When it comes to biting insects, two of the most dangerous are ticks and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can carry multiple potentially deadly viruses, while deer ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease. In the United States, more than 640,000 cases of insect-borne infection were reported from 2006 to 2016. That’s more than 60,000 cases every year on average.
It’s essential that you protect yourself and your family members from insect bites, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. But at the same time, most insect repellents use synthetic ingredients. The most common active ingredient is DEET, a pesticide that can be toxic, especially to very young children.
Over the past several years, the insect repellent industry has experienced a boom of natural alternatives to DEET products. These are a great choice for the health-conscious consumer. But how do you know which ones really work? We’ve taken a look at the best natural repellents on the market and broken down the reasons why they’re a cut above the rest.
Best Natural Tick and Mosquito Repellents
|Product||Type of Repellent||Active Ingredient||Weight|
|#1. Burt’s Bees|
Our Best Pick
|Spray||Rosemary, lemongrass, citronella oils||4 ounces|
|Spray||Arborvitae wood, vanilla bean, litsea fruit, lemon eucalyptus leaf, catnip plant, cedarwood, nootka wood, tamanu seed, ylang ylang flower, coconut oil||1 ounces|
|Spray||Lemon eucalyptus||4 ounces|
|Spray||Rosemary, peppermint, cedarwood, citronella essential oils||4 ounces|
|#5. Captain Blankenship|
|Spray||Lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, geranium, rose, lemongrass, lavender, cedarwood essential oils||4 ounces|
#1. Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent
This option from Burt’s Bees is a great natural alternative to mainstream repellent products that use DEET. All the ingredients are natural. If you don’t like the sharp and unpleasant smell of traditional bug sprays, you’ll be excited to find out that this one has a refreshing herbal scent.
Each bottle comes with four ounces of spray, which should be enough to last a while. People with multiple family members might want to buy more than one bottle. Rather than using synthetic chemicals and pesticides, the spray uses essential oils to repel mosquitoes and bugs.
The active ingredients are rosemary, citronella, and lemongrass oils. You don’t have to worry about any SLS, petrolatum, parabens, or phthalates. The design of the spray bottle also makes application easy. All you have to do is squirt it onto your skin or the skin of your family member.
In addition to the main essential oils, there’s a blend of five other essential oils to increase the bug-repelling power. Since the formula doesn’t have any DEET, you can use it with your pets and children.
You shouldn’t spray the product directly onto your face, and you should avoid getting it in your eyes. To apply it to the face, spray it onto your hands and rub it in. Use the same method when applying the spray to young children who may struggle not to breathe in the spray.
#2. TerraShield Spray
The TerraShield spray uses a unique blend of ingredients that sets it apart from the competition. In addition to essential oils, the product also has plant-based ingredients like woods and flowers. You won’t find a similar formula on the market, which is part of why the TerraShield makes the list.
There are a few things to keep in mind, though. One is that because of the unique and complex blend of ingredients, the TerraShield spray is more expensive than most other bug sprays. It’s also only one ounce per bottle, while all the other bottles on the list hold four ounces.
Since all the ingredients are natural, and common allergens aren’t used, everyone in the family should be able to safely use it. The spray contains lemon eucalyptus oil as an active ingredient. This is one of the most ingredients to look for because lemon eucalyptus oil is the only active ingredient that the CDC has approved for repelling mosquitoes and preventing the spread of disease.
The blend of essential oils has other properties besides basic mosquito and tick repelling. In addition to the lemon eucalyptus, the spray uses ylang ylang flower, catnip, cedarwood, arborvitae, litsea, nootka, and vanilla bean oils. The naturally-occurring chemical compounds in each of these has a different effect.
In addition to using as a bug spray, you can diffuse the spray into the air by using just three to four drops with whatever diffuser you want. This allows you to clear your patio or camping tent of nasty pests. TerraShield is safe to use outside the home, while camping, at outdoor events, and even inside the home to seal your windows and doors.
#3. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
This is the most affordable option if you’re looking for a no-frills, no-hassle product that gets the job done. Unlike the other items on the list, the Repel spray doesn’t combine multiple active ingredients. Instead, it just uses lemon eucalyptus. This oil is the best one for repelling both ticks and mosquitoes. Because the formula is so simple, the cost of four ounces is much lower than market competitors.
You can buy the spray in a pack of one, two, or six. Packs of six are ideal for people going on trips with many people or managing campgrounds. The pump spray bottle makes application easy.
Many of the natural sprays on the market are only able to protect you for two to three hours. You constantly need to reapply them. But the Repel spray works for up to six hours, making it among the best options if you’re going to be outside frequently.
The refreshing scent is a breath of fresh air when compared to traditional sprays. The lemon eucalyptus oil creates a scent barrier that ticks and mosquitoes don’t want to cross. In addition, people with sensory issues will be happy to hear that the spray isn’t sticky or greasy.
#4. Honest Bug Spray
The Honest Bug Spray is created by the Honest Company. It is available in four-ounce bottles and uses multiple natural ingredients to repel both mosquitoes and ticks. The product has been certified vegan, organic, and hypoallergenic. When the spray was tested in the lab, it was effective at protecting against mosquitoes for a maximum of three hours.
While three hours is only half the time of the Repel bug spray, this spray will appeal to people who want more than one active ingredient working together. The spray doesn’t have petrochemicals, preservatives, formaldehyde, alcohol, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or DEET. It is packaged in a lightweight and sturdy aluminum bottle that can be easily recycled.
The four main essential oils in this bug spray are peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood, and citronella. One potential drawback is that this spray doesn’t include lemon eucalyptus, which means it doesn’t have CDC approval as a mosquito-fighting agent. However, many people have reported that it works well as long as you remember to apply every three hours.
#5. Captain Blankenship Organic Sail Away Bug Spray
This organic bug spray comes in a four-ounce bottle. Like the majority of other natural repellents on the market, it uses essential oils. The spray has been specifically formulated with oils that each serve a different purpose, and they smell refreshing and lovely together.
The lemon eucalyptus oil is CDC approved as a DEET alternative. Meanwhile, the spray uses peppermint and rose geranium essential oils to repel multiple species of ticks. In addition to keeping bugs from landing on you, the spray uses cedarwood, lemongrass, and lavender essential oils to make bugs fly away.
Every bottle is manufactured with wild-harvested and organic ingredients. Captain Blankenship is a beauty company based in New York. Their priority is creating safe products that help enhance your natural beauty.
If you want the insect repellent with the largest number of different active ingredients, the TerraShield is the one for you. In addition to repelling ticks and mosquitoes, it can repel a number of other insects. However, it’s also more expensive than the other options, especially considering it has the smallest container. Everything else on the list contains four fluid ounces, but the TerraShield has just 30 milliliters, which is about one ounce.
The Captain Blankenship oil is a great choice if you want multi-bug protection. It contains the natural ingredients recommended for mosquito and tick repellent, and each active ingredient serves a slightly different purpose.
The Burt’s Bees is a good choice for those who want a bug spray from a reliable brand without any fuss or hassle. Meanwhile, the Repel is the most economic option. It doesn’t have any frills or extra ingredients, but it does use lemon eucalyptus oil, which is the only naturally-derived ingredient approved by the CDC to repel mosquitoes.