Woman spraying her arm with bug spray.

How to Choose the Best Insect Repellent

There are hundreds of brands and products out there that repel, or at least claim to repel, insects. Some insect repellents don’t work as well as advertised, and some can be harmful to you and the environment.

With all these products on the market, how do you choose the best insect repellent? And how do you know if it’s safe to use on your skin? Here are our tips. 

Choosing the Best Insect Repellent 

Choosing the best insect repellent is all about finding something with ingredients you feel comfortable using and making sure it is actually effective at repelling mosquitoes. You wouldn’t want to choose an all-natural insect repellent just to find out it doesn’t work once you’re already outside. 

Read the Label 

The first thing to do while looking at bug repellents is to read the ingredients on the label and check the active ingredient. You could opt for a natural main ingredient, DEET, or Picaridin. 

Natural Ingredients 

While natural ingredients are amazing, they aren’t always effective at repelling insects. A lot of natural bug sprays contain tea tree oil, but this doesn’t actually work. There are little regulations for these natural bug sprays and, if you’re looking to keep mosquitoes away from you, you want something that will actually work. 

Look for natural insect repellents that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus, as this is a natural ingredient with an EPA-proven efficacy. 


As the most common ingredient in bug spray, DEET is extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes. 

However, it is still a chemical you’re putting onto your skin. Look for bug sprays with 15-30% DEET concentration. Anything over 30% isn’t considered safe for children and could increase the risk of side effects, such as skin irritation, in adults. 


Picaridin is most effective in spray form. It’s a synthetic compound that mimics a naturally-occurring compound in black pepper. While Picaridin is safer than DEET and just as effective, it still has the potential to irritate your skin and eyes. 

However, a picaridin spray seems to be the most popular type of insect repellent, as it works just as well as DEET without feeling as oily or exposing your body to potentially harmful chemicals. 

Should You Use Bug Spray With DEET?

DEET is the most prevalent active ingredient in bug sprays. The CDC has deemed it safe for use on humans, with little risk of adverse effects when used as directed. However, there are several other insect repellents that are effective and don’t contain harmful chemicals.  

If you don’t want to use DEET on your body, we recommend using a spray with 20% picaridin or one with oil of lemon eucalyptus. 

Choose a Spray 

Tests have shown that insect repellent sprays tend to work better than lotions or wipes, even when they have the same active ingredient concentration. 

For example, Consumer Reports tested multiple insect repellents that use picaridin as the active ingredient. Sprays with 20% picaridin did a great job at repelling mosquitoes, while wipes and lotions with the same exact concentration barely worked at all. 

Apply Insect Repellent the Right Way 

While this doesn’t necessarily have to do with the shopping process, it’s still important to mention. 

Here’s how to apply your bug repellent the right way: 

  • Read the product label for exact instructions on how to apply the repellent. In general, you should only use it on exposed skin and on top of your clothes 
  • Don’t spray it directly on your face. Instead, put some on your hands and gently apply it to your face
  • Never spray it on wounds or cuts 
  • Don’t over-apply it. While you might think that applying more than the label says to could repel mosquitoes better, this simply isn’t true. Applying more insect repellent than you need mostly just exposes you to unnecessary amounts of it without adding increased repellency rates
  • Always wash your hands after applying it

How to Choose the Best Insect Repellent for Your Yard

Mosquito repellent is just for topical use. It’s also important to pick a mosquito repellent you can use to keep bugs out of your yard! 

When choosing the best insect repellent for your yard, you should look for something that won’t damage your grass and is safe for the environment, pets, and loved ones. (Of course, you want to make sure it works, too.)

Here are some of the best ways to keep mosquitoes out of your yard. 

Yard Sprays

Spraying your yard for insects is one of the most effective ways to repel them. If you apply the appropriate coverage, you will be able to enjoy your entire yard, insect-free. For example, our all-natural Mosquito Magician repellent  can keep your yard mosquito-free for up to two weeks! 

This is much more effective and beneficial than tiki torches or plants because those only work within their immediate vicinity. 


Insects hate the smell of smoke because they associate it with danger and it can irritate their sensitive scent receptors. 

Even with a moderate breeze, the smell of smoke can disperse in all directions, creating a shield-like barrier for you to enjoy the outdoors.

Use Insect Repelling Plants

Several plants have insect-repelling properties, but they will only keep them far enough away to protect themselves. They do, however, repel mosquitoes — you just have to be really close to them. 

While insect-repelling plants can be one part of a larger pest control solution, we still recommend using something with a stronger repellant rate. 

Repel Mosquitoes With Mosquito Magician

Mosquito Magician is our independently tested, environmentally safe, all-natural mosquito repellent for your yard. Say goodbye to the “Keep Off Grass” signs put in place after pest control companies spray your yard with toxic chemicals. Try Mosquito Magician today!