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Bougie Candle Sniffing Adventures: Holiday 2017

2017 was the year I went from laughing at people who spent $50 on candles to buying said candles myself. To be honest, I can fully blame the obsession on President Cheeto. I distinctly remember buying my first Diptyque candle (their Valentine's Day limited edition Rosamundi candle) on the day of his inauguration as a bit of retail therapy. I've been hooked ever since.

I wasn't sure if I was going to publish a haul or not candle because candles are bit more... particular than makeup and skincare. Ultimately I decided instead I'll just share a round-up of holiday candles rather than a haul or not because I'm honestly a candle newbie.

THAT said, I am very committed to this business of beauty/ candle blogging so I sacrificed my time and energy and went stomping around downtown with the very serious task off sniffing all the fancy, holiday candles I could find no it was not an excuse to go window shopping.

I'll also have a follow-up post talking more about the holiday candles that I've bought and burned!

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1. Diptyque x Philippe Baudelocque Collection

Is it fair to say that Diptyque is the queen of the bougie candle game? When I think fancy candles, I think Diptyque. And they're definitely the most ubiquitous on Instagram.

This year their holiday collection is adorned with designs by French artist Philippe Baudelocque (although they spelled his name incorrectly on their US homepage...awkward...) You can read a quick little interview they did with him on their blog here.

Every piece in the collection is decorated with starry imagery. There are mini candle sets, an advent calendar, a ginormous black baies candle (that I wish I could afford cause it's gorgeous),  as well as the three limited edition scents available individually or in trios. The limited edition scents take it a step further and have golden mythical creatures (inspired by constellations) atop the black starry background that the rest of the collection shares-- they also have brightly colored wax!

A note on the packaging of the LE scents: the black and white background is painted on the actual jar and the gold creatures are 3d printed stickers. The glass is very weighty and thick so I haven't had any issues with the sticker peeling; it's really stuck on there.

The three limited edition scents are described as follows:
  • Unicorn Frosted Forest: Fir needles, hinoki, and mint mix intimately to compose the rare aromas of lush frosted forests.
  • Phoenix Incense Tears: This mythical creature inspired a perfume of incense and myrrh enhanced by a warm, burning cinnamon.
  • Dragon Fiery Orange: Blood orange from Italy, smoky wood, and cloves cracking joyfully in a burning fire.
Full confession: describing scents is not my strong suit and I prefer to defer to the brand's own descriptions. But because I decided to publish this post, I gotta use my own words, right? Of the three, the Frosted Forest was hands down my favorite scent! I'm usually not a fan of pine scents but this one has a beautiful sweetness to it, it puts the frosted in frosted forest. The other two scents were nice... but ultimately too smoky for my tastes. The incense tears one, in particular, has a very strong smoky scent to me so while it was beautiful to look at I had to pass on purchasing it because I don't do smoky.

2. Overose Holographic Candles

Seeing the name "overose" triggers a tinge of annoyance in me at the moment because the stupid overose candle that I bought on Black Friday still has not shipped. BUT anyways, onto overose. They're another French candle brand that has been growing increasingly popular over the past year. They're known for their strong scents and beautiful dusty pink packaging. They're also a green beauty brand and focus on sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients. I've smelled them burning in store at Lou & Grey and the throw on the candles is ah-maze-ing.

The US retailer with the largest selection of Overose candles is hands down the Stell, although it can be tricky to find them in stock. Portland-based Spartan Shop has a handful of scents as does San Francisco-based AnomieLou & Grey also usually stocks a scent or two (although I'm not sure I would recommend them since their shipping for the candles takes 5ever). Selfridges also has a scent or two but they don't ship these to the US.

For the holidays they came out with holographic candles-- I can't find information on whether these are limited edition or new permanent additions. Either way, the scents themselves aren't limited edition as they're also available in their permanent pink line.

When I first saw these on Instagram my response was WANT AND NEED. But as time went on, my tune changed. There are two reasons I would pay more for a limited edition candle: because it has limited edition packaging and because it is a limited edition scent. The Overose candles only fulfill one of those requisites. I also learned that the glass of the candle itself isn't holographic, rather it's a clear glass jar with a holographic sticker applied atop. And I've heard of people having the stickers bubble on their candles 😓

Personally, if I'm paying $66 for a candle I expect absolute perfection. Coupled with the fact that the scents are available in the permanent collection, I decided to save myself the extra $8 and bought the scent from their permanent collection.

