While people seem to be terrified of sharks and spiders, they only account of a very small number of deaths per year, whereas around one million people die each year from malaria carried by mosquitos. It’s a staggering statistic and shows why getting the best mosquito repellent is so important.

In order to find the best insect repellent though there are a few aspects that you need to consider such as how effective they are, how they are applied and what type of ingredients that have and how will they affect you.

In this guide, we go through all the different options to make sure you’re fully aware of what you are buying. We have also looked through the mosquito repellent reviews to show you the best products on the market and once you’ve finished reading, you’ll know exactly what you need.

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How To Choose A Mosquito Repellent – Buying Guide

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Safety

When it comes to insect repellent, safety should be at the forefront of your mind. Many people have fears when it comes to insect repellent and mainly that concern is directed at the use of DEET, as it is a harsh chemical which is used to strip paint and also to melt plastics.

There was a study which showed that there can be harsh side effects in the brain when it comes to DEET which scared many people but there have been numerous other studies which have disproved this. They are still sold on the market now because they are safe and if you are only using repellent every now and again then it’s not going to be an issue.

The only issue that DEET can cause is skin irritation and this can be a lot worse for some people rather than others. Picaridin is another chemical that is often used but this is kinder to the skin than DEET so can often be used. Oil of lemon eucalyptus would be the safest ingredient as it’s a much more natural product.

Despite not having any serious health impacts when you apply them to your skin, DEET and picaridin are still chemicals so usual safe practice should apply. This means making sure that none of the products gets into your eyes or your mouth and also keeping them out of the reach of children.

Effectiveness

A lot of these products can make bold claims but you really need to know how effective they are going to be at repelling the insects that you don’t want around you. There is a reason that oil of lemon eucalyptus isn’t used more widely, even though it’s natural and that’s because it isn’t quite as effective as the harsher chemicals.

It’s long been seen that DEET is the most effective of the insect repellents as it has been around for a long time with a lot of experience in doing a great job. It will do a great job of repelling those insects but there is a word of warning though, if you’re staying in the same place for a long time, mosquitos can become used to the smell and its effectiveness can wear off.

Picaridin hasn’t been around as long, as it has only been in the US since 2005 so it hasn’t had the same amount of studies but it has proven to be as equally as effective in repelling mosquitos as DEET. It is seen by many now as the repellent of choice and if you’re in the same area for a long time then it might be a good idea to switch up your use and rotate between DEET and picaridin in order to constantly throw off mosquitos.

You may also see a product labeled as 100% DEET and think that it’s going to be more effective than a product labeled as 20% picaridin but this is not always true, as effectivity of DEET stagnated at around 30% so anything above that is a bit of a waste.

Application

It’s all well and good having a product that is highly effective but if it’s hard to apply then it’s not going to be of much use to you at all. These mosquito repellents generally come in one of four application methods depending on which one is going to be the easiest for you.

The most common type is a pump spray as this avoids having to squirt it into your hands but as with any spray, there is a risk that not all of the product will reach your skin. A pump spray though is a great method as you can spray it close to your skin and then just rub it on and it gives you all around coverage.

Another spray method is an aerosol. The big advantage of using an aerosol is that a lot of product comes out very quickly so you’d be able to cover yourself or your clothes in no time at all and be protected. The big downside though is that the spray is even finer than what will be found in a pump spray and if you are trying to spray it in windy conditions then this could be very difficult.

In many ways applying lotion is the easiest application methods as you don’t have to worry about any lost product and it gives you a sense of confidence when you see it being rubbed into your skin. A lot of people though would say that it’s a much messier method when it comes to insect repellent and it’s often hard to judge exactly how much you need.

Another application method is using wipes which will come in a big pack. This can be easy as you can simply wipe the exposed areas of your body but in terms of value for money, this might not be the best method as you could go through a set of wipes very quickly.

This will come down to whichever you would prefer but a pump spray is by far the most popular method. In terms of application to your skin, you simply need to avoid any sensitive areas of your body otherwise it will cause irritation. If you get any in your eyes or mouth then it’s important to clean it as soon as possible with fresh water.

Use

Of course the primary use of these products is to ensure that no mosquitos ever pierce your skin and transmit those dangerous viruses but there are also other important uses as well. There are plenty of other insects that can carry disease so if you’re heading outdoors then a lot of these products will be very useful even if there aren’t mosquitos.

Ticks can carry disease, for example, and a lot of these products are great at getting rid of them. There are plenty of other flying insects which don’t carry a disease but can leave a bite which is very irritating. If you’re heading to the outdoors and think that you might get a bite, then using these repellents can be a great idea.

