Are your scented candles burning too fast, or creating that dreaded ‘tunnel’ (or ‘core’ to give it the correct name) of doom, where the wax only melts in the middlle and traps the wick? We’ve all exclaimed profanities and desperately dug around with nail-files to try and save them, but we just watched a BRILLIANT Instagram video that solves these woes with ease…
Lesley Sparks (hello, nominative determinism anyone?!) is also known as ‘The Alchemistress‘ – an independent maker and purveyor of the most beautiful perfumed candles. And she has got tips and tricks up her scented sleeve to make sure your candles perform to their best and (most importantly) ultimately to save your hard-earned money.
You can watch the instructive ‘How To’ on her IGTV channel, and afterwards, if you find yourself casting your eye critically over your previous burning performance (and general lazy lack of candle maintenance) then you’re in great company, as that’s exactly what we did, too. For shame!
Looking around The Perfume Society home-office, we suddenly realised that we already owned one The Alchemistress candles, in fact (look, we have quite a few scented candles, okay? It’s not a problem, we can stop any time we like… we just don’t ever want to). It’s called Persian Nights – a smouldering mix of sultry spices, featuring cardamon, black pepper, orange, ginger, coriander, patchouli, cinnamon and cedarwood – and has us dreaming of more exotic climes, and when we can next travel there, every time we light it.
What with the continuing global pandemic and all, we’re spending so much extra time at home, now, trying to find little nooks to transform into sudden workplaces, and perhaps even somewhere to relax and wind-down awhile (wouldn’t that be nice?) We’re here to help, with ideas of how to use fragrance to make your home a fragrant haven…
You may not be aware of it, but scent plays an important, subliminal part in how we define a space. On a large scale, you’ll have noticed that supermarkets pump out fresh baking smells to entice you to the back of the shop, and spas smell gloriously relaxing the moment you step inside; but you can use the same principles to shape your own home into individually fragranced areas.
Have a look at some of these ideas to keep you alert, refreshed, comforted and soothed….
Tip: Use uplifting scents in your designated work-space – be that the spare room, a corner of the siting room with a fold-out table or even with your laptop balanced on your knees (which is less than ideal, we know!) Keep them fresh, invigorating and aromatically stimulating to keep you alert.
Try: Diffusing rosemary oil in an aromatherapy oil burner, or soaking a ceramic disc (or cotton wool, inside a pomander) and tying with a ribbon to your radiator, or near where you’re working. Far from being ‘an old wive’s tale’, rosemary has now been scientifically proven to aid memory retention and clarity of mind. Something we could all do with right now, eh?
Buy: La Montaña First Light Candle, £36
An immediately mood-altering scent gently welcomes you to a new day, while herbaceous mountain breezes get to work on un-beffudling (is that a word? It is now) your brain. Much needed at Nightingale Towers, I can tell you! Plus £5 from every sale will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.
La Montaña founder, Cassandra Hall, explains why she chose rosemary as inspiration for their first candle: ‘On our mountain, at first light, there’s a heavenly fragrance in the air. Before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent. The first breath of the day carries the perfume of wild mountain herbs: fennel, rosemary, mountain pepper and intoxicating rock rose. The alchemy of the fragrances, blended naturally on the breeze, weaves a magical spell.’
Tip: Transform your kitchen into a more intimate setting – if you’re lucky enough to have room for a table, or are finding yourself in there far more these days (cooking up a storm with leftovers, maybe whipping up a cocktail or three…), banish the clincal cleaning-product smells or foodie wafts, and pretend you’re in a romantic restaurant. (Do take the bins out, though.)
Try: Growing fragrant herbs in pretty pots on the windowsill, or bringing in some fresh flowers to enjoy their scent while you toil over the stove. Do make sure they’re strongly scented enough to smell over the competing scent of cooking, though. Or simply cook a cake with vanilla and spices to ensure hours of ‘Mmmm!’ (Added bonus: cake.)
Buy: Miller Harris Rendezvous Tabac Candle, £45
You might not think of a ‘tobacco’ scented candle as an obvious choice for the kitchen, but bear with me. This one’s inspired by the romantic brasseries of Saint-Germain, and makes your kitchen (or anywhere!) feel cosy, welcoming, somewhere to willingly linger, not *have* to be.
The Cuban cascarilla oil and pimento berries tingle their way to a heart of velvety sage and cool drifts of pine against the cosiest background of creamy tonka bean and Malay patchouli. Even if it’s once a week, treat yourself to a proper tablecloth, linen napkins, ‘the best’ china or glasses and polished silverware. It feels extra fancy, so maybe even consider wearing your best pyjamas while planning your next meal out-out.
