When we think about clean beauty, our minds typically drift to the bathroom vanity, where upon it sits toners, serums, foundations, blushes, jade rollers, and powders touting non-toxic ingredients that are better for your body, and in some cases better for the environment in terms of their packaging. Where our minds don’t often drift is roughing it outdoors at a campsite, hiking under a hot summer sun, or hanging in the backyard while a crew of aggressive mosquitos bite at our ankles.
But that’s exactly where Kinfield founder Nichole Powell’s mind went. Having grown up in a rural area in Minnesota with an outdoor-loving family, Nichole’s clean line of products are made for and inspired by spending time outside. The Kinfield line covers all of the necessities you need to enjoy mother nature burn-free and bite-free, and perhaps best of all– none of the products contain any chemicals found in traditional bug sprays, sunscreens, and after-sun sprays! We sat down with Nichole to learn more about Kinfield, her tips for living a life outdoors, and how nature has informed her perception of beauty.
The Moment: You grew up in Minnesota, a state with plenty of outdoor activities and places to camp, swim, and hike. Have you always been big on spending time outdoors? and what was it that incited you to start Kinfield?
Nichole: I grew up as the oldest of three in a very adventurous family, and I basically lived outside in the summer months. No activity was off limits—we would hike, bike, swim, explore, camp, backpack, kayak, you name it! The outdoors was where we would go as a family to play, reconnect, and enjoy being together. My parents also made sure that as kids we understood the impact of our footprint and knew Leave No Trace principles from a young age, so our appreciation of the environment wouldn’t leave lasting damage. Kinfield was founded on a belief that more time in the outdoors would create a happier, healthier world—and has been built from day one with sustainability in mind. It’s our responsibility to ensure that the products that we are creating enable you to live your best life outdoors, while using ingredients that are safe for you, your family, and the world around you.
The Moment: How has the natural world informed your perception of beauty? Does nature inspire your process as you develop new products?
Nichole: Nature inspires everything that I do—whether it’s looking to the tones of the desert to inspire our signature shade, Sunset, or returning to natural active ingredients to power our products. Clean is beautiful, and plant-based actives can be even more powerful than their synthesized counterparts. Whenever we start the process of developing a new product, we first look to the natural world to see what plants are performing the functions that we’re looking for. From there, we scour the world to look for the best possible versions of those ingredients—whether it’s flying to remote islands in Indonesia to source our citronella (true story!), or looking in our own California backyard for prickly pear.
The Moment: What are your best tips for those of us trying to get out there and enjoy the outdoors more often?
Nichole: Start small! So often I hear that people don’t consider themselves “outdoorsy” because they aren’t doing multi-week backpacking trips. That’s okay! Some of my favorite small ways to get outdoors are seeking out outdoor fitness classes (yoga is especially fun, or HIIT classes in the park), choosing to sit outside for an al fresco lunch, or simply walking to a meeting instead of holing up in a conference room. There’s a park near our Dumbo office, and I love being able to run over there and put my bare feet in the grass for 20 minutes between meetings. It’s such a peaceful way to re-ground yourself in the middle of a crazy day.
The Moment: All three products in the Kinfield line are clean and toxin-free and each one tackles an issue we face when we spend time outdoors: bugs, too much sun, and skin dehydration from said sun! Why did you decide to introduce these products first?
Nichole: At Kinfield, we’re really considering all of the products you need from the minute that you step outside your front door—so the possibilities are endless! Golden Hour was the first product I started working on, because I saw such an obvious and unfulfilled need in the market for that kind of product. It also tackles one of the biggest barriers that people face when trying to enjoy their time outdoors—you can’t appreciate a beautiful starry night if you’re getting bitten up by mosquitoes! There are certain outdoor categories, like SPF, that are being done well by a lot of companies—we’re really interested in digging into the “unsexy” categories that have been a bit forgotten, and re-making those products in a delightful and innovative way.
The Moment: In your opinion, why do you think spending time outdoors is important for physical health and mental wellbeing?
Nichole: There’s something deeply restorative about feeling grass beneath your feet, or the warmth of the sun on your face, and it’s psychologically soothing in a way that few other things are. Plus, research has shown that time in nature lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, promotes healing, reduces inflammation, and improves mood, among other benefits. It’s particularly incredible when you think of the great lengths that people go to to reduce stress or manage their health, and there’s a world of options quite literally outside their front door.
The Moment: I’m a novice camper but have been roped into going on an off-the-grid camping trip for a week, what sort of products should I bring along in my pack?
Nichole: You are in for such a fun time! I know camping can feel intimidating at first, but the trick is to lean into the environment—embrace being off the grid, embrace being in a place where being a little messy is encouraged, embrace the slow pace of everything. From a product perspective, I’d recommend bringing products that are multi-purpose and convenient—camping is not the time for a 12-step skincare routine! I love oil cleansers like Tatcha’s Cleansing Oil because I can use them and then wipe off the excess with a biodegradable face wipe for an easy clean. Kinfield’s Waterbalm is a great face + body moisturizer in a convenient stick form—I like to spritz on Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator after cleansing, then add a swipe of Waterbalm to keep things hydrated on the go. A good dry shampoo is essential when you’re off the grid, so I usually bring along Captain Blankenship’s Mermaid Dry Shampoo (bonus: it’s not an aerosol, so it’s more environmentally friendly). From a function perspective, SPF and repellent are key! I prefer mineral sunscreens, and always have Suntegrity’s 5-in-1 for my face. I try to remember to re-apply, but Sunday Spray keeps my skin cool and calm when I inevitably forget and get a bit sunburned. Our Golden Hour repellent is the only DEET-free formula that I’ve ever known to actually work, so that’s a must-have as well. It’s hard to enjoy s’mores around the campfire if you’re getting bitten!
Lastly, remember to bring whatever you need to enjoy your time in the wild, and stay in the moment. You’re there to have fun! I love packing an actual camera (disposable or otherwise) so I can capture the mood without reaching for my phone. A journal or a good book is ideal for a lazy afternoon, especially when I remember to bring a hammock (mine is the double hammock from Eno, and I love it!) and a good wine (basically anything from The Marigny). Comfort is key, so I basically live in Tevas and a swimsuit (love the ones from Summersalt and Bikyni) whenever I’m outdoors. I really lean into the low-key beauty life when I’m camping, because hey—outside is your best side!
Thank you Nichole for sharing your time and wisdom with us!
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