Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Santos by Cartier

Total Reviews: 49
Santos de Cartier, or just Santos, is another larger-than-realized outlier from 1981 that had massive impact on the direction of men's fragrance in the 1980's. Santos is the debut masculine from the house of Cartier, known more for watches and jewelry than fragrance, and didn't receive the incredible amount of hype that "Class of 1981" masculines received, like Kouros, Antaeus, Bijan for Men, Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, but rather was an outlier that built the reputation as a signature for guys in the know, allowing Cartier to continue on making distinct masculines to this very day. Outside of it's fans, uttering the word "Cartier" will yield questions about jewelry and watches, much like saying "Speidel" or even "Rolex"; the former of these two also would venture heavily into fragrance too but eventually divested itself. Cartier released Santos in honor of it's first watch client, the late Santos Dumont, who recently had a new watch released under his name too, also in his honor. Santos de Cartier sort of tries to do it's "own thing" much like Coty's Stetson (also 1981), which is why I don't put it in league with the watersheds of this year. What you get from Santos is smooth, subtle, dignified mossy scent that continues in the train of thought began with Eucris by Geo F Trumper (1912), then furthered by Jacomo Eau Cendreé (1974), and Jacomo de Jacomo (1980) with heavy doses of vetiver and spice.

Santos is a great deal smoother than it's forebearers and strong by modern standards, but no powerhouse compared to it's peers. The scent opens with lavender, basil and bergamot, which come across smooth and barbershoppy until the dirty cumin and nutmeg kick in, giving this a deeper manly growl than any strict barbershop fougère ever could. A barely-detectable sweetness of juniper is the counter-balance to all this rustic masculinity in the middle, setting up for the smoky vetiver to show like it does in Eau Cendreé and Jacomo de Jacomo. Santos actually pulls closer to Eau Cendreé thanks to the nutmeg so fans of that long-dead scent might just want to stock up on Santos as a close replacement. Sandalwood and cedar add the expected dryness to counter the sweetness of the patchouli in the base, which is glazed by a thick oakmoss note which is the scent's hallmark in vintage. For a while, newer post-IFRA batches using tree moss (then no moss) were becoming increasingly metallic and sharp as the vetiver was left to fend for itself against the woods, but the newest versions in the built-in sprayer bottle return some of the roundness the moss provided, which is either accomplished with beeswax absolute like Chanel did for it's old mossy scents, or some unknown synthetic.

Older is better with Santos de Cartier, but don't bother with mid-vintages post-90's due to the chances of running into a screechy batch, so if deeper vintages are too costly, new production is quite satisfactory, much like Bogart or Van Cleef & Arpels. Smoky, smooth, buttery, rich, and slightly sweet is the name of the game for Santos de Cartier, and since it's not focused on sheer power, it moves in the background under a nice suit and tie for a mature man or a guy who appreciates classic swagger. Santos is pure business-class and Cartier probably figured as much, since they made a deeper, richer, more romantic (but also more linear) Santos Concentrée (1982) a year later. They're different enough to have both if you really dig the style, but for the folks who don't like flankers or alternates, Santos itself is just fine. Avoid sweltering heat with this one, as humidity renders the moss/patchouli base invisible, but dry heat is fine. For a classic early 80's moss masculine that doesn't feel so dated or loud in the 21st century, Santos is a great choice, and this smooth operator will get you through your toughest business negotiations or longest nights. My only complaint, if any, is that it is so similar to other moss fragrances before it, and feels like the refinement of somebody else's idea, but when has that ever stopped me from liking something? Definitely a soft-spoken classic, that has strength where you want it, and nowhere else.
07th June, 2018
I find this to be an overbearing juice to stay with lots of herbal and spicy notes that are a turn off for sure. I would say that 30 to 40 minutes in the herbals calm significantly with some sandalwood and vetiver. I am glad I got this for less than 25 dollars for 100 ml but I don't think I will wear this again... If anyone wants to swap send me a message lol.
09th May, 2018
Stardate 20180425:


Not for me.
Too much cumin and spices. Lavendar and Bergamont try to bring in balance but they lose the battle within an hour leaving you with a nice mulligatawny soup.

