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There’s a reason why seemingly half of the fragrance-wearing population names Le Labo’s iconic (and best-selling) Santal 33 as their signature scent — the unisex cologne smells pretty damn amazing on virtually everyone. As we all know, the same fragrance can smell wildly different from person to person, and while this is also certainly the case when it comes to Santal 33, it’s also surprisingly universally flattering.
However, it’s not cheap, and if you opt to wear it on the reg, you do also run the risk of smelling slightly similar to half of the bar on any given night when you go out — at least in LA, that is. Unfortunately, finding solid Le Labo Santal 33 dupes isn’t exactly easy, as the legendary perfumery likes to keep their proprietary blends uber-exclusive (despite the massive cult following they’ve clearly attained).
In case for some reason you haven’t ever gotten a whiff of this beloved scent, it exudes a woodsy-sweet cast that smells rugged, yet not overly masculine; hence why it smells equally as alluring on any gender. Santal 33 contains a pretty hard-to-copy blend of Australian sandalwood, cardamom, leather accord, iris, and ambrox.
I mean, it’s kind of an olfactory slice of heaven if you’re into warmer scents that emanate an aroma with equal parts musk and smoke and is painstakingly sensuous. However, if you’re worried about smelling like all of your peers (colleagues, fellow bar-goers, etc.) who are equally as obsessed with the scent, there are some similar — albeit more nuanced — alternatives to try instead. The options below smell strikingly similar to the O.G. gender-neutral cologne/perfume, and they’re also a lot easier on the wallet. It’s a win-win situation.
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In case you simply cannot live without the real deal, here you go. The good news is that Nordstrom offers an assortment of different size starting at $82, so you can try before committing to a full size (which will set you back a whopping $275). Alternatively, you can also buy a sample size on Amazon for just $11.
Maison Louis Marie No.4 Perfume Oil
I’ve said this before, but I discovered this delicious scent thanks to my boss, who confessed it was basically Santal 33’s legit replica, and also only costs $82. It’s almost a spot-on dupe, and a fraction of the price.
Kierin NYC Santal Sky Eau de Parfum
Aside from its super rad pop-art-inspired packaging, this luxe sandalwood-forward fragrance is inspired by the energy of NYC, and has apparently converted Le Labo loyalists to this cheaper alternative for life (according to the Amazon reviews).
Clean Reserve Sel Santal Eau de Parfum
The name may give it away, but this sandalwood-based scent smells pretty damn close to La Labo’s. Plus, it’s also cruelty-free, formulated with sustainably sourced ingredients, and comes with eco-friendly packaging.
Another O.G. fragrance, Dior’s classic Fahrenheit is infused with several of the same notes as Santal 33, including sandalwood and violet. However, it gets a dash of sweetness with a hint of vanilla bean, a slight difference that I personally enjoy.
Diptyque Tam Dao Eau de Parfum
While Diptyque is undoubtedly still known as a luxury fragrance brand, but this dupe starts at just $98 for the smaller size, and the full size is only $140 ($100 less than Santal 33).