Reviews of Arden Men - Sandalwood by Elizabeth Arden

A classic rendition of sandalwood in the abstract, Arden Men Sandalwood, at least in the older version that I own (I can't speak for the most recent formulations before its discontinuation), feels very much like an aromatic of the era, like Rochas Moustache, YSL Pour Homme, Gentleman Givenchy, and the like, that is built around a core of sandalwood. This is not one that highlights sandalwood in the forefront of the composition, but is present throughout the development and especially in the dry down as the backbone.

Actually, this showcases the synergy that can come from lavender paired with sandalwood, as the former is prevalent all the way into its heart, with usual suspects of an aromatic accompanying it, so much that one might almost wonder where the sandalwood at all. However, it reveals itself as a buttery warmth over time, with an especially intriguing point about an hour in where there's interplay with clary sage. This unique stage really resonates with me and I always look forward to this; there is something wistful about it, even though it's mid-century futurism/optimism must have been perceived as the "fresh, clean, and put together" during its heyday.

The sandalwood blooms more over time with musks and moss, and it becomes very evident that this is very much an ode: the lingering skin scent is truly terrific.
10th March 2022

The vintage Arden Sandalwood begins with a soapy blast of lavender, supported by a dry clary sage/geranium note. A bit of bergamot and lemon around the edges. Not a whiff of sandalwood in olfactory sight. As such it is quite dry, refined and sophisticated. Had it been named Lavender instead of Sandalwood, I'd proclaim it an immediate hit.

But wait, there must be more. There are all those base notes: Cedar, Patchouli, Vetiver, Moss, Amber, Musk, Tonka, Labdanum, Opoponax, not to mention Sandalwood itself. Where are they?

Patience. They do eventually emerge, but all in jumble – a pleasant one, albeit, but I don't detect the single note of sandalwood anywhere. The base notes simply support and deepen the lavender. As such it is a fine fougere, fragrant and subtle. It just needed a name change to bring it up to snuff.

3rd May 2019

Elizabeth Arden was locked in a 3-way battle royale with Estée Lauder and Charles Revson (Revlon) throughout the mid 20th century, as all three American cosmetic companies vied for the same upper mid-level market segment that shopped at places like Macy's, Dillard's, Filene's, Hecht's, and Marshall Field's throughout the postwar middle-class boom, and subsequent department store boom. During all this infighting, Arden decided she should enter men's toiletries; this was an area left to barbershops or a growing number of chemist brands like Mennen, Avon, and Shulton; but since fashion houses like Fath, Rochas, and Chanel were doing it, Arden should too. Arden would be the first to market among the big 3 US cosmetic brands with a slew of varieties under the "Arden for Men" division between 1956-1957; these went under names like Citruswood, Eau de Cologne Traditionale, Sandalwood, Wild Wood, Oakwood, Green Wood, and No. 450. Of these, it seems only Arden for Men Sandalwood (1957) would endure to see the 21st century (although not for long). Elizabeth Arden would never make another masculine fragrance under her own eponymous line again, going the route of buying or licensing designer or celebrity brands in need of Arden's impressive logistics to release their own fragrance lines. Meanwhile, Revlon and Lauder would pop off with their own men's toiletries lines, although with just one fragrance apiece for them to start. The attempt at a comprehensive range was likely overwhelming for US guys mid-century, as they weren't even used to wearing scent at all, let alone on a regular basis. Arden bombarding them with a half-dozen options probably just made them cling harder to their Mennen Skin Bracer (1931), which was doubling as "cologne" for US men in many places; Lanvin too would make this mistake with the "Monsieur Lanvin" range.

