When you’ve spent what feels like a small fortune on a candle that smells like the most expensive place you’ve ever set foot in, you want it last. So instead of using it occasionally when you have guests over, like an expensive dinnerware set, we have some tips from expert Eduardo Valadez, director of marketing at Diptyque. (While this applies to the brand’s candles, it’s also pretty universal candle advice.)
First off, candle prep is key. Before you even grab your lighter you need to trim the wick to about a quarter-inch length. “By shortening the wick, you allow it to burn more slowly and also avoid unsightly black smoke marks around the edge of the glass,” Valadez explains.
Valadez suggests that the first time you burn it, keep it lit for at least two hours until the whole top is liquid wax. “This will help your candle burn more evenly the next time and prevent the wax from tunneling down around the wick.”
After you’ve put your candle out, you should be sure to realign the wick and trim it before use to prevent smoking and keep the wick from falling. Valadez recommends burning your candles for no longer than four hours. Here are some that are worth the hype.
The Carrie Bradshaw candle
This candle is a favorite of style director Jess Willis because Carrie burned it in the fourth episode of season four of Sex in the City. “When I got my first NY apartment, this was the first candle I bought to feel the essence of Carrie,” she says. One of their most popular scents, Baies, is a blend of notes of blackcurrant berries and rose. The smaller size (70 grams) will give you about 20 hours of burn time. There is also a large version.
The best-smelling candle
This is a personal favorite because it smells very, very good even if you don’t light it. The scent has notes of rose de Mai, Moroccan rose absolute, geranium, leather, and amber. What sets it apart is the container made of Limoges porcelain and brass, instead of the usual glass, which makes a prettier piece to reuse when you’re done. With this, you’ll get around 90 hours of burn time. If this is a little too minimalist for you, check out their maximalist options with similar scents.
The cult-favorite-fragrance alternative
Fans of the cult-favorite fragrance can buy the scent in its far more affordable candle form. With the same floral, woody notes of jasmine, saffron, and cedar wood, you’ll get around 55 hours of burn time of this subtle but luxe scent.
The classic option
Like Diptyique’s Baies candle, Le Labo’s candles have garnered quite the fan base. Offering about 60 hours burn time, you can opt for the soy wax candle in one of your favorite scents, including the Santal 26, a smoky, leathery blend.
The prettiest option
I bought this solely for the packaging, and a year later it holds a handful of makeup brushes on a shelf. In fact, many of Overose’s candles are just ridiculously pretty and come housed in cool packaging. That aside, this is a stronger floral scent with notes of blackcurrant berries, dewy rose petals, and fresh lychee fruit, the rose scent being the most apparent.
The minimalist option
Replica candles are very chic and minimal with scents that get straight to the point. Beach Vibes smells beachy with notes of exactly what you’d expect, a fresh scent with notes of coconut milk and bergamot.
Another fragrance alternative
Similar to the Baccarat Rouge 540, this is a steal, when you consider that a Tom Ford fragrance can run you anywhere from $200 to $500 for a standard size. This is a spicier floral scent with notes of rose de Mai, Bulgarian rose, and Sichuan pepper, if that’s what you’re into. As someone who personally loves Tom Ford’s fragrances but not how they smell on me, I think the candles are worth the splurge. The seven-ounce candle offers about 50 hours of burn time.
The one that’s actually affordable
Chic, minimal, and affordable, these candles are a favorite among many staffers. Most of the scents, like this one with notes of bergamot and white ginger, are light and have a burn time of about 60 hours.
Another classic option
Byredo’s candles are another favorite you’ll find in the home of any lover of candles or fine fragrances. “I’ve been a fan of these candles for a long time. The jar and the candle wax are sleek and black and the scents are soft but bold,” Willis explains. Her favorite is this woody blend of patchouli, vanilla, and violet.
The alternative option
These candles from Loewe are both the candle stick and the holder. Willis says they’re a fun option for outdoor dinner parties and have a soft scent that transforms as it burns. The candle has notes of ivy and about ten hours of burn time.
The ceramic option
These London-based candles come highly recommended by deputy style editor and candle enthusiast Joanna Nikas. Featuring a blend of paraffin-free waxes, these are hand-poured into a reusable ceramic container. August & Piers’s standard candles give about 60 hours of burn time and have a beautiful scent; this one has notes of vanilla, bergamot, and geranium.
The modern option
Very few brands have an energy healer involved in the creation process, but that’s pretty much the norm for Vyrao founder Yasmin Sewell. With notes of Turkish rose oil, violet leaf, and patchouli, this one is meant to promote self-love, and you’ll get about 40 hours of that good energy supercharged by the company’s go-to healer, Louise Mita.
The designer option
Another pick from Nikas are these handcrafted scents from Dior. Created by the company’s top perfumers, these candles are every bit as luxurious as you’d expect. There are several scents with varying intensities to choose from, and they’re all housed in these minimal containers.
The unique option
Besides just looking impossibly cool on your table or shelf and smelling very good, this candle features a blend of notes for enhancing your mood and alleviating stress. The uplifting notes are Brazilian vetiver, cypress root, and wild-jungle flora. You get about 60 hours of burn time, and you get to keep and reuse the very cool vessel forever.
Pro tip: Buy a chic wick trimmer that will ensure you’ll get the most time out of your candles.