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12 DEET-FREE NATURAL BUG REPELLENTS TO HELP KEEP YOU BITE-FREE ALL SUMMER LONG

Got 99 problems but a mosquito bite ain't one.

One downside to warmer weather: bug bites. Waking up covered with those itchy red welts is enough to make you wish winter lasted all year (OK, maybe that’s dramatic, but still).

Unfortunately, a lot of bug repellents give us that sticky, I-just-doused-myself-in-chemicals feeling.

Many parents are leery of the ingredient DEET that can be found in some mainstream bug repellents, as they are worried about the potential dangers and side effects. To learn more about this controversial ingredient, we spoke with Dr. Jeannette Graf, board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

She tells Best Products that “bug sprays that contain DEET have been considered the most effective repellents for years and endorsed by the World Health Organization as the ingredient is safe and long-lasting,” adding that unfortunately, “sprays containing DEET can be oily and irritating to people with very sensitive skin, and children are sometimes turned off by sprays with this ingredient.”

In that case, she recommends “trying to use bug sprays that contain the active ingredient picaridin, a synthetic chemical that mimics the natural chemical piperidine, as an effective alternative for people with sensitive skin.” Picaridin is usually sprayed on the clothing instead of directly on the skin, making it easier to handle.

If using picaridin is still too irritating, Graf suggests that parents try products containing lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, thyme oil, or citronella in the form of candles. Graf adds that “some people prefer to continuously apply citronella oil to their wrists (obviously not as effective and long-lasting, but they prefer it). You have to apply this about every hour, but they are safe for kids and can be effective with constant reapplication.”

The options for DEET-free insect repellent have never been better or more plentiful, so the team at Best Products has put together a list of the best natural options that don't contain the potentially irritating ingredient. These DEET-free natural bug repellents will keep you safely insect-free and comfortable all season long. Find the complete list put together by Latifah miles and Cat Bowen here.

LAST UPDATED

October 30, 2023

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