Bug spray is a staple of the spring and summer, especially if you live in a place with a lot of mosquitoes. Bug sprays are such a pain. They leave behind greasy residue, they get in your eyes, and they never seem to cover as evenly as you want.
Did you know that a ton of companies who make bug sprays also make lotions with the exact same formulas?
Insect repelling lotion is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than spraying down with it, you simply rub it into your skin like a shield. It’s the same way you apply sunblock to your body.
Different lotions will come with different advantages and drawbacks. Some people might prefer ones that have all-natural ingredients. Some people might prefer ones that double as sunblock and have water protection to keep you bug-free while you swim at the beach.
Other people might worry about the active ingredient and whether it’ll really repel mosquitoes without destroying their clothes. Or they’ll wonder how effective the lotion is against ticks and other insects as well, and they’ll wonder how long the formula lasts.
We’ve put together a list of some of the top picks for insect repelling lotion to get you started.
Best Lotion To Repel Mosquitoes
|Product||Volume||Active Ingredient||Length of Efficacy|
|#1. Sawyer Products|
Our Best Pick
|4 ounces||20% Picaridin||14 hours against mosquitoes and ticks, 8 hours against other insects|
|#2. Avon Skin|
|4 ounces||7.5% ethyl ester||6 hours|
|2 ounces||34% DEET||12 hours|
#1. Sawyer Products Premium Insect Repellent Using 20 Percent Picaridin
Sawyer Products is well-known for making a variety of mosquito repellent and mosquito protection items. This insect repellent is among their best products. It’s an easy-to-apply lotion that comes in four-ounce bottles. Rather than using DEET, which is the more traditional of insect repelling ingredients, this concentration uses a 20 percent Picaridin solution.
Picaridin is one of the few substances besides DEET that the CDC has approved as being good enough for insect repellent. In addition to repelling ticks and mosquitoes almost as well as DEET, it performs better when repelling biting flies. The fragrance-free repellent lacks the strong odor of DEET bug spray, so you don’t have to worry about nasty chemical scents clinging to your arms.
This is the longest-lasting repellent on the list. After you apply it, the repellent can continue providing protection against ticks and mosquitoes for a maximum of fourteen hours, far outstripping the competition. Protection against other insects wears off at around the eight hour mark, so if you want protection from biting flies, you’ll need to reapply.
One of the biggest problems with DEET spray is that the chemical has the potential to harm your equipment and clothing. DEET doesn’t tend to cause harm to the skin as long as it’s not applied in toxic doses, but other objects are a different story. Unlike DEET, Picaridin is safe to use around synthetic fabrics, sunglasses, watches, firearm finishes, fishing line, backpacks, and basically all clothing.
You don’t have to worry about your bug spray accidentally ruining your fishing line when you next cast. There’s no danger of that. This makes the Sawyer Products repellent the best one on the list for hunters, fishers, hikers, and anyone else carrying important gear they don’t want wrecked.
#2. Avon Skin so Soft Bug Guard IR3535
This offering from Avon Skin so Soft is a combination of insect repellent and moisturizing sunscreen lotion. It’s the most versatile item on the list, combining the functions of multiple products you’d want when you’re out and about. At four ounces per bottle, there’s enough to get you through several outdoor outings.
The lotion comes with a Gentle Breeze scent that’s formulated to tickle your senses without being overpowering. It doesn’t have the same harsh artificial tone that many other lotion scents do. For those concerned about using DEET around their families, you don’t need to worry. The formula is completely free of both DEET and parabens.
The sunscreen lotion provides an SPF of 30. If you and your family are extremely prone to sunburn, you might want to seek out an SPF closer to 50. But for those who are planning to be in only mildly sunny areas, this should be more than effective enough.
Not only is the lotion good at protecting you against the sun and the bugs around, but it also nourishes your skin. The moisturizing protection helps to seal in moisture so that your skin doesn’t dry out throughout your adventures. Included in the ingredients are vitamin E and aloe, both of which are soothing to your skin.
The lotion is designed not to leave behind any greasy residue. It’s easy to apply and formulated for the entire family. If you’re planning to go kayaking, canoeing, swimming, boating, or any other activity involving water, you’ll be happy to know that this lotion can remain waterproof for up to eighty minutes at a time before needing reapplication.
It’s the perfect option for people who want to spend a day at the beach by a lake that’s surrounded by trees and buzzing insects.
#3. 3M SRL-12 Ultrathon Insect Repellent
This is the best repellent on the list if you need to buy a lotion on a budget. Since it only holds two ounces instead of four, it won’t last as long as the other options. But if you’re only planning to use it for a few excursions, it should be fine. None of the bottles are very expensive, but the formula is imbued with an ideal level of mosquito protection.
The lotion can provide protection for up to twelve hours after you first put it on. Research has proven that it can repel fleas, gnats, ticks, mosquitoes, deer flies, chiggers, and biting flies. This is the only lotion on the list that uses DEET, so if you want the most tried-and-true active ingredient on the market, this is a good choice.
DEET has been approved for use in everyone from infants two months of age and up. Though studies have shown that extreme doses can cause central nervous system damage, there shouldn’t be problems as long as you don’t use extreme doses. Always follow the instructions on the label. Be careful regarding your clothes and equipment, as DEET may stain them.
You can choose to get just one bottle of the lotion, which is the most inexpensive option if you’re stretching your budget. There’s also an option to buy a pack of three, ideal if you want to offer bottles to any traveling companions that are coming with you.
The formula lasts much longer than the majority of other products that use DEET. Most DEET lotions and sprays only last for between four and eight hours before they evaporate. However, 3M has created a formula that offers time release protection. It slows the evaporation of DEET from the skin, allowing the lotion to continue protecting when others would have worn off. Though not fully waterproof, it is splash and sweat-resistant.
All of these lotions are a great option if you’re going to be spending time outdoors, particularly time around any kind of bugs. For those who want to ward off mosquitoes and ticks, insect repelling lotion can sometimes be an easier bet than spray.
If you want a versatile option that doubles as sunblock, the Avon Skin is the lotion for you. In addition to having DEET-free insect repelling ingredients, the formula provides an SPF of 30 and is also water-resistant for up to eighty minutes. If you’re going to a lake beach that’s both sunny and full of mosquitoes, this is the perfect lotion to suit all your needs.
If you want a powerful and long-lasting repellent that’s been scientifically proven to work more effectively than much of the competition, the Sawyer Products is a good choice. It’s available for a relatively low price and contains 20 percent Picaridin. Not only is it able to repel mosquitoes and ticks almost as well as DEET, but it’s more effective at deterring biting flies. This lotion also lasts the longest of any on the list, with the mosquito and tick protection stretching for up to fourteen hours after application.
The 3M Ultrathon repellent is created more with woodsy adventures in mind. For the campers and hikers in the world, this lotion should suit your needs. There’s only two ounces per bottle, so you may run out fast, but every application provides you with twelve hours of total protection against fleas, gnats, ticks, and mosquitoes. It’s also the only product on the list to use DEET, so if you want something that has the most effectively proven mosquito-repelling capabilities on the market, that’s your ideal.