If you’re anything like me, you want to avoid any nasty chemicals on your skin + your kids’ skin but you also want every single mosquito and tick to never touch you and die.
Honestly, finding the safest bug spray wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be… I started researching via the EWG and there just isn’t a ‘right answer’ on bug repellent protection that’s one-size-fits-all.
Basically, you have to weigh the potential toxins in the bug repellent versus the potential for getting bitten and contracting Zika, Lyme, or West Nile.
Your geographic location and what the bugs potentially carry will impact which bug repellent is going to be most effective for you.
All this to say… I wasn’t able to create the best bug repellent resource for you but I found someone who did, so I wanted to share her work here.
A couple things I’ve learned about bug repellents
- the use of sunscreen/bug repellent combos is NOT recommended
- bug repellents aren’t recommended in babies under 6 months old
- DEET is considered safe by both the EWG and the CDC
- Higher concentration does not mean the repellent will work better – it means it will last longer.
- DEET concentrations vary by product – a less than 10% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitos for one to two hours. A 20 to 30% concentration product provides all-day protection from mosquitoes and ticks. // more details here
- Picaridin – a 5-10% concentration can protect against ticks and mosquitoes for five to 12 hours. A 20% concentration product provides all-day protection from mosquitoes and ticks. // more details here
You can scroll through her post below (click the little arrow on the right of the photo) to see the recommendations based on chemical needs, and the caption helps explain why/when certain chemicals could/should be used.
I’m linking the sprays she DOES recommend below.
As a note, the EWG doesn’t rate bug sprays the same way they do sunscreens, so there is no way to identify “most safe” when it comes to bug sprays.
The sprays in BOLD are the ones I’ve purchased this year for my family.
SLIDE 2 – Essential Oil Bug Sprays
Badger Anti-Bug Repellent Spray // buy it here – we have this one
Hello Bello Bug Spray // buy it here
Greenerways Organic Bug Repellent // buy it here
Mambino Bug Repellent // buy it here
California Baby Bug Repellent // buy it here
Kinven Bug Repellent // buy it here
BabyGanics Bug Repellent // buy it here
Nantucket Spider Bug Repellent // buy it here
Two others with great reviews and natural ingredients:
No-Bite-Me Cream // buy it here
Badger Anti-Bug Balm // buy it here
SLIDE 3 – Safest DEET Bug Sprays
Off Family Care Unscented // buy it here
Sawyer Family Insect Repellent Lotion // buy it here
SLIDE 4 – Safest Picaridin Bug Sprays
Off Family Care Clean Feel // buy it here – we have this one
Natrapel 8 Hour Spray // buy it here
SLIDE 5 – Oil Of Lemon Eucalyptus Bug Sprays
note – oil of lemon eucalyptus is NOT recommended for children under age 3 (source)
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus // buy it here
Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus // buy it here
One other with great reviews and natural ingredients:
Murphy’s Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus // buy it here – we have this one
17 Best Bug Sprays for Kids
More Safe Bug Repellent Resources
EWG’s Best Bug Spray article – lots of info!
EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents for Kids – breaks down the different scenarios and what you can use for your kids. Situations like: I want to protect my kids from lyme disease, I’m sending my kids to camp, and I want to protect my baby from bug bites.
EWG’s Guide to Bug Repellents for Pregnant Women – similar to the guide above for children but for pregnant women 🙂
CDC Lyme Disease map – see if Lyme disease is a concern where you live
CDC Zika Facts & Stats – good news… no mosquito-transmitted Zika outbreaks in the US in 2018 or 2019
I really hope this is helpful and makes it easier for you to choose the right bug repellent for your family this summer!