For a relatively small item, candles are capable of doing a lot of work. They can shift the mood of a space, evoke a particular scent memory, or simply make a room feel a little warmer, brighter, and more inviting. And as we’ve continued compiling Black-owned businesses to shop at, candles have come up again and again. So, below is a selection from brands we’ve written about in the past, along with recommendations from scent obsessives in our group chats, and our (rather candle-focused) Instagram feed.
228 Grant Street Candle Co. makes all-natural soy-wax candles with a simple formula: wax, wick, and scent. The candles are hand-poured and packed in Baltimore County. This one is inspired by the tropics and has top notes of melon and peach along with notes of plumeria flowers and jasmine.
Cavo is one of a few brands on this list that includes a playlist inspired by the candle’s scent. After a Good Cry, for instance, is soundtracked by artists like Ann Peebles and Solange and, appropriately, has notes of rainwater, lavender, vanilla bean, and bourbon. You can also pick between two votive styles — glossy white and a frosty, matte translucent vessel, pictured here.
If you’re on the hunt for candles to warm up your space, consider the Clarity candle from candle and home-goods brand ReBourné, which has notes of cinnamon, vanilla, sweet almond, ginger, and nutmeg. The company was founded by Erin C. following a burn accident in 2016. All of the candles use cotton wicks (which are easier to maintain than wooden wicks) and natural soy wax, and they promise a burn time of 45 to 50 hours.
Good Day Scents, a small-batch, D.C. based brand, is a favorite of Elisa Johnson, who runs SelectedByElisa.com, a platform that celebrates Black makers and creatives. There are lots of scents to choose from, including So Fresh N’ So Clean, which smells of linen and has a burn time of 60 to 80 hours.
We previously named this candle from Alicia Keys’s Soulcare the best for sensitive noses, noting that it’s “luxurious without being fussy.” It has just two notes: sage and oat milk, which combined remind me of a candle one might find at a fancy yoga studio. Except you can buy this one at Ulta. It’s also fairly affordable given its burn time. At 7.5 ounces, it promises a 65-hour burn time, which more than justifies the price.
Born out of a love for luxury fragrances and jazz is Olphactory Candles (their tagline – “An Ode to Jazz, Thru Wax” – pretty much says it all.) Most of the candles have music-inspired titles, like this one, which is inspired by jazz musician John Coltrane. Cole’s Trane features notes of lime, coconut, vanilla, berries, verbena, and white grapes for a citrusy scent.
Three young brothers – Collin, 15, Ryan, 12, and Austin Gill,10 – came up with Frères Branchiaux as a way to make money to buy video games after getting denied more allowance from their parents. We’d say it worked. In four years, they’ve gone from cooking up scents at home to being sold in Target. They have more than a dozen scents now, as well as other home fragrance products like diffusers and room sprays. The packaging, from the amber glass jars to the script font, makes it feel like it’s straight out of a vintage apothecary. The all-natural ethos extends to the ingredients, too – the candles are 100 percent vegan and the containers are reusable and recyclable.
COOLGiRL thebrand makes candles with 100 percent soy wax and natural cotton wicks. This candle has hints of cocoa butter and vanilla, and smells of “Black women and love,” according to the company. The 9 oz version promises 40 hours of burn time, and it’s available in 6 oz and travel tin sizes, too.
If you’ve ever been curious about what Issa Rae is burning at her house, it’s likely September Sixth. Even before the actress tweeted her praise for founder Brittney Winbush’s candles, they were selling out, so they’re especially hard to find now. Good news, though: Rae’s favorite is currently in-stock, and so are two other scents – but move fast, because they won’t last.
If candles are part of your self-care ritual – and not just something you light to make your home smell good – you’ll appreciate these scents from Spoken Flames. They come with audible affirmations accessible through an Instagram filter. In addition to helping you move through your day fearlessly, this candle will also bring a citrusy scent to your home.
Copper Wings Candle Co. launched in 2019 with a mission of making non-toxic, clean-burning candles. They developed these coconut wax-based candles with wooden wicks, which creates a charming crackling sound – and also, it turns out, aligns with their mission. According to the brand, wood wicks provide a cleaner smoke, leave little soot, and are natural as opposed to a traditional wick that needs to be covered in wax to burn.
Bright Black candles will transport you. Their mission is to “make and share high-quality candles that honor the Black Diaspora,” and many of their candles are named after and inspired by “cities of Black greatness” like Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Durham, North Carolina; and Kingston, Jamaica. This Kingston candle will make you feel like you’re on a Caribbean vacation with notes of rum-spiked, grapefruit-flavored Ting and sugar cane.
Johanna Howard sells a variety of homeware, including throws, pillows, and, of course, candles. The candles are hand-poured and crafted by her daughter, who started making candles when she was 8 years old. The soy-coconut candles use cotton-core wicks and phthalate-free oils and have names like “Herstory” and “Save the Turtles!!!” This one, for when your whole look has fallen right into place, has notes of ginger and lime.
Founded in 2016 by Reis Chester, Reisfields describes itself as a “black and queer cultural and lifestyle design lab,” offering everything from crystals to botanical soaks to incense to (of course) candles. This complex floral candle from the brand also gives back with 20 percent of each sale going to the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit that supports LGBTQ+ youth.
Teri Johnson started luxury-candle brand Harlem Candle Company from her kitchen in 2014 and has since developed collections inspired by the Harlem Renaissance. Some are named after important figures like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, while others are named for famous places like the legendary Savoy Ballroom. We particularly like the aforementioned Langston, a warm, layered candle with undertones of nutmeg, clove, leather, and amber. All of the 12-ounce candles promise an 80-hour burn time and are made from a soy blend.
Candle influencer Kudzi Chikumbu has put us on to nice-smelling, affordable candles in the past, so my ears immediately perked up when he reviewed Ayesha Curry’s candle. The cookbook author is also the owner of Sweet July, which she describes as a “love letter to Oakland.” The brand sells an array of home goods including candles that are hand-poured in the Bay Area. This is the brand’s signature scent and has notes of coconut, citrus and sandalwood. In his review, Chikumbu described it as “subtly gorgeous” with a soft to medium scent level, which sounds like the perfect burn-all-day candle to me.
We’ve previously written about these candles from Martinique-based brand Ysnay, which come in ceramic bowls that are art pieces in their own right. Made from a blend of soy and beeswax, they have a wood wick and a burn time of 70 hours, and they turn into a reusable vessel once the wax is all gone.
Founded by interior designer Neffi Walker, whose clientele includes Insecure’s Yvonne Orji and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Porsha Williams, the Black Home sells hand-poured soy- and coconut-wax candles that feature warm, musky scents and promise at least 60 minutes of burn time. This particular candle is inspired by the Greek Goddess of love and pleasure, and smells of tuberose, lilac, Ylang Ylang, and sandalwood.
Another candle-as-art option is this one from Laguna Candles, founded by Sharie Hendricks in 2003. The brand collaborates with local artisans to create handblown and sculpted vessels and candles made from a soy-coconut-wax blend and unbleached cotton wicks.
Inspired by her Black and Afro-Dominican culture, Dawn Marie founded La Botica as a manifestation of her own self-care routine. The luxury-candle studio currently has an array of its vegan candles available, including this one inspired by the forests in Dominican Republic, which is a mix of Dominican orange, nutmeg, pimenta, resin, white cedar, and cypress.
Skin-care brand Gilded also makes eye-catching candles that are meant to be refilled or otherwise repurposed. The brand currently sells three marbled candles in black, white carrera, and pink, which can be filled with the scent of your choice, from blood orange to gardenia tuberose to cannabis flower.
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