood oil as a core igredient

Sandalwood oil is known to reduce dryness and replenish the moisture in skin, increasing elasticity.

By Dhara Vora Sabhnani

LAST PUBLISHED 30.03.2023  |  10:41 AM IST

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The smell of sandalwood is one of my favourites. It's a fragrance that we, Indians, have grown up with, whether it's in the form of incense sticks, face packs, even daily soaps.

Sandalwood oil contains antioxidants and is known to reduce dryness and replenish the moisture in skin, increasing elasticity.


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There are several beauty brands that have long used sandalwood as one of the core ingredients in their offerings. Sandiva is one of them. It's a Chennai sandalwood-based skincare company from the house of Gokul Santol, a company that was started in 1909 and is known for its classic sandalwood talc.

While Sandiva still focuses on sandalwood as its main ingredient, it is backed by millennial- and Gen Z-friendly terms and ingredients such as patchouli, and niacinamide, and is toxin-cruelty-paraben-sulphate-free. It has silicones, so if that’s not worked for your skin, or if it’s on your clean product checklist, you might have to give their products a miss.

Sunprotection Sandalwood range by Sandiva

We tried some of their products.

The company claims that it “ethically" procures the sandalwood from the Tamil Nadu and Kerala forest departments during government auctions.

The packaging is minimal and has a clean design, and lists all ingredients. The products include serums, sunscreens, primers and soaps.


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The brand's tinted sunblock ( 750) and SPF top-up loose powder ( 500) reach me right in time for a beach holiday. I also intermittently try their day and night serum ( 500 each). The sunblock is available in four tints and offers broad-spectrum SPF 35 PA++++ protection. Zinc oxide is the main mineral ingredient in their SPF products.

On application, the tinted sunblock feels silky and light on the skin (silicones being the first ingredients on their list) and is easy to apply evenly. It gently blurs out my skin and gives it a brightened even tone and reduces the appearance of pores. The smell of sandalwood is gentle and not overpowering. With its minimal tint, you might be tempted to layer the product a bit more for more coverage.

Even after hours in the hot sun, my skin doesn’t get greasy. The sunscreen doesn’t budge much under sweat. It’s not waterproof though, so you can’t mist your face in the middle of the day, as the tint will run. You can, however, top up your sunscreen with their SPF loose powder, which comes in cute packaging with a mirror. You can even use it as a loose powder for make up.

If you have dry patches on the skin, I wouldn’t recommend it on those areas, as this isn’t one of your powder-to-cream formulations. The loose powder is zinc oxide-based too, and has SPF 30+ and PA++++ protection.

The serums, though priced well, are best paired with more products for some real action for the skin, and can probably be a light first layer for minimal hydration on a budget.

Post two weeks, my skin has no new acne and the product seems to have fulfilled its hypoallergenic claim. There are many tinted sunscreens in the market today (many even cost lesser than Sandiva). But if you are looking to buy from an Indian company, packed modernly with the smell of nostalgia, Sandiva is worth a try.

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