People in the today's modern world of niche single-note devotions and pure realistic representations of single subjects need to be warned that this isn't going to be that. Yes, Arden for Men Sandalwood does contain some Mysore sandalwood in the base, because to not have any at all would be just asking for a thrashing; but modern noses knowledgeable of what real Mysore oil smells like in the raw (or any number of other sandalwood sources), will likely furrow an eyebrow and ask why this doesn't smell like sandalwood. In that sense, I suppose this is a bit like the Apple Jacks cereal of sandalwood fragrances, in that it contains a small modicum of the subject material, but a whole lot of other stuff too. In the end, you can find it if you squint real hard, but only the creaminess really avails itself to the nose as part of the chypre base. What we have here otherwise is a bone-dry aromatic chypre that is properly masculine and devoid of any softness just how the square-jawed clean-shaven greased-hair ubermench of American exceptionalism (read: toxic masculinity) wanted it. You get bergamot, clary sage, and a bit of lavender right off the bat, while there's also a very compressed geranium and vetiver combo in the heart alongside what sandalwood is here to provide the "sandalwood" creamy texture, even if most of the "woodiness" is actually handled by oakmoss and cedar in the base. A pasty labdanum is touched by opoponax and a bit patchouli for depth, but the musk is not terribly animalic here at all. Instead you get processed take on the sandalwood accord, much like how an all-beef hot dog is very much a a processed interpretation of the meat it's mostly made of, as opposed to a steak. Wear time is up to 10 hours, and sillage is close because American men didn't want loud "perfumey" fragrance then. Best use is up to you, as this is so beyond modern context that I have no words.

Arden for Men Sandalwood likely endured because it focused on something exotic yet also familiar: sandalwood. It had become established that sandalwood was something aromatic that men liked, and could trust not to smell "pretty" like women's perfume (although real uncut sandalwood is inarguably gorgeous and complex), plus wasn't something an American guy could just sniff in his backyard like "oakwood". Arden for Men Sandalwood smells to me like a brighter, more linear, and less-spicy take on something conjured much earlier in the century by The Crown Perfumery with Sumare (1924). Maybe at one point this could have been a cheap alternative to Sumare; but both fragrance have become quite the unicorns in today's regulation-strangled perfume market that has effectively turned all surviving discontinued fragrances into "niche 2.0", and this holds especially true if a fragrance mentions a rare raw material on the bottle like this one does. This extremely unsweet and ascetic aromatic chypre is about as much sandalwood as Sunny Delight is orange juice, but it is a lovely ode to the material with just enough familiarity to satisfy. Other wonder materials like real olibanum and oakmoss abound here anyway, so this is still far more quality than any modern sandalwood fragrance sold anywhere near the price point this one was (adjusted for inflation). These extremely humorless mid-century men's fragrances are such fun to wear anyway, and like Revlon's equally-stoic That Man (1958), Arden for Men Sandalwood just smells like something you wear to keep people at arm's length instead of to bring them closer. If you're fortunate enough to get your hands on some without selling a kidney, you may be in for a time-warp treat of no-nonsense "smell like a man" fragrance drier than TV sitcom from the same era. It doesn't get much more 50's than this! Thumbs up
25th December 2017
My current version (2007), while not a bad scent, has been an expensive loo freshener. Sharp, strong and not worth the effort if the primary interest is sandalwood.
22nd June 2016
Vintage Arden Men Sandalwood was an amazing fragrance--refined, masculine, old-school in the best way and really rather sexy. Given the numerous notes, this is clearly not a single note sandalwood fragrance. Sandalwood is there throughout, but it is sandalwood in the abstract. Sandalwood all dressed up in a fine man's cologne. It is so finely tuned, so balanced between exotic and expected, staid and sexy, traditional and progressive (for its time) that the only other scent I can compare it to is the excellent Dunhill for Men form 1934. They both smell of well dressed, well heeled, well appointed gentlemen and are timeless, despite both being so old school in their structure. I am told that the reformulation is a travesty and I cannot bring myself to smell it for fear of being devastated. Possibly the best thing from this house, along with the late, great woman's scent Bluegrass.
4th February 2015
It's OK I bought this looking to explore sandalwood as a single note. Unfortunately, this is as related to sandalwood as fettuccine alfredo is to Italy. What you get instead is a pretty standard fare, generic old school edc. It's light, barbershop opening, then a simple woods and spice combo that relies on your skin's natural musk to carry it along...which suggests it would be a hit on the right skin, just not mine I use my bottle to add that certain old school flair to modern day frags that are too 'today' for their own good. Cool Water Deep plus this is a beauty I find hard to resist. Pros: Defines old school, good reference scentCons: Where is the sandalwood?
30th June 2013
Old School to the bone - bone dry, that is. Denizens of the barbershop era of men's colognes: Brut, Aqua Velva, Jade East, et al will recognize the DNA of Arden's sharpish lavender-sandalwood accord. Apart from the hint of lemon, I don't get much more from this than those notes. No problem. It's 1957 and Frank's singing "I'm A Fool To Want You" on the turntable and the fire's roaring away in the fireplace. And Kim Novak's taking your tie off...
21st March 2013
the reformulation was really bad, the first and only time I threw a scent in the trash can!
4th September 2012
I really like Arden's Sandalwood, and I love sandalwood, but I can't say this will appeal to your average sandalwood fan. That's because the sandalwood in this is not the warm, sweet, milky grade of sandalwood we're all used to. Instead, the sandalwood here is dry and soapy, and it's not until a couple of hours into your wearing this that the sandalwood loses its astringency and starts to develop a semi-creamy texture. The drydown is almost all sandalwood, and it is smooth, but it never becomes sweet. The sandalwood is austere, rather than soothing.

