I'd spotted a shared tweet recently, and ashamedly I can't remember who it was by, about how a selection of budget store 'B & M' candles were ultimate dupes of those gloriously sickly sweet Bath and Body Works delights that most of us know and love, if we have that kind of room scent fetish. It seems like these guys have been around for quite some time, but as with most things, I'm a bit late on the hype train with this one.
I've been to America twice now (only Florida at this point), and each time I've come home with more hand sanitisers and candles good enough to eat, which would threaten the weight allowance on my expandable suitcase.
Getting Bath And Body Works stuff shipped anywhere near to England, as far as I'm still aware, is incredibly difficult and costly (correct me though, if I'm wrong), and even if you do buy whilst you're on holiday, you can bet you'll be forking out around $20 for a three wick candle whilst you're there (to be fair, that's no difference to a Woodwick or Yankee Candle over here). Not £3.99.
I did totally just say £3.99.
When I saw this girl's tweet and blog post on these B & M masterpieces (again, I feel pathetic that I don't remember who it was), I was sceptical. No offence to B & M or anything, but I remember candles from around 10 years ago from these guys, and they smelled pretty much like toilet duck in every nose flavour. There was no pancake nose tingle, and no delicious lick of smokey mallow, just "gym room body spray", or "eau de soap".
We all aim to improve though, right? And after years and years of not being local to a B & M after leaving the Midlands, I discovered on local in Cambridge, and as we ended up on the very same shopping park as it, I had to investigate the truth.
Alrighty, so I picked up two candles to begin with. Sure enough, the jars themselves look mighty familiar, right Bath and Body Works? IN FACT, take a look at the below comparison shot of B & M's "Marshmallow Fireside" that I picked, vs B&BW's same named version (photo taken by the super "Sincerely Surleen". Check out her review and recommendations on Bath and Body Works candles, this one especially, HERE). That copper toned lid there. Nice charred marshmallow photography going on. Fairly similar font-age. Only thing majorly different is the fact that B&M's Essence range candle feels the need to call out that it's a scented candle to you.
The candle colour itself is also different. The B&BW's one is white here, whilst the Essence one is a cool grey colour.
Pretty interesting huh? This kind of thing happens everywhere in retail though, and nothing at all shocking or unfamiliar. The thing is though, the "cheaper brand" version is always often renowned for being lower budget in performance too, which is where my nose now needs to do the talking.
Opening the jar lid of 'Pumpkin Waffles', expecting to be a little underwhelmed (I'm never normally this pessimistic, honest!), I made some crazy hungry noise in the middle of the shopping aisle to frighten any home scent enthusiast into a pile of pillows. Honest to goodness, each and every one of these is good!
Some more good than others, but it depends what you're after!
The two I picked up here ('marshmallow fireside' and 'pumpkin waffles') knocked me back with their potency, which for me is exactly what I look for in a candle which may as well be a pudding. If it's calling out sweet things to me, then I want to salivate when I sniff them, ok? These work!
'Marshmallow Fireside' is the stronger of the two, but the scent is sincerely no different at all to the Bath and Body Works one, of which I've genuinely had myself before in both candle form and hand sani. If I popped two and two together, they'd be identical. Not even joking around, and not even paid to say this. There's that unmistakable mallow sweetness with an end note of smokiness which every autumnal room fan craves, and once lit, it doesn't give up.
Some candles can be very deceptive somehow, in that they smell super strong in the jar, but then get shy when they hold a flame, with nothing happening at all from the point of lighting. These only get more powerful.
'Pumpkin Waffles' has a slightly more subtle scent in the jar, but the doughy fragrance mixed with syrup and sweet pumpkin vibes comes through perfectly well, and again, when lit this guy sings (not literally).
Alas, however, there is one negative that I need to bring to these buddies, and it's their inability to burn evenly *weep*.
As you can see, I burned both below for around an hour a piece, and I have to say that it's some of the worst burning of a large candle I've seen for a while. Even with a double wick, the wax melts far from the edge of the jar, bringing small craters and a mega fast burn with wasted product.
Saying that, there are ways to remedy this by harvesting the wastage once the wicks have burned down, and making more mini versions yourself which works out fine. I can take you through this if you like, once these guys have finished up.
Who knows, as time goes by and I burn them some more, something might happen for the wax to level out, but from the size of the dents so far, I'm not so sure that'll happen.
Worth It? Let's break it down...
For £3.99 each? Yes. Absolutely YES. You cannot pick up a candle of this size, and of this nasal magnitude anywhere else, I'm sure of it. Heaven knows I've looked.
- Price. £3.99 for something that works. Bargain.
- Size. You get tonnes in these jars, which loops back to why the price is good.
- Potency. HIGH. Like I said, these things 100% dupe the famous Bath and Body Works brand entirely. I'm shook.
- Quality feel. Lovely thickness and weight to the jar, the two wicks make it feel more luxurious too (don't ask me why), and the copper tone lid is a nice touch. Everything about the packaging and presentation is pretty luxe as it goes!
- Majorly uneven burn. It's going to take some reshuffling of the wax once the wick is burned down to get full use out of the product.
- Not many scents in the range! This may just be my local branch of B&M, but there were only 4 scents replicated across the shelf for these. The two I have here in my post, followed by 'Apple Orchard' and 'Brown Sugar *something*'. I'm not keen on apple scents in general actually, and the brown sugar one didn't quite blow my nose off like the other two did.
Are you a sweet smelling kinda guy/girl? Or do you prefer more floral and musky scents? If I'm wearing them, then it's musk all the way! It's just my rooms that I like smelling like a bakery.