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The comfort of candles: Beautifully scented candles from the world’s leading perfume houses

Beautifully scented candles are definitely out there in abundance and LLM contributor Rose Strang talks us through some of her favourites.

By Rose Strang  |  February 26, 2022
Fire Pit Fortune
Image Credit: Les Senteurs

When the nights seem so long and dark, and before the first sight of daffodils are there to put a smile on our faces, candles do a perfect job of lifting our spirits. My preference is for beeswax candles with their natural, comforting honey scent – a choice that’s partly because I find that scented candles can sometimes exude quite obtrusive scents – (‘sea breeze’ anyone? Or is that just my own personal bugbear?!)

Unsurprisingly, online searches for scented candles surge as soon as the nights draw in. Beautifully scented candles are definitely out there in abundance, also some surprising candle companies; one of my favourites being the amusingly titled ‘Cancelled Plans’ – a tongue-in-cheek concept inspired by the pandemic! (Not a bad gift idea for a friend or family member whose event has been thwarted by ever-changing rules and restrictions!)

You can peruse the candle series on their website, with titles including – ‘I Need Space’, ‘Remember Hugs?’, ‘It’s Fine, I’m Fine’ and ‘Lost Idea’.

Amusing concepts aside, what most of us seek are candles that exude a beautifully sophisticated, or natural and relaxing scent and these are not so hard to find. I’ve included some personal favourites below.

Les Senteurs

Les Senteurs candle collection
Image credit: Les Senteurs

Les Senteurs, a perfume boutique that sells niche and independent scents from some of the best perfume houses around the world, launched their very first candle series last year. Inspired by the history of the Hawksley and Nicholson families – the co-founders of Les Senteurs – each candle takes inspiration from one of the family member’s experiences – Night Tropics, for example, is inspired by a first visit to the southern hemisphere.

Les Senteurs explain: “The idea for this fragrance came from Claire Hawksley’s memory of visiting the southern hemisphere for the first time. She’d been escaping from a particularly negative relationship but in the garden’s night air her mind was completely refocused by the scent of the night blooms.”

The predominant note here is tuberose, in a bouquet of soft exotic florals. The first waft was transporting indeed – I found it quite a euphoric scent – heady, dreamy and sensuous. It’s absolutely one for the romantics among you. While the scent is distinct, the perfume materials used are largely natural, there’s nothing to induce a headache here, though it’s most definitely one for lovers of big white florals. Speaking as someone who enjoys the rich scent of exotic flowers, I find Night Tropics enchanting.

Others in the series of six candles are L’Ile aux Trésors, an Oriental woody scent of rosewood and creamy vanilla orchids, inspired by the scented winds of Madagascar; Fire Pit Fortune, a cosy, woody/smoky scent which conjures a golden afternoon in an orchard – inspired by the family tradition of telling fortunes with apple pips while sitting around a bonfire; Foret Foray which transports you to a tranquil forest cabin with natural woody and green scents; and Matin au Train Bleu – a refreshing ‘aquatic fougere’ scent inspired by a night train trip heading south; ‘dawn breaks and the sun-warmed scents of the Mediterranean flow through the open window’. Lastly, Arbour is a delicate floral scented candle recalling the uplifting scents of spring; ‘Fresh dewy buds unfurl towards the sun, bursting with the optimism of continuing life’.

The collection of six beautiful candles is available now at the boutique and online, The Les Senteurs Candle Collection is priced at £48 for 200g.

Aromatherapy Associates London

Image credit: Aromatherapy Associates London

Aromatherapy Associates are the odd one out on my list as they’re not a perfume house but must be included for those who seek a 100 per cent naturally perfumed candle. It’s actually quite tricky to track down candles with 100% natural perfume materials. Often, you’ll encounter candles made with soy rather than beeswax and these claim to be completely natural – the soy is, but some of their perfume materials aren’t.

This series of candles by Aromatherapy Associates London will please the most sensitive noses and lungs. Each carefully blended for therapeutic effect, the series includes candles designed for ‘sleep and tranquillity’ (vetiver, chamomile and sandalwood), ‘calm focus’ (frankincense and petitgrain), to ‘energise and awaken’ (grapefruit, rosemary and juniper), plus a few other simple classics such as ‘Rose’. This is familiar turf for me, as my sister was an aromatherapy massage therapist for many years. There is nothing more relaxing, to my mind, than a bath with a few drops of vetiver oil!

Le Labo

Le Labo candle
Image credit: Le Labo

Synonymous with cool, Le Labo’s boutiques areclad in super-funky Berlin-inspiredmonochromedécor – distressed bricks, wood and wallpaper, minimalist bottle and label designs. Probably one of the most popular scents from Le Labo is Santal 33 – worn by fashion doyen, Alexa Chung, model Jade Jagger, and actor Aaron Paul.

Le Labo now have outlets in most cities world-wide. I dropped into their Edinburgh branch recently and was drawn to their candle collection – each is covered by a perfumer’s glass cloche designed to capture scent. I fell in love with Cedre 11, a delicately smoky take on the gorgeous ‘pencil shavings’ scent of cedar wood. Petit Grain 21captured all the beauty and freshness of the orange blossom tree (petit grain is from the twigs and leaves, not the flower, of the orange blossom).

The animalic yet comforting scent of Palo Santo 14, combines earthy patchouli and labdanum with Palo Santo – the wood from the Palo Santo tree which grows in South America. The scent is reputed to have healing properties and is used as an energy cleanser. The entire Le Labo candle series, and perfumes, can be found online, or treat yourself to a visit to one of their stores.

Diptyque

Image credit: Diptyque

Most high-end perfume companies add a candle series to their range of products at some point, though sometimes it’s the other way around. The perfume house, Diptyque, for example, started as candle-maker then progressed to perfume. Now most well-known for their perfume range, which includes ever-popular beauties such as fig-scented Philosykos, or soft tuberose-scented Do Son, they still sell a huge range of candles to suit every taste – all perfume materials, from light florals and citruses to earthier leathers and woods, are represented here. Browse the full collection from their website.

Miller Harris

Miller Harris candle collection
Image credit: Miller Harris

Miller Harris, the French-influenced English perfume house founded in 2000 by perfumer Lyn Miller, is synonymous with beautiful, unique perfume largely based on natural perfume materials. I’ve long been a fan of their atmospheric perfumes – La Fumee is probably my most regularly worn autumn scent with its warm woody incense. L’Air de Rien is possibly one of their most challenging perfumes; I find it captivatingly odd with its scents of old books, incense and baking cakes.

More recently, they’ve been creating scents that reflect the rising consumer interest in comfort scents – powdery for example, or soothingly herbal. Their candle series is simple and natural scent-wise – definitely pleasing for those who seek soft scents for the home, plus the candles are soy-based, sustainably sourced and a great choice for vegans. The series includes Mandarin, Rose, Tea, Figue, Tabac and Santal. The collection can be browsed on their website.

Lastly, the list of companies offering high-end scented candles is too numerous to mention here, but mention must be made of Frederic Malle, Ormonde Jayne and Maison Francis Kurkdjian – all of whom create some of the most luxuriantly scented and beautifully packaged candles you’re likely to encounter.