However, that's not a problem for me. I like this scent because it's a total throwback, old-school fragrance that is representative of its 1950s birth era. For the first hour or two, it has as much lavender as it does sandalwood, and together they create a scent that is at once soapy and powdery. Arden's sandalwood is the antithesis of hip.

Open minded sandalwood fans would do well to check this out, since it is an atypical presentation of sandalwood. Fans of old-school colognes like English Leather or Kanon, however, are sure to enjoy this.

9th April 2012
This current version of Sandalwood is worth about what you pay for it, less than $20. I bought it blind based on two things, [1] my loe of sandalwood insence, and [2] the idea that Elizabeth Arden was a quality cosmetics brand. After several attempts to wear it on my dbody, I finished off the bottle by using it to spray on my bed linens as a kind of high-end air-freshener. It is wonderful for that purpose; the rubbing-alchohol-at-the-back-of-your-palate sensation goes away and the room is left with a, woodsy, if not exactly sandalwood scent. A disappointment, otherwise.
3rd February 2012
To Copacabana, the problem I fear is in the European Union Bureaucratic Dictatorship.
You have lost control of your own countries to nameless, faceless, bureaucrats, answerable to no one and in order to justify their unnecessary jobs, they sit around and think up things that MIGHT BE hazardous to SOMEONE SOMEWHERE, maybe, and then outlaw it.
7th March 2011
The newer version opens with a stong cedary lavender, soon becomes a quiet mix of lavander and sandalwood, and then is very soft. However, the older stuff is distinctly sandalwood from begining to end, and without much lavender at all, and the creamy sandalwood is notable in the drydown.The new version is OK, but the vintage is really better... at least for someone who appreciates the nuances of natural sandalwood.
30th October 2010
this fragrance is aromatherapy more than perfume/colognei've kept three essential oils in my home pretty much all the time for the last 6 yearslavender, sandalwood, and tea treethis smells like lavender, which i only use for acne and do not enjoy especiallythis is not sandalwood so muchthere's a hint of it in there, but it's heavy on lavenderluckily, it's not the piercing medicinal kind i would associate with a type A elderly nursebut it's not sandalwoodstill, it's grown on me and i'm glad i have it as it layers well with muskit's simple enough to temper sickly sweet things and soft in its herbish ways and meansmost people would find it pleasing, as do i
24th February 2010
If you love sandalwood, and I do, Arden Men should be in your wardrobe. Pretty lenient, this eau do cologne scent has surprisingly strong sillage and longevity. If you want to smell as if you've just stepped out of the barbershop, all clean and lightly powdered, you can't go wrong with a genial classic like Arden Men. I ardently love it.
6th April 2009
PLEASE GIVE US BACK THE OLD FRAGRANCE!!!!Sandalwood was the best cologne for men in the world. Now is changed and it is a definitive crap!!!If anyone knows if it's possible to buy the old one, please let me know.I realy miss the old sandalwood. I miss it so much... There's no similar fragrance in the world, isn't it?What's happening at Elizabeth Arden? Are they crazy?
27th December 2008
Meh, nothing great. Sandalwood is good woods and citrus with oakmoss. Good scent.
15th November 2008
A wonderful sandalwood fragrance. It is ostensibly masculine and harsh upon first spraying, but its character is tempered by warm woody notes and a soft drydown that make it almost a unisex cologne. An appealing and genial aroma.
29th September 2008
