This spray contains 50 per cent DEET but lacks the harsh metallic scent we typically associate with products containing this amount of the bug-busting chemical.
First thing first, let’s bust some myths about ways to repel mosquitos. As humans whose blood seems to be especially appealing to biting insects, we’ve tried every old wives’ tale in the book, whether it’s eating huge quantities of asparagus (really?) or upping our intake of vitamin B. But when it comes to warding off those pesky mosquitos, nothing, barring commercially produced mosquito repellent, has worked.
The vitamin B theory is the one we hear the most, which is why we roped in an expert to disprove this myth once and for all: “You may have heard the claim that increasing your vitamin B intake can reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites,” says Carolina Goncalves, superintendent pharmacist at Pharmica. “However, research relating to this claim suggests that vitamin B does nothing to repel mosquitoes.”
So, once you’ve ditched the veg and vits, and decided on the repellent route, it’s time to think about ingredients. In our experience, only a handful of natural repellents work (and we’ve included the best ones here), and we’ve never been afraid of a liberal spritz of DEET. Admittedly, it might not have the most pleasant smell, but mozzies hate the stuff.
Don’t assume DEET will upset your skin either – these days, clever formulations mean DEET-based sprays are unlikely to lead to irritation. But if you’re concerned, simply opt for a repellent with a lower percentage of DEET, or try an alternative with an active ingredient such as icaridin (paradin), which is “deemed both safe and effective”, says Goncalves.
Finally, wondering how to help mosquito bites heal (after all, there’ll always be a handful of determined ones that get through)? “It’s important to avoid scratching the bitten area,” says Goncalves. “Scratching can open up the wound and lead to an infection. You can apply hydrocortisone cream or ointment to the bite, although it’s important not to apply it if the skin is broken, as this can make irritation worse.”
How we tested
Our testing took place in hot, humid conditions, and we deliberately sought out soggy areas (such as canals, rivers and areas of still water, which mozzies love most). The fact that our bites were minimal is a tribute to the following sprays, although we also took other factors into account, including the ease of application (we’re now suckers for a roll-on repellent), scent and the overall bottle design.
The best mosquito repellents for 2023 are:
- Best mosquito repellent overall – Jungle Formula maximum pump spray: £9, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for cabin baggage-only trips – Forclaz mosquito and tick repellent spray with eucalyptus essential oil: £5.99, Decathlon.co.uk
- Best value mosquito repellent – Superdrug buzz off insect repellent: £4.49, Superdrug.com
- Best for kids – Puressentiel bite and sting spray repellent + soothing: £12.60, Amazon.co.uk