25th April, 2018
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I wore the original santos frequently in the 80s and early 90s. I re visited recently. I purchased it on amazon. It is the latest version in the all black ribbed bottle. When i sprayed it i jolted back in uttermost disgust for what i thought was a fake. After a little investigation i realised that this was the real offering from cartier. The latest re formulation is a far cry from the original. It has an overbearing lavender cheap scent. I sprayed again the next day hoping I would change my mind. I did not. I wouldnt even give this away from fear of offending someone. What a dissapointment. This is a prime example of a perfume house cheapening the product over time thinking no one will notice.

04th November, 2017
I had the privilege of trying vintage Santos a ways back. I remember it being a very rich smelling fragrance, sophisticated, had a lot going on.
I recently tried one of the new formulations, the second to last one that has the integrated atomizer.
First impression is that it smells cheaper and a little crude. A very dry smelling fragrance and to me, this formulation is just very overbearing without any sexy, redeeming qualities, unlike the original.
Even if I weren't comparing it to the vintage I don't think this is a very good EdT.
I tried Antaeus recently, a men's cologne that shares the same lane as Santos, and although not for me, I respect it more, and it seems like that one has more character and a little more refinement than Santos.
19th October, 2017
A smoky, woody, herbal scent for men that is most representative of the powerhouse 1980s, which this scent helped to introduce.

The sweet, strong herbal notes of basil and lavender practically burst out of the bottle, followed by the spicy nutmeg and cumin. All settles down to the perfect blend of sandalwood (for which the scent is obviously named), cedar, patchouli and vetiver.

A simple note tree, as were most men's fougeres in the 1980s. So many of them smelled alike, it all came down to the quality of ingredients and the price. Santos dries down to a warm, woody, skin scent without any sharpness or interference, supported by the gentle spices.

Still a winner in my book after all these years! And, thank goodness, still available.
16th August, 2017
Sandalwood is still one of my most favorite notes. I cannot get enough of it. And it's just astounding how many fragrance variations can be made with sandalwood in the base.

I thought I'd wrapped it all up when I found D&G By Man and Gucci Envy. But then a vintage bottle of Santos de Cartier fell in my lap. This is the dressed up version with brushed silver metal casing and gold accents secured with flush faux screws. The very high end luxury presentation in Remy Martin like padded red faux leather box does not disappoint for what is inside.

Sandalwood and lavender go so well together. Add on some peppery spices, herbs, richness from amber, patchouli, vetiver, and a little sweetness of coconut and vanilla, and something magical happens. Bold and beautiful. I sampled the recent version and it's so sad what Cartier did to it. Definitely make a point of trying the vintage if you can.

Fragrance 9.2 / Value 8.5
06th April, 2017 (last edited: 07th April, 2017)
Okay, Lately I've been spending some quality time with Santos. I am partial to the more masculine fragrances and this is one of them. The first few times I wore it, I thought it was very similar to Lapidus. It does remind me of that, but it really is much more complex and refined. From what I read from some other reviewers, I had assumed that Santos would be a cloying, dated fragrance, being that it was launched in the 80's. This is not true. I have yet to wear anything quite like it, and if it is not a masterpiece, it's close. I think it really is very, very well balanced, somewhat linear, but that's okay because the notes are on target right out of the bottle. Spicy, woody, exotic..., just sweet enough, and not floral or "aqua" or "cloudy" at all. It has very good projection and silage (medium to strong), and it makes me feel calm and confident when I wear it. I wish I could trade my bottle of Lapidus for Santos. Love it.
06th May, 2015
I'm not really enjoying this one. It kicks off with a fairly standard woody chypre smell, but drenched in nutmeg. Given a few minutes, it dies down to hay-ish tobacco with a buzz of very chemical-smelling lavender on top. Eventually, as the lavender sharpness fades, I'm left with the smell of lumber mixed with old newspapers. Finally, a very oily, almost gasoline-smelling chypre base comes in.

