Is your insect repellent DEET-free?
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, critters such as mosquitoes, midgies, flies and other pesky bugs also thrive in the hotter months and uncovered human skin can be like a magnet for them!
Insects can not only spoil your fun when you're outdoors, in tropical regions they can lead to nasty allergic reactions and even spread diseases such as Ross River Fever and Arboviruses in Australia and Malaria, Dengue and Yellow Fever, and even Lyme disease in other parts of the world!
To keep these little critters at bay, do you reach for an insect repellent from your local supermarket?
If so, you're probably doing it not realising that it's laden with chemicals that not only repel the bugs, but add toxins to your skin and body.
Over time and distance, these unintended negative consequences can impact your health and the environment!
One of the most common key active ingredients contained in the majority of insect repellents you can buy off the shelf in supermarkets and pharmacies is Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET).
What is DEET?
DEET is a synthetic chemical additive that is the most common active ingredient in most 'big-brand', commercial insect repellents.
It is a toxic, 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:
- Rapid Absorption into the blood stream leading to neuro-toxic effects particularly in children;
- Environmental concerns like the accumulation of DEET in waterways;
- Allergic skin reactions, due to it being a solvent that's 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 us with a variety of organic plant-based extracts that are totally safe, non-toxic and effective and much more pleasant to be around.
Similar to the way DEET works, pure Essential Oils like the following, work by essentially 'masking' the the smell of your body which attracts insects:
Make your own insect repellent
You can use either of these oils individually, but for best results, mix 10-20 drops of each one into half a cup of both witch hazel and water. Once prepared, then spray or rub onto your exposed body parts before going outdoors.
Basil is also a good insect repellent. To help repel flies, place a pot of Basil outside your door.
If you don't want the hassle of getting all of the components together and making your own natural insect repellent, I’ve made it really easy and convenient for you by creating an insect repellent called Don’t Bug Me!
It's a herbal blend of a selection of the ingredients listed above, with the added carrier oil of sweet almond that helps to soften and moisturise your skin.
And the best thing of all is that it won’t harm or kill the insects - they simply won’t even know you’re there!
DEET is a chemical that is best avoided. So, if you use an insect repellent on your skin, just take a look check the label and make sure it is DEET-free.
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