A Bright Idea for Romance
If you want to create a sensual mood for Valentine’s night or any other night come to that, one of the best and easiest ways to do it is with candles. And these days they involve more than just your sense of sight.
Cast a flattering light
The most obvious benefit of candles is to cast a more romantic, flattering glow to everything, including to both of you.
A pack of tea lights work beautifully, especially if funds happen to be tight. For best effects, light about ten of them and pop each one in a glass placed on your table or mantlepiece, etc. Later in the evening you can also use them to light the way to your boudoir. They’ll work wonders in there, of course, not to mention softening a harshly lit bathroom. As a bonus, their flames will help warm a chilly room, so you’ll hopefully feel more inclined to get undressed.
One of the key rules for candles is never to leave them unattended, so don’t keep them going in different rooms at the same time. Hunky firemen may be sexy, but they’re a mood-killer when they arrive in the middle of dinner (or sex). Consequently, when you transfer to the bedroom, don’t forget to snuff out the ones in your lounge/dining room.
If you’re splashing out on more luxurious candles, you’ll add to the romantic effect by using colour. White candles are a safe bet and always look elegant; pink candles look romantic and feminine, while red candles suggest love, energy and passion, making them hot in more ways than one. (Lighting a combination of red and white candles is particularly perfect for Valentine’s Day.)
As a tip, put groups of three in differing sizes on a dish or plate in order to catch melting wax. Placing them in front of a mirror (such as on your dressing table) or even on a mirrored tray emphasises their effect.
A sniff of seduction
Many candles are also infused with sensual fragrances which themselves have a long history of use in seduction. Queen Cleopatra, for example, was said to have seduced both Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony with the scent of rose petals. No wonder their rich, velvety opulence, like those of sultry jasmine and exotic ylang-ylang, are often included in overtly sexy, voluptuous perfumes.
Also renowned for their aphrodisiac benefits are sense-tingling spices such as vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper, as well as heady oriental notes such as amber, musk, sandalwood and patchouli. That’s why they’re used so successfully in provocative perfumes and body creams. In scented candles, however, their mood-boosting aura extends beyond that of your warm body and will gently fill an entire room.
Because of their potency, it’s often best to light only one or two fragranced candles at a time, so you may have to combine them with unscented ones to prevent their scent becoming overwhelming. There’s nothing like triggering an asthma attack to spoil a moment.
One of the best known brands of luxurious fragranced candles is Diptyque, whose sexiest variant is probably Amber (£24-45). This smells warm and smooth with hypnotic patchouli and smoky incense. Alternatively, Malin+Goetz make cult status best sellers such as the deliciously decadent Dark Rum (£40) with its intoxicating mix of leather, vanilla, amber and patchouli.
That extra touch
But for a candle that works even harder, choose a Massage Candle. This type of candle is specially formulated with a high concentration of essential oils which turn, quite literally, into a warm-n-sexy massage oil.
Don’t be tempted to use an ordinary candle in the same way. Normal candle wax melts at a higher temperature so it can produce a serious burn (and a call to 999 will definitely detract from the moment.) Also, once you blow it out, the wax solidifies fast. Massage candles, by contrast, have a lower, more skin-friendly melting point of around 39oC (102oF), which turns their surface into oil rather than wax. Also, after you blow it out, this can remain liquified for up to 30 minutes at a time, giving you a delightful half hour to massage it into your partner’s neck and shoulders, or perhaps the backs of their knees and inner thighs.
The intention is to leave skin sensually smooth and shiny rather than like an oil slick, so don’t apply too much at once. Also, although it provides plenty of ‘slip,’ it isn’t lube, so don’t use it inside the the body.
Check out Petit Joujoux, whose massage ingredients include jojoba oil and shea butter to add ‘slip’ to your hands, while fragrance ingredients such as the musk and patchouli in A Trip to Athens (£25) also smell overtly sensual. Alternatively, try the Lelo Massage Candle in Dark Vanilla (£20), which is about as head-turningly dark-n-sexy as it gets.
Finally, no matter what kind of candles you use, always - always - blow them out before going to sleep.