I lived with Oprah's favorite candle for a week – my thoughts as a master perfumer

Harlem Candle Co's Purple Love candle is on Oprah's Favorite Things list. I'm a Master Perfumer and I tested it every day for a week. Here are my thoughts

A split image of Oprah Winrey and the Harlem Candle Co.'s Purple Love candle
(Image credit: Getty Images/Harlem Candle Co)

Oprah's Favorite Things list launched last week. It's packed full of appliances, gifts, and foods which we love, but one item really stood out to me. In the middle of Oprah's 'cozy gifts' section sits Harlem Candle Co's Purple Love candle.

If you care about candles, you'll have come across Harlem Candle Co's products. They've been shining luxury light on the candle industry since 2014. We've had their Speakeasy candle in our buying guide for best candles since I first smelt it, so when I saw Purple Love on Oprah's list, I had to try it.

I trained as a Master Perfumer in 2020 and before that worked in the luxury fragrance industry for over five years. My candle collection is expansive and obsessive, so Purple Love had to do something special to impress me. But I have to admit: since I first lit the wicks, I've been obsessed. I'd buy it for myself, my mom, and my girlfriends, but it doesn't have universal appeal. Here's everything you need to know about it.


Harlem Candle Co Purple Love

(Image credit: Amazon)
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Scent familySweet, floral, light woody
Scent notesGreen notes, elemi, apple, clove, rose de mai, sandalwood
Size 11 oz
Waxbeeswax, coconut, and soy
WickDouble wick in cotton
Dimensions3.25 x 4.25 inches
Estimated burn time80 hours

First impressions

Harlem Candle Co Purple Love lit and burning on a white table with a plant in the background

The Purple Love candle in my home

(Image credit: Future)

The Harlem Candle Company do luxury candles well. Their packaging doesn't go over the top, but there are printed designs on the inside of the box and the glass vessel feels really premium. It's a brilliant candle for gifting, because it feels like something special, but costs only $48 at Amazon. That's cheaper than Jo Malone, Officine Universelle Buly, and Trudon. It's a Boy Smells price point, but it feels like it should cost double.

Designed in tribute to James Baldwin's time in Provence, it's supposed to evoke the scent of his garden in St. Paul de Vence, The wax is a blend of beeswax, coconut, and soy, and even that was music to my ears. These are the best quality options on the market: they'll be slow and clean to burn, whilst holding fragrance really well. The dual-wicks mean that your candle will quickly release scent, but it won't run down too quickly. This candle's provenance and credentials are exceptional, so I was excited to see how it would perform in my home.

What is it like to burn?

Harlem Candle Co Purple Love unboxed

(Image credit: Future)

As soon as I opened the box, I was hit with a powdery, sweet scent. It's strong and reminded me of sweetheart candy. but don't worry - that makes it sound like the candle smells cheap and sickly, but it's too rich of scent to be over-sweet.

Once I'd lit the wicks, the rose sweetness mellowed into something a little fresher. I think the green apple notes came though really nicely, cutting and balancing the rose notes. 

HCC's website says that this has 'both masculine and feminine accords melding beautifully together'. In the fragrance industry, 'feminine' notes tend to be the sweet, fruity, and floral ones. The typically 'masculine' ones are woody, spicy, and aromatic. Even though this has elemi, clove, and sandalwood in, I would say that it is much stronger on the sweeter, floral notes. The sandalwood is almost imperceptible, which is why I said that this makes a good gift for those who are more inclined towards 'feminine' fragrances. 

I did a scent test, burning this in my home as various friends came in and out over the past week. Without fail, every one of my friends who likes sweeter notes commented on my home fragrance. It's strong enough to notice when you walk into a room, but not overpowering. 

However, I asked a couple of friends who prefer oud and cedarwood fragrances whether they would burn this in their homes and the sentiment was generally 'it's nice, but not for me'. If you like a heavier, oud-forward scent, this isn't for you, but everyone else loved it.

Alternative rose candles

If you like the sound of Purple Love, but you're looking for alternative rose fragrances, here are some of my favorites. The Tom Ford is a great, lighter option, whereas the Trudon and Jo Malone candles are deeper and richer. All are utterly intoxicating and top-quality.

Final thoughts

Harlem Candle Co Purple Love box on a white table with a plant in the background

(Image credit: Future)

This is my kind of candle. It feels premium and smells beautiful too. However, I'm aware that it's very sweet and that's not the scent that suits everyone. Rest assured, there are plenty of other beautiful candles on the market.

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.