While DEET based mosquito repellents are by far the most popular option amongst travellers, some people aren’t comfortable with using chemicals on their skin. This means many travellers are often on the look out for a more natural, DEET-free option, when it comes to choosing a mosquito repellent.
The most common ingredients used in DEET-free mosquito repellents include Saltidin and PMD (Citidiol/Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus), which are much kinder to the skin and are often safer to use on children compared to DEET.
For travellers who are visiting areas with a high risk of tropical disease, Saltidin based repellents (20% concentration or higher) are the best DEET-free alternatives available. While PMD based repellents are also effective in repelling mosquitoes, their strength and the duration of protection is more comparable with lower concentrations of DEET, making them better suited to use in areas that don’t pose a risk of insect-borne disease.
So which DEET-free repellent should you choose? Here are some of our favourites…
Clinically proven to be as effective as 50% DEET, Trek Sensitive is possibly our favourite DEET-free repellent. Of course its most obvious selling point is that it’s suitable for travellers with sensitive skin, but in addition to this, it’s also suitable for pregnant women and children over the age of 2 years.
Trek Sensitive contains Saltidin with advanced time-release technology, meaning the Saltidin is released slowly over the period of wear, offering up to 12 hours of protection.
Active ingredient: 20% Saltidin (micro-encapsulated)
Best for: Sensitive skin, long lasting protection, pregnant women, high protection without using DEET
Incognito mosquito repellent is one of the most well known natural repellents on the market. This award-winning formula is certified as 100% natural and protects against mosquitoes, sandflies, midges and ticks for up to 8 hours.
Incognito is clinically proven to be 100% effective after 5 hours and 88% effective after 8 hours. Incognito is also suitable for children from the age of 6 months, making it suitable for families. It also comes in a choice of spray or roll on!
Active ingredient: PMD
Best for: Natural ingredients, young children, low risk areas
Lifesystems Natural 30+ is classed as a medium strength repellent and is made from a blend of natural plant oils and extracts from Lemon Eucalyptus. The active ingredient is Citrepel 75, which has been clinically proven to repel flying insects and provides up to 8 hours of protection from a single application.
While there are several brands that use Citrepel 75 as their active ingredient, Lifesystems Natural 30+ repellent also contains pyrethrin, which acts as a natural bite inhibitor for added insect bite protection. Due to its natural formula, Lifesystems Natural 30+ is suitable for children over 2 years of age.
Active ingredient: Citrepel 75 30% (Lemon Eucalyptus)
Jungle Formula sensitive lotion contains the synthetic insect repellent IR3535 in a 20% strength (Ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate), which has been approved by the World Health Organisation as an effective insect repellent. Jungle Formula sensitive is effective against mosquitoes, midges and other biting insects and comes in a lotion, making it easy to apply, with less waste compared to sprays.
Each application lasts for up to 6 hours and can be used on adults and children from the age of 12 months. Jungle Formula give their repellents an Insect Repellent Factor rating, with their Sensitive repellent being classed as IRF2 (with 4 being the highest strength), which offers suitable protection in countries where there is no risk of Malaria or other tropical diseases.
Active ingredient: IR3535 20% (Ethyl butylacetylaminopropionate)
Best for: Low risk areas, sensitive skin, young children, easy application
Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis are a concern for travellers, especially those who are adventuring off the beaten path and trekking through forests and woodland areas. Care Plus have formulated a repellent especially for repelling ticks, so if you’re worried about ticks when travelling, this Citriodiol based repellent is a great addition to your kit.
Care Plus tick repellent provides 4-6 hours of protection per application and is suitable for children over 3 months of age. You can read more about ticks and how to protect yourself here.
Active ingredient: Eucalyptus Citriodora oil (30%)
Rachel has worked for the company for 9 years and as one of our buying team, has a wide knowledge of travel gear. She has travelled in Europe and Southeast Asia, but her dream destination would be South America to experience Carnival in Rio, unleash her inner Attenborough in the Galapagos and sip on Colombian coffee in colonial Cartagena.