What does YOUR candle say about you?

A poser with money to burn. A flaming fashionista. Or a bargain sniffer…What does YOUR candle say about you?

  • John Lewis had a 182 per cent increase in online searches for candles in 2020 
  • Global candle market is predicted to grow to £4.4 billion in the next four years 
  • From luxury to budget, Claudia Connell explores what your candle choice means

For years, scented candles have been the perfect go-to gift, whether as a thank-you for a dinner party hostess, a last-minute birthday present — or a pick-me-up treat for yourself in lockdown.

And when it comes to the clueless seeking something for the partner in their life, they’ve been a godsend, providing a welcome alternative to flowers and chocolates.

When lockdown first hit back in March last year, people did all they could to turn their homes into cosy places of sanctuary, with comforting smells playing a key part. As a result, sales of scented candles soared.

John Lewis reported a 182 per cent increase in online searches for candles in 2020 which, in turn, led to a 79 per cent increase in sales compared with the previous year. Joe Coggrave, the retailer’s buyer for fragrance, says: ‘With our homes having also become offices, gyms, schools and restaurants, never has it been more important to make them feel as comfortable as possible.’

From luxury and ethical to the traditional, cheap and cheerful, Claudia Connell explores what your choice of candle says about you. Pictured: Tubereuse, £49, 190g, diptyqueparis.com

According to Joe, customers aren’t just buying one candle — they’re splashing out on a variety to create a ‘wardrobe’ of smells for different moods and times of day: a refreshing peppermint for first thing, perhaps, followed by a zingy citrus for that mid-morning slump and a lavender in the evening.

Social media has also played its part in the sales boom, with a flickering candle a vital accessory when it comes to photo styling, particularly with the lockdown craze for bathtub selfies.

The global candle market is worth £2.5 billion and is predicted to grow to £4.4 billion in the next four years — so it’s no wonder they’ve become an essential part of every fashion designer’s homeware collection.

But what does your candle choice say about you? From luxury and ethical to the traditional, cheap and cheerful, we address the burning issue . . .


Tubereuse, £49, 190g, diptyqueparis.com

Anyone paying close attention to the Duchess of Sussex’s many video messages recently may have spotted her Diptyque Tubereuse (a Mexican white flower) candle in the background.

The French perfumery’s Baies candle (blackcurrant and rose) is John Lewis’s all-time best-seller.

The Diptyque customer buys her candles two at a time — one for her London home and another for her Cotswolds retreat.

She spent lockdown doing yoga and meditation and posted a lot on social media about ‘finding her centre’. She thinks nothing of paying nearly £50 to fill her home with her favourite smell and always chucks out the candles when they’re half-melted, as they just look too messy.


Goop x Heretic This Smells Like My Orgasm, £69, 300g, goop.com

Claudia said anyone who buys Gwyneth Paltrow’s candles is likely to have forked out £1,000 for a ticket to her London wellness summit in 2019

Goop is Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website, a place that sells ‘sex dust’ and recommends vaginal steaming.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise, then, when, at the start of last year, Gwynnie brought out her This Smells Like My Vagina candle, which became an instant sell-out.

Reassuringly, the name was a joke, and it’s since been joined by This Smells Like My Orgasm and This Smells Like My Prenup. Should we expect This Smells Like Yet Another Stunt this year?

Anybody who buys Gwynnie’s candles is likely to have forked out £1,000 for a ticket to her London wellness summit in 2019, so £70 is small change.

This lady will follow a paleo diet, is fond of uploading heavily filtered ‘no make-up’ selfies and has a job in marketing with a fancy title, but no one is quite sure what it is she actually does.


Pomegranate Noir, £49, 200g, jomalone.co.uk

Claudia revealed Pomegranate Noir (pictured) is the best selling candle at Jo Malone

JO MALONE is the scented candle queen, even if the brand is now owned by Estee Lauder, where Pomegranate Noir is the best-seller. So popular are these candles that the number bought in London in December alone would burn for 740 years if they were lit consecutively.

You’ll find these in the spotless (courtesy of the cleaner) homes of 40-plus women. Often a birthday gift or bought at the airport, the candle will be lit for an hour only, to make it last longer.

