I put in a pre-order for Darling Clandestine's Field Shark balm when it was first listed on the Etsy shop in the beginning of July. I loathe bugs, and knowing that I would be camping at some point in the summer, I figured I might as well give this one a test-drive. I also didn't own any bug spray at the moment, having left my bottle at the family cottage last summer (and trust me, after a year in there, you do not want to be spraying yourself with anything there).
Sadly, because I live in a city and on the coast, I didn't get to use this till the end of August. And actually, when we were up at the family cottage, there was not a mosquito or a black fly (the latter is what I really want to avoid, I swell up like crazy with every bite). I did put it on, but it was pretty pointless. It wasn't till we were camping in Prince Edward Island that I felt like I could test-drive this properly.
Evonne has a long description detailing safety stuff, which you should read before purchasing, but for the sake of this review, I am giving you the short version:
Want to enjoy a less-buggy summer but don't like the breath-holding heaviness of commercial bug sprays? Applied to elbows, ankles, knees, hairline, and other non-sensitive parts, Field Shark balm helps to discourage mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies on your nature outings.
The formula is created from 100% pure botanical-derived ingredients: Organic neem oil, organic sweet almond oil; and lemongrass, lavender, catnip and peppermint essential oils in a family-farmed beeswax base. Its scent is pungent, lemony, herbal.
The Field Shark balm comes in a one-ounce tin. If you got one of the super-sized solid perfumes from DC with your July reopening orders, it's those ones. If you've tried the Sharkling sized body balms, same size tin.The balm itself has a texture similar to the solid perfumes. You only need a tiny bit and rubbing your fingers over the top of the solid is enough to rub into your hairline or behind your ears or whatever.
The smell, though...oh, God the smell. It put me off. It's definitely pungent. And strong in the tin. Fortunately, it isn't nearly as in your face on your skin, though I could smell the balm for about two hours after application. (But then again, what bug repelling product smells good? Not even citronella candles do it for me).
The good news is that where I did put the Field Shark balm on the three nights of testing, it worked and I got no bug bites in my hairline, behind my ears, on my neck or my wrists/hand. I didn't break out from this either. The bad news is I got bitten all over my legs and ankles and it was incredibly itchy. The balm's format of being, well, a balm, means that it's more time-consuming to apply than a spray, and I fell victim to this, having been used to just dousing myself with Muskol or Deep Woods or something.
Since the places I did put Field Shark are usually ones that I am attacked on, I'm putting a check in the Field Shark box. It's small, it's light-weight, and it's easy to apply on small body parts. However, I think that using it in conjunction with a spray to get places like your legs would be the best strategy.
Field Shark is not currently in the shop (and I suspect that it might not return till next year), but when it does come back, you can find it in the DC Etsy shop. Please note that she's on vacation till sometime in October!