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When Covid-19 pushed everyone indoors last year, I relocated from my cramped apartment in New York City to a makeshift bedroom in my parents' house in Washington, D.C. It didn’t take long for me to get sick of the sparsely decorated room and lack of separation between work and rest. I found it hard to turn my brain off after work hours, and had trouble falling asleep.
Since I knew my stay wasn’t permanent, refurbishing my space seemed out of the question (I also didn’t want to lug a bunch of room decorations to New York when I moved back). I began looking for simple ways to make my space feel more welcoming and relaxing, and discovered the world of candles. I had never been big on scents, but discovered that candles are a form of escapism for me — the act of lighting a candle feels ritualistic (I even use matches now for an added effect) and the scents transport me to a different, more luxurious place. Candles can give your room extra personality and really set a tone. I bought both unscented, decorative candles — which can elevate the aesthetic of a room — and scented candles.
A year later and back in New York City, I still spend more time than ever in my bedroom. Candles have become a part of my daily routine. I’ll light one as soon as I wake up, its scent helping ease me into the morning, the light it emits much softer than my bedside lamp. I’ll then light one to help me relax before I go to bed — and of course make sure to blow it out before falling asleep.
My go-to candle pick during quarantine has been Bryedo’s Tree House candle. It doubles as a room decoration and its scent is instantly calming — the candle’s black exterior and black wax helps it seamlessly blend into my room’s monochromatic decor.
This candle has a complex, blended scent unlike anything I’ve ever smelled — it’s musky, woodsy, spicy and fruity. While it’s not overpowering, the candle is strong enough to cover my bedroom in a calming fragrance. According to Byredo’s website, the smell is a mixture of cedar, bamboo, sandalwood and leather, with spotted scents of spice, myrrh and laudanum (which comes from a citrus flower). The candle, a Taylor Swift favorite, is sleekly designed — with black soy wax and a black cotton wick — and fits right into my existing room decor. Bryedo’s luxe Tree House candle comes in a couple different sizes: 240 grams and 70 grams, though I typically buy the larger size, which is around 8.5 ounces and has a burn time of around 60 hours.
Other candles to consider
Here are other candles I’ve tried (and loved), from different price ranges and brands.
Lulu Candles makes candles in over a dozen scents, though I prefer the brand's Jasmine, Oud and Sandalwood candle. It produces a woodsy scent that’s calming and almost a bit sweet. This 9-ounce candle is made with soy wax and comes in a modern black glass holder with a fancy-looking label. While the company doesn’t list the burn times, I’ve had my candle for two or three months and burn it for at least an hour each night — and it hasn’t run out yet.
This candle has a rich blend of many scents, including eucalyptus, lilac, sandalwood and vetiver. I personally find this scent light and airy, and it isn’t too overpowering. I’ll typically light this candle throughout the day while I work, as it won’t take over the entire room and make it stuffy. The 11-ounce White Vetiver candle is made of a soy wax blend with a cotton wick and has a burn time of 60 to 70 hours.
If you’re not sure what scent you like, this set of mini candles is a great place to start. I place them around my room and often light a couple at one time for a nice, blended scent. Some of the scents in the set include Huckleberry, French Lavender and Persimmon. Each candle is made of bamboo wax and has a cotton wick — they come in colorful glass containers. Though these candles are small, they boast a burn time of 15 hours each.
You may recognize this candle brand by its distinctive pink label or funky candle names (like Cowboy Kush or Redhead). I personally enjoy the Cedar Stack candle, another woodsy scent with a blended twist of tobacco and peppercorn. The fragrance reminds me of a campfire or sauna. This candle is made out of coconut wax and beeswax with a cotton wick.
Finding the right candle for you
If you have a favorite scent — like lavender, eucalyptus or sandalwood — you can tailor your search around it. I love bergamot, cedar and vetiver scents, and many of my candles have some notes of one of those. Candles are made from different types of wax, including soy, paraffin, coconut and beeswax. Paraffin is very common but typically lower quality and will produce more soot than other candles, which can really stuff up your room when you blow them out. I personally prefer soy candles, which are typically more expensive but burn more evenly and don’t emit as much soot as paraffin candles.
Candles can range anywhere from $5 to $100, depending on the size, scent and brand. I’ve been through my fair share of candles and, in my experience, you’re going to get what you pay for in terms of quality and aesthetic appearance. I personally find that lower-priced candles have overpowering fragrances and release more smoke and soot when blown out. While I definitely splurge on luxury candles (my Byredo candle is one of my favorite possessions), you can find a decent candle with a long burn time that costs between $25 to $45.