You can’t watch the news (or go on Facebook) without hearing about Zika and pregnancy . And where there’s info about Zika, there’s usually recommendations of DEET -- the chemical most commonly found in conventional bug repellents in the US. DEET is hugely effective at preventing mosquitos and ticks and is recommended by the EPA, CDC, ACOG, and AAP for use on adults, children over 2 months of age, and even on pregnant women. But some people still harbor doubts about the safety of DEET.
After all, it is a synthetic compound, and it has been proven that, at 100% concentration, it literally melts plastic. Originally developed to protect soldiers in the army in the late 1940s, there is still some confusion among the scientific community about exactly how DEET works, and some evidence that it causes neurological side effects in some animals. One recent study found that people with routine exposure might be more prone to insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function.
We always recommend talking to your doctor about what’s safest for your pregnancy, especially when it comes to Zika. But if you are looking for a natural bug repellent, here are some great options that are safe for both pregnant women and children.
(I’m not going to lie; all of these options pretty much smell the same. They all have that herb-y, natural smell, that isn’t exactly perfume but is a whole lot better than the scent of chemical bug spray!)
Star ingredient: Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
The CDC website lists oil of lemon eucalyptus oil as a good option to prevent mosquito bites! This light, crisp spray goes on easily without feeling oily at all. It uses Lemon Eucalyptus as a natural alternative to DEET, and also tosses in known bug repellents like organic Rose Geranium and Peppermint essential oils keep away ticks. Buy it here, $25
Star ingredients: Catnip and Citronella
This spray is organic, and it contains the Lemon Eucalyptus listed above, citronella AND catnip! The EPA recommends a few different skin-applied ingredients to deter mosquitos including Catnip and Citronella, so this spray covers a lot of bases! Buy it here, $20
Star ingredients: Organic Essential Oils of Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary and clove (and more!)
This luxe, 100% organic option contains no Lemon Eucalyptus oil. Instead, it uses a blend of organic essential oils that are so gentle you can rub it into your hairline and face! Since this formula is soybean oil-based with additional castor seed oil, it's also nourishing to boot! Zoe Organics can double as a body moisturizer! Buy it here, $20
Star ingredients: Organic Essential Oils of Geranium, Clove, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rosemary
This product is actually USDA certified organic. It contains no water — as it says on the package, “Why pay for water?”— and thus also doesn’t need preservatives. Every ingredient is an active ingredient, so there are no extra fillers or frills. Also free of Lemon Eucalyptus oil, this spray promises to be gentle and fresh-smelling. Buy it here, $9.99
Star ingredients: Citronella, cedar, and lemongrass in Stick form!
For on-the-go ease, we love Badger’s Anti-Bug Balm Sticks. They come in travel or full size, are easy to apply anytime, anywhere, and are certified organic. This a great option for kids who might not want to rub in oils like the options listed above. Buy it here, $11.10
Star ingredient: Lemon Eucalyptus
The ultimate multi-tasker, this made-in-Brooklyn spray contains Lemon Eucalyptus to deter mosquitos, plus a bunch of other essential oils that make it work as a hand sanitizer, yoga mat deodorizer, and clothing/shoe refresher. It’s alcohol-free and safe to use with kids. Score! Buy it here, $16: