Since the self care movement, candles have become so much more than simply a finishing touch for home decor. And, in a year when we’ve had to learn to sit with ourselves and slow down, candles have for many of us been a comforting companion.
Whether it be for a night of reading or a soak in the bath, candles can set the tone with an atmospheric glow and calming scent. That’s why it’s so important to get it right when it comes to picking a candle that you’ll enjoy making part of your personal rituals and routines.
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You see, independent candle brands are having a moment. From those which specialise in aromatherapy, are eco-friendly, pride themselves on being vegan or champion diversity, this is a brilliant time to get to know the smaller brands out there making something special in the candle world.
Here we’ve picked out some of our favourite independent candle brands right now, so get exploring and your home will be smelling like roses in no time.
Heather Gilberthorpe Pell founded Lit in 2020’s lockdown, a move which meant bravely leaving a stressful work environment to create her own brand. While it might have been scary to set up an independent business, it’s been an amazing time of growth for Heather, and has introduced her to the community of sisterhood that exists among female-founded small brands and, of course, has gifted the world with incredible-smelling candles.
Lit candles are 100% natural, blended from pure essential oils and rapeseed wax and focus on evocative, uplifting scents. We particularly love the pink grapefruit, basil and lavender combination, as well as geranium, sweet orange and coriander – but really it’s hard to choose as each one smells delicious.
Lit has a big eco-conscience and reasons to buy include 100% recyclable and reusable packaging that’s printed using 100% vegetable inks, no nasties like bleaches or chemicals and for every candle sold £1 is donated to WWF.
As if all of that wasn’t fabulous enough, Lit candles look beautiful in your home and come in beautiful packaging which makes even one feel like a real treat. You can even smell the candle through its gift box!
wick + wonder
wick + wonder deserves to become one of your favourite candle brands thanks to its rustic packaging, thoughtful details and genius range of fragrances.
Set up by couple team Sian and Ben during the pandemic, their mission is to bring sumptuous, cosy scents to your home in a conscious way.
All of their candles are made with 100% vegan soy wax (no paraffin), cotton wicks (no lead) and premium fragrance (no parabens). Also, at the end of the year wick + wonder will give 3% of their profits to a range of charities as a way of giving back.
For spring, wick + wonder has developed a small selection of simply gorgeous fragrances including the incredibly moreish oats and honey (an instant Stylist favourite) and delicious wild rhubarb. Plus, they also sell mini match packs with their candles, which are irresistibly cute.
Olivia and Marnie are sisters who realised that while most of us cherish a lovely scented candle when it’s burning, as soon as the wax is gone the rest just goes in the bin.
They came up with an idea that puts sustainability first: a candle poured into a beautiful ceramic pot, hand-dipped by a potter in Surrey and designed to be used as a mug, breakfast bowl or trinket-holder afterwards.
Keep Candles come in various styles such as bowl candles, a pillar design and the cute egg cups pictured above. They’re created in a range of neutral tones including a sky blue, pale wheat and warm blush. Scents include negroni, lime and lavender, grapefruit and rosemary, as well as orange, cedarwood and clove.
It’s an amazing idea; not only do the candles genuinely smell incredible but they are also made in a sustainable way and the ceramic mug that you get to keep afterwards is more than worth the price on its own.
The Little Glow
While candles are great for creating atmosphere, if you’re looking to fill a room with a beautiful scent then wax melts are an efficient, cost effective and sustainable way of doing so.
A wax burner can be used again and again, and apart from the small amount of packaging that comes with a wax melt, there’s no waste. And so, let us introduce you to some of the loveliest wax melts in the business from The Little Glow.
The Little Glow is founded by Lucy and Grace, sisters, best friends and business partners from Gloucestershire. Together they have dreamed up a creative line of wax melts that come in the sweetest shapes and scents, from dog paw melts which smell like fresh linen to mini, glitter-topped donuts fragranced with strawberries and cream.
Each wax melt is hand poured and is made with soy wax and 100% pure fragrance oil.
Olivia’s Haven candles are a joy to own. Not only do they look delightful, with summer-themed packaging in peach and peony pink hues, they’re named after the most whimsical of activities.
