The Hype Machine is a series that takes a critical look at well-loved, cult classic, appears-in-every-other-Instagram-photo products and asks: are they worth the hype?
You can't swipe through a beauty-related Instagram feed without spotting a Diptyque candle. Maybe it's a half-empty jar of Tubereuse next to a nightly skincare routine, or maybe it's a cleaned out glass of Vanille full of brushes and lip pencils. Regardless of the scenario, it's clear that Diptyque's candles have obtained a cult following.
I'd be skeptical about these candles, too, if it weren't for so many glowing reviews. Many a YouTuber has proclaimed Feu de Bois the holiday gift to beat, and the comments on retailer pages are loaded with statements like "These are the best candles I've ever used, worth every penny, would repurchase!" And since one of my favorite retailers, Nordstrom, had a trio available, I decided to take the plunge and spend some coins.
The trio arrives beautifully packaged in a simple white box secured with plastic wrap. You can actually smell these candles as soon as you pull off the plastic, which gave me high hopes for the throw. Each candle is clear glass with white wax and the trademark labels. Said labels kind of feel like stickers to the touch, but the stood up to me scraping them with a fingernail to sate my curiosity, so I think we're okay
The three scents in the trio are some of the brand's most popular. Baies ("Berries") is especially acclaimed, and I can see why: it's a balanced mixture of sweet and woody that reminds me of a juniper bush. Shocker of shockers, Roses smells like rose, but it's not at all powdery. Rather, it's fresh and airy, and there's a bit of a watery quality to it when it's burned. It reminds me of newly opened roses in a vase. Figuier ("Fig Tree") was my least favorite of the bunch, and I chalk that up to personal preference. The scent in the jar is a little herbal and (as fig can be) vaguely coconut-y; when burned, however, it takes on more of a traditional fig leaf scent, with a tiny bit of fruity pulp and dry bark in the mixture.
When I got my trio, I read the little instruction sheet and followed it to the letter: I put the Roses candle on a flat, safe surface and prepared to burn it for 2 full hours. Unfortunately, the candle had no intention of burning. I tried lighting it for several minutes, but the wick wouldn't light. When I finally got the flame to catch, it was a tiny pin prick, and it only stayed lit for a few minutes before fading out. I was baffled. I tried to light the candle again and the same thing happened: it wouldn't stay lit. I may not be an expert in home scents, but I'm certainly not a novice, and this has never happened to me with a brand new, visibly fine product.
Frustrated, I sent the trio back to Nordstrom and asked for an even exchange. I'm glad I purchased through Nordies because their customer service can't be beat: they sent me a brand new trio within a week of receiving the package, and when I tweeted that I was impressed with their service, they sent a "glad to be of service" response.
This is as bright as it got. The flame burned out shortly after I took this photo.
My new trio seemed to be much better. Roses burned evenly and beautifully for a full two hours, and while the scent was quite light, it certainly filled the room while burning and lingered. Figuier wasn't quite as strong--I had to be within a three foot radius to smell it while it was lit--but again, it burned well and had some throw.
I will say that while these scents are pretty, they aren't especially unique. Baies is the only one that stands out to me, and even then, I'm sure I could find a comparable berry-scented candle if I looked. I've also gotten the same amount of throw (or better!) with some of my cheaper candles housed in less attractive jars. Still, they got the job done. I was satisfied.
Then I decided to light Baies, the one I was the most excited about. And despite the fact that it looked no different from the other two candles in the trio in terms of the wax level or wick length, it happened again: it took me several minutes to get the wick to catch, and the tiny ball of flame disappeared within 5 minutes.
I sent a message to Diptyque expressing my disappointment. One candle? That's a fluke; it's totally permissible. Two out of six? That's a pattern.
To be clear, I'm not knocking these candles entirely. They aren't the worst money can buy, and in fact, they brighten up a room by smelling and looking pretty. But because two of the three candles I sniffed weren't particularly special, and because I experienced quality control issues with both sets I tried, I just can't recommend that you spend an entire paycheck on Diptyque. As for me? I'm going to enjoy Roses and Figuier, and I'll chalk Baies up as a loss.
BOTTOM LINE: Diptyque candles look and smell lovely, but they aren't more potent or special-smelling than what most other candle brands produce. You shouldn't have persistent quality control issues at this price point, either. It might be worth finding one or two special scents for "Treat Yo Self" days, but if you decide to pass on these candles, you won't miss much.
The Hype Machine is a series that represents my experiences and opinions. It is not meant to be a personal attack on a specific company, product, or consumer. I always recommend that you try products for yourself and see how they work for you. Everybody is unique, after all!