Skin-Care Tips

Picaridin Is the One Ingredient Derms Say To Look For in a Bug Spray for Sensitive Skin

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanAugust 10, 2020

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Photo: Stocksy/Kristen Curette and Daemaine Hines

With everything happening in the world right now, blood-sucking mosquitos probably seem like the least of your worries. But just like wearing a mask and sunscreen, using a good bug spray is as important as ever. It helps prevent mosquito and tick-borne illnesses whenever you’re hiking, camping, or hanging out in the backyard. But what if you’re dealing with sensitive skin?

Bug spray containing DEET is among the most effective options, but it can be smelly, oily, and irritating to your skin. That’s why Harvard Health says using bug sprays that contain the active ingredient picaridin is a great alternative for people with sensitive skin. It also doesn’t have a strong odor or leave behind any greasiness.

“Both Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) and Picaridin provide long-lasting wide-ranging protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other insects,” says Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, a dermatologist at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. “DEET is considered the gold standard repellant as it has been around the longest and has been studied—and shown to be highly efficacious—more than any other repellent.” Picaridin is a newer repellant that has been available to consumers since 1998, and while it’s relative youth means it hasn’t been studied as much as DEET, it is believed to have comparable efficacy with fewer side effects. “Picaridin is generally better tolerated than DEET as it is less likely to elicit irritant or allergic skin reactions [and] lacks the strong odor of DEET.”

If you plan on spending time outside anytime soon—which you totally should, as it’s a great way to give your mood and mental health a boost—make sure you have a picaridin bug spray on hand. Keep in mind that DEET and Picaridin-containing repellents are not recommended for children under 2 months. Both should also be washed off with soap and water. These are the best bug sprays for sensitive skin you can buy right now.

The best picaridin bug sprays for sensitive skin

1. OFF! Family Care Insect & Mosquito Repellent VII, $6

picaridin bug spray

This picaridin bug spray helps repel and deter insects without leaving your skin feeling oily or greasy.

Shop now: OFF! Family Care Insect & Mosquito Repellent VII, $6

2. Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent, $8

If you want an option that’s super long-lasting, this picaridin bug spray is said to be effective against mosquitos and ticks for up to 12 hours. It’s also fragrance-free. If you don’t love spray, you can also get this product in a lotion ($9).

Shop now: Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent, $8

3. Proven Insect Repellent Spray, $13

picaridin bug spray

This odorless insect repellant repels bugs for up to 12 hours with 20 percent picaridin. It also leaves your skin feeling clean, so you won’t experience the stickiness you do with typical bug sprays.

Shop now: Proven Insect Repellent Spray, $13

4. Ranger Ready Insect Repellent, $20

Aside from fighting off insects, this picaridin bug spray also has an orange scent most reviewers say is pleasant, like a citrusy perfume or body cream. It smeels much better than anything containing DEET.

Shop now: Ranger Ready Insect Repellent, $20

5. Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Pump Spray, $15

picaridin bug spray

Aside from using picaridin to repel mosquitos and other bugs, this spray also contains vitamin E and aloe to keep your skin nice and soft.

Shop now: Ranger Ready Insect Repellent, $15

6. Natrapel Eco Spray, $7

This picaridin bug spray will have you ready for the great outdoors with protection from mosquitos, chiggers, gnats, black flies, and other insects. If you’re not into mists, it also comes in wipe-form ($6).

Shop now: Natrapel Eco Spray, $7

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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