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Article: An Introduction to Masculine Scents and Manly Candles

An Introduction to Masculine Scents and Manly Candles

Oftentimes, people don’t think of gifting scenting candles to men. Newsflash — men also appreciate a good scent! In fact, there are many wonderful masculine scented candles out there for even the manliest of men to indulge in. 

You might be wondering (especially if you're looking for, say, a Father's Day's gift), "what exactly makes a 'manly' scented candle?" 

Typically, when people think of manly aromas, they are thinking of spicy, woody, and herbaceous scents. While fragrance is ultimately subjective, there are 2 main reasons why people might associate certain scents with masculinity: 

  1. People associate certain scents to the male gender based on their culture. Here in the US, strongly sweet and fruit scents are not prioritized in masculine scented candles. Instead, more importance is placed on notes attributed with traditionally “manly” activities, such as those associated with the great outdoors, smoking a tobacco pipe, or savoring a glass of fine whiskey.  
  2. Some scents complement the natural body odors of males. Research has shown that, when comparing the natural odor of males and females, differing amounts of chemicals and bacteria formed in armpit sweat created unique differences in odor. And certain scents, such as sandalwood or musk, are more complementary to the natural body odor of men.

Examples of Masculine Scents

  • Sandalwood — This scent is described as softly woody, creamy, rich, and seductive.  People consider sandalwood masculine because it smells similar to the chemical androsterone, a pheromone secreted by men. A study shows the similarities in androsterone and sandalwood odor profiles. 
  • Musk — Many people feel the scent of musk is animalistic. This would make sense, because, originally, musk oil was extracted from musk deer glands.  Nowadays, people use many different variations of synthetic musk oil that all smell slightly different. The scent of musk is sensual, alive, and distinctly masculine. 
  • Vetiver — In addition to being woody, the scent of vetiver is earthy, rooty, and sometimes citrusy with a hint of leather and smoke. The aroma of vetiver evokes a need for adventure. One whiff of the scent takes you back to your dad telling scary stories around the crackling campfire. 
  • Patchouli — Patchouli has a spicy and earthy aroma that some would even describe as slightly medicinal. It pairs well with other manly aromas such as musk, sandalwood, and vetiver. Our Ellington candle, for example, has a sublime base of both patchouli and musk, creating a grounding aroma full of masculine energy.
  • Cinnamon — The enticing scent of cinnamon has the perfect balance of spiciness, sweetness, and earthiness. This fresh and spicy smell gives off a classy, refined, and gentlemanly vibe that any man would appreciate.
  • Tobacco  — Tobacco is a warm and earthy scent with hints of whiskey, and hay. This aroma might stir warm memories of your grandfather relaxing in his old-fashioned leather recliner with a big cigar attached to the corner of his mouth. Tobacco is featured in the luxurious Speakeasy and Langston candles. 

Our Favorite manly Candles    

At the Harlem Candle Company, you can find an assortment of irresistible masculine scents in our collection of luxury candles. 


People would slip into hidden clubs, tucked behind storefronts. The thrill of the forbidden was unmatched—embodied by sensual flavors of vanilla and dark chocolate. The simple nod of a doorman would whisk you away to an unfamiliar world: dark, loud, pulsing with excitement. Auras of palo santo and tobacco swirled the gambling tables where men rotated between cocktails and cigars. On the dance floor, perfumes of swaying women infused the air, creating a sweet elixir of licorice and plum blossom.


The Langston candle celebrates elements of the jazz poets creative vision with fragrance accords reflecting some of the strong symbols in his life…. The worn vintage leather of his favorite armchair, aromatic tobacco laced with a hint of clove and vanilla from the pipes of the neighborhood men, and the smell of ambery incense that recalls his many visits to churches in Mexico. A dramatic heart of heady jasmine and a warm background of resinous sandalwood round out this deeply personal blend that perfectly evokes Langston Hughes, a true Renaissance man.


When Duke played Harlem for the first time back in 1927, his jazz was sizzling hot and his vibe was cooler than cool, and no one had ever heard anything like it. He infused the neighborhood and the world with a new kind of energy, and music was changed forever. The Ellington candle pays loving tribute to this vibrant legend with top notes of juicy bergamot, tangy cinnamon and crisp clary sage, a luminous heart of Lily of the Valley, heady rose and fresh lavender, and a warm swinging base of spicy patchouli, crystalline amber and soft skin musk.


Inspired by Frederick Douglass, our Frederick candle pays loving tribute to a brave and charismatic man who passionately followed his dream of a world of freedom for all. Infused with fruits and botanicals, we’ve re-imagined the orangerie from Douglass’s childhood to include juicy bergamot, yuzu, and fresh green cardamom which sets the stage for a heart of vanilla orchid, cypress, and ginger blossom. A liberating base of suede, sandalwood and tonka bean add warmth and depth to this elegant and uplifting blend.