First of all let me say that this is a fantastic barbershop fragrance! One of the best I have encountered in a long time. Where Antico Caruso and Rive Gauche for men are great Italian and French barbershop smells, this is a great American barbershop scent. It is a stylish classic. Maybe it's a tad dated, but even in allowing that, I mean "dated" in a good way. It's the smell of a well-groomed gent. Yes, it's a little nostalgic, and it would probably appeal most to men over 40, like me. The name is a bit misleading, Sandalwood doesn't really play a leading role for most of the development of AMS. At first there is far more lavender than anything else. Then, a little later, lavender shares the stage with sandalwood, and they do a terrific duet. Then it becomes mostly sandalwood with lavender support, but at that point, 4 to 5 hours after application, the fragrance stays pretty close to the skin. It is by then soft, dry, mellow, straight-forward sandalwood, but it is subltle. It is clean, masculine, and gobs of lovely character. Where some others try, and sometimes suceed,in evoking a classic scent--this is the real McCoy; the iconic scent they are trying to emulate. The makers were out of their minds to discontinue this. All I can say in summation is: if you "get it", and if you can get it, go get it!
27th October 2007
Don't tell me they're discontinuing this?!?! This is the PERFECT fragrance for a man from the 60s. It is almost purely sandalwood (a very popular scent for incense in the 60s). I LOVE this fragrance and am disappointed that they're discontinuing it. With all the woody fragrances around like Gucci PH and YSL's M7, as well as Creed's Tabarome Millesime or even Vintage Tabarome, this fits very nicely within that group. Yes, I'll say it, the sales execs at Elizabeth Arden are STUPID to discontinue this genuine one-of-a-kind fragrance. And the fact that it LASTS is good too. There are too many fragrances nowadays that don't last even 5 minutes. Instead of discontinuing this fragrance, they should try promoting it and re-launching, directing it at those aging baby boomers and older retirees who play golf all day. It is the perfect scent for them! In my opinion, it really smells like a wealthy man's fragrance. So, if anyone from Elizabeth Arden reads this review, PLEASE don't discontinue this quite yet. With the right promo, it could be a BIG seller.
25th May 2007
This is a fragrance that I've always loved to smell on a guy. Interestingly, it always reminded me of a freshly-opened bar of Neutrogena soap . . . not in a 'soapy' way, but that clean, healthy aroma that always made me want to help them hurry up and get a little dirty! I've purchased a bottle recently, but, as with a couple of other discontinued fragrances I've bought, it had that 'off' smell. The nuances are not there. I do wish they'd bring it back. Sigh.
14th March 2007
Potent stuff, and definitely NOT for those who eschew heavy doses of lavender. (The opening sprays are akin to cannon fire, not cologne.) But give it time to dry -- PLEASE. This is one scent that will either grow on you (as it has on me) or be put up for swap very soon. (As with A*men and other frags, there seems to be no middle ground on this one.)The sandalwood used here is positively bone dry, but the opopanax helps give it more depth in the drydown. The cedar notes may bother some twenty or thirty minutes into the drydown, so be forewarned. (They don't bother me, but I know how many folks are with cedar.) A good, solid, old school men's scent all around, but will have its definite detractors in the "Tommy Generation." Still fairly available even though discontinued.
2nd November 2006
A very strong long lasting cologne. For any who wish to try it, it is still available from perfumeemporium.
31st October 2005
This fragrance has a extremely strong smell when first applied. I guess Iím too sensitive to the smell of sandalwood as this leaves me with a runny noise and a slight headache after trying it. Those around me say it smells good, but I feel best after I have showered it off.
8th September 2003
Personally, I found this fragrant not nearly as representative of Sandalwood as its name would imply. I also found that it has an almost overwhelming pungency when first applied and that it doesn't last very long through its very few notes. A disappointment.
27th November 2002