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Your Guide to Natural Insect Repellent

We are so lucky to enjoy such incredible summers here in Australia with our outdoor lifestyles, but there is definitely a big downside, and that's mozzies! Many mainstream bug sprays can be harsh on the nose as well as skin, so I've put together this guide to the very best natural insect repellents.

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Insect repellent is an absolute must during an Australian summer, when bugs and mosquitoes make themselves known during the warmer months by loitering just outside the doors, beside the barbecue and landing uninvited on the beach or by the pool. Not to mention the thousands we are exposed to on camping trips when we're outdoors practically 24/7. There's nothing worse than waking up with itchy mozzie and insect bites! Mainstream insect repellents can contain potent synthetic ingredients to keep bugs at bay, but these can be unpleasantly strong for those who are sensitive to fragrance. Designed to repel creepy crawlies with herbal extracts and ingredients, natural insect repellents can be much gentler on the nose and skin while still delivering powerful deterrent properties.

How do natural insect repellents work?

Mosquitoes and other insects are usually initially attracted to the carbon dioxide we breathe out, but can also detect the scent of your skin and even your blood type, which is why we need to throw them off our scent with strong smells they are naturally put off by. One of the most common active ingredients found in mainstream insect repellents is DEET, which is also known as diethyltoluamide. DEET has been used in insect repellents for decades but it can cause issues such as headaches and nausea in those who may have scent sensitivities and find the potent smell overwhelming. Utilising naturally derived ingredients such as herbal extracts and essential oils, natural insect repellents work to detest bugs with scents they can't stand. Citrus and floral extracts are common in natural insect repellents as pesky bugs tend to steer clear of these scents, particularly Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Geranium, Lavender and Lemongrass. If you are pregnant, please be sure to check with your healthcare professional before using natural insect repellents due to the essential oil content.1

Best natural insect repellents

Ouch! Herbal Insect Repellant
The most convenient and not to mention the cutest natural insect repellent I have found is the Ouch! Herbal Insect Repellant, which is actually a compact credit card-sized bottle which holds over 300 sprays. Utilising the naturally repellent properties of Lemongrass, Geranium and Australian Eucalyptus, this herbal spray works to discourage mozzies, flies, ants and midges, and fits neatly into your pocket for an on-the-go repellent which weighs nothing.

Sattwa Buzz-it All Natural Outdoor Mist
Utilising the natural insect repelling powers of Lemongrass and Lavender, the Sattwa Buzz-it All Natural Outdoor Mist is incredibly effective at keeping insects far away while also providing antiseptic qualities to soothe any existing mozzie bites. Gentle and fresh, this vegan and Australian made mist can be spritzed directly onto skin and clothing to repel creepy crawlies.

Juniper Natural Insect Repellent
One of my favourite natural insect repellents to use is the Juniper Natural Insect Repellent because this cream actually doubles as a body moisturiser. It's packed full of Geranium, Lemongrass, Sweet Orange and Lavender essential oils to leave a floral-citrus aroma which smells beautiful to us but is repulsive to mosquitoes and other insects, even ticks. It also contains hydrating Shea and Cocoa Butters as well as Jojoba Oil for creamy, smooth application which leaves your skin feeling silky soft. Apply all over the body for rich moisture and lasting protection.

ECO. Citronella Outdoor Spray
Perfect for a summer barbecue, the ECO. Citronella Outdoor Spray combines the natural strength of Citronella Oil with Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender and Tea Tree oils to create a lovely woody, citrus scent that refreshes the skin while keeping bug bites at bay. Lightweight and refreshing, hold the bottle 30cm away from skin and apply where needed.

Black Chicken Remedies Essential Oil Blend Repel
If mozzies keep sneaking into your home and biting you indoors, I recommend adding the Black Chicken Remedies Essential Oil Blend in Repel to your diffuser or vaporiser to release its naturally critter-repelling aroma. Containing a fragrant blend of Catnip, Cedarwood, Lemongrass, Citronella, Peppermint and Tea Tree, this vegan and Australian made oil deters mozzies and bugs while also making your home smell beautifully relaxing.

Vanessa Megan Bug Off Me
A favourite of mine for quite some time, the Vanessa Megan Bug Off Me is Certified Organic and super easy to apply as it comes in a handy roll-on bottle. With a unique blend of Rosemary, Lavender, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Citronella, Tea Tree and Cedarwood in a base of moisturising Coconut, Sunflower and Camellia Oils, this nutrient rich formula actually nourishes skin while repelling bugs, without being overpowering. Apply directly to desired areas or roll onto palms and rub in all over.

Vanessa Megan Bug Off My Baby
If you are after a milder formula which is suitable for children, I recommend the baby version of Bug Off Me! The Vanessa Megan Bug Off My Baby is a milder version of the original formula, containing Lavender, Cedarwood, Lemon Tea Tree, Rosemary and Eucalyptus in a gentle base of Grapeseed, Coconut, Jojoba and Vitamin E. Designed especially for the delicate young skin of children under 2, this Certified Organic repellent can be gently applied to children's skin, focusing on the most exposed areas.

Bug-grrr Off Natural Outdoor Jungle Strength Roll-On
For anyone who needs strong and reliable protection in the outdoors, you can't go past the Bug-grrr Off Natural Outdoor Jungle Strength Roll-On, which is the perfect quick, easy and mess-free option to help keep you virtually invisible to insects. Potent and concentrated for jungle strength, this handy roll-on is designed to repel bugs for up to six hours thanks to a powerful combination of Lemon Eucalyptus, Lavender and Sandalwood Oils in a base of soothing and cooling Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Green Tea and Cucumber. Ideal for use by anyone over the age of 12 months.

Biologika Bug Another Insect Repellent Spray
A quick and easy spray formula, the Citronella, Lavender, Lemon Myrtle, Peppermint and Sage found in Biologika Bug Another Insect Repellent Spray provide both insect repelling properties and healing, antibacterial qualities, with nourishing Aloe Vera and Rosehip to cool and hydrate skin. Safe for all ages, this ACO and APVMA approved spray can be applied all over to help deter critters.

Kiwiherb Herbal Insect Repellent
Formulated with potent and fresh Lemongrass, Fennel and Chaste Berry, the Kiwiherb Herbal Insect Repellent has a light lemon fragrance to provide protection against flying insects and their irritating bites. Non-greasy and easy to apply, this natural spray can be used by the whole family and is ideal for use in tropical areas. Reapply after swimming or bathing. For infants and young children spray onto your hands and apply sparingly.

Source: 1 The Conversation.

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