July 23 2014

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Beauty Throwdown: Battle Bug Repellents


Battle-Bug-SpraysMosquitoes and me have had a long and, well, bumpy relationship. Simply put: They can’t get enough of me, and I hate them with a passion. It’s been the same story since I was a kid, and traditional repellents have done little to halt their blood-sucking intentions. Since moving two years ago to an address in close proximity to the mosquito heaven that is Brooklyn’s super-smelly Gowanus Canal, few summer days have gone by without an itchy welt surfacing. So I was more than a little eager to offer up my flesh as a testing ground for two nontoxic solutions designed to repel those pesky skin intruders. Let the throwdown commence.

The Original Apothecary Pick:
Mrs. White’s Unstung Hero
The bottle is definitely the chicest repellent container to cross my desk, and the scent, a lemon-tea fragrance that smells ever so faintly of dryer sheets, in the best way possible, is, dare I say, actually pretty pleasant. Added bonus: It won’t stain fabric, so you can spray it on your bedsheets or clothes for extra protection. Although it claims to last four hours, depending on the humidity, I had to reapply much sooner, when one of those beasts managed to descend on my right calf. The glass bottle isn’t exactly travel-friendly, so I’d suggest misting on at home.

The New Boutique Debugger:
Founders Matthew and Andrew discovered the need for a natural insect repellent—or, as they so elegantly call it, “herbal bug deterrent”—after becoming avid gardeners. This product is actually made in the upstate New York area where they have a weekend home (locavores rejoice!). The essential-oil blend smells very citronella-heavy at first spray, but the dry-down reveals a pretty lovely aroma of rosemary, geranium, and lemongrass. It kept me covered for the recommended two hours, and, like Mrs. White’s, it’s also safe to apply to fabric.

The Verdict:
Both sprays are composed of all-natural ingredients, which means they feel and smell much (much!) better than their chemical-y, DEET-laced competitors. These two also offer protection against all manner of biting insects beyond mosquitoes, including ticks, black flies, wasps, and bees—just plan on reapplying every two hours. With those factors in mind, we’re calling this bug-repellent battle a tie.

Photos: Courtesy of Shen Beauty, Malin + Goetz

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