A pleasant evening outdoors can easily be ruined by the annoying buzzing of mosquitoes and their itching bites. For this reason, you should always keep a mosquito repellent ready to protect yourself from these nasty pests.
In this article, you’ll discover the best mosquito repellents for your skin and learn about the efficiency of various ingredients. And, if you’re worried about using chemicals on your sensitive skin, our mosquito repellent reviews also include several all-natural options so that everyone can enjoy their time outdoors worry-free.
How To Choose A Mosquito Repellent – Buying Guide
Since insect repellents are usually applied directly to the skin, safety is an important consideration. Many people have concerns about using them, especially if the formula contains DEET (a harsh chemical).
However, unless you’ll be applying the insect repellent in large amounts every day, you have nothing to worry about. Numerous studies have shown that DEET-based repellents are perfectly safe to use if you follow the instructions.
Picaridin is another fairly common chemical repellent for mosquitoes. Compared to DEET, it’s much gentler to the skin so it can be used more frequently. Finally, mosquito repellents based on eucalyptus oil are the safest to use because the active ingredient is completely natural.
Effectiveness On The Skin
Many products make bold claims, but not all of them are equally effective at repelling insects. There is a reason that eucalyptus oil isn’t used more widely despite being natural — it isn’t as effective as chemical-based products.
For a long time now, DEET has been the most effective bug repellent. However, keep in mind that if you’re staying in the same place for a long time, mosquitos can become used to the smell so it will become less effective.
While picaridin hasn’t been around as long, studies show that it can be equally as effective as DEET. Because of this, it’s not a bad idea to rotate between DEET and picaridin to throw off mosquitos most efficiently.
It’s also worth mentioning that a higher percentage of an active ingredient isn’t necessarily better. In reality, the effectiveness of DEET stagnates at 30% (20% for picaridin), so getting a higher-percentage product may not result in better protection.
Ease of Application
Besides being effective, a repellent should also be easy to apply. Mosquito repellents generally have one of four application methods — pump bottles, aerosol sprays, lotions, and wipes.
Most commonly, a repellent comes in a pump bottle spray, which is good at providing all-around coverage. An alternative to a spray pump is an aerosol spray that can cover even larger surfaces in no time. However, the downside of both is that a lot of the spray doesn’t end up on the skin.
While a lotion prevents product loss, applying an insect repellent this way is much messier and it’s often hard to judge exactly how much you need. Besides these three methods, you can also protect yourself using repellent-soaked wipes. This is very easy and convenient, but it’s also the most expensive method.
The most common active ingredients in mosquito repellents are DEET, picaridin, and lemon eucalyptus oil. The main differences between them are in their effectiveness as well as how safe they are to use.
DEET: This seems to be the natural starting point when talking about repellents for mosquitoes, as it’s proven to be effective against most biting insects and it’s been around for a long time. While it’s very potent, DEET can be harmful if ingested or a large amount gets in your eyes, so you should use it carefully.
Picaridin: Much like DEET, this is also a chemical deterrent. While there is debate about whether it offers the same level of protection, it doesn’t cause skin irritation as frequently which is why many people choose it over DEET.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus: This is a fully natural product that your skin is going to enjoy. If you want a repellent that is kind and gentle, this is probably the best option. Unfortunately, it’s less effective than the previous two bug repellents and you’ll need to apply it more frequently.
In the past, one of the largest downsides of using insect repellents was their bad smell. However, products nowadays are scented so you won’t have to worry about the nasty smell. A good scent cover is especially important for DEET insect repellents, as they have a very potent base smell.
Q: What Works To Repel Mosquitoes?
Research shows that the most effective repellent is DEET, followed closely by Picaridin. Lemon Eucalyptus oil is less effective but considered safer to use on the skin because it’s natural.
Regardless of which one you use, each of them will stop working after a certain number of hours and you’ll need to reapply.
Q: What Smells Do Mosquitoes Hate?
Mosquitoes hate strong-scented chemicals and essential oils. The scent that is perhaps the most effective is citronella oil, but other effective outdoor repellent scents include peppermint, basil, lemon balm, rosemary, and lavender.
Q: How Do I Use Insect Repellents Safely?
When using a bug repellent, make sure that it doesn’t get in your mouth or eyes. Also, it’s good to wash your hands after application. While all of these products are EPA-approved as safe to use, it’s still best to be cautious so you avoid any problems.
Q: Do Insect Repellents Expire?
In terms of safety, most bug repellents don’t go bad, and you can use them for a long period. However, they do lose their potency and effectiveness over time, and won’t give you the protection level you expect. If you believe your repellent is losing potency, you should get a new one.
Q: Can I Use Repellents On My Dog?
While these products are great for humans, they might irritate the skin of your dog, so it isn’t advisable to use the same repellents. If you wish to protect your pet, you should use pet-specific products that are tested to be safe to use on animals.
Q: Will Mosquito Repellent Ruin My Clothes?
The vast majority of bug repellents are very unlikely to damage clothes made from fabrics like nylon, cotton, and denim. However, materials like lycra or gore-tex might suffer some damage.
If you plan to apply a repellent on clothes or tent fabric, we recommend that you buy a product made specifically for that purpose. Also, it’s a good idea to try it on a less visible spot first if you’re worried it might do damage.
Q: How Long Does Mosquito Repellent Last?
The effective time of a bug spray depends on the formula and the concentration of the active ingredient, so it’s not universal for all products.
For example, repellents that contain over 30% DEET or 20% Picaridin will usually last between 8 and 12 hours. On the other hand, natural repellents like lemon eucalyptus oil last 4 to 6 hours.
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Mosquitos can be very annoying, and even ruin the time you spend outdoors. The bites are unpleasant and itchy, not to mention potentially dangerous if the insect is a virus carrier.
However, with the best bug repellents, you have nothing to worry about. We hope that we’ve made choosing a bug repellent a bit easier so that you can enjoy every minute you spend outside without worrying about insects.