The 8 Best Mosquito Repellents to Keep the Bugs Away, Tested and Reviewed
These repellents will help you maximize time outdoors, while minimizing the itch that follows.
It’s happened to us all: a pleasant moment outdoors is dive-bombed by that all-too-familiar high-pitched buzz of mosquitoes. Or worse still, you miss the sound altogether and find your your arms and legs ravaged the next day. To help you enjoy your time outdoors without feeling itchy and full of regret, we’ve rounded up the best mosquito repellents by trying them out ourselves.
The most common health outcomes of mosquito bites range from minor irritation, to blistered welts, depending on your reactions to mosquito saliva (the stuff that makes you itch). Then, there’s the added risk of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue, chikungunya, zika, and West Nile virus.
Whether you’re a bona fide mosquito magnet, an outdoors enthusiast, or just after a safe repellent option for your family, the market is flooded with bug repellent options. DEET vs. non-DEET? Spray vs cream application? Essential oils vs synthetic chemicals? Odorless vs scented?
Lucky for you, we’ve got your back (and neck, and wrists, and ankles). First, we talked to a dermatologist, an entomologist, a mosquito biologist and a hiking enthusiast to get their insights on what works best. Then, after testing 12 popular insect repellents on the road, along the riverside, in the park, in long grass, and at the beach, we rated our top products across a variety of categories. Read them here.
A 20% DEET Premium Controlled-Release Lotion will work well against mosquitoes, but Dr. Zimring says he prefers the 20% Picaridin lotion since it also protects against ticks, gnats, chiggers, and flies. (In both instances, he recommends Sawyer brand.)
Part of spending time outside means battling ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects. For this, Nelson swears by permethrin.
And out of the products we tested, Dr. Zeichner highly recommends Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent.