As the weather gets warmer, our sleeves get shorter and we tend to get 'happy feet' as we start enjoying more time outdoors.
On the flip side, mosquitoes, midgies, flies and other pesky bugs also thrive in the hotter months and our skin can be like a magnet for them!
Insects can not only spoil your fun when you're sitting out on the deck, camping or bush walking, in tropical regions they can even lead to nasty allergic reactions and even spread diseases such as malaria and ross river fever.
So, the question is; do you use an insect repellent to ward off the little critters?
And if so, is it DEET chemical free?
One of the most common key active ingredients contained in the majority of insect repellents you'll find on the market is Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET).
Here we take a look at this chemical and suggest some natural alternatives to regular chemical based repellents to keep the pesky insects at bay.
What is DEET?
DEET is a synthetic chemical additive that is the most common active ingredient in many commercial insect repellents.
DEET is a slightly-yellow chemical compound that was developed around the time of WWII and soon after tested as a pesticide on crops in the U.S.A.
From there, it started being used in the military, before being incorporated into insect spray products in the 1960s.
DEET's insect repelling attributes work by chemically masking the smell of your body, as well as emitting an odour which insects find repulsive.
Despite its ability to keep bugs away, studies are now revealing the following negative potential effects of DEET:
- Absorption into the blood stream of chemicals that may lead to neuro-toxic effects, particularly in children;
- Environmental concerns like the accumulation of DEET in waterways;
- Allergic skin reactions, due some chemicals being a solvents that are powerful enough to melt plastic;
- Unpleasant smell and respiratory problems;
- A growing "resistance" of insects to DEET chemicals.
What are natural insect repellents?
Thankfully, mother-nature provides a variety of plant-based extracts that are safe, non-toxic, effective and much more pleasant to have on your skin.
Similar to how DEET works, certain pure essential oils have natural repelling or masking effect that deters the insects from being attracted to your skin.
Some of the best essential oils with potent repelling effects that won't harm your skin, include:
Make your own insect repellent
You can apply either of these oils topically individually in small amounts, but for best results, prepare a DIY spray version, by mixing 10-20 drops of each oil into glass spray bottle, together with 1/2 cup of both witch hazel and purified water.
Once prepared, spray or rub onto your exposed body parts before going outdoors.
Rosemary is also a good natural insect repellent as mosquitoes have a natural aversion to it, making it great for hiking and lake activities and it also have a unique, mentally refreshing scent.
The Main Takeaway
When summer time comes around, if you're going to be spending time outdoors, particularly by the water, chances are you'll want to have an insect repellent with you nearby.
With all the talk about synthetic chemicals these days and the potential harmful effects they can have on your skin, it's good to be aware of safer alternatives, that you can make for yourself, that still have the desired effect.
Follow some of our essential oil suggestions here and you'll have peace of mind when you're having fun outdoors this summer.
Tolman Self Care.