For something so small and simple, we ask a lot of our scented candles. They should be strong but not overwhelming, personal but also delightful to everyone who comes into our home. Finding the perfect candle is a major undertaking so we tested over 30 options, from the budget-friendly to the treat-yo-self expensive, to come up with our top picks. Have a candle you swear by that didn't make the list? Let us know in the comments!
Every week we bring new products into our "test lab" and have the whole office vote on their favorites, based on quality, appearance, and price. The winners become the Top Picks of our Annual Guides, which showcase the best products of the year.
Maxwell Ryan, our Founder & CEO, chooses his own Top Pick as well, and demonstrates his favorites in our Annual Guide videos and weekly Instagram story series. Come back every Thursday for a new Annual Guide and Maxwell's Top Pick Instagram story!
Our Top Picks
It's no surprise that the famous (and oldest) French candle house came out on top in our office. All of the brand's candles honor a piece of French history — Cyrnos is a Mediterranean citrusy scent named after a late-19th century villa in Provence. The price is definitely not on the affordable end, but is worth it if you're looking to invest in a truly high-quality luxury candle. Other scents we love: Byron (woody cognac), Joséphine (sultry floral), and Pondichéry (warm and exotic).
"I love Cire Trudon because it's the ultimate indulgence for a small city apartment. The scents are super romantic and cozy and only need to be lit for 20 minutes for your whole space to smell good." - Louisa, Jr. HR Generalist
A favorite of our Founder & CEO, Santal 26 is a lovely sandlewood scent that can also be purchased as a fragrance, diffuser oil, and even a scented notebook. It's also rumored to be Beyonce's favorite candle, in case you needed more incentive to check it out. Le Labo candles are great to give as gifts, as each label is custom-made with the date, location, and recipient's name.
"Le Labo candles are made with a ton of care and attention. You can really tell that they use high-quality ingredients - the scent is richer than any other candle I've tried. Definitely worth the high price!" - Maxwell, Founder & CEO
It was almost impossible to pick just one scent from P.F. Candle Co., with some of our favorites including Piñon, Amber & Moss, Teakwood & Tobacco, and Cannabis. Ultimately, the musky Teakwood & Tobacco won. Based in Los Angeles, this small candle company is growing, with new products like reed diffusers and incense rounding out their home fragrance options. If you'd like to try something smaller and more budget-friendly, there are also mini versions of their candles for $11.
"I will buy P.F. Candles again and again. I don't like overtly sweet candles and I love more woodsy scents, so Teakwood & Tobacco is my perfect candle." -Kath, Graphic Designer
This line by Illume is sold exclusively by Anthropologie and contains some of the best-smelling food scents we've tried. Sweet Vanilla Cinnamon is a cozy blend of nutmeg, vanilla bean, and cinnamon that will make your home feel like fall all year round. Other favorites are Whipped Cream & Pear, Angel Food, and Oatmeal Cookie. These candles are pretty strong, so lighting for just a few minutes can be enough to make your home smell delicious.
Created by two men (hence the name) in Los Angeles, Boy Smells is an example of a company with too many good scents to choose from. We particularly enjoyed Lanai, a beachy scent, but also recommend Cedar Stack, Petal and Kush (their first and most infamous). Each candle is made from a blend of coconut oil and beeswax and comes in millennial pink packaging — perfect for Instagram.
Our top pick on the budget end, you'll probably recognize this candle as Anthropologie's signature scent. A mix of tropical fruits and mountain greens, Volcano is (according to my very unscientific research) the candle that almost everyone can agree on. If you don't like the mercury glass jar or the $30 price point, you can snag this candle in a variety of other jar types and sizes starting at $14.
Named after the founder's family home, this fresh, vaguely woodsy candle smells like sandalwood and cedarwood with a touch of cinnamon nutmeg. Not limited to just candles, Maison Louis Marie makes perfumes and skincare items — No. 04 can also be purchased as a perfume, body lotion, and body wash.
Farmhouse Pottery may be more well-known for their simple and beautiful homewares, but their candles deserve attention too. Made of soy wax and hand poured in Vermont, this candle smells like pine, frankincense and fir needles — bringing you the experience of a walk in the woods from the comfort of your home. If woodsy scents aren't your thing, we also recommend the simple and not overwhelming Cultivate & Garden Lavender candle.
