If science says scent and memory are linked, we say: hack the science to boost your mood. Here are the candles that will transport you to your holiday happy place – wherever that might be in the world.
Scented candles are often associated with winter, thanks to our fondness for lighting them on cold, dark nights. And that’s fair enough. When the sky is pitch black at 4pm, it pours with rain all night and you have to wear at least three layers at all times to avoid frostbite, there are few things more comforting than a flickering flame that smells expensively of frankincense/cinnamon/orange peel.
But scented candles aren’t actually wintery by definition. There are plenty that will instead transform your home into a peaceful, summery haven, conjuring up warm days on the beach, breezy summer gardens and hot European city breaks. The key is to look for fresh, outdoorsy scents: think citrus fruits (bergamot, grapefruit, lime), invigorating herbs (rosemary, mint, basil) and other greenery (grass, moss, florals).
Crucially, the lightness of these fragrances doesn’t mean that your summer scented candle will have a fly-by-night quality. Our favourite candle scents for summer are underpinned by warm, woody base notes such as cypress, cedarwood and sandalwood. Even dark, rich scents make sense in summer when burned at the right time: there’s something distinctly luxurious and atmospheric about lighting an oud and amber candle after dinner on a warm night. Just remember to follow Nigella Lawson’s top tip, as shared on Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast, and don’t confuse your nose by burning a scented candle while you’re cooking or eating.
A few more tips to get the most out of your summer scented candle: let it burn for about two hours on first use (or at least long enough for the top layer of wax to melt completely), to ensure an even burn the next time you light it. To make the candle burn more slowly and avoid smoky black residue on the glass, trim the wick each time you blow it out – keeping it as short as possible at all times. And when it’s entirely burnt out, clean the residual wax out of the jar and use it to store make-up brushes or pens.
Below, you’ll find five of the best summer scented candles – chosen for their ability to transport us to our favourite summer holiday destinations. Happy burning.
When Stylist Loves’ editor Kat opened this candle at her desk, she momentarily forgot where she was and bellowed “This is what I want my house to smell like!” halfway across the office. Named Green Stem, it’s the result of a collaboration between Miller Harris and luxury florist McQueens, and will transport you instantly to the jardin remarquable of a French chateau. Lavender, sun-bleached wooden benches, rosemary, water lilies, dew… Remarquable, indeed. £65, Miller Harris
Some parts of Greece are flashy, expensive and over-Instagrammed. We’re not interested in that Greece. We want rugged, quiet, secluded Greece, where the shoreline is rocky, the forests dark and the ocean a cool respite from the heat. This hand-poured Seashore candle evokes a walk along a deserted Mediterranean beach: think cypress, citrus and salty wind whipping off the sea. Plus, the seashell packaging is a delight. £32, Chase and Wonder
Urban Apothecary’s Vine Tomato candle smells like a fantasy version of a rural Italian holiday. Imagine staying in a villa in Campania, a land of terracotta-roofed villages perched atop lush green hills, and breathing in as a warm breeze rolls through your garden. Yeah, that. Stylist Loves’ deputy editor Moya calls her mini version (£15) her “emotional support candle”, and keeps it on her desk to inhale in times of stress. £30, Urban Apothecary
At the western edge of the Arabian Desert lies Wadi Dum, otherwise known as Jordan’s Valley of the Moon. Known for its Roman architecture, red sand dunes and Mars-like rock formations, it’s the kind of place most of us will visit once in a lifetime – if we’re lucky. But Evermore’s North Candle, with its scent of “clouds and sacred oud”, somehow captures the feeling of looking up at the stars from a desert camp. Magical. £48, Evermore
You know those amazing little leather shops that you find down side streets in quiet Spanish towns? The ones that are always slightly too dim and narrow when you step inside, and sell soft tan-coloured handbags and smooth golden sandals and dark, stiff belts? That’s what this candle smells like. The warm scent of soft, worn leather is lifted by light, almost sweet notes of sandalwood and amber: perfect for a summer’s evening. £42, Malin and Goetz
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