Something that doesn’t thrill me about the summer? The bugs. And this year, here in Connecticut, the bug situation has been pretty horrible. Unfazed by brutal humidity or the chilly mornings, mosquitos have been out in full force these past few months. Even if they weren’t so bad, there’s a crazy New England species known as the black fly and they seem to have returned in droves this summer. You can barely see these fuckers but their bites are among the most painful and itchiest. The last time they made an appearance a few years ago, I needed a cortisone shot from a local dermatologist. It was that bad.
This year, I’ve been very diligent with my bug spray applications and have suffered only one painful episode at the beginning of the summer. After having tried a dozen or so formulas, I have found three that work brilliantly and that have shielded me from bites and the accompanying itching welts thus far. I’m pretty confident you’ll find my picks as effective.
Nantucket Spider Natural, DEET-Free Bug Repellent
A random Amazon recommendation triggered by my search or purchase history, I am so happy I clicked ‘add to cart.’ I spray it all over my arms, legs, and neck before my morning walk and literally feel the bugs bouncing off me. It’s amazing. It’s an all natural blend of Cedarwood, Citronella, Clove, Geranium, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Spearmint Oils, which make me smell like I’m a recruiter for an essential oil pyramid scheme. Trust me though, the scent dissipates after a few hours and easily rinses off in the shower. I am still exploring this brand as it offers an extensive variety of repellent blends in various sizes. $14.99 (8 oz) on amazon.com
AVON Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Insect Repellent
My favorite from the Bug Guard Plus Picaridin range, this continuous spray and DEET alternative uses an ingredient that is derived from a compound found in black pepper plants. This AVON find not only repels mosquitoes effectively, but has a fresh, pleasant scent similar to that of a body spray. I find myself reaching for it most often during the day when I’m either out and about (and can’t smell like bug spray) or when we are entertaining guests outdoors. While I seriously love it, it does leave a light dry film on the skin (probably why it works for hours!). It rinses even more quickly than the Nantucket Spider oil blend in the shower. With that said, it’s the most user-friendly and non-oily formula I have tried. Huge fan over here and have already repurchased it twice. $20 (4 oz) at avon.com
Jao Patio Oil
We live close to a great local pub with outdoor seating by a babbling brook. As much as I like hanging out there in the summer, said brook is mosquito hell. That’s why I keep a tube of the Jao Patio Oil in my man-bag. It’s a soft balm with an oil base (20% Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil, 5% Soybean Oil, 5% Geraniol) that melts into the skin easily. I rub it on my ankles and forearms on any evening I’m eating outside. The vibrant herbal aroma does linger a bit but it’s very pleasant and not overpowering. It can get runny when left in a hot car (yes, I found out the hard way) so keep it in a cool place. I also shower before bed after any outing that involves a Patio Oil application. $30 (3 oz) at thedetoxmarket.com