insect repellant

According to Experts, These Insect Repellents and Bug Bite Soothers Really Work

Itchy skin will soon be a thing of the past
By Jennifer Chan
July 13, 2021 08:00 PM
Products in this story are independently selected and featured editorially. If you make a purchase using these links we may earn commission.

Ah, summer. Between long hikes, leisurely bike rides, camping under the stars, or dining al fresco, there's no shortage of ways to get outside and celebrate the season. And as much as we love spending time in nature, there's one thing we simply can't stand: miserable, itchy bug bites. 

Wondering why some of us are bonafide bug magnets, and others can go about their summer plans relatively unscathed? We asked skincare expert and medical aesthetician Cassandra Bankson to break down the science behind why some people are more susceptible to bothersome bites than others. 

"Bugs are attracted to people based on specific odors, pheromones, or even blood types. They can be more or less attracted to specific scents, and some scientists recommend changing your diet, or even the deodorant or perfume you're wearing can attract or repel insects quite effectively," Bankson explained.

And since mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and more are in full force this season, we're doing everything we can to protect our precious skin, including stocking up on the very best bug-repelling products money can buy.

For backyard barbeques or outdoor events, invest in a Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller, a compact device that provides 15 feet of protection from pesky bugs. Celebrity party planner Bronson Van Wyck, who regularly designs elaborate celebrations for Madonna, Alicia Keys, Sean Combs, the Whitney Museum of Art, and many more, often incorporates the outdoor entertaining essential into his gatherings.

"I love the Thermacell device because they visually complement any outdoor decor and they create mosquito-free zones for those uninvited blood suckers! Most importantly, they allow you to focus on your guests, so everyone can actually relax and have a great time," Van Wyck tells PEOPLE. 

mosquito repeller
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller, $24.99; amazon.com

Another clever idea? Rethink your wardrobe and look for unique insect-repelling garments that show you mean business when it comes to preventing bug bites. 

"Protective clothing is your best line of defense. Look for tightly woven fabrics to prevent insect bites and cover up as much as possible when entering wooded areas. Also, don't overlook easy fixes like tucking your shirt into your pants and rolling socks up and over your pants, as well," advises dermatologist Dr. Heidi Goodarzi

For a more stylish solution, look no further than the Pang Wangle Essential Wrap. This super soft, lightweight wrap is breathable and biodegradable, and works double duty to protect you from obnoxious pests including mosquitoes, ticks, flies, ants, chiggers, and midges. This sustainably made wrap has Insect Shield® technology and is odorless and EPA approved for everyone, including pregnant or nursing women, infants and children, and even pets.

wrap
Credit: Amazon

Buy It! 

Pang Wangle Insect Shield Wrap, $58; amazon.com

When it comes to slathering on insect repellents, there are several options that work really well, and just so happen to smell quite nice, too. According to naturopathic doctor Dr. Gabrielle Francis, bugs absolutely hate essential oils — so it's no wonder that some of our favorite (and highly effective) products have generous doses of eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, geranium, cedar, and citronella oils in their ingredient lists. 

One of the top-rated products on Amazon is the SallyeAnder No-Bite-Me Bug Repellent Cream, which uses a proprietary blend of 18 safe, active ingredients and essential oils that fight against black flies, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks ants, and spiders. Formulated by a second-generation family-owned and operated skincare company, this Amazon bestseller boasts a specific formulation that was developed over many years of research in the Adirondack Mountains (a.k.a. mosquito heaven.) Plus, it's DEET-free, safe for children, and happens to work as a terrific itch relief cream, too.

"I'm always the one who gets bit. My family and friends say that's why they keep me around for outdoor gatherings! Mosquitoes and black flies are the worst for me, as I also get severe allergic reactions to the bites, and I am beyond happy to report that I have not been bitten by any critters this time. I've been reapplying this cream every two to three hours, and even those no-see-ums leave me be!" raved one reviewer after putting the cream to the test.

bug repellant
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

No-Bite-Me Natural Bug Repellent and Anti-Itch Cream, $13.95; amazon.com

Other popular bug repellents include Green Goo Bugs Be Gone Natural Spray and Proven Insect Repellent Lotion, both of which are effective at sending those critters packing. Green Goo's all-natural formula can be used in countless ways (i.e. as a room deodorizer or even a hand sanitizer) and packs a strong punch with a nice blend of herbs and essential oils. 

natural skin spray
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

Green Goo Bugs Be Gone Natural Spray, $27.74 (orig. $30); amazon.com

For those searching for a scent-free formula that really works, check out Proven Insect Repellent which repels pests for 12-14 hours thanks to its active ingredient, saltidin, which is recommended by the World Health Organization. This one is also perfectly safe for women who are pregnant or nursing, since it's totally free of toxic pesticides. 

insect repellant
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

Proven Insect Repellent Lotion, $12.99; amazon.com

Another non-toxic, non-greasy, and fragrance free option is Ranger Ready's Tick & Insect Repellent, which offers 12-hour protection from mosquitoes and ticks, and eight hours of protection against gnats, biting flies, and no-see-ums. Ranger Ready's fine mist non-aerosol spray easily covers those hard-to-reach areas of the body, dries quickly, and is hypoallergenic and safe for daily use, too. 

insect repellant
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

Ranger Ready Tick & Insect Repellent, $37; amazon.com 

So what to do if even despite your best efforts you still get eaten alive? First, be patient. "Bug bites cause an immediate inflammatory reaction on the skin, and it will take a few days to calm it down or completely treat it," explains Dr. Goodarzi.

To expedite the healing process, we highly recommend Bug Bite Thing. Invented by a mom on a mission, this clever suction tool extracts insect saliva or venom under the skin to quickly eliminate the itching, stinging, and swelling caused by bites on contact. Trust us, you don't want to brave the wilderness without this secret weapon. 

bite suction
Credit: Amazon

Buy It! 

Bug Bite Thing Suction Tool, $9.99; amazon.com 

And last but not least, we always like to keep a few soothing spray mists on hand to cool off freshly bitten skin to ease the itch factor. Our favorite ones are soothing and cool to the touch. 

Aloisia Beauty's Deep Hydration Aloe Gel Mist is a favorite among celebs like Adriana Lima, and boasts natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, so this multi-tasking beauty product puts an end to the sheer misery of bug bites. 

gel mist
Credit: Aloisia Beauty

Buy It! 

Aloisia Beauty Deep Hydration Aloe Gel Mist, $21.95; aloisiabeauty.com

There's also Bug Soother Natural Repellent Spray, a highly-rated solution for both combatting bug bites and offering relief in one. 

"It has a minty fresh smell and it isn't greasy. Plus a little bit goes a long way," one reviewer said of the popular product that's racked up thousands of glowing reviews on Amazon. 

bug soother spray
Credit: Amazon

Buy It!

Bug Soother Natural Repellent Spray, $9.96; amazon.com

Here's to enjoying an itch-free endless summer!