Tip: Turn your living room into a place of scented sanctuary with opulent florals – somewhere to chill out in style while binge-watching your favourite shows, to browse your favourite magazines (including The Scented Letter, obvs) or catch-up with friends on a phone call.
Try: Find local flower deliveries at flowersfromthefarm.co.uk and fill a vase with deeply-scented flowers to cheer you (and anyone who walks past your house) up every time you see and smell them, or using a vintage jug for a fragrant display, surrounded by candles, in the fireplace.
Buy: Sana Jardin Jaipur Chant candle, £48
Opulent with real Indian tuberose essential oil, Moroccan jasmine and French narcisse with a twist of Italian lemon, this exquisite scent is redolent of exotic climes and will absolutely fill your space with floral beauty (even if you can’t get any flowers delivered, or want something longer-lasting).
Sana Jardin founder, founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed, was inspired to create this scent after taking part in a Hindu devotional ceremony, where tuberose flower garlands are exchanged and play a symbolic role, connoting love, deep emotion and sensitivity. In this fragrance, the flower is given added vibrancy with Morroccan jasmine, narcisse and musk, resulting in a stunning sunshine-filled scent that will enhance your home at any time of year (and whatever the weather is doing outside).
Tip: Taking a candlelit bath with a fragrant oil while listening to soothing music is self-care you deserve. It’s difficult enough to unwind at the end of the day, when your muscles are knotted with tension from, you know, worrying about the global pandemic on top of everything else…
Try: Using a muscle-relaxing bath essence that also scents your entire house with gorgeously aromatic wafts. Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil is a best-seller for a reason: it works. Soothing sandalwood, camomile and grounding vetivert will sort you out.
Buy: diptyque Paris En Fleur small candle, £30
Petite enough to be placed bath-side while you soak, this is an evocative scent to carry you away with dreams of being impossibly Parisian chic. The first Chypre for the house, a flurry of fruity rose petals merge with deeply resinous patchouli – relaxing and quite a lot sexy, all at once…
For this celebration of Paris, diptyque drew its creative inspiration from the rose and its thousand scents, such as the roses of the Bagatelle gardens or the Marché aux fleurs. To adorn the scent, they worked with the artist and friend of diptyque, Pierre Marie. Together, they created a decoration inspired by Art Nouveau, like a lattice bedecked with flowers on which roses intertwine with metallised foliage.
Tip: If you’re likely to nod off, a lit candle’s not ideal for the bedroom, but there’s a fabulous range of fragranced reed-diffusers available now. Why not change up your sleeping space with a luxurious scent and pretend you’re in a hotel (maybe change the sheets, too…)
Try: Not everyone loves lavender (yes it’s beautifully soothing, but only if you like the smell!) so surround yourself in bed with scents you adore – something that makes you stop a moment to breathe in and appreciate it better. You’ll actually feel your shoulders drop as you close your eyes.
Buy: Ruth Mastenbroek Firedance Diffuser, £30
We absolutely love this for the bedroom (or boudoir) because it feels like a 5-star scent even if your space doesn’t quite live up. It’s incredibly long-lasting (so excellent value – we’re talking months of scented contentment, here) and smells utterly unique. Divinely smoky rose smoulders beguilingly on the rich, woody base, and if your bedtime routine’s not exactly petal-scattered sheets and romance, you can dare to dream!
Rejoicing in a moment of true contentment was perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek’s muse for this so-sultry modern interpretation of the classic rose perfume, as exotic leather dances in surprise harmony with the main character – smouldering Damask rose. Set against a warming backdrop of oudh and patchouli, a shining amber note radiates in this scent which is perfect for anywhere in the home (especially anywhere you’d like to smoulder, yourself…)
However you’re coping (or otherwise) with re-arranging your house/routine/life in this current climate of uncertainty, while filling your home with designated scented spaces might not magically make everything better – I absolutely guarantee that it WILL help.
If you don’t happen to live in a mansion with a wing for every member of the household, or spare rooms that can be converted into handy separate office spaces – it’s essential to divide up what space you do have into areas that feel like passing from one phase of the day into another, that split up the many roles you may be juggling – for your own sanity, not merely a pleasant perfume to smell. And home fragrance is the easiest way of doing that, subliminally. It genuinely can change an atmosphere instantly, and, therefore, your mood/how your day rolls out.
We’re living through times we’d never imagined, that nobody knows how ‘best’ to deal with. So treating yourself to a little scented luxury is important – perhaps more now than ever before. You’re worth looking after, too, you know…
Which candles should you scent a boudoir with? Here’s a list of just some we’re swooning over…
The word boudoir comes from the French ‘bouder’, meaning to pout or sulk, and for centuries has been a private, feminine space to indulge ones desires. Boudoir-type fragrances evoke images of face powder and rosy lipsticks, be-ribboned furnishings and velvet chaise-lounge to swoon on while reading love letters – or to recline on silken cusions while eating violet cremes and idly flick through the latest papers, searching for scurriolous gossip.