The three scents available in holographic jars are (the scent descriptions are from the Stell where you can buy all 3):
  • Nudesse: infused with lush roses impearled by rain and dew
  • Anthurium: fuses together black currant with wild raspberries, rose petals, and wild caladium leaves
  • Valikiria: smells like summer: juicy peaches, ripe with crushed fig leaves, coconut milk, and raw cedar wood bark

3. Boy Smells St. Al & Trios

As far as luxury candles go, Boy Smells is on the more affordable end of the spectrum. Of course, spending $30 on a candle isn't flat out affordable, but it is relatively affordable in comparison to brands like Cire Trudon, Byredo, and Dipyque-- ya feel me?

They're an LA-based brand and I feel like their packaging really reflects that. Glossy black jars with millennial pink labels-- as a former Los Angeleno I say hell yes. You can find their candles at the Stell, Nordstrom, ban. do, and more. For a complete list of stockists, including international sellers, you can check the list on their site.

While they don't seem to have a specific holiday collection, they did release a new scent as well as votive trios right in time for the holidays. Let's start off with the new scent: St. Al. 

According to the brand's site, the notes are sandalwood, clay, clove flower, oud, and ylang-ylang. In my candle sniffing adventure, I hunted this candle down at Creatures of Comfort and gave it a big sniff or five. While I definitely smell the sandalwood, it also has a smoky quality to it. And if you've ever wondered what Jeff Goldblum smells like, ban.do guesses he smells like this candle. Personally... I'm not sure how I like this. I love me some sandalwood but the smokiness turns me off a little bit. I've found the smokiness to be a common smell that pops up in the Boy Smells line. Sometimes I love it, like in Cinderose and Lanai, and in other scents, I don't love it, like in Kush and Ash. It's all personal.

In addition to their new scent, they also have three new trios. The candles featured in the trios are each 3 oz which is quite generous for a mini, especially when you consider one 2.4 oz candle from Diptyque will set you back $32. Whereas with Boy Smells you get three 3 oz candles for a total of $42 aka $14 per candle. I can't speak for the votives but their full sized candles burn very slowly and have a lengthy burn time (although I can't find an official time.)

If you're looking to treat yo self or someone to some fancy candles but still want to have money left over, I highly recommend boy smells. While they may be cheaper in price in comparison to the other candles in this post, there's no compromise in quality.

4. Nest Holiday Festive Collection

It just goes to show how personal scents are because I don't care for most of Nest's holiday scents... meanwhile, they're some people's favorites! I just don't think there's anything about their holiday scents that set them apart from more affordable candles that I could pick up at Bath & Body Works or TJ Maxx.

There are three scents in their holiday collection-- holiday, sugar cookie, and birchwood pine. All three come in various sizes as well as in reed diffusers and room sprays. The packaging on the entire collection is minimal and sophisticated but also festive.

Let's start off with holiday. If you've ever smelled a classic Christmas candle aka a mix of spicy cinnamon, pine needles, and a touch of citrus-- you've smelled this candle. There's nothing notable about it. It's not bad, it's just boring and not something I want to spend $40 on.

Next, let's move onto sugar cookie-- this is the ultimate basic bitch, sugary sweet fall/ winter that you could buy at Bath & Body Works. Personally, I loathe these types of scents hence I loathe this candle. I know that's a strong emotion to have towards a candle but sometimes I'm a bit of a drama queen.

Lastly, we have birchwood pine; now this scent, I actually like! It reminds me of Diptyque's frosted forest holiday candle but a bit cleaner smelling. It's described by Nordstrom as " the aroma of a majestic winter forest is created by blending white pine, fir balsam, and birchwood over a base of rich musk and amber." Like frosted forest, it has a sweet pine scent. Not too sweet, not too piney. Writing this kind of makes me want to buy it...

You can buy their holiday collection at Sephora, Nordstrom, Blue Mercury, Neimans, and dozens of other retailers cause they're popular AF.

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5. Jo Malone Holiday

I absolutely loved the packaging on the Jo Malone limited edition candle. It's bright and vibrant stripes of green and pink that should scream watermelon but manages to be holiday somehow. But I'm not sure how I feel about the scent itself; not that it matters much since I don't have the $200 to buy it anyways.  And if you're scoffing at that price tag, in its defense, it is 14.8 oz of fancy candle.