Aside from the topnotes, I just haven't found Santos very pleasant. That buzzing fake lavender and the gasoline fumes are bad enough, but when fuzed with nutmeg, they take on a weird quality, like something delicious that's been laced with poison. I don't know how else to describe it - I just don't like it.
13th April, 2015

This is the distinction between the men and the boys. SANTOS DE CARTIER is a sophisticated Oriental-Woody blend that beautifully incorporates exotic wood and spice notes.The top notes has a very distinct smell which peaked my interest enough for me to try this EDT.Classic,Warm,Rich,Strong,Passionate, Classy, Gentlemanlike and Very Oriental.

Herbal and fresh notes of basil,lavender and bergamot sit over a spicy heart of pepper,nutmeg and geranium while a rich base of woods,patchouli and vanilla bring masculinity,strength and also sweetness to this lovely classic and makes it an intense and great choice for the confident and perfect man.

SANTOS DE CARTIER is reserved for the Winter Evenings.It is not seemly for a young or teenager and I highly recommend this real Orintal-Woody fragrance to a dandy man 30/50 years who wants to smell great before a big event.CARTIER never disappoint you indeed.


Longevity?Very Good on my skin.

16th December, 2014
Trying a sample of this over the past 120 minutes, simply gauging its relative strength along with three other newly acquired scents. Trouble is, I've reapplied yet another decent dose of Santos three separate times, and still, it is being forced into whimpering non-noticeable submission by the three other scents, all of which were applied only once, as well as the three being classified as light, sporty type scents. An earlier reviewer claimed the reformulated version of Santos to have been a product of disembowelment from an original version. Almost certainly, that is truth. The initial smell, all 15 minutes worth, conjures a rich spicy goodness that must have once been a scrumptious pleasure to behold. Ahh, but now? Reduced to an utter tease.
04th March, 2014
Puts all these punk kid scents to shame Santos is in a class of mature men scents. A cold weather evening scent that will drive women to delite with one whiff. Put down the dept store nose clogging, headache inducing juice, And put on some real classy edt. Santos, there is no substitute!
22nd January, 2013
I am writing this post because I recently tried Santos last version .... I was very happy to see him on the shelf, but just sprayed already noticed the difference in intensity and for sure the ingredients are different. I do not know why they are no longer utilizabili or is no longer worthwhile to produce with certain things, but not free to criticize the new Santos is a very faded away copy of the first ... sure who has lived with the first note the similarity but also notes the significant difference .. thumbs up for the old man no comment for the new
07th January, 2013
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The old formula was one of the best fragances ever... and lasts 24 hours.

The new formulation it's horrible and lasts about 15 minutes on my skin.
Cheaper and awful.

I will never buy a fragrance from Cartier.

For me, this is a DISASTER!!!!
07th April, 2012
I love the smell of the 80's. Back then, scents were loud, in-your-face and unique. Santos de Cartier is the best example of a raw, edgy, incredibly masculine scent from that time period.

Compared to those more modern scents, some may think Santos de Cartier is too strong, too earthy and too different to be worn by anyone today. I tend to disagree.

This fragrance hits you like a surprise punch in the face. For the first few seconds, it's bitter, green and herbaceous. As it settles, it begins to smell somewhat leathery and sweet. I find Santos de Cartier a stronger version of Chanel Antaeus.

There is a definite hint of vanilla and incense, particularly in the drydown, which makes this fragrance suitable for women to wear as well. Personally, I wouldn't feel ashamed to wear such a bold, manly scent like this one, and honestly, I'm fussy.

The rich, dark woodsiness of this fragrance is divine. In lots of ways I'd rather a man smell like Santos de Cartier than those non-descript citrus aromatics that tend to flood the male market these days.

