Before the pandemic, hoarding scented candles was the norm for anyone in possession of them. It wasn’t that you wanted them to remain boxed, it was just that opportune moments in which to actually light them seemed evasive. A bath should have been perfect, but you feared knocking it over during an awkward feat of exfoliation. Once, you considered lighting one in the presence of guests. This didn’t come to fruition because you wondered if anyone would be able to smell it – and therefore appreciate the magnitude of lighting it at all – above the din of sociability. Ultimately, you weren’t at home enough to light scented candles even if you could do so without being neurotic about it. Then, successive lockdowns happened and that all changed. You began lighting scented candles with wild abandon – so many, in fact, that you might as well have been conducting a seance with an olfactory edge. But candles weren’t just being lit in excess during lockdown, they were also being made, with a number of independent candle brands on the market finally coming to the fore. Here are some of our favourites.
If you want scented candles that are as flamboyant as they are fun, we suggest the appropriately named Boujee Bougies. Compounded in Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, their scents conjure experiences as diverse as 'a chilled Sunday afternoon spent leafing through vintage erotica' and being surrounded by lush houseplants.
For many of us, lighting a candle signifies a moment of relaxation. Monique Brown had this in mind when she founded Affirmation Culture to manage stress following a gruelling career in the film industry. Each candle comes with a positive affirmation to quell anxiety of all sorts, with scents ranging from lavender, rose and neroli to orange, bergamot, ylang ylang and patchouli. But the brand isn't just focussed on self-care: the Call For Justice™️ candle was created following the death of George Floyd to support organisations working to progress the Black Lives Matter movement.
Scented candles make us happy, so it's unsurprising that Olivia's Haven is a brand based largely on the founder's happiest memories. Wild Heather, for example, is a tribute to her mother's appetite for adventure. We appreciate how it creates an olfactory atmosphere that's as calming as it is energising – as the best mothers do.
If you're an East Londoner keen to support a local business, Śūru is the independent candle brand for you. Its roots, however, are a little further afield: the Punjab in India. Euphorique is their debut scented candle, with each note (and there are several) supposedly reminiscent of your most joyful moments. We are inclined to agree.
Daily Flame actually make two types of candles: 'jarred flames' and 'flame bods', with the former being scented candles and the latter – as their name would suggest – celebrating the human body. We suggest investing in both – one to smell and one to marvel at.
So, it seems that sustainable luxury has a smell – or several, in fact: VON NORTEN scented candles. But while each one is made with vegan and ethically-sourced ingredients, it's the Sea Salt & Oakmoss that we're the most grateful for at the moment – it reminds us of being on holiday. No, we did not just audibly wail. That would be juvenile.
O.Robert&Co. came on the market – in the first lockdown, conveniently – to provide scented candles that manage to be both luxurious and inexpensive. Here's to gently scenting your home without feeling like it's in fact money that you are burning.
Soak Sunday is a brand with bathing at its core. And, despite what we said in the introduction, what could be a better bathing companion that a scented candle? It's fortunate, then, that the brand should make their own. There's something oddly sexy about Midnight Storm in particular.
Can a scented candle embody individuality and elegance? If Sophie James Mayfair has anything to do with it, yes. And, perhaps bittersweetly given current circumstances, each is linked to the founder's memories of travelling the world. The Crown, for example, has an Italian genesis.
Saint Fragrance didn't come out of nowhere, it's a brand built on 25 years of working alongside perfumers to design scents for global brands. And, when you smell their candles, this experience is more than evident. In an ideal world, we'd light Sunday Papers whilst being served breakfast in bed by a beautiful stranger.