For example, Tea in the Orangery is full of zesty aromas mixed with tea spicy to evoke the founder Olivia’s childhood memories of sitting with her grandmother and drinking tea in the family’s orangery. Or, Pottery Shed, which is fragranced with herbs and tomato leaf, to honour Olivia’s dad.
The candles are beautifully presented and you can smell their scent as soon as you start scrabbling to unopen the packaging – they’re great for filling a whole room with fragrance.
Daily Flame is a fabulous, female-owned candle brand, started in the pandemic by two friends in their kitchen.
The aesthetic is chic and sophisticated, with a minimalist feel that works in any decor setting, and the fragrances are divine. Each candle is named after the way it should make you feel, not simply the ingredients inside.
Beginnings, for example, is a daily dose of inspiration, with an invigorating blend of white tea and pear. While, Merlot is all about getting cosy with a glass of red wine, scented with dark amber and sandalwood.
Impressively, a tree is planted for every candle sold which is another reason to treat yourself to one. Plus, all candles are hand-poured in the UK using natural wax and essential oils.
Couture Candle Bar
Couture Candle Bar is founded by Christina Ong and Valeri Valeriano who also own a multi-award winning cake company. In 2017, the pair turned their talents for sculpting buttercream to sculpting wax and creating a range of beautiful candles that look good enough to eat.
There’s a huge range of candles to choose from and all of them look like a work of art. We also love the tulip-shaped candles which come free form and without a vessel, and make for a gorgeous gift.
Elephant & Bamboo
Elephant and Bamboo is an independent candle brand and a master of rich, heady scents.
The dark honey and tobacco fragrance is a rich delicious fragrance which is made from notes of crushed tobacco, warm amber and sandalwood. We just love that it creates an instant atmosphere.
Wynnie Tam Tam
The pandemic has negatively impacted many industries but one which has left both consumers and suppliers devastated is the wedding industry.
Many couples have had to postpone or cancel their nuptials and one bride who knows how stressful this can be is Wynne, the founder of Wynnie Tam Tam.
While battling through the stress of replanning her wedding which was supposed to go ahead in the midst of the pandemic, Wynne reached for soothing fragranced candles to help her relax and unwind.
And so, she felt inspired to create her very own candle designed specifically for brides to burn on the morning of their big day to create a calming atmosphere.
The candle is handpoured in London, made with 500 drops of the purest essential oils and is scented with lavender, geranium and ylang ylang. It’s the perfect gift for a bride to be.
Angelica is the founder of the Tribal Unicorn candle bar, a business which she says was founded in a time of frustration.
Working long, difficult hours in media, Angelica needed a creative release and she found it in candle making. Four years later and her brand has flourished and has a unique personality of its own.
Each candle is handmade in London and is decorated with playful, 3D objects made of wax to convey a feeling, theme or interest. Many of the candles are also adorned with biodegradable glitter to give them an extra bit of sparkle.
Victoria Cator is a woman of many talents. From Hong Kong to New York, she has lived all over the world and worked in both fashion and interior design, starting her own business and even publishing a cook book.
So, it’s no surprise, really, that she’s also made a success of creating a range of scented candles designed to elevate your home’s fragrance game and create atmosphere. If you’re looking for a candle that exudes sophistication and elegance from the first sight of its packaging, this is the brand for you.
Each Victoria Cator candle comes in a weighty black vessel, which is initially hidden inside a beautiful gift box and tied up with a turquoise bow. The selection of fragrances are sumptuously heady; think Chez Bagatelle (woody, oriental), Pompeii (spicy, leathery) and Madame Julia (floral, fruity).
Scent Story Co
If you’re looking for a heavy duty candle that will really fill a room with a heady, rich scent, this gigantic candle from Scent Story Co is for you.
Presented in a beautiful, large glass container with a hefty wooden wick, it burns slowly and steadily and is perfect for creating atmosphere.
The overriding scent feels true to its base notes of black amber, cedar, sandalwood and vanilla, as well as heart notes of black lily and rose, and top notes of grapefruit and rosemary.
