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Hate the smell of bug spray? This startup made a delicious-smelling, plant-based alternative

Not everyone wants a face full of DEET when they head outside. Kinfield’s Golden Hour mosquito repellant is a delightful, effective alternative.

Hate the smell of bug spray? This startup made a delicious-smelling, plant-based alternative
[Photo: courtesy Kinfield]
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Most bug sprays are intense. They look intense, in cans wrapped in graphics of mountaintops, pine trees, and highly aggressive mosquitos. They smell intense, like aerosol death. They have ingredient lists full of chemicals that sound intense. Those sprays may be handy when you’re heading into the backwoods or mosquito-infested swamps. But what about when you’re hanging in the backyard, picnicking in the park, or just chilling at the beach?

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[Photo: courtesy Kinfield]

Nichole Powell understands that not everyone wants a face full of DEET every time they go outside. She launched Kinfield and its signature Golden Hour bug spray in 2019 to support both the rugged outdoorsy types and “outdoor-ish” people alike. “The way we think about it is that we’re here to get you out there in whatever way that moves you—and if that’s getting sangria in the park, then that’s cool,” Powell said. “We’re not here to tell you there’s a right or wrong way.”

But Kinfield is here to help you smell great in the great outdoors.

[Photo: courtesy Kinfield]

The brand’s $22 mosquito repellant is designed to be a toxic-free bug spray that’s effective but smells good enough to wear at social functions. It’s made with six very-familiar ingredients (seven if you include water), including mosquito-repelling citronella oil along with lemongrass, clove, and vanillin. And it’s housed in a clear spray bottle—Powell wanted literal transparency for her clean skincare brand.

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Kinfield has expanded into other functional skincare products, including Sunday Spray, a cooling aloe spray for sunburns, and Relief Balm, a bug-bite salve that both soothes and hydrates irritated skin. This month, it released Daily Dew, a $24 water-resistant, mineral, broad-spectrum SPF 35 face and neck lotion. Inspired by feedback from early testers, the company worked with a fragrance house to develop a custom citrusy-salty bergamot scent inspired by a coastal Portuguese road trip. (“Zinc smells like paint, and that’s just not cute if you’re putting it on your face,” Powell said.) The fragrance will also be used in future Kinfield products.

[Photo: courtesy Kinfield]

I spritzed on Golden Hour before heading to the Charles River bank in Boston—where there’s a beautiful bike path, prime picnicking grounds, and mosquitos so unavoidable they should be registered city citizens. I’m lucky enough to say I haven’t had much experience with ticks down by the river, despite the tall grass and marshy patches, but the fear is there. Golden Hour smells, in a good way, like those tiki torch candles you burn at cookouts—which makes sense given that it’s made with 10% Indonesian citronella oil.

So far, even with the sweet, sweet temptation of using canned spritz running through my veins, applying this product has proven effective at keeping the bugs from biting. And it’s much more pleasant to douse myself in Golden Hour than in a canned spray, though $22 for 3 ounces makes me pick and choose the right moments to reach for it.

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That said, it’s convenient to toss the 3-ounce bottle into my handbag for impromptu park or beach visits or particularly buggy restaurant patios—basically any time I’m feeling “outdoor-ish.”

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