Beautygeeks are different from beauty junkies. Sure, we're attracted by pretty newness and beauty game-changers, but overall we just want stuff that works for our skin, techniques, lifestyle and wallets. We're more practical than one might think. Take candles, for instance. We know that pricey bougies parfumée are akin to setting cash on fire. Extravagant.
Yet candles are so lovely! They create such flattering light and a cosy atmosphere that invites compliments. A scent you love becomes a kind of pause button as you stop for a moment just to appreciate. And they make such nice presents. So our practical side goes for a coffee break when it comes to the following options. These are covetable and gift-worthy candles for their fantastic scents, quality and the ooh-factor when the recipient opens the box.
Cire Trudon ($99, Teatro Verde) Based in Paris, Cire Trudon is one of the most prestigious candle companies in the world. It dates back to 17th-Century Paris, when the Trudon family supplied the monarchy, wealthy families and churches with their signature purified vegetal wax and cotton wicks that burn cleanly. This one is Liza's (she bought it in Paris, where they're a smidge less outrageously priced). A scent called Spiritus Sancti, it's amazing: churchy, but not too churchy, with notes of incense softened with lily of the valley, labdanum and benzoin resin.
Diptyque ($72, Holt Renfrew) You cannot have a candle gift-guide without Diptyque, also a venerable Parisian company known for beautiful and unique fragrances. Founded in 1961, Diptyque was at first an eclectic furnishings shop; its first fragrance was born in 1968. (Fashion Magazine beauty editor Sarah Daniel wrote about Diptyque's 50th Anniversary scent; click here to download the PDF.) For many candle fans, including celebrities, interior designers and set stylists, these are the best. The most popular scent (according to Holts) is Baies. I received this wonderfully fresh Menthe Verte as a gift; love. Special-edition holiday candles are available now, but the iconic black-and-white is timeless.
Holt Renfrew ($35, Holt Renfrew) Housed in a simple white jar, Citron Damask is an exceptional fragranced candle for citrus fans. Other scents include Black Vetiver (want), Gardenia (most popular), Rose (so gorgeous; I have that one, too) and Winter Woods.
Anna Sui ($45, Sears, Sophie's Beauty Court) This limited-edition rose-scented candle from the queen of fashion whimsy reminds me of a fancy rose potpourri I loved in university. Don't worry -- it's not an air-freshener rose. Anna Sui knows from fragrance -- she's been a successful player in perfume world for years.
Crabtree & Evelyn ($33, Crabtree & Evelyn boutiques) The description on the back of this Winter Garden candle box is adorable: "A fragrance medley of holiday greens, frosted apricots, amaryllis, and ice glazed fruits gathered from a magical winter garden." A winter garden that actually smells like this fruity-floral scent would be worth visiting. It's sweet, but not at all in the vanillacandysugarfrosting realm.
Slatkin & Co. Fresh Balsam ($12.50/medium, Bath & BodyWorks) Liza and I fell in love with Fresh Balsam in the lobby of a downtown Toronto hotel (we were there for a media event), where a single large candle flickered away on a side table as it infused the open space with its eucalyptus/fir needles/cedarwood scent. I snapped a photo of it in its decorative sleeve; Liza had the delightful temerity to lift it out to read the label. After our event at what's now called The St. Regis, we hit the King St. W location of Bath & BodyWorks to get our own Fresh Balsam stash. Liza's clever husband, who has a sophisticated appreciation for fragrance as noted in this story, describes perfectly why we love it: "...this candle is the best buy out there, given its subtle seasonal fragrance, which is neither cloying nor nausea-inducing. Plus: Very inexpensive." In fact, it's now 2-for-1 at Bath & Body Works. Please save me two – mine is almost finished.
Fruits & Passion Cucina ($15, fruits-passion.ca) Candles in mini casserole dishes with lids? Squeee! And the scents, Clementine & Candied Ginger, Coriander & Olive Tree (above), Oregano & Green Citrus (above right), and Lime Zest & Cypress are great. In fact, these have been so popular that they're coming back after the holidays. Only Lime Zest & Cypress is still available online; you might want to call your closest store to check stock before you decide to head over.
Caldrea ($36, La Merceria) I bought this ocean-fresh, citrussy Sea Salt Neroli candle at always delightful La Merceria on Adelaide St. W. I got it as a gift for a friend... and I kept it for myself. Don't know what made me think I could resist -- I love it. Thankfully, the friend doesn't know. Don't tell.
Izola Sandal Wood Scented Candle ($29.95, Roots stores) Spotted this in Roots as I was leaving the Spring preview; snapped a shot with my phone on my way out. How to use: Light the candle, wrap yourself in a soft blanket, settle into your couch or favourite chair, close your eyes and imagine yourself by a crackling fire in a cozy log cabin in the woods, fluffy snowflakes drifting lightly down outside as plaid-shirted Joe Manganiella fetches hot cocoa from your traditional AGA.
Fresh Scented Candle ($60, Teatro Verde) At a recent Fresh preview event, I fell in love with the Brown Sugar candle. Yes, you read that correctly: Brown Sugar. If you're not familiar with the fragrance, which was inspired by the brand's Brown Sugar Body Polish, know this: it ain't no dessert-sweet brown sugar. Instead, tempered by sicilian lemon and tangerine, it's bright, a bit tangy, and next on my to-buy-myself list.
Jo Malone ($45/mini, $75 medium, Holt Renfrew) Simple true-to-life scents and beautiful packaging makes anything Jo Malone an easy gift. I have a Basil & Verbena Living Cologne (love), and this wonderfully fresh Pine & Eucalyptus scented candle. Of course Grapefruit is on my One-Day wish list, along with Red Roses, Orange Blossom, Nectarine Blossom & Honey and French Lime.
After Burn The upside to buying candles in beautiful jars is that you can use them for something else later. For instance, Liza uses an empty Cire Trudon jar to keep makeup brushes corralled, and a Diptyque jar holds cotton facial pads.
Do you buy pricey candles? Do you like receiving them as gifts? What's your favourite?
Jo Malone image via jomalone.com.