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The Saratoga Falcon

Best fall scented candles at Sephora, T.J. Maxx and Target

Isabelle Wang
Top candles from Sephora, T.J. Maxx and Target.

Seeking a break from sophomore year academics, we recently visited some of Westgate Mall’s stores — Sephora, T.J. Maxx and Target — to sample and evaluate the top fall scented candles.

One store emerged as the clear winner. The other two were a distant second and third.

For us, the best candle scents are brightening and cozy; the need to manifest that fall feel without smelling overly artificial. For the best results, we smelled a steaming cup of hot black coffee from Starbucks between each candle sniff to cleanse our palate, allowing us to better separate the fragrances. Here is the list of top two fall scented candles from each store we visited.


  1. Wellness by Nest (driftwood and chamomile): $48

This candle smells like its price — a bougie perfume that is incredibly soothing with notes of chamomile, driftwood, sandalwood and vanilla bean.

With just a light wisp of the candle scent, you’re sent to a blooming forest with wildflowers and a gentle breeze blowing through the leaves of towering trees. The scents of driftwood pop images of a lush carpet of moss and ferns in the forest, a fresh yet comforting scent. In the distance, a crystal-clear river meanders through the forest.

The candle also comes in a cute package: a glass vessel with white frosted stripes that adds to the holiday spirit.

  1. Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut by Volupsa: $34

 The scent of this candle is absolutely delicious, with sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm and warms the whole room. Its natural notes of vanilla, coconut milk and white peach nectar delicately weave together to provide the perfect fall scent to accompany a cozy afternoon with your friends. To top it off, it has the most beautiful packaging we’ve ever seen. It has an intricate flower design on the top, with pink, purple and gold accents that really match the scent of the candle. 

T.J. Maxx 

  1. Pumpkin Caramel by Sand + Fog:$14.99

With four wicks and a burn time of 72 hours, this candle represents the best value on our list. The aesthetic vessel has a cap with cute fall patterns of fall leaves and acorns. This candle has the most festive feel to it, so it matches perfectly with the fall vibe we were going for.

Its consistently sweet fragrance is as inviting as a fluffy throw blanket. It smells like a warm cup of caramel and pumpkin, bringing back childhood memories of a night after trick or treating, a nostalgic feeling that puts the stress of school aside and makes you want to curl up on the couch to take a nap.

  1. Ember by Makers of Wax Goods: $12

With a scent of soft incense, crackling woods and glowing embers infused with ambered cognac, this candle made it to our top three. The smell is very breezy and fresh — perfect to really brighten up the atmosphere of a room. It brings you to a crisp lake on a cold fall day, with layers of invigorating earthy tones perfectly encapsulating the fall feeling.

This candle would be perfect for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner; it’s a sure bet for creating a fresh and welcoming atmosphere.


  1. Vetiver + Moss by threshold: $13

This scent was the best of the three from this store, with sweet mint and fresh wood making it a perfect mix of refreshing and relaxing. Similar to T.J. Maxx’s Ember by Makers of Wax Goods, it smells very forest-like, adding to the fall ambience. A few candles we smelled that didn’t make the list were overpowering, and seemed as if the scent would get tiring after an hour. However, this candle smells timeless and rejuvenating. In our view it’s perfect for a study session.

The packaging is elegant and clean; it has a dark green wax and a gold cap, making this an excellent addition to your collection.

  1. Rustic Palo Santo by Palo Santo: $16

If you prefer a woody, fragrant smell, this candle is for you. On a surface level, we smelled strong spices, predominantly ginger and cardamom. Beneath that, however, the sharp sweetness of nutmeg begins to cut through after about 2 minutes of burning.

The smell was not overpowering or nauseating, and it had just the right amounts of sweetness for a cold fall evening. The spicy and sweet smell combine to smell like a delightful cup of chai. Lighting the candle would surround your house with wafts of these bright, soothing spices, making it seem like you just baked a fresh batch of pumpkin muffins.

Combining all three stores, here are our top three picks: First place, Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut by Volupsa from Sephora; second place, Pumpkin Caramel by Sand + Fog from Tj Maxx and third place, Vetiver + Moss by threshold from Target.

Although Sephora’s candles are more on the pricey side, with Volupsa’s candle being $34, we think that the cost is worth it for the quality; its packaging is absolutely stunning and the scent even manages to smell expensive. 

Unexpectedly, almost all the candles at Target and T.J. Maxx — all left out of our top three — were nauseating and almost repugnant. They were so bad that they almost gave us a migraine. If you want good-quality natural candles for fall and are willing to spend some money, Sephora is your best bet.

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