When you’re choosing an insect repellent for your skin, you want to make sure you get a product that’s both safe and effective. The CDC has approved several active ingredients as insect repellents that are non-toxic when applied to the skin. These repellents create barriers that keep mosquitoes and other insects from smelling your skin.
The two most common CDC-approved active ingredients are DEET and Picaridin. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Though DEET has been used for more than 50 years, there are several reasons you might prefer a Picaridin formula. DEET and Picaridin are both safe and extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. It’s important to understand the differences between the two.
Best Picaridin Mosquito Repellents
|Product||Length of Protection||Volume|
|#1. Sawyer Products|
Our Best Pick
|14 hours against mosquitoes and ticks; 8 hours against biting insects||4 ounces|
|#2. Natrapel Spray|
|12 hours||3.4 ounces|
|#3. Natrapel Wipes|
|8 hours||1.44 ounces|
DEET Versus Picaridin
DEET was originally developed by the United States military more than fifty years. It has been used for insect repellent ever since. Studies have consistently shown that DEET is safe to use when applied in doses that aren’t too concentrated. It’s approved for use with all humans over the age of two months.
DEET is the main standard for insect repellents. When the CDC and other research groups determine the efficacy of ingredients, they do so by comparing them to the performance of DEET. So far, there haven’t been any ingredients that can consistently outperform DEET. But Picaridin comes close.
Picaridin is an insect repellent that has been used throughout the United States since 2005. It is usually offered as an alternative to DEET, but it performs nearly as well as DEET when repelling ticks and mosquitoes. In addition, it consistently performs better than DEET when repelling biting flies. The CDC recommends using a 20 percent concentration of Picaridin to get maximum insect repellent with maximum safety.
Another advantage Picaridin has over DEET is that it’s effective against a much larger range of insects. The chemical is a synthesized version of a natural compound that exists in pepper plants. Varying Picaridin sprays can provide 12 hours of protection against ticks and mosquitoes, while lotions can provide up to 14 hours of protection. If you want a formula that can address all irritating insects, Picaridin is the go-to.
One of the biggest problems with DEET is that it can damage synthetic materials. It’s perfectly safe to use on your skin, but it can damage your clothes, backpacks, hiking gear, fishing line, and even watches and firearms. Basically, if you’re going on any adventures with any important gear you don’t want damaged, then you don’t want to use DEET.
Picaridin doesn’t have this problem. It is completely safe to use around synthetic fabrics, materials, and plastics. There aren’t any risks of corrosion or staining if the chemical touches your things.
The last advantage that Picaridin has is a minor one, but it will matter to those who have sensitive noses. DEET has an incredibly strong smell that’s responsible for the “bug spray odor” you’re probably familiar with. Picaridin, on the other hand, is much less noticeably odorous. Some Picaridin formulas even have a pleasant scent.
#1. Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent
When it comes to Picaridin insect repellent, this option from Sawyer Products always makes the top of the list. Each four-ounce bottle of lotion is affordable and contains the 20 percent Picaridin concentration recommended by the CDC. In addition, the product has been designated the Fisherman’s Formula by Consumer Reports in their list of effective and safe insect repellents.
Unlike many other products on the market, this insect repellent doesn’t have an overpowering scent. It’s free of artificial fragrances and cloying essential oils. The Picaridin concentration has been proven more effective in the repelling of biting flies when compared to DEET. It also repels ticks and mosquitoes with nearly the same efficacy as DEET.
The lotion is easy to apply. All you need to do is rub it into your skin the same way you’d apply topical sunscreen. One application can provide up to fourteen hours of protection against ticks and mosquitoes. Meanwhile, protection against other biting insects lasts up to eight hours.
Picaridin is safe to use around all of your family members. Unlike DEET, there’s no danger of the formula harming your clothes, fishing line, sunglasses, backpacks, watches, or any other synthetic materials. For those looking for an easy-to-use and effective lotion, you don’t have to look any further than this.
#2. Natrapel 12-Hour Pump Spray
Natrapel is known for making a wide range of effective insect repelling products. This particular formula uses a 20 percent Picaridin concentration rather than DEET. When tested, the formula repelled mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects for up to twelve hours.
There have been independent and clinical tests indicating that this formula is more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes, ticks, and biting insects. This is unusual, as Picaridin products often don’t perform as well as DEET. If you want a bug spray that truly competes with DEET alternatives without doing the damage of DEET, you’ve found your option.
The liquid insect repellent comes in a pump spray bottle. Applying it to your body is easy. The fine mist allows you to provide complete skin coverage. There’s also a nice floral fragrance that’s much more appealing than the majority of bug spray scents. If you’re often bothered by the smell of insect repellent, you should give this one a shot.
Each bottle comes with 3.4 ounces of spray. They’re TSA-compliant, so you can bring them with you onto a plane as you travel to any number of different adventures. For those seeking a travel-friendly insect repellent, this is your go-to option.
#3. Natrapel Insect Repellent Wipes
This is another good option from Natrapel that uses the CDC-approved 20 percent Picaridin formula concentration. You can use it in conjunction with other insect repellents or by itself. If you’d rather use wipes to apply the insect repellent, this is the option for you.
Wipes are a much more convenient and simple way to put on insect repellent. Lotions can sometimes feel like they leave behind too much slimy residue, and it can sometimes be hard to get even coverage with sprays. And everyone’s familiar with the feeling of getting bug spray blown into your eyes and nose by an unexpected wind.
These wipes are infused with the Natrapel formula. In clinical testing, they’ve been shown to provide up to eight hours of continuous protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects. Every package has twelve individually-wrapped wipes. When you want to protect yourself, just unwrap a wipe, swipe it over your skin, and you’re good to go!
Again, Natrapel’s formula is the only one on the market where the Picaridin concentration has been more effective at mosquito and tick repellent than DEET. There’s the same appealing fragrance to the wipes that the other Natrapel spray has.
Since each of the wipes is individually wrapped, you can easily stash a wipe anywhere you need it. Tuck a few in your purse, your pocket, your backpack, or your child’s knapsack. You don’t have to worry about keeping the entire pack together.
A total pack of wipes has 1.44 fluid ounces of the insect repellent. Each individual wipe is saturated with 0.092 fluid ounces. Because there isn’t as much repellent per wipe, these don’t tend to be as long-lasting as the Natrapel spray, even though they use the same formula.
The Sawyer Products insect repellent is the best lotion option on the market. It has the 20 percent Picaridin concentration that the CDC recommends. Research has shown that the formula provides protection against mosquitoes and ticks for up to fourteen hours, significantly longer than the competition. There’s also protection against other biting flies for up to eight hours.
If you want a more traditional bug spray, the Natrapel spray is one of th best options available. It’s travel sized and TSA approved, so you can bring it with you on vacations and various adventures. The 20 percent Picaridin formula is CDC approved, and studies have proven that the spray provides up to twelve hours of continuous protection.
For people who prefer the convenience and ease of wipes, Natrapel has you covered with their eight-hour insect repelling wipes. As the name implies, they provide eight hours of continuous coverage against ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects. It also utilizes the 20 percent Picaridin concentration. Application is simple since you just have to pull out a wipe and run it over your skin. There’s also a much more appealing scent than with many other options.