My first visit to Le Labo & Santal 33 (Justin Bieber’s Cologne) Review

I walked into Le Labo a bit frazzeled the Monday after attending my dear friends wedding where I was a bridesmaid. Initially, I had no intentions of perfume shopping (or really doing much of anything other than recover from the weekend and read Kinfolk before rushing to my bus (yes I take the bus, what can I say, I’m a grad student and I spend all of my train/flight money on perfume). Alas, as I sat on my boyfriend’s couch and passively watched television, I googled perfume shops near by (as I always do) and what to my wandering eyes did appear but a Le Labo store less than a mile away.

It was obviously fated.  I quickly made myself decent (which consisted of attempting to comb the remnants of my bridesmaid updo into a presentable top bun, adding a dab of mascara to combat the naked mole rat look I seem to always have in the morning) and rushed out the door.

There is shopping for perfume and then there is visiting Le Labo. To put the Le Labo shopping experience into anything but a cateogory all on its own would do a disservice to both the brand and its lovely employees. I walked in the store and loudly proclaimed “It’s my first time here!” unable to hide my excitement. The lovely perfumer running the store at the time (Olive) said “welcome! I’m so glad you’re here.” The period on her response is intentional. The period implies what I felt- that Olive was genuinely glad I was here and that this wasn’t a sentence recited from an HR guidebook (which we all know would have ended in an exclamation point and come across a lot less genuine).

Olive then asked me what type of scents I normally wear (in my head I was thinking “girl if you only knew! I wear like five scents a day, often different scents each day”) but I told her I was a lover of perfume and wanted to smell them all. She laughed good heartedly and explained to me how I could try all the perfumes I wanted and that she suggested I compare the different forms they offer (solid, candle, oil etc).

After several minutes of smelling and spraying and laughing with Olive, I decided I liked the Jasmin 17 the best. I also couldn’t resist the discovery kit which allowed me to sample several other scents as well.  As I told Olive I wanted the Jasmine, I casually mentioned that I was visiting DC from New York.

Olive incorrectly but sweetly assumed I was flying back to New York (see previous bus comments) and inquired if it would be better to opt for a smaller size (perfume oil) to serve the dual purpose of avoiding checking a bag and sampling the fragrance longer.  I really appreciated both thoughts and loved that she wasn’t trying to pressure me into buying a larger size or a fragrance I couldn’t love. Other perfume sales teams could take a few notes. That’s the kind of customer service that keeps customers going back!


If you’re unsure which scent to buy I highly recommend the discovery kit, that’s what I did- you get to try five of their most popular scents and at $30 bucks it’s a significantly lower price point than the larger sized bottles.  You can also order samples of any of the scents in quantities of one off the website.

Santal 33: This is probably Le Labo’s most famous scent. I was told that Justin Beiber (rolls eyes) wears it. I’ll be honest, when I smelled Santal in store on the sample paper I did not like it at all. I thought the woody notes completely over powered the rest of the fragrance and thought to myself- who wants to smell like campfire wood. This is what the hype is about? However, in preparation for this post, I sprayed this on myself one morning and wore it throughout the day.  I could not stop smelling my skin. As is the case with most Le Labo scents (and to be quite frank any scent worth anything at all), you must must must test it on your skin before drawing any conclusions. Having said that, now I am completely enamored. The iris and violet blend seamlessly with the sandalwood, papyrus and cedar wood. The cardamon adds a nuttiness and depth to the dry down that is simply divine. This smells like the guy at the bar your mother warned you about but you smile at anyway. Better yet, this smells like what happens when said guy at said bar defies your mothers expectations, becomes your lover and takes you out for a smoky cocktail in the East Village.  It’s a bit too masculine for me but I will definitely be trying to convince my boyfriend to give this a go.

Notes: Cardamom, iris, violet, ambrox, Australian sandalwood, papyrus, cedarwood

The discovery kit also includes: Bergamote 22, Rose 31, The Noir 29 and Veltiver 46. Please let me know if you would like a review. 

In addition to the discovery kit, I also purchased Jasmin 17, which was my favorite of all the scents I tried. Please let me know if you would like a review. 

Have you tried Le Labo? Which one? What did you think? How was your shopping experience?