Ingredients

If you’ve read through this guide then you will see that a lot of companies make claims of their ingredients as if they make an important difference, but what do they actually mean? We touched on it before but there are three main repellent types that are available and they are DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET seems to be the natural starting point when talking about them as they have been around for the longest. DEET is indeed a harmful chemical that if it was ingested could cause a serious issue but that doesn’t mean that it is a bad repellent. If you applied DEET every single day of the year then it may be an issue but you’re not going to do that. It is highly effective and safe to apply and if it stops insects with diseases biting you, then you’re going to be a lot healthier for it.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given DEET the green light to be used, so you know it’s safe, and they have also given the green light to picaridin too which is another chemical which has a high level of efficiency. Whether it is as effective as DEET is something that has long been debated but it doesn’t have the same level of skin irritation which is why it’s used by many.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus is a much more natural product which isn’t going to cause your skin irritation. In tests it has proven to be effective against mosquitos but not to the same extent as the other two. If you want a repellent which is natural and kind to your skin, then choosing this is probably going to be the best option.

Active Ingredients

You might be looking at a bottle of mosquito repellent and be scratching your head wondering what an active ingredient is and what an inert ingredient is. You may also be looking at the percentages and wondering what their relevance is.

Essentially with oil of lemon eucalyptus, DEET and picaridin, after a certain level their effectiveness plateaus so having any more of the product in a concentrated form would be pretty much a waste. This is important with DEET as some companies will market it as 100% but this isn’t really needed as 50% would be more than enough an 30% will be highly effective.

With picaridin, they are pretty much always marketed at 20% as this is their maximum level of efficiency and this level is around 30% of oil of lemon eucalyptus. It would be easy to this that the bigger number is best but this is often not true when it comes to insect repellents.

Smell

One of the features which have been a huge downside of using insect repellent in the past has been that they often have had a bad smell which can put you off using the product and leave you more vulnerable to bites.

It’s best to look for an insect repellent which is scented so you can use it without having to worry about the smell. This is especially important in DEET products as they can have a more potent smell so it can be a great idea to look for one which contains some form of fragrance.

Picaridin products generally have a much better smell and are easier to scent, so if this is something that you’re worried about then it might be for the best to get one of these products. Oil of lemon eucalyptus naturally smells quite nice as too if you wanted to go for the more natural option.

FAQs

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Q: How Do I Use Insect Repellents Safely?

A: Insect repellent is obviously very dangerous to any insects but they can also be harmful to humans too. That’s why all contact with the mouth and the eyes should be avoided and your hands should be washed if it makes any contact with them.

All these products have been approved by the EPA though so you know that they are going to be safe to use. You do though want to prevent prolonged exposure with the skin and therefore it’s probably best to wash after you have used the product for a prolonged period of time.

Safe practice needs to be used with any such product and it’s important that it’s kept out of the reach of children and that if it does come in contact with any sensitive areas such as your eyes or your mouth that it is clean immediately.

Q: Do Insect Repellents Expire?

A: There are a few products that you might not even think to check whether they have an expiry date you might just presume that they will last forever. In terms of insect repellents, they are always going to be safe to use, so you don’t have to worry about them going off in terms of a safety aspect.

They will though tend to lose effectiveness after a period of a few years. If you rarely use it and find a bottle that has been sitting around for a long time then it’s probably going to be the best idea to throw it away or get a new one, otherwise you might be using a product which is no longer working.

Q: Can I Use Repellents On My Dog?

A: While there are insects that can be very harmful to humans, the same can be said for your pets too. While these products are great for humans, they probably aren’t going to be the best thing for your dogs as it could irritate their skin and not many studies have been conducted in the area.

If you want your dog to be protected then it’s best to look for dog-specific products before you start spraying them with chemicals. A good option though would be to apply oil of lemon eucalyptus as this isn’t going to be as harmful. It’s important though to always check before you use a product on any animal.

Q: What Is DEET?

A: You will see that some products claim to be made from 100% DEET and others which will happily advertise that that are DEET-free so it can be confusing to wonder whether it is a good thing or not. If you were wondering, DEET is a synthetic chemical which was first used as a pesticide before becoming more common as a repellent.

Unlike picaridin, it’s been around for a very long time and has been used since the 40’s. It has been extensively tested and researched so you know that you’ll be getting a product which has had an extensive history of being proven to work time and time again.

The only health problems that can come from using DEET is overexposure which won’t happen if you are using it now and again for repellent. You can use it in confidence that you’re not using an unsafe product and there have been many studies to support this.

Q: What Is Picaridin?

A: One of the alternatives to DEET is picaridin which is used in a lot of repellents at a 20% concentration. It was developed by Bayer and is another synthetic chemical which has only been available as an insect repellent since 2005 so it doesn’t have the same amount of extensive research studies behind it as DEET has.

It has been found though in the studies that have been done that picaridin is just as effective as DEET but more importantly to some people, a product which is a lot kinder to the skin. Like with DEET though, you need to ensure that it is kept out of the reach of children and also that all contact with the eyes or mouth is avoided.

