The Best Repellent Formulas on the Market
Today’s parents have more to be concerned with then the scratching and itching that comes with bug bites. Insects that transmit West Nile Virus, Zika, and Lyme disease have become much more of a concern the past couple of years.
Fortunately we have an abundant choice of insect repellents to help you enjoy a bite and worry-free summer. Unfortunately, choosing an effective repellent has become confusing.
Here is our quick guide to help you identify the most effective active ingredients and why the concentration percentage in the formula matters, Other points you may want to consider when buying a repellent include: a hands on application with lotion vs. a hands free spray; fragrance or fragrance free; a small 1oz.-3.4oz bottle for keeping your pack light or a 6oz. bottle for backyard and home use or individual wipes for travel anywhere convenience. All of the following active ingredients are recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
DEET – For the Rugged Outdoorsman
For over 60 years, DEET (N,N-diethyl toulamide), has been the most popular active ingredient in long lasting, effective and safe insect repellents. The % of DEET in the formulas varies from 7% to 100%. If you buy a formula with 7-15% DEET concentration only expect 1-2 hours of protection – great for the backyard BBQ. Formulas with 30% DEET last from 6-8 hours and 100% DEET concentrations gives you the maximum protection of 10 hours. If your activities include fishing and photography be aware that DEET is a plasticizer (melts plastic) which means if it comes in contact with fishing line, camera bodies, or lenses it can cause damage.
For maximum protection in the most dense bug populated areas choose a 100 percent DEET formula like Ben’s® 100 Tick & Insect Repellent, which last up to 10 hours. Ben’s was the first brand to register a 100 percent DEET formula with the EPA. If you need fewer hours of protection or just feel more comfortable using a lower % of DEET and aren’t concerned with re-applying try Ben’s® 30, which will last up to 8 hours. Ben’s® 30’s is made with a unique 30% DEET, water-based, no fragrance formula, which is made to evaporate slowly so repellent stays on longer with little absorption into the skin. Ben’s® 30 earned a coveted recommend rating from a recent consumer testing magazine report! Most other DEET repellent brands on the market use an alcohol based filler which is harsher on the skin, evaporates faster, and is flammable.
Picaridin: The Gear Safe and Family Friendly Alternative
A favorite insect repellent ingredient in Europe, Picaridin has only been sold in the U.S. since 2005 and is rapidly gaining fans. Picaridin offers long lasting protection against insects while having none of the plasticizing effect of DEET which means it is safe on your gear, sports equipment, and clothing. Available in concentrations of 7% (1 hour protection) to a maximum 20% (12 hours of protection).
Safe on pregnant and breastfeeding woman, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a 20% Picaridin formula to protect again mosquitoes that can cause infectious disease like Zika, West Nile and Lyme disease.
Natrapel®, with its 20% Picaridin formula, provides up to 12 hours of protection from mosquitoes and ticks! Natrapel® earned a recommended rating by a leading consumer testing magazine for its effectiveness at preventing mosquito and tick bites. Available in a variety of applications; a 6oz continuous spray; travel friendly 3.4oz and 1oz pumps sprays; and individual wipes perfect for packs and purses.
PERMETHRIN: For Gear & Clothing
Many people are not only protecting their skin from bugs, but are applying formulas with the active ingredient Permethrin to their clothes and gear for additional protection. Permethrin is an active ingredient that bonds to the fibers in fabric for tick and mosquito protection that kills insects on contact. One application can lasts up to six weeks even with repeated washings. Permethrin treated clothing will prevent ticks and mosquitos from landing on your clothes and then traveling to unprotected skin underneath your clothing. Permethrin based repellents contain up to 0.5% concentrations. Since all formulas on the market are similar, choose a brand that offers the easiest application.
Ben’s® Clothing and Gear come in a 6oz. continuous spray for treating up to 2 complete outfits or one set of gear or a 24oz pump spray to cover up to four completes outfits or two full sets of gear. Either one is easy to apply with the larger 24oz. coming in an easy to grip, ergonomically designed spray bottle.
What Else Can I Do?
Apply repellent before going outdoors! Most people are reminded to use repellent because they have been bitten. At that point it may be too late to stop the transmission of insect carrying disease. Protect your skin by wearing a long sleeved loose fitting shirt, long pants and a head net in dense bug areas. It is also important to wear loose clothes as pesky mosquitoes can bite through tight cloths. When walking in tall grass make sure to tuck you pants into your shoes or socks so small bugs like ticks don’t crawl up your legs.
When it comes to protecting you face and neck use a head net like Ben’s ® UltraNet or InvisiNet. Ben’s UltraNet with its fine-weave keeps even the tiniest bugs like no-see-ums out. The Inivisnet is a super high visibility head net allowing you to enjoy the views you have worked so hard to attain. It also features a dropdown v-neck to allow you to keep you shirt zipped open for maximum ventilation. Both head nets feature an elastic crown to keep the net in place on your head or hat.
If you get a mosquito bite and it itches, don’t forget to carry After Bite to instantly stop the scratching and itching.
Where to Buy
Where you shop makes a big difference in what type of active ingredient and concentration you will find. In the lawn and garden or seasonal sections of Drug, Grocery, and Mass Merchant stores you will find a more limited range of repellent offerings mostly in low concentrations, 15% DEET and 7% Picaridin, both of which offer short duration protection (under 2 hours). Head to the camping section of your outdoor retail store or mass merchant for longer lasting insect repellent formulas of 30% – 100% DEET or maximum strength 20% Picaridin formulas. This is where you will also find permethrin based repellents and head nets.
Get outside and enjoy the outdoors! A little bit of protection with the right clothing and repellents will help you enjoy a bite and worry-free summer.