Unfortunately for most of us, insects are simply a part of life. Unless you live in a bug-free paradise or never venture outdoors, you’re likely to encounter insects at one point or another. Especially in the warmer months, it often feels like flying or crawling pests descend upon us in swarms! Worst of all, some sting, bite, or are just plain irritating as they invade your personal space. No matter what they do, many insects make it unpleasant to be outdoors…or downright miserable if you’re a mosquito magnet.
Of course, a common solution for this issue is insect repellent! Used in various forms for centuries, insect repellents help deter annoying insects from coming near you – but today’s modern iterations often do this using potent chemicals. Is it worth it? Are there other options? Thankfully, yes – keep reading, and we’ll dig into why you should consider natural insect repellent.
A Brief History
Since insects have been a nuisance to humans for well, probably as long as time itself, there’s plenty of historical evidence to teach us about the use of insect repellents over time. In ancient Egypt, castor oil was burnt in lamps, which produced a terrible smell that kept bugs away (interestingly, they also had some rudimentary mosquito nets!). In Ancient Rome, the Romans applied a vinegar concoction to their skin to keep pests away. As time went on, burning foul-smelling herbs and oils, or applying some sort of plant-based concoction were the only available methods for repelling insects, up until 1946, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture invented what is now a household name – deet.
Deet was initially developed for use by the U.S. Military in particularly insect-ridden areas. As it became known as an effective pest deterrent though, it was approved for use by the public and hit the market in 1956. Since then, it has remained the most widely used insect repellent to date, with an estimated 30% of Americans using the product. However, its safety over the years has been called into question. Especially if inhaled or consumed, deet can be dangerous for humans and pets.
A Better Way
Luckily, natural insect repellents today are much more user-friendly and effective than the burned oils of previous centuries! They’re made from plant-based ingredients, aren’t harmful to your skin, and are typically just as effective as their chemical counterparts. If you’re considering making the switch to a natural repellent, read through the list below and decide if a natural product is right for you.
Most commercial insect repellents contain anywhere from 5-100% deet, along with other chemicals that make up the spray. While these chemicals may deter insects, they are not without risks or use restrictions. If inhaled, deet can be extremely toxic, affecting the nervous system and causing muscle weakness, spasms, seizures, and in extreme cases, serious breathing problems. The same is true in pets – if a pet inhales or consumes deet, they are likely to experience seizures and other neurological symptoms, and in serious cases, death. If you have young children or pets in the home, it can be nerve-wracking to store these products in the house!
Deet is also not recommended for infants and should be used with caution in young children who may unknowingly ingest deet by putting deet-coated hands near their eyes or mouth. Finally, deet should not be left on the skin for an extended period, meaning you’ll have to rinse it off yourself and children at the end of the day. There is also some concern amongst consumers that deet could filter through the skin and be absorbed by the body, causing harm – however, there is mixed research in this area. Regardless, if you’re concerned about the chemical makeup of conventional bug sprays, deet exposure, or simply want a product that can be applied to all ages, a natural product may be a good fit for you. Plus, it won’t interfere with your sunscreen!
Even when applied correctly, deet can take a toll on your skin over time. Frequent users may experience blisters, rash, or other adverse effects – and for those with sensitive skin, this may be a concern even without frequent use. Aside from deet, if a product contains fragrance or other irritating chemicals, it may spell trouble for your skin. Even worse, once the skin is
irritated, products with deet should not be used at all, which can mean trouble if you need to head outdoors!
Alternatively, natural products are skin-friendly and won’t have the same effects as deet does over time. Some products are even designed to nurture the skin while it repels insects, like our own All-Natural Insect Repellent.
The smell of chemical bug sprays can be overpowering and off-putting to many users unless they’re using a product with a strong fragrance to cover the odor (which we don’t recommend). Natural products, on the other hand, don’t have that overpowering chemical smell – though they might smell like citronella or another naturally repelling plant. Regardless, it still beats the dreaded deet smell!
Works Just as Well (Or Better)
If you’re considering making the switch to an all-natural insect repellent, you may be concerned about the product’s effectiveness. After all, no one wants to experience the mosquito bites and irritation associated with a repellent that didn’t repel. The good news is that there are effective natural repellents on the market today! While we can’t speak for every product, we know with certainty that our Natural Insect Repellent works, whether you use the lotion stick or soap. It uses a specialty blend of essential oils that insects don’t like to deter crawling, flying, and biting pests. Our customers have taken it all over the world, from Africa to South America, to Alaska, with great success in keeping them bite-free. So, you can rest assured that there are natural products on the market that will be just as effective as a deet-based product.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if natural insect repellent is right for you. While deet-based products currently dominate the retail market, there are still plenty of options available for consumers who want to take a more natural approach. Not only are these products just as effective, but they can give you the freedom to protect the whole family without concern, won’t interfere with other products, and won’t damage the skin. Plus, they smell much better – and so will you!
If you’ve decided to make a change and are looking for an effective product without the chemicals, you may be interested in our All-Natural Insect Repellent referenced above. At Madd House Hill, we are strictly chemical-free, and use a specialty blend of essential oils in our repellent that keep bugs far away! Our products also use nourishing ingredients like goat milk, coconut oil, and olive oil, to moisturize and replenish the skin while they protect. And when it comes to our repellent lotion stick, there’s no mess or waste like there is with traditional sprays. Our all-natural products and philosophy are something that we are extremely proud of and don’t plan to change. Many of our customers who have previously experienced skin sensitivity, irritation, or just simply dislike deet have found great success when switching to our natural options.
Until Next Time,
Madd House Hill