In fact, the boudoir was often the only place a woman could do as she liked, historically, and so they became intimate places of great mystery, a sanctuary to write and dream in, or a hotbed of sensual power.
In our just-published ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’ issue of The Scented Letter Magazine (which recently won another Jasmine Award from The Fragrance Foundation – we’re so thrilled to say!) we foucused on boudoir perfumes you should try; but there are so many more ways of scenting this ‘sulking room’, and here we’d love to share with you some of the candles we’re currently coveting for our own boudoirs and bedrooms.
A dreamier duo you’d be hard-pressed to find – burn this limited edition separately or (our favourite) together for a deliciously naughty infusion of soft, powdery caresses that follow, perhaps, a crack of the whip…?
Evoking memories of orchid-hunting trips – tales regaled to you while you recline in something too sheer to be seemly – this blend of exotic blooms and smooth cedar will certainly get your senses swooning while he drones on.
Lady Blanche is busy lady, dispensing ‘female-friendly advice’, so Penhaligon’s intriguing story goes, from within her boudoir. There, the scents of rice powder and makeup mingle with rose perfume, and (we gather) utter lasciviousness.
Narcotic tuberose was once banned by polite, Victorian society, for fear the heady scent was causing flighty females to experience involuntary orgasms. My my. We can’t vouch for that, but it is very lovely.
This morning (22nd September), the Perfume Society gang was lucky enough to see the preview of Diptyque’s lovely pop-up store in Liberty.
Reminiscent of how they first started out –as a ‘bazaar’, with links to fabrics and design –creativity was abounding in the room.
As they tell us: ‘Diptyque has always fostered a passion for objects with a soul. As soon as the first store opened at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris, the founders – Christiane Gautrot, Desmond Knox-Leet and Yves Coueslant – displayed their surprising finds side by side with their original upholstery fabrics. Italian glass bead necklaces, hand-sewn change purses, potpourris blended according to the owners’ changing inspirations…’ (And with Liberty having started in the same way, it’s a natural ‘home’ for this lifestyle pop-up.)
They had a host of new innovative products just bursting with gorgeousness, so we’re going to give you a quick run down…
The new candle – with a scent composed by Fabrice Pellegrin – is inspired by the little lemon-y cakes from Cazelle Bakery, a Parisian bakery founded in 1905. Apparently their famed madeleines are mouthwateringly delicious, ‘A simple sponge cake that’s so irresistible even the raw, melted butter dough gets your taste buds dancing’, is how Diptyque put it. And the candle smells just so, all citrus-y, creamy vanillas – practically edible. La Madeleine candle £55 for 220g
Now this has got to be one of the cutest, most delicate examples of prettiness we’ve seen this year. It’s an object that adds life to a candle’s flame: the stand – with its intricate metal bird cut-outs – sits atop any 70g candle, and once the wick is lit the heat generates a current of air that makes the stand turn slowly. The birds dance around the candle and their playful shadows are projected: a small wonder to amaze both adult and child. Carrousel (limited edition) £30
Essences Insensées 2016
Every year since the launch of their successful Collection 34, Diptyque have created a scent based on a particular floral harvest. In 2016, the fields of May roses in Grasse were exceptionally abundant, inspiring Fabrice Pellegrin to create a scent bursting with petals from the Centifolia rose, sweetened by accents of honey and red fruits. Whoever declared rose ‘boring’ clearly had yet to sniff this delight. Essences Insensées 2016 £105 for 120ml eau de parfum
A beautiful object that creates a glow around your candle like no other. A round plate of oxidised mirror sits behind the candle, giving the flame a hypnotic, mesmerising, malachite halo. It was inspired by the back wall at the 34 Boulevard Saint Germain store (also made of oxidised mirror) and adds an enchanting element to the ritual of lighting a candle. Reflet candle holder (limited edition) £110
Long before Diptyque was ever known for their fragrance, they were renowned for the upholstery fabrics designed by the founders themselves. Taking inspiration from the fabric archives, illustrator Charlotte Gastaut created contemporary interpretations of the brand’s original designs – and let us tell you, they’ve never looked more at home than in Liberty. Available in pillow covers, fabric totes and pouches. Pillow cover (limited edition) £50 Pouches (limited edition) £28 Fabric tote (limited edition) £35
The Diptyque Liberty pop-up will be open until Christmas 2016
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