What are the most annoying pests in Australia? You might be surprised to hear it’s not spiders. It’s not even snakes. I’ve recently been doing lots of video interviews for my Migration Mastermind membership community and the common pest that comes up every time when we start discussing wildlife is MOSQUITOES!
Mosquitoes are a pain! I count myself very lucky that they don’t really bite me often, and if they do I just get a slight itch and it’s gone, so I’ve never really hunted for the best mosquito repellents before we moved to Australia. It turns out they eat my husband and two of our kids alive though! They have the type of skin that reacts to the bites and swells up and itches and causes them to be up in agony scratching all night long so I’ve seen first hand how painful mosquitoes can be for a lot of people. Now that we live somewhere with so many insects, we need to think about mozzie repellent and bug sprays on a regular basis.
Want to find the best zinc sunscreen brand in Australia? Read the post here!
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love discovering Australian brands that have a strong story to share and that have a purpose behind them. I love to champion natural products that are sustainable and don’t harm the planet (you can read more about my values over on my values and vision page). My husband always chooses a DEET, chemical-laden outdoor mosquito repellent but I hate putting these chemical mozzie sprays on my kids. This post was inspired as I wanted to search for the best mosquito repellent for kids that contained natural ingredients and no nasties. I wanted to discover a bug spray or insect repellent for kids that could be applied easily, that wouldn’t be filled with harsh chemicals and that would actually work like the DEET mosquito repellent my husband keeps buying!
I should also add, if you’re looking for an insect repellent for babies or to use if you’re pregnant make sure you read up on the products carefully. Even some of the essential oil bug sprays and balms can have an age limit on them and they aren’t all suitable for use during pregnancy so double check things to make sure they’re safe before you use them.
Choosing the best mosquito repellent Australia has to offer
There are a few things you need to know when you’re looking for the best mosquito repellent to use outdoors in Australia.
DEET and picaridin are the best-known ingredients in bug repellent sprays and mosquito protection lotions. These are tried and tested and they are effective at preventing bites. There are plant-derived alternatives that are considered safe to use but they aren’t always as effective as the chemical alternatives. It may mean you need to reapply your natural essential oil mosquito repellent more frequently than if you used a DEET mosquito repellent. It may also mean that you want to consider all options if you’re heading to a destination where mosquito-born diseases are prominent. This post is an opinion piece and isn’t medical advice. Please do your own research and follow professional medical advice carefully.
Another really important thing to highlight is that not all of the products I’ve tried can legally be called ‘mosquito repellents’. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is in control of assessing products such as mosquito repellents, natural bug sprays, mosquito repellent bands, candles and coils to ensure they are safe and effective. Being assessed and scientifically tested by this body incurs a fee and some of the products I’ve trialled for this post are small operators, some of them handmaking the products in small batches. I mention which products are APVMA approved in the content.
Why choose a natural mozzie repellent over a chemical insect repellent?
There are many reasons why somebody chooses an essential oils mosquito repellent or a natural mosquito repellent over a DEET insect repellent. I know a lot of people whose skin reacts to the chemical mosquito repellents. I also know lots of people who prefer to use more natural products because they would rather not apply chemicals to their skin. Another reason people have told me is that they hate the smell and taste of a DEET insect spray – even when you apply it outdoors you can still get a backdraft of the smell and taste in your mouth.
The aim of this post is just to showcase some of the Australian natural bug sprays on the market and to let you know what the products were like to use. I haven’t done a scientific study or compared them with a DEET version. I’ve just trialled them at the park, on bike rides, on walks and around the garden and I’ve used them in places where there are lots of mosquitos to see how they’d work for us as a family.
In the interests of transparency, I was gifted many of these products to try them out for this article. The brands don’t have any input in the content of this article, and all opinions are my own.
This article contains affiliate links
How to avoid getting bitten in the first place
The first piece of advice to begin with is this: do what you can to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place! I know it sounds obvious but there are a few simple things you can do to avoid insect bites when you’re outdoors. Prevention is always far better than cure! Check out these simple mosquito deterrent techniques:
Exposed skin can be bitten so wear long sleeves and long trousers. Apparently, wearing lighter colours also helps as mosquitoes are likely to be more drawn to you in dark clothing.
Avoid dawn and dusk
Avoid being out in the evenings if you can, and if you know a place has a lot of mosquitoes – avoid going there when you know they’re going to be particularly bad.