"I love this candle because it reminds me of Vermont in the winter. I'm instantly transported to this cozy place - picture a fireside with a glass of red wine after a day of skiing." - Kelsey, Account Executive
The collaboration between Brooklyn-based Joya Studio and Kings County Distillery was a top pick for us on the mid-priced spectrum. Often alcohol-inspired candles can be too overwhelming, but this bourbon-scented one gets it just right. The studio's space, which operates as both a shop and a factory, is definitely worth a visit as well.
This Canadian candle house is so good that it was a super close vote on the office's favorite scent. The winner, Queen West, is part of the company's Toronto Neighborhood collection and smells like oakmoss, sage and lavender. Each candle smells uniquely fresh and isn't overly fragrant — we also loved Yorkville, Atlantic, Prairies and Kitsilano.
"This is like what I aspire my natural scent to be" - Karis, Studio Manager, about the Prairies scent
The Ancients candle smells like a fairy tale forest, but is actually hand-poured in Brooklyn. It isn't as in-your-face as other woodsy candles, probably because of the lavender undertones, and the effect is instantly soothing. Another scent we love: Lovers Rock, a blend of clove, cinnamon and tonka bean.
"This is my writing candle!" - Arie, News & Culture Editor for Kitchn
Named after beloved jazz artist Duke Ellington, this candle is a warm, sensuous blend of bergamot, cinnamon, sage and musk. All the candles created by the Harlem Candle Co. celebrate the Harlem Renaissance, and each one indeed feels like a piece of cultural history. Other notable scents include Savoy and Lenox.
"It's a slow burn and was a big hit with both my roommate and my partner. Both described it as 'perfectly cozy!'"- Maleia, Office Manager
No candle round-up is complete without Diptyque, whose best-selling Baies scent is almost as well-known as the brand itself. The blackcurrant and rose-scented candle smells like a fresh bouquet without being overpowering. The Diptyque arsenal is pretty vast, so if you don't like Baies there are several other great options, including Vanille, Feu de Bois, and Santal.
"When I light these candles in my bedroom, it's officially ME time - time for #selfcare." - Camey, Account Manager
Another, more expensive candle from Joya Studio, Composition No. 6 is part of a collaboration with ceramic artist Sarah Cihat. With top notes of cypress and juniper, heart notes of lotus leaves, and bottom notes of cedarwood and amber, this candle is what we imagine Mother Nature would smell like. The jar itself is just as good as the candle — it's made of slip cast porcelain with a 22k gold rim.
Swedish candle brand Byredo has a range of luxury candles, but this library-inspired scent is our favorite. A blend of plum, peach and vanilla, this candle also happens to be the favorite of a slew of celebrities, including Kendall Jenner. Stay tuned for 2019, when fellow Swedish brand IKEA launches their highly-anticipated collaboration with Byredo.
"I'm a sucker for bougie candles, unfortunately, and partial to the Byredo brand. Their scents are really unique (think deep, woodsy fragrances) and their signature black wax is also totally chic." - Arlyn, Design Editor
This candle from luxury French candlemaker Mad et Len is nothing if not bold. A blend of Moroccan mint and cypress, Spirituelle, like the rest of the Mad et Len line, is meant to evoke a specific experience inspired by nostalgia and memories. The price is nowhere near affordable, but you can't beat the quality and experience guaranteed by Mad et Len.
"This candle has an extremely unique scent. It's on the smokey side so think of it as a sultry addition to your candle collection." - Charlotte, Social Media Manager
Tips for Optimal Candle Burning
- Remember to trim the wick before burning. Trimming your wick about a quarter of an inch will result in a more controlled flame that won't lick the rim of the jar (and thus create black stains!).
- Don't burn out until the entire top surface of the candle melts. This will prevent tunneling, which is what happens when the wick and its surrounding area settle lower than the rest of the wax.
- Don't keep the candle lit for longer than four hours at a time. Doing so could result in the wick forming a "mushroom," which will create more soot and smoke.
Our Best Candle Posts:
- Get Anthropologie's Signature Scent for Less With These Budget Alternatives
- Top Scented Candles: Tatine, Le Labo, Diptyque & Many More
- Smart Ways to Give Glass Candle Holders a Second Life
- How To Make Homemade Scented Candles
Other Good Resources:
- The 15 Best Smelling Candles, Because Your Home Needs a Signature Scent Too — Elle Decor
- Level Up: 10 Candles That Won't Cost As Much As Happy Hour — Cosmopolitan
- The 20 Best Candles to Give as Gifts — Architectural Digest
- How to Burn the Perfect Candle Every Time — Harper's Bazaar