The scent is described as "a festive flicker. The warming base of cedarwood and tonka, lively with the delicious bite of redcurrant. The nuttiness of green almond. The zing of citrus."

Personally I kind of think it smells like your everyday holiday candle, minus some of the spice. I have to head to the mall to use my Sephora coupon anyways, so I think I'll give this a candle a second sniff and report back to update this post with my fresh thoughts on the candle.

Update: I went back and sniffed the candle and can conclude I am not a fan. The green almond comes through very strongly and reminds me of the smell of almond extract which I hate. No thanks.

In addition to this limited edition candle, Jo Malone also came out with a set of 5 mini candles for $100. The scents are Grapefruit, Pomegranate Noir, Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Sweet Almond & Macaroon, Frosted Cherry & Clove and I believe they're all available in their permanent collection. I think mini candles like these are a good way to decide if you want to commit to a larger candle or not.

The entire holiday collection from Jo Malone is sold Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks, Bergdorfs, and more. Unfortunately, the ginormous green and pink candle isn't available at Sephora but the mini set of candles is.

6. Byredo Holiday Collection

If Diptyque is the Queen of the bougie candle world, Byredo is first in the line of succession. While I'm a newbie to the brand (....and every other brand in this post) Byredo appeals to me the most since the founder is half-Indian and founded the brand because he was inspired by his mother's hometown in India. There aren't many major players in the beauty industry who are Indian so I'm always proud when I spot a fellow brown sister/ brother/ human.

For the holidays they released 3 scents in what they call "collector's edition" red, glossy packaging. And the pricing is the same as their permanent collection! The scents are as follows:
  • Rose Water: Top notes of Bulgarian rose; heart of rose petals and geranium; base: of rose absolute.
  • Altar: Top notes of clove bud; heart of ylang and carnation; base of papyrus, and Haiti vetiver.
  • Incense: Top notes of incense and eucalyptus; heart of Guaiac wood and labdanum; base of wild patchouli and crisp Amber.
Surprisingly, I loved all three scents featured in this collection. They're somehow unique yet simple at the same time. Rose Water isn't your everyday rose scent, it's somehow lighter and not as sweet. I dig it. I don't usually think roses for a winter scent but this somehow works. Alter smells like spicy flowers and Incense has a clean smoky scent. Like I said earlier in this post, I'm not usually a big fan of smoky scents but the smokiness in this is so lightweight and (to repeat myself) clean it really works for me.

The candles are available on the brand's site, Neimans, Net-A-Porter, and Barneys. They are selling out quite quickly though so I recommend grabbing them now if you're interested!

7. Commodity Candles

Not a holiday collection per se, but Commodity did recently introduced a lineup of candles and have a limited edition exploration set that includes minis of 3 scents. You might remember seeing the set in my VIB sale wishlist and VIB sale haul post.

A little bit of background on Commodity; they're a London based brand that launched 3 years ago. From reading their product descriptions on Sephora it sounds like they're also focused on ethically sourcing the ingredients for their scents!

While they ship all over England and the EU from their site, they've since come to the Americas and launched at Sephora, Sephora Canada, and Mexico. All their scents are meant to be unisex and are cruelty-free. You can buy their candles through their site (they're offering free shipping on all orders until NYE!) or at Sephora.

I hope they expand their collection to include more scents from their perfume lineup, but at the time they have 5 scents, although only 3 are available at Sephora at the time of this post. The three sold at Sephora are described as follows:

  • Book: Top notes of Virginian cedarwood, Bois de rose, eucalyptus, bergamot; middle notes of Alaskan cypress, Amyris, and amber; base notes of musk, sandalwood, and velvet.
  • Orris: Top notes of carrot seed orpur, pink peppercorn, Italian bergamot, and coriander seed; middle notes of white lily of the valley, tea blossom, patchouli oil, and Moroccan cedarwood; base notes of italian orris, vetiver oil, and vanilla Madagascar orpur.
  • Oolong: Top notes of cassis fruit, honey, mandarin, and Egyptian basil; middle notes of oolong tea, Damascus rose, and tonka; base notes of hints of tobacco, Indian sandalwood, white patchouli, and cashmere musk.
Because I'll be reviewing these in my post next week, I'll just say they all smell damn good.

