Ah, being outdoors in the summer. You get to lounge by the nearest body of water, go hiking in scenic locales, and all other sorts of #99DaysofSummer activities. Of course, there’s just one tiny nemesis to watch out for while you’re doing these things: mosquitos (and other insects). Thankfully, insect repellent sprays exist—but unfortunately, DEET (the most common repelling ingredient) is pretty gross.
“We always prefer plant-based alternatives to chemical-based ones and insect repellent is no different,” says Annie Jackson, co-founder and COO of Credo Beauty. “Chemical insect repellents like DEET can cause skin irritation at a minimum, or pose more significant health risks.”
“Deet has been proven to be a pretty serious irritant if used a lot, and it persists (or doesn’t break down) in the environment,” adds Tara Foley, founder of cleen beauty chainlet Follain. There’s also nothing worse than getting fresh out of the shower to have to douse your entire body with that smell.
The good news is that it’s 2018 and there has been progress in the bug-repelling world. I’m talking about insect repellents you’re going to want to show off in your beauty cabinet and also products you can spray without having to inhale nasty chemicals. Welcome to the world of better-for-you repellents, as recommended by skin-care pros.
Keep scrolling for 5 products that’ll keep the bugs away—in a healthier way.
Eau Fraiche NoMo, $85
Okay, so it’s a spray—but it’s disguised as a perfume (and it actually smells good). Packed with orange, lemon, and lavender notes—plus insect-repelling peppermint, geranium, and cedarwood—you’ll actually want to spritz this all over your body. Bonus points for the chic bottle.
The good thing about this mist is that it feels cooling on the skin—that’s the lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which bugs hate. And it hydrates your skin with hemp and jojoba oils. “It smells amazing, a little woodsy, lemony, and subtly earthy, with no synthetic fragrances,” raves Annie Jackson, co-founder and COO of natural beauty shop Credo Beauty.
What can’t CBD do? This spray repels with citronella and eucalyptus, but also uses CBD (derived from the hemp plant) to soothe inflammation and pain from any bites that you have. “I rely on [it] when [my son] does get bitten because it takes down the pain and swelling on contact,” says Cindy DiPrima, co-founder of CAP Beauty.
The botanical-based product spritzes skin-nourishing oils (like soybean and castor seed) plus EOs that bugs do not like. “By leaning on the power of neem, peppermint, and lavender, this spray keeps bugs at bay and smells great—which is rare in a bug spray,” notes Kerrilyn Pamer, co-founder of CAP Beauty.
“My personal cocktail for fighting bugs includes spraying down with this product and popping a garlic supplement half an hour before going out,” says Foley of this spray that was originally used by U.S. troops overseas to keep mosquitos and other pests at bay.
This post was originally published on August 1, 2018; updated on July 31, 2020.
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