Wear shoes and socks
My family often get bitten around their feet and ankles, so wearing shoes and socks definitely helps.
Avoid standing water
Mosquitoes breed in still water, whether that is containers left in your garden, ponds, lakes or swamps. Avoid these areas if you can.
On the hunt for the best outdoor mosquito repellent in Australia or the best natural bug spray?
We decided it was about time that we tried a number of different insect sprays in an effort to discover the best outdoor mosquito repellent. Australia, it seems, is best-known for its scary wildlife like spiders and snakes even though you don’t see these that often but mosquitoes are a daily pest that really can be frustrating for people who get badly bitten. If you’re one of those people, I hope you enjoy reading our experiences as we tried out a number of different natural mozzie repellents and essential oil insect repellents, sprays and balms just for you.
NoBites™ Insect Repellent
This DEET-Free plant-based insect repellent was created to improve the quality of life for families that love the great outdoors. I love that they have a clear vision: To provide a safer alternative: An insect repellent free of harmful chemicals.
Their products are vegan and are kind to the planet, and their focus is very much on adding something to our lives rather than taking something away. It’s an Australia-owned and Australia-made product. They offer two versions of insect spray: NoBites™ Insect Repellent and NoBites™ Junior Insect repellent.
The products ward off a range of flying insects that you might encounter outdoors such as mosquitoes, sandflies and midges. The active ingredient is Citriodiol which camouflages your smell from biting insects. NoBites™ products are APVMA approved and backed by Centres for Disease Control (CDC) & World Health Organisation (WHO). They’re also dermatologically tested.
All five of us wore NoBites to walk around Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (where there are lots of trees and some lakes), for an evening game of tennis and on a few trips to parks where there are usually lots of mosquitoes.
The NoBites™ mosquito spray came out in a fairly fine mist and dried quite quickly on our skin in a few seconds without it feeling at all sticky. It smelled natural and not unpleasant, and didn’t catch the back of our throats like the chemical sprays can. The packaging is a plastic bottle with a plastic lid (although I did keep losing the lids when they were in my bag as they’d get knocked off).
NoBites worked really well for us and it repelled the mosquitoes. The kids wore the Junior version and Matt and I wore the adult version. The bottles say it works for up to six hours (for mosquitoes, midges and sandflies) and up to four hours for ticks, but we were out for longer than that sometimes and it gave us excellent protection without us reapplying it and we didn’t get any bites.
The bottles come in 100ml sizes and were easy to carry around in my handbag.
We liked that the products were APVMA approved and they were well-tested – it gave us confidence in the products (this also helped me persuading my husband away from his usual DEET sprays).
This one won my husband over – it was his favourite choice out of those that we tested.
Perfect Potion Outdoor Bug Spray Natural Insect Repellent
Perfect Potion’s Outdoor Bug Spray is made in Australia entirely from plant-based, natural ingredients, including citronella, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus and niaouli. It has been scientifically tested to WHO standards, repelling 98.5% of mosquitoes on application. It is approved by APVMA and is vegan-friendly.
Perfect Potion’s aim is to embrace the healing benefits of aromatherapy while producing quality products that adhere to strict organic, natural and cruelty-free standards. I love that their business is centred around us taking responsibility for the world in which we live and embracing a holistic approach to our wellbeing.
The Perfect Potion Outdoor Body Spray came out in a very fine mist which dried in a second on my skin. There was no stickiness at all and other than the fresh, pleasant scent it wasn’t easy to tell I was wearing it as it felt so light on my skin.
It comes in a plastic bottle that has the symbol on it to show it was made from recycled materials, and it has a plastic lid that clicked tightly in place (and stayed on, even in my bag).
I really liked the design of the bottle – it was very clear and easy to read. The label covered a large part of the bottle, but as the contents gets low you’d be able to see it was running out as you could see how much was left when down to the last few centimetres (unlike many of the other bottles where the bottles were fully labelled or the bottle’s colour obscured the product (it’s not a deal-breaker, but it is handy to be able to see how much is left before you need to buy more given you’re ordering online).
We wore this product to go out to the park a number of times and our local two parks have a lot of mosquitoes. We went with bare legs and arms to give it a proper test. We saw lots of mosquitoes around us, but they didn’t land or bite – they just hovered around and didn’t try to land on us. My kids enjoyed wearing this product as it was such a fine mist that dried instantly and they enjoyed the smell.
