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What’s more irritating than dry, itchy skin? Being unable to prevent bothersome bug bites because of said sensitive skin. It’s not hard to find a good bug spray that can help you avoid getting bit by mosquitos, ticks, and other insects, but if you’re prone to allergies, then it’s important to find an effective bug repellent without ingredients that will do more harm than good. That’s where the best bug sprays for sensitive skin come in.
If you don’t have the option to bring a bug zapper (for instance, if you’re fishing or traveling) or you’re in an area where you could potentially get infected with mosquito or tick-borne diseases such as dengue, Lyme disease, malaria, Chikungunya virus, Zika, or West Nile virus, a good bug repellent can be effective in staving off tiny pests.
What Makes a Good Bug Spray?
Here are some things to consider when shopping for the best insect sprays for sensitive skin.
Coverage time: Some of the best bug sprays last up to 12 hours before you need to reapply. If you’re looking for something that will last longer, consider lotion-style insect repellents, which can last upwards of 14 hours.
Activity level: Are you fishing or running in mosquito territory, or planning on enjoying the great outdoors in your own backyard? Depending on your activity, you’ll want to choose the right bug spray that can withstand sweat and the elements.
Sunscreen: If you’re worried about biting bugs, you’re probably spending some time outside. If that’s the case, consider sunscreen bug sprays that offer SPF protection without the need to apply another layer of product.
How to Choose the Best Bug Sprays: DEET vs. Picaridin
Two of the most common types of chemicals used in bug repellents are Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) and Picaridin.
DEET: This is the most common and widely-studied ingredient used to keep you from getting bit, but the downside is that it can be greasy, smelly, and irritating for sensitive skin.
Picardin: A synthetic chemical that mimics piperidine (which is naturally found in black pepper plants) is also effective in repelling bugs, but it doesn’t have an odor or oily finish, and it’s also safer for sensitive skin and kids.
The Best Bug Sprays to Buy for Sensitive Skin
Whether you’re looking for a safe option for kids or those with sensitive skin, we’ve picked some of the best Picaridin bug sprays — check out our top recommendations below.
1. Sawyer Products Insect Repellent
This fragrance-free insect repellent contains 20% Picaridin and lasts up to 12 hours against mosquitos and ticks, or protects you from biting flies, chiggers, gnats, and sand flies for up to eight hours. We like that it’s safe to use on kids, and it won’t damage clothing, fishing line, watches, sunglasses, or any other gear that might come into contact with the spray.
Another plus? Sawyer’s Picaridin bug repellent also comes in lotion form (which lasts for up to 14 hours) and in larger quantities if you’re looking to buy in bulk.
2. REPEL Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
If you prefer something that leaves you feeling refreshed, REPEL’s plant-based insect repellent offers a pleasant fragrance of lemon eucalyptus oil that feels cool on hot days. This DEET-free spray keeps mosquitos away for up to six hours and works just as well on hikes or in your front yard.
We like that this spray goes on easily and doesn’t leave a sticky residue. A few spritzes (rubbed into your skin) lasts a long time too.
3. Avon Skin So Soft Plus
Save time and save the hassle of applying multiple products, and opt for this two-in-one insect repellent and SPF 28 sunscreen, which comes in a handy continuous spray bottle. It offers hours of protection against insects and UVA/UVB rays, and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Its unscented formula is gentle enough for all skin types.
In addition to mosquitoes, Avon says the spray offers protection against gnats, no-seeums, sand flies and biting midges too.