6 Candle Scents to Boost Your Mood and Productivity

desk with candles
Mitch Tomlinson and Mitch Ross

There’s more to fragrance than scent: It’s a gateway to memories, experiences, and emotions. Our sensory system is connected to the emotional center of the brain. So, if you wore your favorite perfume on a first date, a spritz might conjure up romantic feelings even after the event has passed.

This scent-memory link can also be used to boost your mood and alertness. If you associate your morning cup of tea with reading the news or the smell of coffee with working hard on a deadline, a scented candle can trigger those memories and have a similar effect. To prove they're more than just décor, we found six science-backed relaxing candle scents that can boost your mood, soothe nerves, improve attention, and more. Light ’em up. 


Feeling anxious about a deadline? Floral scents such as jasmine have been used in traditional aromatherapy rituals for centuries, and there’s a good reason for that. Researchers Kandhasamy Sowndhararajan and Songmun Kim found that the smell of jasmine could increase a positive mood state and the brain's beta wave activity.

Use Jasmine as your go-to desktop candle fragrance for high-stress days.

Nars Oran Candle $50
Skin treatment candle
Neom Organics Real Luxury Intensive Skin Treatment Candle $44


If you’ve noticed the smooth scent of vanilla makes you feel uplifted, relaxed, or even sensuous, you’re not alone. It turns out the sweet scent has been shown to have a strong effect on mood. Another hidden benefit of sweet-scented candles: They curb cravings. Light a coconut or vanilla candle after dinner to satiate your sweet tooth.

Diptyque Vanille Scented Candle
Diptyque Vanille Scented Candle $68


A Japanese study found a strong link between the scent of citrus fruit and work efficiency. A local fragrance company discovered that infusing its office with lemon scent prompted its workers to make 54% percent fewer typing errors as they do without it. According to research out of Ohio State University, the smell of lemon can reduce anxiety and stress by raising levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical that is linked to easier decision-making and increased motivation.

candlefish candle no 85
Candlefish No. 85 $24


Imagine strolling through a pine forest, with shafts of light twinkling through the canopy and the woody scent filling your senses. It’s no surprise nature is a great relaxant, but science suggests you don’t have to take a vacation to reap the benefits. One study found pine forest scents may reduce stress and promote feelings of greater well-being.

Paddywax Glacier's White Pine + Hemlock $34


Need to refocus for an afternoon meeting? A study found a link between the smell of cinnamon and better attention. Keep a cinnamon candle on your desk and inhale the spicy aroma to sharpen your mind when the 3 p.m. haze rolls in.

Eclectic Orientalist Scented Candle
Tom Dixon Orientalist Candle $100


No time for yoga? Lavender has become a popular scent used for relaxation purposes and is commonly added to candles, soaps, lotions, and more. The smell of lavender can decrease your heart rate and help recharge your mind during a lunch break.

Sandoval Alchemy Candle $60
Article Sources
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  2. de Wijk RA, Zijlstra SM. Differential Effects of Exposure to Ambient Vanilla and Citrus Aromas on Mood, Arousal and Food ChoiceFlavour. 2012;1(24). doi:10.1186/2044-7248-1-24

  3. Tips for Boosting Productivity with Good Office Design. The Guardian. January 23, 2014.

  4. Scent of Success: Studies Show Aromatherapy Can Boost Your Memory and Focus. Inc. January 25, 2018.

  5. Hedblom M, Gunnarsson B, Iravani B, et al. Reduction of Physiological Stress by Urban Green Space in a Multisensory Virtual ExperimentSci Rep. 2019;9(1):10113. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-46099-7

  6. Johnson AJ. Cognitive Facilitation Following Intentional Odor ExposureSensors (Basel). 2011;11(5):5469-5488. doi:10.3390/s110505469

  7. Sayorwan W, Siripornpanich V, Piriyapunyaporn T, Hongratanaworakit T, Kotchabhakdi N, Ruangrungsi N. The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical ActivityJ Med Assoc Thai. 2012;95(4):598-606.

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