Whoever first decided to illuminate the darker hours with an iridescent light deserves recognition for one of the most timeless inventions. Candles have served mankind since the dawn of time, and even though it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint where they first began, the earliest surviving candles date back to Han China around 200 B.C. And while some historical practices are surely left in the past, this year's new candle brands continue to grace modern times with light, relaxation, and serenity — hallmark essentials to 2020.
Candles are this year’s subtle hero. Since living spaces have converted into work offices and people have been spending most of their time at home, candles have taken the reins as home centerpieces. In fact, the demand for candles have increased to 13 percent in department stores while things like clothing and make-up have significantly declined. Unsurprisingly, this is in part due because consumers are turning their wallets to home enhancing products during this particularly stressful period.
"Candles are a self-care and home décor staple, so it's not surprising that in an incredibly stressful year where we were stuck at home, candles were a big deal," Shavaun Christian, founder of Spoken Flames, tells TZR. "Candles are unique in that they can set a new mood, trigger a fun memory through scent, or even transport your mind to someplace you'd rather be."
Until lit, they’re only deemed as an inanimate object. But as soon as smoke begins to ascend from the untouched wicker, life breathes into the setting they are placed in. Perhaps this is the reason why they were so useful during this tumultuous year. Amid the doomscrolling and feelings of hopelessness, candles lit our minds with optimism. Some transported us to the lavender fields in the South of France. Others brought us on adventures in some of America's iconic national parks. Some just smelled really good and gave us something to celebrate for the day.
But, regardless of what they ended up doing for us as individuals, they collectively offered something to appreciate and look forward to. That being said, the following are some of our favorite new additions from 2020 — the year of the candle.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
New Candle Brand: FORVR Mood
Not only do candles help with relaxation, but also excel in setting the mood for moments that are a bit more risqué. Whether it's sending that notorious "hey big head text," or figuring out how to pass on a date, FORVR Mood has a scent fitting for the occasion. Founder Jackie Aina ensures that your romantic mood will dictate the smell of your space and may result in roasted coffee or pistachio and vanilla. Who doesn't love a bit of fun? Pro tip: FORVR Mood's candles are prone to sell out pretty quickly, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled to their Instagram for restock inspiration.
New Candle Brand: Spoken Flames
We talk about candles being assets to self-care, but what if a candle is the full package? Shavaun Christian is revolutionizing the standard candle by offering a multi sensory experience. Blends of vanilla and sandalwood with a hint of eucalyptus might seem like enough in a candle, but the Brooklyn-based designer offers another dimension: motivating messages and positive affirmation that are activated through Instagram filters. If you're looking to manifest positivity in the year following the train-wreck of this one, a candle from here might be a go-to option.
New Candle Brand: Shrine
If you're looking for a visually rich and psychedelic aroma experience that still somehow puts your mind at ease, a candle from Shrine does just the trick. The candles themselves each have distinct smells that one may not think should go in a candle, but work absolutely perfectly. Take Italian leather and cash for example: two things that smell just as good as flowers. Plus, the L.A.-based candle brand also uses this compostable mushroom packaging and sustainability is always rewarded with brownie points.
New Candle Brand: Nette
Nothing says luxury more than patience. Being a new "candle brand that takes our time," luxury is met with sustainability, clean products, and chic aesthetics. Founder Carol Han Pyle noticed how plenty of candles on the market mask toxic chemicals, such as paraffin wax, with potent synthetic scents and decided to take action. Nette is the new wave of candle brands where burning a wick is finally regarded as a sacred ritual.
New Candle Brand: Cancelled Plans
Ever wonder what cancelled plans smell like? Well, according to this Seattle-based candle company, they smell a little like coconut and apricot wax with a hint of aloe and agave. What about needing space from someone? Gin and oak. Regardless of what excuse card you choose on the daily, Cancelled Plans Candles may have a scent to match. Couple Kenzie and Spencer Findlay have not only mastered the art of candles, but also selling a sense of humor.
New Candle Brand: Haven and Flux
Goals are realized and travel can be done without airfare with one whiff of these sustainably made candles. Based out of Reno, NV, the brand answers to the two things on everyone's mind: setting intentions for the upcoming new year and the golden days of safely traveling. Take that for positive thinking and escapism.
New Candle Brand: Here for The Burn
Memes have taken over the internet and, now, they're taking over candles. Whether you're looking for a nice home scent for your "quarantine bae" or one when you swear "new year new me," Here for The Burn offers a high-end candle to go with the meme-able occasion.
New Candle Brands: Wicks and Tricks
Nothing says "it'll be okay" more than the smell of palo santo and dried coconut after being ghosted. For all other quirky mishaps of life, a candle at Wicks and Tricks might be the one to mend all woes. And need not to worry about whether harsh chemicals are being released in the air during your (aroma)therapy session as these candles are free from phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.
New Candle Brands: Affirmation Culture
If there's any brand that believes in the power of the mind, it's Monique Brown's Affirmation Culture. As a former film industry creative who sought a life with a better work-life balance, Brown's consistent use of positive thinking and mindfulness propelled her into a life that she's always dreamt of. For consumers, the body is just as taken care of as the mind with these candles as clean burning and a natural ingredients are standard. "a+FFIRMATION CULTURE was born out of wanting to help others see their own value, worth and potential to do the extraordinary," Brown says in a press release.
New Candle Brand: JM Scentsations
If the lush Hawaiian Islands had a scent it would surely be a nod to their land's natural wonders. Perhaps that was the inspiration behind the signature scents of JM Scentsations as each candle scent transports lucky smellers into a world of island bliss. Based in Hawaii, the brand offers a plethora of options that'll make you yearn for a place of fantasy: sea salt and orchid for the feel of the Pacific. Or mango and coconut for the summer days.
New Candle Brand: Nomad Noé
Extreme wanderlust was at an all-time high during a year when travel basically dwindled into oblivion. But, have no fear! You can still live out your desire to be a poet in Hangzou or dreamer in London because Noman Noé founder, Corentin Hamon, offers the perfect solution. With the intention of sharing his nomadic life, Hamon offers candles that are essentially markers for some of his favorite places in the world. His love for international affairs even is rooted at his company's base as the candles are hand poured in France and packaging is sourced from the U.S. — an international love affair, indeed.