Sandalwood oil is distilled from the chipped heartwood of mature sandalwood trees.
The sandalwood that we use is harvested in the Kalgoorlie region of the Australian bush before being sent to Albany in the south of Western Australia for processing. The oil has cleansing properties and the rich, woody aroma evokes a sense of calm and deep relaxation.
The sandalwood tree is an evergreen, which can grow up to 49 feet tall. Both the wood and the oil which is extracted from it have been highly valued for centuries, which means that the slow-growing trees have been over-harvested in many areas. As a result, Indian sandalwood is now a threatened species and Hawaiian sandalwood is not nearly as abundant as it once was.
The sandalwood that we use comes from Australia, where a quota system ensures that the trees are not over-harvested. We buy 1300-1500lbs of certified organic Australian sandalwood oil every year, and use it in many products including Sympathy for the Skin Hand And Body Lotion, Superdad Bath Bomb (new for Father's Day!) and the luxurious Floating Island Bath Oil. It’s also used as a base note and fixative in our perfumes; this helps the perfume to warm and develop on the skin, creating a beautiful and long-lasting fragrance.
Sandalwood oil’s soothing and cleansing properties mean that it’s great in skincare products. It’s believed to help ease skin irritation, and it can also help to soften the skin by improving its ability to retain moisture.
We source our sandalwood direct from an Aboriginal harvesting group based in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The trees must be at least 30-40 years old before they’re ready for distillation, at which point our harvesters use a special machine to clamp the tree and shake it out of the ground without damaging the roots, which are a rich source of oil. Any remaining roots and branches are then collected by hand, before the trees are put inside a tumbler to strip off the bark. The resulting hardwood logs are then graded and sent to Albany, near Perth, for processing. Finally, the wood is chipped and prepared for steam distillation, which produces the oil that we use in our products.
For every kilo of sandalwood oil that we buy, Lush contributes 50 Australian dollars towards the Indigenous Working Fund for sandalwood. This is put into a pot so that groups from around the area can borrow from it, interest-free, to help them develop their own harvesting businesses.
Aboriginal custom dictates that wealth should be shared around the community, so helping harvesters to make money from sustainable sandalwood is a positive way to support everyone.