8. Cire Trudon Holiday Collection

I wasn't ready sip the Cire Trudon kool-aid until I came across them in my holiday sniff-a-thon adventure. Damnit now I have added their ridonkulously priced candles to my treat-yo-self wishlist because they're glorious. The scents were heady in the best way possible and had beautiful throw even though they weren't lit. I could literally smell them as I approached the display.

I was even more determined to drink the kool-aid when I started reading up on the rich history of the brand for this post. They date back alllll the way to 1643 (and are currently the oldest wax-producing factory in the world) and were a favorite of the Sun King. And if you remember anything from high school World History, you'll remember he was fancy as fuck. Through the French Revolution, they continued to thrive; they even provided candles for Versailles until the day it was stormed. Clearly, the company was run by a political mastermind because, despite their ties to the Bourbon family, they managed to supply the candles for Napoleon's coronation. I'll cut the history lesson short but if you're interested in reading more of the history of the brand check out their website.

For the holidays they released 6 candles that you can buy for $105 a pop (they're 9.5 oz each.) They also have a travel set with 3 of the scents in 3.5 oz jars for $210.00. They come in festively colored red, green, and gold jars with a gold painted interior. The 3 scents not featured in the travel set are also available in larger 28 oz jars for $270.00 and 105 oz jar for $550.00 (aka the ultimate luxury.) These scents are sold in foiled gold jars.

The more time I spend on their site, the more I appreciate all the thought they put into the little details on their collection. The three scents featured in the travel set are inspired by various Japanese knots. The scents are as follows:
  • Ciel: Ciel’s infinite knot (Kagome-Musubi) acts as a natural protection against evil. Top notes: birch, and marron glacé; middle notes: cashmere wood, and moss; base notes: cedar, musk, patchouli.
  • Lumière: Perfectly symmetrical, the slipknot (Awabi-Musubi) celebrates longevity and eternal life. Top notes: cashmere wood, and cedar; middle notes: iris and patchouli; base notes: tonka bean, and amber.
  • Étoile: The open-knot (Hana-Musubi) expresses the wish that good news come repeatedly. It can easily be tied and untied. Top notes: rose and aldehyde; middle notes: patchouli and tonka bean; base notes: sandalwood and cedar.
I feel like it would a crime if I even attempted to describe them because they're that complex and beautiful. I would just butcher it. All three smell absolutely fantastic. Even if you have no plans on purchasing them I would run to your nearest Bloomingdale's or Barney's or whatever to witness and bask in their beauty in real life.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to smell the other three scents in the collection, but I bet they're as beautiful as the three I did smell. All three were inspired by historical figures.

9. Sisley Paris Holiday Candles

Like Cire Trudon, I wasn't ready to sip the Sisley kool-aid yet smelling them IRL changed my mind. According to the sales associate at Barney's, Sisley doesn't usually come out with candles but they did for the holidays this year. Are they affordable? Hell no. Are they more affordable than their skincare? Yes...ish.

The holiday lineup includes three 5.8 oz candles, each retailing for $70.00. You can also get all 3 full-sized candles in a set for $195.00. The scents are as follows:

  • Campagne: Top notes of bergamot, lemon, and basil; middle of green tomato leaves, jasmine, and plum; base notes of oak moss, patchouli, and vetiver.
  • Rose: Top notes of lemon and botanical; middle notes of rose; base notes of musk, amber, and sandalwood.
  • Tuberose: Top notes of tuberose and black pepper; middle notes of jasmine sambac absolute and ylang-ylang essence; base notes of Peru balsam, benzoin, and bourbon vanilla.

Unfortunately, I can't find the notes I took on these candles so I don't 100% remember what they smelled like in real life 😓 I can say they all smelled good, no weirdness or funkiness here. The Rose scent, in particular, was stunning, you could really smell the sweet and citrusy notes. They had a nice, strong scent which I expect for that sorta price tag. The packaging was just as vibrant and beautiful as it appears online. The jars are also nice and weighty and expensive feeling.

You can buy them at Neimans, Nordstrom, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman.




Tout à L'heure

And that wraps up this holiday candle post! To be honest I had a few other holiday releases I wanted to talk about but because of time and energy restraints, it didn't happen.

Did you treat yourself to any fancy candles this season? Or are there any affordable candles that you've been loving lately? I randomly bought a black rose & oud candle at Marshall's the other weekend and it smells heavenly-- best 7 bucks I've spent in a while.


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