15 Candles That Smell Just Like Vacation
Stuck at home, lamenting abandoned summer vacation plans? Us, too. But just because we can’t simultaneously social distance while jetting off to the Amalfi Coast or even the annual family barbecue this year doesn’t mean we can’t bring a little bit of those places to us. Thanks to a few cleverly fragranced candles and our own scent memory — the brain’s ability to recall strong emotional memories when we smell certain things — we can fake the scent of white flowers in Hawaii or lavender in Provence until we actually make it there.
Ahead, find candles to make your staycation feel like a Brazilian beach party or cool walk in the woods — all for what it would have cost to take an Uber to the airport.
Too many floral candles fill the room with a scent that’s more “grandma broke a bottle of her perfume” than freshly cut stems. Not this one, which carries the faint fragrance of farmers market flowers for a hit of inviting faux-blooms that don’t overwhelm.
SHOP: Philosophy Amazing Grace Candle, $40, available at Ulta Beauty
The gardening flex is one of the most surprising of spring trends from Instagram this year. Even if you don’t have a square of land to sow, cop the olfactory boost that comes with breathing in the sweet scents tomatoes on the vine and distant honeysuckle with this coconut and beeswax burner.
SHOP: Boy Smells Gardener Candle, $34, available at Poketo
The fastest way to breathe in Hawaiian islands without taking a too-close-for-comfort flight? Light up this gardenia candle favored by the likes of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.
SHOP: Kai Skylight Candle, $48, available at Dermstore
Bath & Body Works' three-wick candles have earned a cult following over the years, thanks to an array of something-for-everyone scents that fill rooms without emptying wallets. This summer, we’re reaching for the scent of fresh berries and waffle cones, which transports us the best part of family barbecues: dessert.
SHOP: Bath & Body Works Berry Waffle Cone Three-Wick Candle, Was $24.50; Now $14.50, available at Bath & Body Works
If you can’t physically be there to deliver birthday wishes, send this candle instead: It smells just like a classic vanilla sheet cake with vanilla frosting and is decorated with colorful sprinkles on top. But the real icing on the cake is how the candle was made: by a female refugee at the headquarters of U.S.-based Prosperity Candle.
SHOP: The Little Market Birthday Cake Candle, $34, available at The Little Market
Wish you could jet to Brazil for Doce de Leite and day parties at the beach? A good imagination and this scented candle — which conjures coconut, caramel, and a bit of warm sun tan oil (the signature scent of the brand’s widely-loved Bum Bum Cream) — can help get you there without leaving your living room.
SHOP: Sol de Janeiro Cheirosa ’62 Candle, $42, available at Sol de Janeiro
Two hundred-dollar perfume; fifty-dollar deodorant — dousing yourself in the scents of this luxury Italian fragrance brand is an expensive endeavor. For a more budget-friendly way to experience the scents of the Amalfi Coast, try this candle, made with verbena, mint, and thyme essential oils.
SHOP Acqua Di Parma Profumi Dell'orto Scented Candle, $72, available at Saks Fifth Avenue
We’ve long relied on Sephora Collection for affordable lipsticks and makeup brushes. But now, we’ll be stocking up on the brand’s newly-launched candles, which pack the complex and inviting scents of a much fancier burner without the steep price. Of the four-piece range, we’re stuck on this very spa-like jasmine, grapefruit, and musk blend.
SHOP: Sephora Collection Refresh Scented Candle $18, available at Sephora
We have it on good authority that Kanye West loves this scent and we can see why: Woodsy but not dank, this comforting sandalwood, cedar and myrrh candle makes us want to snuggle up in an overstuffed leather club chair with a classic book.
SHOP: Byredo Tree House Candle, $85, available at Space NK
Falling behind on chores? Reach for a clean-smelling candle, like this double-wick number, which makes your surroundings smell like soothing vanilla and fresh laundry — even if you haven't fired up the washing machine in weeks.
SHOP: Linnea's Lights Cashmere Candle, $34, available at Rejuvenation
Yes, this candle is spendy. But the fragrance is wonderfully concentrated and manages to pack distinguishable scents of chamomile, lavender, vetiver, rose, and geranium without it smelling perfume-y. Uma’s secret? High-quality essential oils sourced from its own family farm.
SHOP: Uma Pure Calm Wellness Candle, $68, available at Goop
Some citrus candles aimed at delivering a “clean” scent end up smelling too much like cloying plug-in air fresheners. With this burner, the uplifting scent of grapefruit is tempered with the slightly salty scent of coastal air, which makes our entryway smell more like an open-air lobby of an expensive beachfront resort and less like a dumping ground for sweaty running shoes and baseball hats.
SHOP: Apotheke Sea Salt Grapefruit Candle, $38, available at Bigelow Chemists
Rather be hiking in California chaparral? Us, too. With elements of sage, eucalyptus, and orange peel, this candle takes us right to a peaceful retreat in Big Sur.
SHOP: Malin + Goetz Sage Candle, $55, available at Malin+Goetz
Honestly, we have no idea what cactus flower is supposed to smell like but if it means coconut water, gardenia, and green tea, like this candle, then we’re all for it. Another thing we can get behind? The vessel in which the soy-wax is poured: hand-blown Mexican glassware that can (and should) be used to sip margaritas from, long after its 60-hour burn time is complete.
SHOP: Paddywax La Playa Cactus Flower Bamboo Candle $27, available at Paddywax
Scientific studies have linked the scent of lavender to improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and depression — something that makes us want to run through lavender fields as our daily exercise. Since we have zero lavender farms at our disposal, we’re faking it with this scented burner, which refreshingly boasts the straightforward, undiluted scent of fresh lavender from the farm.
SHOP: diptyque Lavender Leaf Candle, $68, available at diptyque