The One Acne-Fighting Ingredient You Haven't Tried Yet

From ancient Ayurvedic practices traced back to the beginning of recorded history to a starring role in Le Labo’s cult-favorite, cool girl-approved Santal 33 perfume today, sandalwood has been trending for roughly 6,000 years. Prized both for its warm, distinctive fragrance and healing benefits, the oil from the aromatic wood has made countless appearances in both storied beauty rituals and modern skin-care formulas — and for good reason.

“Sandalwood oil has significant anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties,” explains dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, of Wexler Dermatology. Numerous studies have shown that the extract is effective in soothing inflammatory skin disorders, including allergic dermatitis, acne, eczema, and psoriasis — conditions that generally require a prescription to treat. Plus, like sage, sandalwood boasts more than just a proven ability to nix breakouts and calm angry, irritated skin: The oil is said to promote alertness and reduce anxiety when used in aromatherapy.

It’s your call whether or not you buy into sandalwood’s legendary medicinal properties, but you can experience the skin-care benefits firsthand with the best in sandalwood-based beauty products, ahead. A naturally-occurring tree that banishes acne and eases a troubled mind sounds too good to be true, but hey, six millennia of skin-care wisdom don’t lie.

Consider this intense blemish-fighting, radiance-boosting treatment your panic button for breakouts and dullness, thanks to a blend of raw honey enzymes, exfoliating fruit acids, and smoothing micro-crystals.

Tata Harper Clarifying Mask, $68, available at Tata Harper.
If you’re still of the mind that toner is an unnecessary extra step in your routine, this supercharged version might just make a convert out of you. Essential oils like rose, sandalwood, and frankincense promote cell turnover to revitalize dull skin, while the rosewater base purifies and helps fight blemishes.

Uma Ultimate Brightening Rose Toner, $65, available at SpaceNK.
The ideal serum for oily, blemish-prone skin, this lightweight formula uses a blend of essential oils and moisture-locking glycerin to boost hydration without feeling greasy.

Aesop Lucent Facial Concentrate, $115, available at Nordstrom.
This cult-favorite cleanser contains the same purifying clays you’ll find in your favorite masks, which help to draw dirt and debris out of pores without over-drying. A generous dose of vitamin C brightens skin, while neroli and sandalwood soothe inflammation.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser, $45, available at Sephora.
Packed with antioxidants that strengthen the skin, this innovative serum is a godsend for adult acne sufferers: It helps fend off environmental damage and signs of aging while a high concentration of sandalwood water and willow bark extract clarifies and calms pissed-off skin.

True Botanicals Cellular Repair Serum, Clear, $140, available at True Botanicals.
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