It’s officially spring and we’re practically ecstatic that the birds are chirping and flowers are blooming. But one thing we’re not excited about? As spring and summer kick into gear, so do the bugs. Whether it’s mosquitos or ticks, the annoyance of bugs can make any well-meaning summer adventurer head back indoors.
But while most people instantly reach for store-bought insect repellents, some mainstream products can be equally as harmful as the bugs themselves. That’s why if you’re on the hunt for a way to get outdoors without getting eaten by mosquitos, natural insect repellent is the way to go. Read on for everything you need to know!
First, let’s talk about mainstream insect repellents. After all, they are effective in keeping bugs at bay. So why make the switch if they seem to work just fine? Because some artificial sprays are packed with chemicals that can affect skin, especially the sensitive skin of babies or young children. DEET, one of the main active ingredients in mainstream bug sprays, has been a controversial chemical since it first began being used in the 1940s. Issues with DEET range from small things like its unpleasant odor and skin irritation, to much bigger issues like the fact that it has been known to interfere with enzymes in the nervous system.
A 2009 study found that while DEET does block bugs, it can also block an enzyme called cholinesterase in bugs, which is responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles, a trait that may also affect the nervous system in humans. While more research is certainly needed, why risk you or your family’s health with a bug spray that uses DEET when there are so many powerful natural insect repellents you can use instead?!
Lucky for you, there are many benefits to using a natural insect repellent this spring and summer instead of one that uses unnatural chemicals. Here are just a few of them:
● Free from Chemicals – We kind of covered this one already, but it bears repeating. With a natural insect repellent you can rest assured that you’re avoiding bugs and harmful chemicals.
● Healthier for Skin – Just like with unnatural lotions or creams, store-bought bug spray can cause adverse skin reactions, especially on people with sensitive skin or babies. Natural insect repellent ensures that you won’t get a skin rash or any other irritation from unnatural ingredients.
● Safer for Pets – Almost all natural insect repellents are made with organic ingredients that already occur in everyday life. Accidentally ingesting it can do very little damage (if any) in comparison with store-bought solutions. That means, it’s not just safe for you, it’s safe for your pets.
● Easier to Enjoy – Ever wonder why mainstream bug sprays have such an awful smell? As you’ll see below, most natural insect repellents are made with essential oils that actually smell amazing and actually have additional benefits for your body. You’ll be able to fight back the bugs and smell great doing it!
Now that we’ve (hopefully!) convinced you that a natural insect repellent is the way to go, let’s explore all the amazing ingredients that make up these lovely, yet powerful blog blockers. Hint: they involve lots of wonderful essential oils!
Citronella is of course the most well-known natural insect repellent, and for good reason. An effective protector from mosquitoes, citronella is a blend of herbs that usually comes as a candle and when burned outdoors can almost create a mosquito-free zone. In fact, some research shows that when made with the right ingredients, citronella can be just as effective at repelling insects as DEET products.
From fresh breath to fresh cleaning products, there’s not much better than the smell of peppermint, and as luck would have it, this sweet smelling essential oil is actually a pretty powerful natural insect repellent. Studies have shown that peppermint essential oil not only repels mosquitoes, it actually can kill them as well!
Another natural insect repellent that you’ll actually want to put on is lavender essential oil. In fact, it’s that wonderful smell that humans love so much that actually keeps the mosquitoes at bay. Not only does the smell of lavender repel insects, its antifungal and antiseptic properties can calm and soothe skin if you do get a bite.
You may love cooking with this fragrant herb, but did you know that thyme is also an effective natural insect repellent? One animal study found that when a low-grade thyme oil was applied to hairless mice, it had a protection rate of 91-percent. And if you love the smell of thyme, consider throwing a few sprigs in your campfire or backyard fire-pit – it can give you an hour or so of protection!
Delicious and an insect killer! Cinnamon has been known to repel adult mosquitoes and even kill their eggs. That also makes it an effective natural remedy for treating head lice, bed bugs, and even cockroaches!
Known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil can also be a powerful natural insect repellent. One study showed that tea tree (or melaleuca) oil can effectively repel mosquitoes, bush flies, and even pesky little bugs called biting midges.
Who knew that so many amazing smelling essential oils also act as natural insect repellents? Now that you know what ingredients to look for, let’s explore a few different types of natural insect repellents that you can use.
Closest in form to store-bought bug spray, there are plenty of natural insect repellent spray products. In fact, natural bug sprays can even be found at everyday stores like Target and Walmart for around the same price as unnatural products.
Natural insect repellent balms are a great way to get bug protection on the go, as they go on relatively smooth and clean so you don’t have to do any rubbing in or hand-washing after application. We’re fans of the Badger Anti-Bug Balm Stick for its superior protection. And if you still manage to get a bite, there’s also an After-Bug Balm Itch Relief.
Because natural bug repellent creams (like this one) are made with nourishing essential oils, they have the added benefit of moisturizing your skin while protecting you from bugs. Plus, with a lotion, you’ll be sure to cover every inch of unprotected skin.
While it certainly is easy to buy a natural insect repellent, you may be surprised to know that it’s almost as easy to make one yourself! Here’s our favorite DIY recipe for creating your very own natural insect repellent to protect you and your family for all the summer fun.
● Glass spray bottle
● 30 drops geranium essential oil
● 30 drops citronella essential oil
● 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
● 20 drops lavender essential oil
● 10 drops rosemary essential oil
● 1 tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol
● 1/2 cup natural witch hazel
● 1/2 cup water (or vinegar)
● 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (optional to keep ingredients combined)
- Place essential oils in spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
- Add witch hazel and shake to combine.
- Add vegetable glycerin (if you’re using it).
- Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.
Whether you use peppermint or tea tree oil, a lotion or a spray, a natural insect repellent will keep you and your family safe and having fun all summer long. Let us know what worked best for you in the comments below!
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