Here in the YOU mag office, we’re fully committed to the scented candle life. High-end bargain or a high end investment jar, we’re addicted to finding the most beautifully fragranced, long-lasting candles on the shelves, and making our homes smell amazing in the process.
However, as anyone who’s ever lit a wick will know, not all scented candles are created equal – so what makes them worthy of a repeat purchase? We decided to find out – and so we sought out some of the most exciting brands making candles at the moment and put them to the test.
Our rankings are based on everything from the look of the candle to burn time and that all important throw. Whether you’re treating yourself or looking for the loveliest luxe gift for a friend, there’s a candle in our edit to suit every taste – and we’ll tell you exactly how they perform before you even click purchase.
Byredo Bibliotheque, £54, spacenk.com
Fragrance? Delicious scent inspired by old books, this faintly sweet and soothingly leathery scent really does what it says on the…jar?
Impact? Instantaneous and easily fills a room.
Long-lasting? 60 hour burn time and notably lasts hours after being put out.
Looks? Beautiful light is thrown out of gorgeous mouth-blown glass.
Worth it? 100%
Marks out of 10? 9
Anya Smells! Lip Balm, £50, cultbeauty.co.uk
Fragrance? Sweet and fruity as expected, but once burning not at all saccharine. Luscious notes of cherry and pomegranate filled the room immediately.
Impact? Hard and fast.
Long-lasting? Estimated at 30-40 hours, though as the scent remained present long after this was blown out, burning in short periods could definitely satisfy your fragrance craving!
Looks? Chic black glass with AH’s iconic cherry sticker – this one had my houseguests feeling very envious.
Worth it? Yes! Power of scent combined with lust-worthy design means I would definitely come back for more.
Marks out of 10? 8.5
Laboratory Perfumes Samphire, £45, cultbeaty.co.uk
Fragrance? Fresh, unisex and surprisingly soothing. A subtle but clear scent after an hour of burning. Not at all overpowering but definitely recognisable. Green and mossy with a lightness from citrus and basil notes, this was commented on by several.
Impact? Noticeable but not too intense.
Long-lasting? Approximately a 40 hour burn time, however the scent didn’t last for hours once blown out.
Looks? As the brand name suggest, this science lab-themed flask may add a bit of fun but also manages to look incredibly chic.
Worth it? The scent is so gorgeous it would be great if this packed more of a punch, but would definitely repurchase.
Marks out of 10? 7
Loukoum By Kilian, £60, bykilian.co.uk
Fragrance? Considering this scent is named for Turkish delight (the delicacy on which it’s based) it’s hardly surprising that this fragrance is sweet – but crucially, not sickly. I enjoyed its vanilla and orange blossom notes.
Impact? Immediate. It’s one of those candles whose perfume you can smell even when it’s kept in a box, which, in this case, isn’t a bad thing.
Long-lasting? Approximately sixty hours. It also had a lovely even burn.
Looks? Discreetly black, with a slick black wax.
Worth it? Yes
Marks out of 10? 9
Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather, £65, tomford.co.uk
Fragrance? Like a saddle. This candle truly does what it says on the (very luxe-y) box. Described as ‘primal’ and ‘animalistic’, this is a masculine, modern candle with a bitter, dry scent.
Impact? It permeates a room almost instantly.
Long-lasting? 40 hours although it’s recommended you burn for just 30 minutes at a time as the oils continue going long after it’s been extinguished.
Looks? What’s not to love about anything designed by Tom Ford?
Worth it? I’d prefer a slightly sweeter scent, but am already a Ford fan, so I’d say yes.
Marks out of 10? 8
Rituals Tangerine Tea Scented Candle, £31.50, rituals.com
Fragrance? Fruity (obviously) with a soft tang.
Impact? Surprisingly weak and barely discernible, even after an hour or so. I’ve been a big fan of Rituals bath products for some time (in fact, I’d love to try this in a shower gel) so I was disappointed that the scent wasn’t as powerful as I’d hoped.
Long-lasting? Yes – and a great burn too.
Looks? Pleasingly minimalistic and in a nice clean white. Would add a chic touch to any living room or bathroom.
Worth it? I’m not convinced. If you don’t like your scent strong, this might be for you.
Marks out of 10? 4
Owen Drew Amalfi Candle, £35, owendrewcandles.com
Fragrance? Luscious. Sweet and citrusy (I love the lemon) with soft woody undertones.
Impact? Almost immediate – I love when you can smell the scent even without the burning. Owen Drew also promise it will have minimal impact on your interiors too, with natural vegan soy wax that doesn’t give off the same soot as mass-produced candles made with petroleum-based paraffin wax.
Long-lasting? Yes – the burn time is estimated at 45 hours.
Looks? A flashy blue case with a lovely wooden wick rather than the traditional paraffin coated braided cotton.
Worth it? Yes.
Marks out of 10? 8.5, purely because I like my candles to look a little subtler.
Victoria Cator Cuir Sacre, £50, victoriacator.com
Fragrance? Warm, rich and enveloping, without being overpowering – the top notes are bergamot and verbena, but the musky base prevents it from being too sweet.
Impact? Instant – this scented my living room as soon as it came out of the box, even when unlit. I tested on a hot day with the windows open and the smell lingered for several hours afterwards. Even my candle-hating boyfriend complimented it.
Long-lasting? Yes – burn time is 55-60 hours, and it melts slowly. It has two wicks ensure an even burn.
Looks? A deep blue jar with a simple gold logo – not entirely neutral, but would work in most spaces.
Worth it? Not the cheapest, but the scent and longevity make for great cost per use.
Marks out of 10? 9
Miller Harris Rêve de Verger, £45, millerharris.com
Fragrance? Fruity, floral and almost fizzy, with layers of pear and peony. Pleasantly light.
Impact? This took a while to build, but after an hour’s burning, had strengthened satisfactorily. However, you needed to be sitting nearby to get the full effect – good if you find other scented candles overpowering, but slightly underwhelming if you don’t.
Long-lasting? 40 hours – but it reduces noticeably faster than others we tested, and the scent didn’t stick around for as long.
Looks? A cheery, mellow yellow that you’ll either love or loathe. Not one for minimalists.
Worth it? The candle and scent itself are lovely, but don’t expect a huge amount of staying power – you can get more for your money elsewhere.
Marks out of 10? 6
Fornasetti Aperetivo Otto, £140, net-a-porter.com
Fragrance? The classic Fornasetti cedarwood scent – there’s a reason this one is so incredibly popular. Lightened with top notes of thyme and lavender yet still sexy with a base of incense, this sophisticated scent was only made better by the incredible packaging. A stylish presentation box with keyhole cut-out allows the signature monkey motif to peek through. Extra marks for the chic lid to stop the smoky wick smell – if you can bear to blow it out.
Long-lasting? The room was scented for hours after re-lidding. Rough burn time is 60 hours.
Looks? 11/10 packaging, classical yet quirky! WE LOVE.
Worth it? Most definitely. The scent was adored by all, was strong enough to fill a room and linger, and the burn was slow.
Marks out of 10? 9.5 – only marked down because not everyone would be willing to spend this much on a candle.
Susanne Kauffman Incense candle, £55, libertylondon.com
Fragrance? An incredibly light scent, with a pleasant herbal aroma from a mixture of plant oils and a hint of frankincense. Screw on the handy lid to bypass lingering smoke smells.
Impact? Very subtle, definitely one for those of us who are prone to perfume headaches or loathe overpowering scent.
Long-lasting? Not noticeable after a couple of hours.
Looks? Simple and classic, vaguely spa-like!
Worth it? Depends on what you want from your candle – for enthusiasts after more bang for their buck it might not be the right choice, but was liked by everyone who had a sniff.
Marks out of 10? 5.5
Ex Nihilo Ultra Rose, £49, harrods.com
Fragrance? Floral, of course – in the box, it has strong Turkish Delight associations, but once lit comes to life with hints of green leaves and spice.
Impact? For the first 15 minutes I forgot I lit this, but then the impressive throw comes into play. Ex Nihilo literally translates as ‘from nothing’, so perhaps that’s what they were going for. It won’t scent your whole house, but will fill a room beautifully.
Long-lasting? Slow and steady wins the race.
Looks? Clean, white and incredibly chic – everything you’d expect from a Parisian perfume house. I’d happily give these as gifts to even my most stylish of friends.
Worth it? Yes – mainly because of the style, but with a prolonged burn, the substance is there too, and it sticks around.
Marks out of 10? 7.5