Some thoughts stick around that DEET is more effective and some people see a ‘100% DEET’ product and be tempted by it but it’s just not true. Both of the two synthetic chemical solutions are highly effective and if you need prolonged use of insect repellent if, for example, you’re traveling, then using both can be a great solution.

Q: What Is Oil Of Lemon Eucalyptus?

A: If you’re looking for a naturally occurring repellent then using oil of lemon eucalyptus could be the best solution for you as it isn’t a synthetic chemical like the other two option. Its oils are extracted from the lemon eucalyptus plan and then formulated into an insect repellent.

It is not quite effective as the other two solutions and won’t last for as long but it will still do a great job in repelling those mosquitos. For those looking for a more natural product then this would be ideal and isn’t quite as irritating on the skin.

Some oils though will cause an allergic reaction so they are to be avoided when it comes to any child aged three or under. It can also cause eye irritation too if contact is made, so the usual precautions apply with washing your hands and applying it safely.

Q: Will Mosquito Repellent Ruin My Clothes?

A: Before you use an insect repellent it’s important to see what claims they made and what they contain as you obviously don’t want your clothes to be ruined. The vast majority of insect repellents are unlikely to damage the most common fabrics such as nylon, cotton and denim.

There are though certain materials which are more liable to damage and they are the likes of lycra and gore-tex so it’s important to be safer when it comes to these items of clothing. There is little need to apply it anywhere except your skin anyway.

That being said, there are products out there which have been specifically designed or spraying onto fabric such as your clothes or your tent in order to keep mosquitos away. If you’re looking for an insect repellent that you can use on fabrics, then you are best using one which is specifically designed for the purpose.

Q: How Long Does Mosquito Repellent Last?

A: It’s no use applying mosquito repellent if you’re going to have to apply it every hour otherwise it’s not going to be of much use at all. You want a repellent which is going to be able to last you for a long time so that you can go about your day with confidence that you’re always going to be protected.

The concentration of the repellent can make a big impact on how long it will last as anything too weak is going to wear off quite quickly and leave you exposed. Around about a 30% concentration of DEET and a 20% concentration of picaridin will be enough to give you up to eight hours of protection.

The protection length of oil of lemon eucalyptus won’t quite be as long as this should last you for around six hours in total. It’s always important to check these numbers and not take them for granted otherwise you might be getting a repellent which isn’t giving you the protection you need.

Q: What About Repellent Which Double As A Sunscreen?

A: Having to apply two different substances to your skin not only takes a lot more time but it will also be more expensive too as you have to get two separate products. There are though downsides with getting a 2-in-1 solution as they are two separate substances which affect you in different ways.

Sunscreen isn’t going to be harmful to your skin and also needs to be reapplied often, every few hours. If you have insect repellent mixed in with that sunscreen then that means that you would reapply repellent every couple of hours which would leave to overexposure.

There is though the added convenience that comes with carrying just one product. The best thing to do would be to apply your insect repellent directly to your skin and then you would be able to apply your sunscreen over the top of your insect repellent which means you can reapply your sunscreen without disturbing your repellent.

Globo Surf Overview

If you’re going to be in a place where there are mosquitos, then you can’t go outside without any protection, as it’s just going to be too risky. A bite from a mosquito which doesn’t carry any viruses is going to be annoying enough but a bite from one which is carrying can become incredibly dangerous to your health.

Choosing the best bug spray means that you have a lot to consider with the most important one being the type of product that you wish to use, with the three main options being DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET is the one that has been around the longest and its effectiveness is undoubted and will be sure to have you clear of mosquitos for a long time. It is though quite harsh to your skin and can cause irritation with some people and it’s important to not overexpose yourself.

Picaridin is the newer type of repellent but one that has been proved to be as effective as DEET in terms of repelling mosquitos. One of its best features is that it’s not as harsh on the skin and much less likely to cause irritation than DEET but it’s still a chemical which should be avoided with sensitive areas. Oil of lemon eucalyptus though is a much more natural product which won’t irritate your skin in the same way but as a bug repellent it isn’t quite as effective.

When buying outdoor mosquito repellent it’s important to consider the other aspects too such as how easy it is to apply. The most popular method is with a pump spray which you can directly apply to your skin but there are also other methods such as an aerosol, wipe and lotion too and this can be a matter of personal preference. There is also the smell to care about too as you don’t want to stink when trying to avoid those bites.

Once you have taken everything into account then you are going to be in a much better position in order to get the top rated insect repellent for you. Once you know the product that you want then you will be able to head outdoors in full confidence that you are going to be protected time and time again by your insect repellent.

Globo Surf Mosquito Repellents Reviews

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Camping with kids means that you must have a good bug repellent. I tried multiple brand but couldn't find the right one. Your buying guide gave the right directions to make the right choice.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!