It is a myth universally believed, that candles are meant only for freezing winters. (Sorry Jane Austen, I know you didn’t mean for your quote to be mangled this way but summer candles bring out all the feels in me!).
Nothing, though, could be further from the truth.
Like any other fragrance, the best candles are an all-season indulgence. I can’t imagine being without one on any day of the year. When I am stressed, a lavender candle calms me down. When I am tired, a mint one perks up my energy. When I am feeling chaotic in the head, that flickering flame helps me into a state of quasi-meditation.
Candles help me transition from the work hours to lounge time, especially through work-from-home days when the boundaries can blur so easily.
A destination-based one transports me to another world, without needing to get onto a flight.
And what’s better to set a mood than multiple wicks casting soft shadows on the walls and floors? Sometimes, I just switch off all the lights, going from being blasted with electric bulbs to softly bathing in that most ancient of treasures – a flickering flame. It casts reality in a rosy glow that’s beautifully reassuring to all the senses.
So, yes… I love my candles. Come winter or summer. It’s just that like the rest of my fragrances, the wardrobe changes with the seasons. Because while Maison Margiela Replica’s By the Fireplace is comfortingly reminiscent of a crackling hearth in the dead of winter, it may be a bit too heavy for summer.
In the summers, I gravitate towards lighter scents. Citrus and aqua notes that bring home the music of the oceanside. Mint and lavender, which cool down the mind, body and soul. Bright white florals mixed with just the right touch of bitters, like the perfect gin cocktail.
Looking for the perfect summer candles? These are the best ones I have found in my years and years of hunting. They won’t lead you wrong.
Rifle Paper Co Amalfi del Mar
Oh, to be in Positano right now. It’s my favorite summer destination – where the bright, colourful houses glow under the Italian sun, against the vibrant yellows of fresh lemon trees and the unbelievable blues of the Amalfi coast. The balmy Mediterranean breezes are laden with citrus oils and notes of eucalyptus, jasmine, lemongrass and sea salt – all of which have been distilled into the gorgeous blue jar of the Rifle Paper Co’s Amalfi del Mar candle. It’s what I light up when I’m missing the landscape of my soul!
Hotel Lobby Island
What’s summer without a hefty dose of beach vibes? And if you are not out there to enjoy them, let them come to you with Hotel Lobby’s Island candle. Which is basically summer in a sand-hued glass jar. The notes of coconuts, almond, vanilla, jasmine and sandalwood complete the illusion. You could be in Bondi or Waikiki or Monterey. Just close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Keap Candles Lavender & Petals
I came upon this artisanal candle maker when hunting for coconut wax based candles, which combine super-clean eco creds with a great scent throw (read about it here). There are very few candle brands that have graduated to using coconut wax and Keap is ahead of the curve. The Lavender & Petals candle is so reminiscent of the purple-hued lavender fields of Grasse in France that you just need to close your eyes and be there, under the painterly blue skies and the glowing summer sun.
There are several lavender candles out there but none have captured the essence of the summery bush so gorgeously. Maybe that’s because it combines elements from the entire lavender plant – including the freshness of the leaves and the grassiness of the stem, which marry the rustic sweetness of the flowers for a crisp green floral that freshens up everything it touches.
Have you ever been to a French bakery at first light, just as the warm, buttery croissants and crusty baguettes are coming out of the oven, the counters are filling up with fresh flowers and there’s a sweet, slightly powdery mist rising up from the cobblestones outside the puff-lined windows? These are some of my favorite moments in Paris… moments which make getting up early in the morning worth it even for a night owl like me. And moments that are encapsulated so beautifully in Overose’s Euphoriasme.
I don’t like overtly sweet fragrances but this one is just right in marrying the softness of rose water with the tartness of cranberries and the caramel notes of fresh croissants and creme brûlée. Take a whiff, fall in love. And if you do happen to be in Paris one summer morning, come by Du Pain et des Idées in 10th. It’s one of Paris’ oldest and most loved bakeries – and you will usually find me in a corner of the rough wooden bench outside, savouring that first bite of freshness that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Lladro 1001 Lights Unbreakable Spirit
The long summer vacations of my childhood were spent nestled up in my mother’s lap, listening to winding tales about exotic kingdoms and fairytale people who always triumphed over life’s many challenges. This has probably informed my love for reading. And my love for travel.
One of the books I remember her reading from very vivid is the One Thousand and One Nights… that cult classic lore of folk tales from enchanting lands like Arabia, Persia, India, Greece and Turkey. I remember, it had a midnight blue cover and she bought it for my fifth birthday… an age when I was still too young to read but old enough to create memories and landscapes. As Scheherazade wove her stories, I imagined travelling to these far flung places on Aladdin’s magic carpet, flying over spired domes and dusty deserts.
Domes just like Lladro’s 1001 Lights, which come in four different colors, though my favorite is the turquoise blue, which is so cooling visually. Inside the gorgeous, gold-touched porcelain jar are notes of lotus flowers, cassis and frankincense that bring bring back those dreamy summer days in a flash of light. It’s like being young and carefree again. And every time I light it, I want to be back in mother’s lap and for it be summer forever.
Carrière Frères Spearmint
This is a relatively new discovery for me, which is unusual since the French brand Carrière Frères is actually more than a century old. Carrière Frères specialises in single-note candles, distilling pure oils in the traditions of master candle makers from the 17th century. Every step is ethical and earth-friendly, from the sustainably sourced raw materials to the recycled glass packaging (hand lacquered in their Normandy factory) and 100% natural alcohols.
I still remember the first time I met Spearmint (or Menthe Spicata)… it was radiating the aroma even through the closed box and layers of gift wrapping. And when I first lit a match to the wick, it exploded into a crispy freshness, with the greens of spearmint. Mint, when done well, literally cools down the ambience and this one is so good that it’s become my go-to after a hot sweltering afternoon spent outdoors.
It also goes a long way towards bringing down heat-induced migraines and even though I may be late to the discovery, you will never find me without one of these again! While the other candles on this list celebrate and elevate summer, this is the one I bring out as an antidote when life gets just too hot. Literally and physically.