I hesitate to even call this a product review, it’s more of a loving description of a constant companion during the past few weeks. I first heard of Sundari’s line of candles when I searched for a line that made pure candles. To my surprise, there were few. Either the scents were synthetic or the waxes contained paraffin. I was quite happy to learn that Sundari’s candles use a soy wax and are fragranced by the natural aromas of essential oils. While some of you might not care, I have personally found synthetic candles to be slightly nauseating to my body. I had to get rid of my beautiful Chantecaille and Byredo candles for this reason, though I’m still not parting with Diptyque just yet!
Sundari means ‘beautiful’ in sanskrit, which is an apt name for these luxurious candles. I chose Chameli (Jasmine) because as many of you can probably guess, I am a big fan of jasmine. Jasmine is the perfect fragrance and a natural jasmine scent will always, always eclipse a chemical substitute, which is why even Diptyque uses natural jasmine essential oils in their Jasmine candle.
The aroma of the candle is complex, which is a luxury as you can really experience the multidimensional natural oils mingling with each other for a fragrance that is both rich yet crisp, heady but invigorating, spicy but subtle. This is a candle that possesses the quiet confidence in it’s sophisticated blend to not dominate your visual space like most candles, relying instead of its enticing aroma to lure you in. The fragrance notes consist of lotus flower, cinnamon, lemongrass, and an unmistakably divine jasmine. I found this incredibly calming and soothing, and an absolute pleasure when I needed to clear my head or take a few deep breaths to get my creativity flowing.
Another perk with Sundari’s candles is the focus toward spiritual and inner balance. This line stems from Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine system that focuses on the importance of healing and balance. Although I wouldn’t call this a medicine, the rich floral fragrance definitely provided an uplifting boost during finals that was at once invigorating and soothing.
The burn is exceptionally clean and the fragrance lingers long after the gentle flame is extinguished. Compared to candles I’ve used in the past, the scent isn’t as strong when left unlit. A beautiful bronze lid is included to preserve the scent for this purpose. The approximate burn time is 45 hours and after its 45 hours are up, I plan on trying the other scents from this wonderful line.
Available at Skinstore ($38)
ITG posted an interview with Francis Kurkdjian today where he discusses his views on synthetic fragrances. You can check it out here and then read the comments I submitted to ITG below:
He is a very interesting man and I’ve enjoyed a couple of his scents, they are very thoughtfully created and have such a high attention to detail. He has very strong opinions on a lot of things which I applaud him for.
I do think the analogy comparing natural fragrances to the architectural equivalent of a hut is inaccurate though. If we’re being technical, steel and glass are forged through naturally existing compounds, in the same way a natural perfume is forged through combining natural ingredients. The chemicals in this case wouldn’t be steel/glass, it would be the lead in the paint that goes inside the buildings.
Whats interesting is in my Greek Civilization class in college, we learned that fragrances were all composed from naturally occurring scents until peoples clothing started becoming more opulent, which combined with infrequent bathing, led to a demand for stronger scents to mask body odors. This has translated into todays market believing that a well made scent has to have long lasting power and that the natural scent of our bodies was something unattractive. The result is that in order to create such strong products, we implement chemicals such as phthalates and synthetic fragrances which are known hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and skin irritants. I believe a study showed that women who worked in cosmetics: i.e. Sephora sales associates, were more likely to develop conditions such as thyroid cancer and infertility due to being immersed in the chemicals in their work environment.
I’m not writing this to be scary. I actually do not think a natural perfume company has been able to compete with scents that I love from Serge Lutens and Jo Malone so I still buy them (although for anyone who believes you need synthetics and chemicals to create the foundation of a good fragrance, I urge you to check out Strange Invisibles or even Intelligent Nutrients Multi-functional Aromas), but I do believe that it is important to realize there is a reason people are becoming turned off from synthetic fragrances and that they’re valid reasons.
I respect the work Francis Kurkdjian has done and his products are an amazing achievement in modern perfumary. I think we just differ a bit on our priorities regarding what makes good fragrance, but I’m sure many people will appreciate his candor and views and want to try his stuff.