Reviewed: This Le Labo Shower Gel Changed My View on Scented Body Washes

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4.5

Le Labo Santal 33 Shower Gel

le labo santal 33 shower gel

Bryan Levandowski / Byrdie

What We Like
  • Sulfate-free formula

  • Contains skin conditioning ingredients

  • Gorgeous, elevated scent

  • Luxurious lather

What We Don't Like
  • Not Byrdie clean

  • High price tag

4.5

Le Labo Santal 33 Shower Gel

le labo santal 33 shower gel

Bryan Levandowski / Byrdie

We put Le Labo Santal 33 Body Wash to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

I totally get the concept of scented body wash. Combined with the hot water and refreshing steam of a well-deserved shower at the end of a long day, the right scent could add a much-needed aromatherapy boost to your otherwise boring shower or bath. And we can all use a bit of that, right? 

But let’s be honest: Even with today’s massive offering of fragrances geared to waking us up, calming us down, transporting us to a tropical rainforest or tricking our senses into thinking we’re on some exotic beach, they all kind of smell the same after a while. IMO, the chemical scent is the obscure destination (e.g. "enchanted forest"), the bottle, which probably contains a similar amount of chemicals, is the passport.

I prefer ingredients over embellishment. I opt for formulations that are either hydrating or exfoliating, rather than ones that simply smell nice—but then I met Le Labo’s Santal 33 Shower Gel. It's the perfect combination of style and substance, as far as body wash goes. This Le Labo body wash is stacked with an impressive list of skin-loving ingredients including vitamin E and aloe vera, plus the brand’s iconic Santal 33 fragrance: a soft, yet bracing woody aroma that’s as calming as it is enigmatic.

Le Labo Santal 33 Shower Gel

Best for: All skin types

Uses: To cleanse, condition, and leave behind a subtle fragrance.

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Potential Allergens: None

Byrdie Clean? No, contains methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, and PEG-4.

Price: $59

About the Brand: Le Labo is a fragrance and body care brand that focuses on formulating scents with soul, and featuring ingredients designed to pamper our bodies and soothe our minds. 

About My Skin: Normal, oily in summer

As far as body skin goes, mine certainly isn't as high-maintenance as the skin on my face. It's only dry during the winter, of course, and I find that I rarely need body lotion. While my skin isn't usually parched, I stay far away from bar soaps, as most tallow-based formulas leave my skin feeling stripped and rough as sandpaper. I usually opt for a mix of exfoliating and hydrating body washes.

The Feel: Silky liquid to heavenly lather

Le Labo Santal 33 Shower Gel

BRYAN LEVANDOWSKI

The first thing I look for in a high-end body wash is that thick, dense, finely-bubbled lather that makes such formulations stand out from the quick, yet short-lived foam you find with most SLS-laced products. It comes out liquid-y, somewhere between a gel and water, and glides around your skin as you build up a healthy dose of lavishly-scented suds. I tried it with my hands, a loofah, and a pouf and had an equally satisfactory sudsing with all three. So, as far as texture goes, this Le Labo body wash is already a winner. 

The Ingredients: Bursting with thoughtful botanicals

As a shower gel that’s touted by the brand to cleanse both the body and the mind, its formulation is stacked with several key skin-loving ingredients, including: 

  • Glycerin: As a naturally derived humectant, glycerin helps bind water to the skin to lock in moisture and prevent excess water loss. In a body wash, it can help temper the formula to be both cleansing and hydrating so it doesn’t leave skin feeling stripped.
  • Vitamin E: One of the most potent antioxidants known to man, vitamin E plays a vital role in helping to boost and protect skin’s natural barrier. The end result is skin that’s soft, smooth, and resilient. 
  • Olive Oil: Loaded with fatty acids, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, olive oil is a treat for your skin no matter how you use it. 
  • Aloe Vera: With benefits ranging from helping to soothe burns to inundating skin with healing hydration, aloe vera’s role in this Le Labo body wash gives it an extra skin-loving boost. 

The Smell: Super Sophisticated

If you’ve never smelled Le Labo’s Santal 33 before, do yourself a favor and head to the nearest Le Labo counter. It’s a smoky, leathery, woodsy, tad spicy blend meant to capture the spirit of the American West with notes of sandalwood, cedar, leather, violet accord, cardamom, iris, and papyrus. As a longtime fan of the fragrance myself, I’ve always been attracted to its sophisticated profile—especially how in one moment you pick up on wood, but a second later it’s a floral note or something warm, like amber or musk. 

Accolades aside, I found infusing my shower with the aroma of Santal 33 helped bring about a feeling of calm and serenity, perfect for starting the day on a good note or ending it on a relaxing one.

At first whiff, I thought there’s no way this stuff belongs in a body wash. It’s too high-end to simply wash down the drain, but the good news is that plenty of it stays with you after you’ve washed it off. Just enough to be soft and fragrant, never cloying or overpowering. 

The Results: Skin that's looking good and feeling fine

Overall, I love how this Le Labo body wash made me feel. I stepped out of the shower with clean, soft skin, and surrounded by a fragrance that gave the bathroom a chic, spa-like vibe. As someone who’d never naturally opt for a scented body wash, I could seriously see myself using Le Labo’s Santal 33 on the regular.

The Value: Luxury that’s worth it

At $57 for 8 ounces, this Le Labo body wash is far from a bargain, but when you break it down, it also outperforms many of today’s top contenders. Formula-wise, it’s loaded with ingredients that are kind to your skin and which help you feel clean without overdoing it. Fragrance-wise, nothing out there smells like Santal 33, a fragrance that not only wears great on your body but also helps create a sense of serenity for your mind. 

Similar Products: You’ve got options

Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser: Few brands come close to the ingredients vs. fragrance perfection of Le Labo, but this body wash from Aesop ($45) is right up there, and with a slightly lower price tag. Gentle ingredients meet a refreshing, earthy fragrance that makes bathing an absolute treat. 

Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Black Currant Cedarwood Body Wash and Foam Bath: The cozy notes of warm cedar and tart black currants give this shower gel from Bath & Body Works ($13.50) an unexpectedly high-end vibe. Plus, the foaming formula contains aloe and bamboo to help soften and condition skin. 

Nécessaire The Body Wash: If you’re a fiend for sandalwood, this ingredients-driven formula by Nécessaire ($25) might just fit the bill. It contains “It” skincare ingredient of the moment niacinamide, which helps maintain skin’s moisture barrier function. Plus, it’s scented with that old favorite sandalwood, which delivers the same cleansing properties to the mind. 

Final Verdict

Sometimes you need a little something extra to make your day, and having a bath or shower with such a thoughtfully-crafted product as Le Labo’s Santal 33 shower gel might just do it for you. It’s pampering on all levels: ingredients that thoroughly, yet gently cleanse skin and a fragrance that truly makes you feel luxurious. All in all, this Le Labo body wash is a real sense-engager for an instant mood boost. 

Specs

  • Product Name Santal 33 Shower Gel
  • Product Brand Le Labo
  • Price $59.00

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