Mosquito season is upon us! The skin is our largest organ, and I try not to use anything on my skin I wouldn’t eat, so I was excited to learn that yet another study confirmed oil of lemon eucalyptus does a better job of keeping mosquitos away than 25% DEET. It’s effective against a variety of mosquitos, including those that carry the Zika and West Nile viruses. (Citronella, sadly, barely worked at all.)
Here’s a chart of the results from the study, so you can see how the different products stacked up.
Multiple studies (here, here, here, and here, for starters) have shown that oil of lemon eucalyptus is effective against mosquitos, and it’s the only plant-based repellant recommended by the CDC. It’s important to note that oil of lemon eucalyptus–also called by the name of its active compound, PMD–is not the same as lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which contains other compounds in addition to a lower percentage of PMD.
Meanwhile, geranium essential oil works as well as DEET for repelling many species of ticks. To keep both bugs at bay, look for a product with a blend of the two oils, or make your own.
Many of the products labeled “natural” or “botanical” from bigger brands like Off, Cutter, and Coleman use oil of lemon eucalyptus at the 30% concentration tested in these studies, but they don’t spell out what’s in the “other ingredients”. Murphy’s Naturals is the only brand I’ve found that uses the 30% concentration and lists the other ingredients, in this case distilled water and ethanol. I was able to find it on Amazon.
This study found that both geranium essential oil and DEET repelled more than 90% of ticks. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf400246a