In a world where Zika has taken center stage, this doesn't bode well for the spread of the virus
Bug bites are a hassle at the very least, and with the Zika outbreak, no one can be too careful about protecting themselves from those pesky mosquitos. (See: What You Need to Know About Zika.) Things are not improving—in fact, more pregnant women in the U.S. have Zika that previously thought—and the best we all can do is take action to fend off bites this summer. But since bug spray and oils with a chemical base often have a not-so-nice smell, many of us gravitate toward natural options.
However, when Consumer Reports did a deeper dive into which repellents actually do the job, the findings made natural repellents dubious at best for protection. The testing group found that although the natural oils are less harsh on the nose, they're also less potent against the swarms of mosquitos. The CDC has also noted that using the word "natural" might sound better to consumers, but it doesn't mean it's as effective as DEET and eucalyptus products.
The three best options all contained DEET, picaridin, or a synthetic derivative of eucalyptus—all considered unnatural. These products warded off not only the specific species of mosquito that carries Zika and West Nile but ticks as well for seven hours. Five out of six of the natural plant-oil-based varieties protected for only an hour, some even less. That's a bummer, especially if you're outside breaking a sweat to any degree.
If you're still wary about DEET, try these 7 DEET-Free Ways to Bypass Mosquito Bites. For best results, use both repellent and practical methods to protect yourself this summer, overseas and at home.