DEET-Free Bug Sprays

California Baby Bug Repellent
Intelligent Nutrients Perfume Spray
The Honest Co. Bug Spray
Malin + Goetz Bug Spray
Mrs. White’s Unstung Hero

A quick lesson on mosquitos: they pick up on the CO2 we exhale from over 100 yards away, and, once they’ve zeroed in on us—aside from dolling out itchy, painful welts—they can also transmit malaria, dengue fever, or a little thing called West Nile virus. So…who wants to go glamping?

All of which is to say bug spray is your friend, but must we really douse ourselves in possibly-toxic chemical cocktails with dizzying scents that keep fellow outdoors enthusiasts just as far away from us as the skeeters? We think not. And while we wait for the maybe life-changing Kite Patch to hit the market (seriously, guys, read up) we’ve tracked down and tested the most sophisticated ( times, infantile) DEET-free, and best-smelling bug sprays we’ve come across. Here are five to keep bugs—not your friends—at bay:

California Baby Bug Repellent: As Lauren Santo Domingo once said, “Nothing smells better than babies.” This sentiment, along with Kate Young’s recommendation, is why we picked up this gentle, natural bug deterrent. Upon spraying it in the Gloffice, one visitor announced it smelled like “baby wipes," but, like LSD said, that's a good thing. The finish is dry, but not in the sticky, aerosol sense, and reapplication is required every two hours.

Intelligent Nutrients Perfume Spray: Admittedly, it was the adorable baby vampire-bat on the bottle that had us all reaching for this self-proclaimed “aromatic experience.” But the certified-organic, minty, slightly oily concoction mixes geranium and cedar for an effect that’s more moody, woodsy perfume than pungent citronella candle. Plus, it leaves your skin a little more moisturized. Intelligent Nutrients suggests spritzing it all over yourself and your "personal effects," to prepare for two hours of bite-free, or close to it, bliss.

The Honest Co. Bug Spray: This one is a little on the sweet side, but the once-again certified-organic blend of rosemary, citronella, and wintergreen makes up one of the purest and safest repellants out there. It's also hydrating and baby-friendly, which, as Julia Restoin Roitfeld will tell you, means it's also your friend.

Malin + Goetz Bug Spray: Originally crafted in founders Matthew and Andrew’s own upstate New York garden, this essential-oil-based mosquito spray works for three hours and contains an herbal blend of rosemary, geranium, and lemongrass after an initial blast of citronella. Light in texture and scent, it evokes a refreshing summer cocktail, or, as Nick said: “It smells kind of good.”

Mrs. White’s Unstung Hero: After awarding it 800 clever points for its name and carving out counter space to showcase its très chic package, we couldn’t stop sniffing this so-called “repellant.” It’s lemony, like real Southern sweet tea, and is so lightweight it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything. Depending on how deep South you venture, reapply every two to four hours.

Happy trails, campers.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Cay

    The Malin + Goetz guys might be two of the most adorable people on the planet. I love seeing them get attention.

  • murt

    I had high hopes for the natural stuff when I moved to Nairobi, but I ditched it pretty fast in exchange for the DEET. I've found plenty of natural repellents that smell fantastic, but none that actually worked well enough.

  • ChristineStorch

    I love all the California Baby Products!

  • DdR

    Buds, how'd you guys leave out Avon's cult classic "Skin-So Soft"??

  • Chantel

    Great post, thanks for sharing these products.

  • MissWix

    Also, Jao makes an amazing one!!! Can you guys do a feature on chemical free sunscreens? Actually, I should probably do a search first. You probably already have. xo

  • Patricia

    The California Baby one works well, and I agree it smells good and doesn't leave the sticky feel most bug repellants do. We've used it on our baby and on ourselves in Finland, where mosquitoes abound in summertime, and in the Philippines, where the suckers spread dengue, a hemmorrhagic fever that can be fatal if undetected.

  • Victoria

    I learned the hard way that DEET triggers horrific migraines for me while on a vacation to a mostly mosquito infested island and turned to natural insect repellants instead. I love the one from zoe organics and one that doesn't disappoint ever is from Brittanie's Thyme and available at my Whole Foods.

  • Peyton Simms

    I never use big spray, but may I should try it!!!


  • sue

    sigh..the Kite patch's release is 10-14 months away.

  • Clint

    I use a deet free product called Sweetly Citron I found on Amazon. Works great and smells good.

  • Behind the Mirror

    Completely in love with Malin + Goetz Bug Spray!!! Just did a test over 4th of July with different bug sprays and wrote about it on BtM

  • Lily

    But did you guys actually try any of these know...where bugs live? Because it sounds like you just sprayed them around the Gloffice and that really doesn't say much about their efficacy in terms of actually repelling bugs..

    • ITGMackenzie

      Hi Lily,
      I used each of these products in the mosquito heaven otherwise known as the Thousand Islands and they all passed the test. I only got one bug bite (while I was sleeping and not wearing bug spray), and had fewer than the rest of my family—and they wore OFF.

      • Lily

        Awesome! Thanks.

  • Juliette

    This one from Vonen is great too made out of natural ingredients:

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Wow, the Intelligent Nutrients packaging is super cute! Would have suckered me in as well. And the Malin and Goetz option sounds lovely too! xo


California Baby
California Baby Bug Repellent
Intelligent Nutrients
Intelligent Nutrients Perfume Spray
Mrs. White's
Malin + Goetz
Malin + Goetz Bug Spray
The Honest Co.
The Honest Co. Bug Spray