19 Bold Fragrances That Rival A Popular Hipster Scent

They say it all started in New York City. And then it hit Los Angeles and perhaps Austin around 2015. You’d be walking down the street and get a whiff of something unique and intoxicating that was spicy and comforting all at once. It was strong and it lingered, so even if you wanted to ask the delicious stranger which scent they were wearing, they’d be long gone.

It started as the aromatic emblem of American hipster culture, but Le Labo Santal 33 now has a chokehold on people of ages, genders and socioeconomic brackets (I’d keep buying the $7 sample every week, like some kind of fragrance fiend, until I could afford a small bottle).

“It’s a gender-bending scent that defies traditional scent categories, with creamy sandalwood and cedarwood mingling with smoky papyrus and leathery notes,” said Bernadette Lim, a perfumer and fragrance specialist I tapped to better understand what continues to make people so rabid for Santal 33.

The fact that it transcends what we’ve been conditioned to believe smells either “girly” or “masculine” is a huge selling point. The initial challenge of Santal 33, Lim argues, is part of its allure. “This complexity sparks curiosity, inviting a deeper exploration that makes the journey of appreciation more rewarding,” she said. “It develops and evolves on the skin, revealing new facets like the green, floral-woody combo.” Its dynamic nature gives the scent new life with every wear.

Lim made me realize that I love bold scents that embrace the notes and traits that Santal 33 does. I truly believe the fragrance increased our collective thirst for sandalwood, leather, and a heavier scent that lustily lingers.

If you’re looking to diversify your collection, here are 17 decadent scent alternatives that match Le Labo’s complexity and longevity.


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