The man that wears Santos de Cartier, is mature and sensible. Honestly, I can't imagine this being worn by or being bought by any young man. This fragrance is for real men.

There's nothing to fear in terms of lasting strength and sillage. Santos de Cartier is quite possibly the powerhouse fragrance of the century. I highly recommend.
01st March, 2012
Elzéard Show all reviews
United Kingdom
It is certainly dry, and with its herbal woody notes it's sat somewhere in between Tuscany and Polo Green in terms of style, but lacking the heavy smoke or chest hair of the latter. Not bad, but not particularly inspiring.
03rd February, 2012
There is a difference between old-fashioned and out-dated, and to me Santos definitely falls in the latter category..

Seriously..this smells like it belongs in a different geological era entirely..

Inexplicable to me how this may be worn today
06th June, 2011 (last edited: 12th June, 2011)
shamu1 Show all reviews
United States
I'm not one to complain about reformulations, but Cartier really disemboweled Santos when it changed the formula. I remember this being a rich, dark and complex old school fragrance, but now we have a weak, watered down, spare and dull woody chypre with poor sillage and very little character.

Santos is certainly not terrible, and the dirty, dusty smell underlying the fragrance is still present. The problem is that there's so little "meat" to this fragrance, and it comes across as an overly simplified, lifeless wood and citrus scent with an animalic touch. It just smells flat.

I'm satisfied with most reformulations of fragrances, but Cartier has managed to suck the life right out of Santos, leaving us with a pretty boring scent. Don't waste your money on this.

06th May, 2011
Elegant and conservative this fragrance is a real epitome of the 80's, an old formula performing an eminent example of elegance. It's dark-boise as the aroma of a dark forest, it's vaguely rubbery, musky with a weird hint of fruity incense. The inizial whiff of earthy patchouli, woods and fruity resins conjures a bit the original Aramis that is "complicately" leathery like this one but with a different type of ostensibly fruity after smell (myrtle oil plus an obscure, vaguely berrish, fruity touch, spices and flowers for Aramis). Three are in my opinion the key elements of Santos: the gummy-incensey galbanum, the earthy patchouli and the spicy orangy neroli. A well dosed initial lavender provides that discreet, traditional touch of aromatic virility. Nutmeg and vetiver keep a fair dose of mild earthiness till the end of development. The combination of galbanum and vetiver produces a sort of earthy but resinous dark-green incensey sort of "aura". The deeply woodsy temperament is supported by juniper, heavy woods and green vegetal notes while an addition of dirty dustiness is blown around by "molecular" cumin. The slightly acid after-smell of the latter is barely perceivable by brave noses far more expert than the mine. The final outcome is a sort of velvety, vaguely oily-resinous and leathery aroma of deep forest and smoky orange with a touch of incensey "mist", some earthiness and "organic" ambergris. A pillar of classicism.
21st April, 2011 (last edited: 13th June, 2014)
this is beautiful, can be used in hot weather and it is virtually inoffensive. However it doesn´t last for more than 2 hours. Be aware that santos is totally different of concentree version. Concentree is highly male scent, its drier, less smooth, much more herbal/woody and lasts for 8-12 hours swithing notes and do not just fade away. This version has a powdery drydown. Concentree has a resinous base plus the herbals that stand till the end. Antaeus is more similar to this standard version. Concentree is more in the drakkar dry way, some told me concentree smelled i little of polo green, showing me that concentree is good, bad maybe people nowadays would feel Conc. more agressive because of the marine/toilet aura that rules market today...
07th October, 2010
Vampire Weekend - Diplomat's Son (2010):

It's not right but it's now or never
And if I wait could I ever forgive myself?
On a night when the moon glows yellow in the riptide
With the light from the TV's buzzing in the house

Cuz I'm gonna cut it where I can
And then I'm gonna duck out behind them
If I ever had a chance it's now then
But I never had the feeling I could offer that to you

To offer it to you would be cruel
When all I want to do is use, use you

He was a diplomat's son
It was '81...

