Although using any repellent is most important, choosing the right active ingredient for your individual needs can make repelling bugs a painless process. Consider the length of time you’ll be outside and the type of activity you’re planning. There are a variety of insect repellents available, ranging from the familiar DEET to newer ingredients like picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and geraniol.
PICARIDIN: This relatively new CDC-recommended active ingredient offers the same level of protection that people have come to expect from DEET in formulas that feel a little lighter and cleaner. It’s a synthetic repellent compound that mimics the effects of piperine, which is found in plants that produce black pepper. Picaridin-based formulas won’t damage plastics, such as backpacks, fishing line or lures. They can also be used on children ages 2 months and older.
OIL OF LEMON EUCALYPTUS: Derived from the leaves of the Eucalyptus citriodora tree, oil of lemon eucalyptus repels mosquitoes for up to six hours. You can use oil of lemon eucalyptus-based products on children 3 years and older.
GERANIOL: A natural ingredient derived from geranium oil, geraniol utilizes the inherent repellent properties of the geranium to repel mosquitoes and other nuisance pests for hours.
Beyond just choosing the right active ingredient to fit your needs, you should also consider other factors when picking a repellent. What will your activity level be – do you need a sweat-proof or waterproof formula? How severe will the insect conditions be? You would probably choose DEET over lemon eucalyptus if you were hiking in a rainforest, for example. How often are you willing to reapply? Remember, the higher the percentage of active ingredient, the longer one application will last.
Whatever repellent product you choose, apply it according to the label directions. Apply the repellent to your hands first, then spread it on your skin, avoiding your eyes and mouth. Remember that heavier application does not equate to better protection; use just enough repellent to cover your exposed skin and outer clothing. It’s not necessary to apply repellent under your clothing. Reapply as needed and as directed on the label.