Summertime is typically the only time we give bug repellent a ton of real estate in our minds. But it’s necessary. Through all the backyard barbecues, outdoor boozy brunches, and adventurous hikes, there are pesky mosquitoes, no-seeums (those teeny neon specks that you can’t see until they’re biting you), and scary disease-ridden ticks. Ladies, you have to wear protection. But nothing kills a cute day party vibe like the nagging smell of a sterile hospital room—especially if it’s radiating from you.
At that rate you’re likely to risk being bitten. But you don’t have to. Enter the bug repellent brands that understand. We’ve found 5 bug repellents that give you the same bug protection without the gross smell. And what’s better, they don’t leave melanin rich skin with an ashy film.
Kinfield Golden Hour Deet-Free Repellent
Citronella is the ingredient in repellents that stops mosquitoes from feasting on your bod, but it’s also the ingredient that tends to give the spray that undesirable smell. Luckily that’s not the case for this deet-free repellent. It’s subtle but effective, with a hint of lemon and vanilla. It’s not quite a perfume, but you can stand it through a day of outdoor activities if you don’t want to be lunch and dinner for some greedy critter.
Peppermint oil gives this repellent wipe a strong sweet smell. It almost seems to have a hint of eucalyptus, though it’s not listed as one of the ingredients. The dry wipe is a less-mess way to ward off pesky critters from your picnic, outdoor brunch, or walk through the grassy park. The all natural ingredients make it one of the safest repellents. I accidentally rubbed my eye after applying, and had no water nearby. It burned for a few seconds, and that was it. You should still try to avoid contact with the eyes though.
Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus IR3535 Expedition™
If Avon was a staple on your mom’s vanity when you were growing up, then you remember the distinct smell of Skin So Soft. Imagine that childhood memory, but in a repellent that also gives you sun protection. It has a strong smell along with strong coverage, but it’s not that typical chemical induced fragrance. It goes on smoothly, doesn’t feel sticky or make skin look ashy (like many sunscreens can do), and it wards off a variety of pests that can do real harm to your health if you’re not protected.
OFF! is a brand that always comes to mind when we think about bug repellents, but it’s also a brand that we associate with the stinky camp spray smell. This family care version goes on smooth and dry like a spray powder. This isn’t an odorless version either. The smell is almost like imitation cherries. It’s soft and sweet, and reminds me of the food from the Baby All Gone doll I had as a child (weird reference, I know). Use it on everyone in the family, even the little ones.
This organic repellent uses a blend of natural botanical oils to chase away the pests. While the brand boasts it as fragrance-free, that doesn’t exactly mean it doesn’t have a smell. It means synthetic or chemical fragrance has not been added. There’s still a hint of lemongrass oil but it’s light and not overwhelming. It reminds me of an essential oils shop, and I love it. Be sure to rub it in well and apply every few hours for maximum protection.