10/10 for Santos
11th August, 2010
I had it ... back in the 80's
I also was young and full of Ideas or Dreams ...
Notions of what I thought made me feel Rich,Sophisticated and Elegant...
Van Cleef & Arpels pour Homme along with fave Santos Cartier...
created that illusion for me...
wow.... who knew that a long-lasting,
sweet-strong sandalwood, mix of lavender, basil, vetiver, carnation, patchouli..
with a dry down that is an exquisite mixture of ambergris in a deep-down leathery/smokey/incense-like chords
would make me long for those youthful days .. now!
07th July, 2010
Top notes are astringent sandalwood and leather. There's a strange "emptiness" to the leather that makes it seem old man-ish. There's another note in it, perhaps cinnamon, that reminds me of Bond no. 9's "H.O.T. Always." I don't hate it, but its nothing mind-blowing. I'm generally not a fan of leather, I should note.
22nd November, 2009
An eminently wearable fusion of fresh, crisp top note components with warmer edgier elements. The opening seems dominated by the presence of the Bergamot, which combined with Basil creates a tightened, astringent yet surpisingly pleasant accord. The real delights occur further into the Santos experience, when some real masculine staples enter the fray. The warmth from the woods married to the the condiment components in the middle notes creates an attitude of strength and success. This may not be the best in the Cartier showroom, but it more than holds its own.
11th April, 2009
The best moments in Santos remind me fleetingly of Ungaro ll- and that is saying a lot. The sweet lavender opening is among the best in my recollection. Though the drydown is a little too subdued and common for my liking.
26th February, 2009
very strong that is awful .... i sprayed a little on my hand and i could not wait for long to wash it off ....
18th January, 2009

I was surprised at testing this one. I don’t believe that I have ever smelled it before although I have worn and loved Santos de Cartier Concentrée for years and years. I tested the two side by side. I was surprised because the opening on this one is smoother, fuller, and more attractive than the opening on the Concentrée version. I didn’t expect that, and for a while I was concerned that I might have been using the wrong fragrance all these years. The opening is a green, sweet, citrusy accord with aldehydes and a bare touch of lavender. It smells like an excellent version of the all too common green / citrus / lavender accords of so many ‘90s fragrance. After about ten minutes, the two Santos’s smell the same, the better accord in the opening was just a flash in the pan for the regular Santos. The heart notes for the regular Santos are pretty much the same as with the concentrated version: green, aromatic, a little bit spicy, and floral to round it out. After a little over an hour, this regular Santos, has already moved into the mossy, coniferous, drydown while the Concentrée is still spilling out its excellent heart. Two hours later, the regular Santos is almost done – the last gasps of aroma are wimping off the skin. The Concentrée, however, is still going strong. I like Santos, but I’ll stick with Santos Concentrée.

17th October, 2008
Meat. That's what I get. OK, that is a little extreme, but just as with Declaration, I get a meat association with Santos. In declaration, it is more of a spicy salami. With Santos it is the same salami but as a dried 'jerky'. Outside of that, it is a very manly 70s larger than life frag, recalling G. Ferre, Antaeus etc. Please don't let the meat association scare you off, its just the spice and lavender that does it. My nose also tells me Carolina Herrera frags smell like fried food. So maybe it is just me.
20th September, 2008
I have completely revised my review. Initially I did not like this at all. Maybe the bottle I tried was off. Today, the scent seems soapy, mossy, smooth and green. Reminds me of a kinder, gentler Aqua de Brava. Now there is no oak moss listed but this sure gives of a mossy vibe. It is pleasant, quite heavy and powerful, certainly old-school.
03rd September, 2008 (last edited: 30th October, 2016)
Strong herbals and a genuine scent of lavender without the use of vanilla, that gets high points in my book. Slightly peppery which is reinforced by cedarwood. Strong masculine scent. Best of the Cartier mens fragrances.
09th August, 2008