Growing up my bedroom was filled with overpowering candles and incense from The Dancing Bear. Aside from when I was sleeping, there was never a time when something wasn’t lit. Fast forward to the present and my scent preference has surely changed. I’ve traded in my patchouli incense and my inexpensive (and at times headache inducing) candles from the local mall for something more refined.
Now when I invest in a candle, I pay attention to the top notes and seek out high quality. I look for the type of scent that gives off an alluring aroma without being too powerful. Over the years, I’ve become a cult follower of certain brands, and I look forward to their new releases. (I just about cried when I found out Bendel’s was going out of business, which meant I could no longer purchase two of my favorite scents: cashmere and vanilla.) Below, I’ve outlined my candle recommendations for each season and every possible occasion you can think of. I’ve also answered some questions on the art of having a beautifully scented home.
Dappled Wood by Otherland, $36 (sandalwood, toasted walnut, and sweet hay).
Spiced Pumpkin Latte by Voluspa, $32 (kombocha pumpkin, coconut milk, and winter spices).
Woods by Byredo, $85 (raspberry, jasmine petals, tuscan leather, ambroxan, and white cedarwood).
Keith Haring Running Heart by Ligne Blanche, $49 (cinnamon, caramel, and apple).
Favorite notes: warm spices (cinnamon), freshly baked pies (pumpkin, apples, caramel), and watching the leaves change (cedarwood, hay).
Callippus Aromatique by Aesop, $110 (cedar, cyprus, and vetiver).
Feu de Bois by Diptyque, $98 (crackling fire)
Winter Oranges by La Montana, $60 (winter oranges, red apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg).
Ski Candle by Gray Malin, $48 (alpine air, cedar, and winter rose)
Favorite notes: winter florals (winter rose), fresh fallen snow in the woods (birchwood, cedar, cyprus), and warm spices (cinnamon, nutmeg).
Poet in Hangzhou by Nomad Noe, $65 (gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine).
Anthurium by Overose, $68 (blackcurrant berries, dewy rose petals, and fresh lychee fruit).
Roses by Diptyque, $68 (roses).
Marie Antionette’s Garden Party by Ladurée Paris, $62 (peony, rose, and jasmine).
Favorite notes: tea in the garden (jasmine, roses, peony, lily of the valley).
Sea and Dune by LAFCO,
$98 $73.50 (watery blue lotus, beach grass, amber-sand accord, and ginger).
Sorbet by Maison La Bougie,
$55 $46.75 (strawberry, banana, and peach).
Summer Siesta by Matthew Williamson,
$185 $138.75 (mandarin, lemon, and tuberose).
Tahitian Coconut by Lumira, $70 (coconut, mandarin, frangipani, vanilla, and white musk).
Freshwater Pearl by Otherland, $36 (see crystal, salt water, and crushed shells). It’s not currently available on Otherland but I’m hoping it will make a reappearance next summer.
Favorite notes: colorful fruit (lemon, banana, strawberry, peaches), the ocean air (sea salt, beach grass), and suntan lotion (coconut, vanilla).
The best candles to light…
for a date night.
for a dinner party.
for when I’m getting ready.
for moments of relaxation.
that remind me of New York City.
Uptown Rooftop View by Thucassi,
$98 $73.50 (grapefruit peel, spicy tobacco, warm saffron, spiced leather, elemi resin, and patchouli).
Fairytale of New York by Bella Freud, $62 (blood orange, coriander, mimosa, saffron, and tobacco flower).
Studio Brooklyn Escapist by Brooklyn Candle, $38 (orange blossom, neroli, leather, cassis, patchouli, and wild sage).
when it’s raining outside.
first thing in the morning.
when I’m working from home.
during the holiday season.
Gingerbread Traphouse by Forvr Mood, $14 (marshmallow fluff, cinnamon, and vanilla bean).
Holiday Candle (limited edition) by NEST New York, $16 – $250 (pomegranate, pine, and cloves).
Diptyque limited edition holiday candles. They’re not yet available for this coming season, but keep a watch for them. They usually come out mid-October.
for drinks with friends.
when I’m reading.
in the kitchen.
when I’m traveling.
on Sunday mornings.
when I’m missing California.
Beverly Hills Palm Tree by Maison La Bougie,
$55 $46.75 (bergamot, jasmine, and cedar).
Joshua Tree by Boheme, $45 (tuberose, cactus blossom, desert sands accord, amber, patchouli, incense).
when I’m dreaming of a vacation.
My go-to gift sets
How long should you keep a candle going?
For a mini votive candle (28 mL), I like to keep it going for at least an hour. For anything larger, about two hours or until the wax has evenly pooled and reached the edges of the glass. If you blow a candle out too soon, it’s going to melt unevenly.
How should you put the flame out?
If you want the scent you’ve been enjoying to linger long after the candle is out—don’t blow out the flame. Instead, use a candle snuffer. This small metal cone suffocates the flame so you won’t have to worry about that smokey smell filling your room.
Why is it important to trim the wick?
Every time you light a candle, you should trim the wick ¼ of an inch so ash won’t fall into the wax. It will also prolong the life of your candle.
Should you purchase candles that look good or smell good?
I try to do both, however; the scent is much more important to me. If the jar doesn’t match my decor or it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, I’ll put it in a drawer and just take it out when I’m using it.
What does it mean if you can barely detect a scent?
I’ve noticed that with some candles, it takes a bit of time before I can actually smell their fragrance. The wax needs to fully heat up and create a pool before any aroma is given off. Other times, the scent is too subtle for a large room, so I’ll move it to my bathroom or bedroom where I can appreciate it more. There have been a few times where the scent is just too faint. In that case there’s really nothing you can do about it.
What is your favorite time to light them?
As you can see below, I don’t really have a *favorite* time because it’s always a good time to light a candle. From a rainy day (like today), to relaxing on a Sunday, to getting ready to go out in the evening, there’s always an occasion and a candle to match.
How much should a good quality candle cost?
In my experience, unless it’s a mini candle, $25 and up. When you go under $25, you risk that it won’t melt evenly, that it’s made with toxic chemicals, or the scent is going to be overbearing or not strong enough.
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