There are always little fires burning in my apartment.

By Erin Lukas
Jan 26, 2021 @ 3:47 pm
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You can tell a lot about someone by the hand soap in their bathroom and the candle on their coffee table. Trust me, I would know. In the "before" times, I used to take note of the scents my friends, colleagues, and extended family had in their homes.

Now, almost a year into social distancing, I always have a few little fires burning in my apartment.

Lighting a candle in the morning sets the mood for the day ahead, while burning one in the evening changes the mood from work-from-home time to (hopefully) wind down time. There's only so much that can be done to make me feel like I'm not staring at the same four walls all day every day, and scented candles have certainly helped.

What makes a candle good is subjective, but as someone who has smelled and burned a lot of them, I have strong feelings. Ahead, some of the scents that have been getting me through quarantine by a few of the best candle brands.

VIDEO: 15 Must-Have Fragrances That Will Last All Day Long

Floral Street Spring Bouquet Scented Candle

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Everyone stateside really needs to stop sleeping on this under-the-radar British fragrance brand. The notes are all sustainably and consciously sourced, including its home fragrances. This floral scent in particular has become one of my go-to candles year round. The blend of rhubarb, bay, pink cassis, galbanum, cyclamen, hyacinth, plum, and cedarwood transports me from my sixth floor walkup apartment without a view to a fresh country garden.

To shop: $40; us.floralstreeet.com

Le Labo Santal 26 Scented Candle

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While Le Labo's Santal 33 perfume has become ubiquitous with millennials in New York, the brand's Santal 26 has become their go-to scent at home. With notes of amber, coco, vanilla, cedar, spices, musk, and sandalwood, it fills small spaces with a pleasantly soft and slightly smoky scent. And hey, if this candle is good enough for J.Lo, who reportedly buys them in bulk, it's good enough for my apartment.

To shop: $75; nordstrom.com

Le Paradis Bora Bora Candle

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This candle straight up smells like a vacation that's logistically impossible for the foreseeable future, but if this intoxicating mix of frangipani, Polynesian tiaré blossoms, jasmine, and coconut oil is the next best thing, I'll take it. The hand-poured candle is crafted with a plant-based blend of soy and coconut wax and a lead-free cotton wick.

To shop: $75; leparadisbeauty.com

Voluspa Rose Otto

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A rose candle by any other name wouldn't smell as sweet as this one by Voluspa. I find myself reaching for this candle whenever I want to mask my neighbor's weird cooking smells or when I accidentally burn olive oil and smoke out my apartment (it's happened more than once). That being said, while this rose scent is strong, it's not so potent that it will give you a headache. Bonus points for its matching glass lid. And did you know you're not actually supposed to blow out candles? It's true. The best method is putting the flame out with a lid or candle snuffer.

To shop: $32; voluspa.com

Birthdate Candles

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The best candle scent for you is written in the stars. Birthdate Candles takes your special day and builds a scent around it that's based on the personality traits of your astrological sign. My Mar. 29th one includes notes of cedarwood, myrrh, rosemary, mint, and geranium flower, and what do you know, those are some of my favorite notes. The vessel comes labeled with a detailed birth chart and it's fun to keep to store makeup brushes and pens, or even use as a vase.

To shop: $38; birthdate.co

Henry Rose Jake's House

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Scent vibe is important when bringing a new candle into your home, but so is aesthetics. I'm a fan of Michelle Pfeiffer's Henry Rose candles because the simple matte black vessels jive with virtually any decor style. Jake's House, a fresh watery and slightly musky scent, is one of the brand's best-selling fragrances in candle form. It's hand-poured with coconut, soy, and vegetable waxes and has a 100% cotton wick.

To shop: $65; henryrose.com

Shrine Stems Floral Scented Candle

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I love everything about Shrine: the quirky and bright labels and vessels, unexpected scent pairings, and the fact that brand uses sustainable materials and decomposable packaging. Out of Shrine's four current scents, Stems is hands down my favorite. It combines a bouquet's worth of flowers with a touch of citrus and fresh dirt. No fake floral smells here!

To shop: $38; nordstrom.com

Boy Smells LES Scented Candle

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The scent profile of Boy Smells' LES candle is like my greatest hits album of fragrance notes. Inspired by the cross-cultural, non-binary eclecticism of the New York's Lower East Side neighborhood, the candle has an unassuming mix of jasmine rice, black currant, cardamom, and asian pear that gives it an intoxicating smoky floral scent. I just wish my first NYC apartment on the LES smelled this good.

To shop: $32; boysmells.com

Otherland Chandelier Champagne Vegan Candle

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I'm not one for candles that literally smell like food, but Otherland's Champagne-inspired scent is one I can get behind. In addition to bubbly, the notes include saffron and leather, which gives it a light, but warm and spicy scent that's perfect for small spaces since it doesn't travel far.

To shop: $36; sephora.com

Byredo Tree House

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Every season is candle season in my house, but I find myself lighting Byredo's Tree House most often during the winter when warm and cozy is my MO. The various types of wood and spices makes me feel like I'm in a cabin or by a fireplace.

To shop: $85; nordstrom.com