If there’s a word in the English language that does justice to the scent that emanates from a bottle of Le Labo’s Santal 33, I’m yet to find it. My nostrils have had the pleasure of smelling it on the trail of It-girls all over for a while now, but it was only recently that we were properly introduced. Once I’d sprayed it, I knew we’d be mates for life.

The closest word I’ve come to explaining its power is ‘transformative.’ I like who I become when I wear it, it’s agreeable to my ~natural odour~, and the endless stream of compliments it provides does wonders for my self-esteem. The nondescript branding means it slots nicely into my bathroom cabinet, and I’ve copped my fair share of odd glances since I started wearing it (I’ve sniffed myself approximately 569 times). Perhaps the greatest pleasure I get from the fragrance is how much excitement for summer it inspires in me. I picture myself dressed head-to-toe in linen, reading a book, sipping on iced tea, on a wooden porch overlooking the ocean.

Not wanting to rely on my nostrils alone, I put Santal 33 to the ultimate test: passing the bottle around to my male compadres over a sit-down dinner last week. Usually blokey, they spoke of the fragrance with the same enthusiasm they usually reserve for things like beers with the boys and Gucci Mane. The word ‘beautiful’ was tossed around. I watched in amazement as these grown men spritzed each other with the fragrance before delighting in all its cedar and sandalwood glory. If you identify as a sandalwood kinda girl, it’s likely to steal your heart. Buy yourself a bottle here.

Words, Madeleine Woon. Photography, Ellen Virgona.