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In our new series, Shopping Buddy, we ask our favorite in-the-know authors, actors, musicians, and tastemakers to share their most coveted home purchases, from kitchen essentials to entertaining must-haves, so that you can shop along with confidence. 

Kudzi Chikumbu, the creative behind the addictive Instagram account Sir Candle Man, has always been captivated by fragrances. “My mother was a florist,” he explains. “In a flower shop, most of the flowers don’t have a strong scent, but you do have the scent of green—leaves, chlorophyll, stems—so that is a scent I love. Wet, dewy, green, and earthy. I find it very grounding.”

But it wasn’t until a recent trip to Paris that he realized candles were his true calling. “Au 17 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian smelled like my dream life in Paris. I could see the scent as a picture, and in that moment I realized fragrance was art,” he says.

Let It Burn book cover
“Let It Burn” by Kudzi Chikumbu, Amazon ($20)
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In his new book, Let It Burn, he gives all the tips and tricks for finding your own signature scent and avoiding olfactory trends. “I see a lot of people buying candles because other people like them or because they are popular,” he says. “Scents are so vast, fun, and exciting, so it’s so important to try to find a candle you love and not a scent that someone else loves.” Here, he shares his favorite candle, including a $6 selection that he swears makes him more productive. 

The First Candle I Fell in Love With 

LAFCO New York Signature Candle, Feu de Bois
LAFCO New York Signature Candle, Feu de Bois, Amazon ($75)
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LAFCO Feu de Bois stole my heart. The ashy, resiny, leathery, and frankincense goodness is so magical and cozy. I gift that candle a lot and love the brand!

The Fall Candle That Isn’t Pumpkin

P.F. Candle Co. Piñon Candle
P.F. Candle Co. Piñon Candle, Amazon ($27)
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When I think about fall, I love a woodsy fragrance. P.F. Candle Co.’s Piñon is perfect. It’s pine and balsam but also earthy. The perfect balance of cozy and crisp.

My Favorite Floral Candle

Elsewhere's Chainlink candle
Chainlink Candle, Elsewhere ($60)
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For florals, I think bright and fresh white flowers combined with musks. The perfect candle for that is Elsewhere’s Chainlink. The combination of jasmine, ylang-ylang, musk, and fresh aquatic notes is so gorgeous.

One That Sounds Odd But Smells Amazing

Trudon TERRE À TERRE candle
Trudon, Terre À Terre ($145)
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Trudon’s Terre à Terre! This candle smells like damp earth and mushrooms. The moist soil is mixed with elusively sweet moss. Magical. It feels as if you’re stepping into a fantasy. I could not stop burning it.

A Scent You Can Burn While Cooking

Flamingo Estate Climbing Tuscan Rosemary Scented Candle
Flamingo Estate, Climbing Tuscan Rosemary Candle ($55)
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The perfect candle when cooking is something fresh. Think: citrus or herbs. I love Flamingo Estate’s Climbing Tuscan Rosemary. Not only is it energizing, it cleanses the air.

The Sexy One

Maison Francis Kurkdjian's Oud Satin Mood
Oud Satin Mood Candle, Maison Francis Kurkdjian ($110)
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Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Oud Satin Mood is my go-to. The candle is sultry and fun because of the vanilla, violet, and oud mix. It burns very clean and has an almost satin feeling in the air. Very smooth.

The Celebrity Brand That Holds Up

homecourt cece candle
Cece Candle, Homecourt ($65)
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Courteney Cox has a brand called Homecourt, and it does not have any misses. My favorite from the brand is called Cece. It’s earthy but sweet because of the combination of patchouli, carrot seeds, cardamom, cedarwood, and smoke. Exquisite perfumery.

Best Budget Candle

Everspring cedar candle
Everspring Cedar and Balsam Candle, Target ($6)
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Target’s Everspring Cedar and Balsam costs $6 and is the perfect fresh and clean candle for any time of day. I enjoy burning it when I am working from home. The candle brings a sense of calm and helps me focus.

The Splurge That’s Worth It

Loewe Beetroot candle
Loewe Beetroot Candle, Net-a-Porter ($110)
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Loewe’s Beetroot candle costs about $100 and is so worth it. Imagine an almost candied beetroot combined with earthy moss. I was initially looking to buy a different candle, but they didn’t have it in stock, so I bought the beetroot one, and wow! I have almost burned through it.

The Accessory Everyone Should Own

Wick trimmer and snuffer
Harlem Candle Company Snuffer & Trimmer Set, Amazon ($45)
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A wick trimmer is a must. You can of course use anything to trim your candle wicks, but a chic wick trimmer is chic and complements home decor. Trimming ensures you have a clean burn and a flame that is the appropriate size.