Old Flame Club
Old Flame Club is a bespoke hand-poured candle brand from Hackney, London, with an edge.
Candles are poured into striking black vessels, each of which is decorated with a hand-embroidered appliqué in motifs such as pineapples, rainbows and smiley faces.
You can also get a bespoke message scrawled onto the side of your candle. Choose between a few words with an appliqué design or just opt for a message of your choice. It’s the perfect gift idea.
The collection includes five signature scents made from all natural soy wax and essential oils.
In spring 2020 the ability to give our best friends, family and neighbours a reassuring squeeze disappeared overnight as the pandemic caused the first national lockdown.
In a time of adversity, Fiona Crownshaw and Sarah Dickinson used their longing to give those they love a cuddle (or as the Welsh call say a ‘cwtch’) as inspiration to create something they could send instead: a candle.
And so, Cutch was born. Designed to fill your home with warmth and serenity, these beautifully packaged candles waft rich aromas of essential oils and fragrances around the room to give you a sensory embrace. Each one is hand-poured and created in small batches with recyclable packaging.
The candles are themed around friendship, lovers and self embrace which are symbolised in the striking illustrations which cover each candle’s box. With a polished, luxurious feel they make a lovely gift.
When Tiffany was devastatingly diagnosed with untreatable cancer she sought alternative, holistic methods to help her body repair in any way she could.
Amazingly, these methods worked and although she had been told that she would have under a year of life left, she managed to cure herself entirely of cancer and is currently happy, healthy and running her own business, Roots.
Roots uses a lot of the teachings that Tiffany researched when she became ill, mainly around mindfulness and CBD, to create a line of wellness products including candles.
We particularly love her cuban tobacco and oak candle, which has a deep, woody fragrance with an undertone of sweet citrus.
These candles from Lanji Candles almost look good enough to eat with artisan finishes like botanicals trapped with the wax and hand-finished packaging.
With a particular focus on the seasons, Lanji Candles comes up with unique scent combinations like creamy musk and amber, to create atmosphere and warmth.
It’s a small operation but the founders pride themselves on being 100% vegan and running sustainably, using reused or recycled packaging and minimising plastic usage.
Nomad Noé describes its products as “story-infused candles”, which was enough to hook us from the start.
There is indeed something poetic about them, and it’s not just because one of them is literally named ‘poet’. The packaging is alluringly striking yet minimalist enough to make you guess about what’s inside, and every scent has a mindset behind it, whether it be dreamer, rebel, pioneer or muse.
The scents are typically intense and heady, using mixtures such as amber and patchouli or neroli and incense. We particularly like the Poet in Hangzhou candle’s blend of bamboo and tuberose which easily fills a room with a delicious scent.
If you’re into using candles as a form of self care, then Scentered is a wonderful brand to get to know. Founder Lara Morgan found herself travelling all over the world when working as part of a global hospitality business and found that the one thing that kept her feeling calm and grounded was a travel aromatherapy candle.
This belief that aromatherapy and essential oil solutions can contribute to holistically healthier life inspired Morgan to start her own brand with a range of candles each aiming to tap into a particular emotion.
The LOVE candle, for example, is a romantic, floral blend which enhances connectivity – whether this is with others or yourself. Its scent is not overpowering, but atmospheric enough for an hour spent reading, stretching or taking a bath.
Each candle is packaged beautifully in its own gift box and is made from a custom blend of natural waxes, sustainably sourced and non-GM, with pure essentials oils.
House of Lilah
House of Lilah may be a stylish candle brand but it’s also a tool for social change. Activist and founder Chantal M’Biki mentors young people in London who lack emotional support around them, using creativity to help develop their interpersonal skills.
She also donates 10% of House of Lilah’s profits per year to ARTS EMERGENCY and the work that they’re doing to spark ambition in younger generations.
It is also important to M’Biki to run her business in an ethical and eco-friendly way, which is why all candles are a natural blend of soy, coconut, bees and rape waxes that respect the environment, and offer a slow and clean burn. We also like that they are hand poured into signature House of Lilah concrete vessels which can be reused afterwards.
Images: courtesy of brands
Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.