She will drink in the scent while watching Strictly on the sofa and knocking back an M&S ready-mixed mojito cocktail.


Je t’aime Jane, £45, 190g, bellafreud.com

Claudia said you’ll mostly find Je t’aime Jane (pictured) in the downstairs cloakroom of a period house alongside glossy magazines 

Bella Freud, the designer whose 1970 slogan cashmere top became the jumper to be seen in, also produces a range of quirky, exotic-smelling candles in ceramic pots.

Je t’aime Jane — a floral scent, is one of her best-sellers.

You’ll mostly find this candle in the downstairs cloakroom of a period house, along with a pile of glossy magazines and some cheeky cartoons framed on the wall. This person buys her clothes from Net-a-Porter (mixed with the odd vintage piece), works in the City, holidays in Ibiza and hasn’t given up on her dream of being a DJ.


Lime, Basil and Mandarin, £3.49, 310g, aldi.co.uk

Claudia revealed Lime, Basil and Mandarin (pictured) is the latest candle at Aldi with similarities to Jo Malone 

Those cheeky minxes at discount supermarket Aldi have sold convincing Jo Malone smell-alikes for a few years now.

The current fragrances are Lime, Basil and Mandarin and Pomegranate, and they come in glass cases with steel lids — just like Jo Malone’s. The big difference is that these cost only £3.49.

The first line sold out online instantly and they’ve been a hit ever since. These are bought by women who want their homes to smell nice, but not at any price —she hasn’t got money to burn and, besides, it’s mostly to cover the smell of her flatulent dog and her teenager’s stinky trainers.

She pops one in her basket along with the lookalike Jaffa Cake, Ben & Jerry’s and Pringles products. Job done.


Soul — The Joyful One, £39, 220g, eymnaturals.com

Claudia said candles from the British brand Eym (pictured) can be found in the homes of people who have no truck with those who think veganism is just something you do in January

Very few scented candles are suitable for vegans. Even those not made with beeswax are likely to contain stearic acid (an animal by-product that makes the candles set).

However, the rise of veganism has created a demand for stylish, luxury, vegan-friendly candles, with British brand Eym fitting the bill perfectly.

A minimalist design, the candles are made from soy wax, all-natural ingredients and have a cotton wick. The brand’s Soul candle is a soothing mix of orange blossom, neroli and ylang ylang.

Expect to find these in the homes of people who have no truck with those who think veganism is just something you do in January.

She makes her own yoghurt, soaks her oats and was home-schooling her children (named after Greek Gods and Goddesses) long before everyone else started doing it in lockdown.


Pink Sands, £24.99, 623g, yankeecandle.co.uk

Claudia said Yankee Candles are likely to be found in the home of a woman who bought them at a party hosted by one of her neighbours 

Yankee is the value U.S. brand whose candles come in bright colours and homely-looking jam jars. Often sold in discounted ‘bundles’, they’re available in a variety of sizes and can even be personalised to feature a special message or photo on the front.

Chances are the woman who has these in her home bought them at a Yankee Candle party hosted by one of her neighbours. She didn’t want to seem rude and, before she knew it, she’d been pressured into buying one for every season. She re-gifted two of them and now crosses the road when she sees her neighbour coming.

No one had scented candles in her day. She prefers an air freshener or plug-in — at least they won’t set fire to the net curtains.


Flora, £155, 300g, amara.com

Claudia said candles by high-end brand Fornasetti (pictured) are for those who purchase for the aesthetic, rather than the scent 

For many people, the most important aspect of a scented candle is the smell. But for others, it’s the aesthetic, which is where high-end brand Fornasetti comes in.

The Italian design house places its candles in exquisite ceramic containers featuring artworks from the late Piero Fornasetti and the face of his muse, Lina Cavalieri, the celebrated opera singer.

A 300g candle will set you back £155, but a 1.9kg one costs an eyewatering £495.

You’ll find Fornasetti candles in the minimalist home of a banker’s wife. She dresses in designer jeans and white trainers and has a bouncy blow-dry. Her collection (you must buy the whole range, darling) is dotted around her living room. She’s sure to have one in the background as she’s doing one of her Barrecore classes on Zoom.

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