Repelling insects isn’t just about having a more comfortable, itch-free summer. The more you’re bitten by insects like mosquitoes and ticks, the higher your risk for contracting insect-borne diseases like West Nile virus or Lyme disease. The effects of these diseases can last a lifetime.
For many of us, using insect repellent has become a balancing act between avoiding irritating insects, and staying away from potentially toxic chemicals. DEET, the primary active ingredient in many insect repellents, is aknown toxin that can cause skin irritation, rashes, headaches, and dizziness.
Many consumers believe that there’s no alternative to DEET that’s actually effective in preventing insect bites. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Natural insect repellent uses plant-based ingredients shown to be as effective as DEET.
What Is A Natural Insect Repellent & How Does It Work?
Natural insect repellents are a fantastic alternative to DEET-infused repellent sprays. Instead of chemicals, they use a combination of natural ingredients to protect against insect bites. To use them, spray them on your skin, hair, and clothes before going outdoors.
When you’re shopping for natural bug sprays, make sure that they contain ingredients that have been proven to be effective against insects. Not all natural insect repellents are created equally. Making sure that the ingredients have been studied and proven to be effective will ensure that you’re getting the best possible product.
Natural Bug Sprays: The Ingredients
There are a lot of ingredients present in natural bug sprays that have varying degrees of efficacy. Some of the most popular ingredients include:
Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
Extracted from the Australian gum eucalyptus tree,oil of lemon eucalyptus contains a chemical known as PMD. This chemical found in the oil has been demonstrated to be extremely effective at repelling insects. In some studies, it was more effective than DEET. The efficacy of the oil depends on how it’s distilled, so it’s a good idea to read reviews before you buy. Do not apply to children under the age of three.
Picaridin is a lab-created chemical that contains similar properties to chemicals found in the black pepper plant. Unlike DEET, it’s been shown to be safe, even for use on small children and infants. Like oil of lemon eucalyptus, the efficacy of picaridin depends on how concentrated it is. Products with a concentration below 20% were much less effective than those 20% and up.
There are lots of essential oils used in natural insect repellent. Citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, rosemary, and cedarwood are some of the most popular. Since these oils are not considered chemicals, they are not subject to the same tests and evaluations as many other insect repellent ingredients. Their natural origins have made many people feel more comfortable using them.
Top Reasons For Using Natural Insect Repellent Spray During Summer
Natural insect repellents give people the option to protect themselves against mosquitoes and other biting insects while also staying away from chemicals. For many, fears about DEET side effects have led them to rely on ineffective products, or no repellent at all. If you’re going to be in an area where there are insects that could carry disease, it’s important to use protection.
Most natural bug sprays can also be used on people with sensitive skin (including children and infants) without fear of side effects. Their gentle formula makes them kind to skin, which means that it’s much more likely that they’ll be used for the entire duration that you’re outdoors.