We liked that it was approved by APVMA.
If I had to choose, I would say, this was my favourite product of those that we tested (although it was very close as I liked quite a few of them almost equally!). I enjoyed the scent and liked how fine the mist spray was to apply plus I liked the branding and the fact I could see what was left in the bottle.
Lemon Myrtle Fragrances Insect Repellents
Lemon Myrtle Fragrances sent me two of their products to try: Natural Tropical Strength Mozzie and Sandfly Repellent and Lemon Myrtle Fragrances Natural Insect Repellent.
I love their brand – it’s a small, family-owned business where they focus on natural, sustainable products using 100% Australian lemon myrtle essential oil and other Australian native botanical oils. Their products aren’t tested on animals and they are APVMA approved. The sprays also double up as antibacterial and antiseptic – for years Aboriginal peoples have been using lemon myrtle as a remedy for cuts and abrasions.
When the product arrived in the post, even the box they came in smelled zesty so I knew what it was before I even opened it! The kids were particularly attracted to these two bottles as they were the most colourful of those we tried (the Natural Insect Repellent has a vibrant yellow label and the Mozzie and Sandfly Repellent, orange).
The Natural Insect Repellent went on with a slightly heavier spray than the others above and it took a few seconds for it to dry. My kids mostly just gave it a wipe to rub it into their skin as they were impatient. The Mozzie and Sandfly Repellent came out with a thicker, more focused spray so that needed a quick wipe to rub it over the skin. The smell was fresh and zesty with a slightly antiseptic scent – the kids really liked it which is half the battle with getting kids to wear things like this!
The bottles are made of plastic with plastic lids that clicked on tightly (so they didn’t fall off in my bag). The bottle says to dispose of them with your household waste. I love that these bottles come in a smaller 125ml or a larger 250ml option. It means you can have a handbag size version for taking around with you and have a bigger bottle for days out and picnics.
Mosquitoes definitely avoided us at the park when we were wearing these products. They hovered around our hands and arms but they didn’t land on any of us.
Two of my kids preferred these products to the others and I think that was mainly down to the smell. They didn’t mind the product coming out in a slightly heavier spray than some of the others. I really like that these products also offer that antibacterial and antiseptic quality too as that gives them a duel purpose (especially when applying to kids’ skin where they have existing mozzie bites that are sore).
wanderlightly Bug Balm
wanderlightly is another brand that I absolutely love as they’re doing so much to care for our environment. I love everything they stand for! Their big vision is to empower and inspire others to reduce their plastic footprint and they run DIY workshops and create ethical products to support our daily lifestyle. You can tell this brand came out of a passion to do good in the world.
This isn’t a huge brand with APVMA approval – it’s small batch made products that are handmade in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Ingredients are soothing blends of organic butters and oils blended with essential oils. There are no nasty chemicals, no parabens, no talcs or palm oils and they’re vegan and cruelty-free. Wanderlightly donates 5% of all sales to conservation initiatives.
Of all the products, this was the one that had the kids the most excited and that was down to the packaging and type of product. Unlike the others which were sprays, this bug balm was a stick that you push up and rub on. It smelled delicious and rubbed on beautifully and the kids would fight over whose turn it was to try it (as we rotated testing all of the products on different outings).
I adore the style of the packaging – it’s ethical and kind. The cardboard tube is made from 100% recycled paper and it’s biodegradable. This was the only cardboard version of all of those that I tried, and it was really refreshing to have a product without any plastic involved. For me, this was a big reason why I fell in love with this brand.
I wore the Bug Balm a number of times on walks along a shady cycle track and didn’t get any bites. My son wore it on a day when the mozzies were particularly fierce at the park and later on when we got home he found some bites under his shirt (no idea how the mozzies got him there but he’s one of my family members that get bitten badly so they obviously were determined to get him). They hadn’t bitten him around his wrists or ankles where he’d applied this balm though.
I guess the pros of this are that I love the brand and what it stands for so much (plus the fact they donate 5% of all sales to good causes). It’s a product that I really enjoy applying and wearing as I love the scent and the feel of it on my skin. The cardboard tube wouldn’t last forever though (especially if carrying it around in your handbag all the time) but then for me that is still a positive as I prefer knowing the product packaging won’t be around for hundreds of years! It’s something to buy, use, love and then replace knowing you aren’t harming the planet in the process.
I will definitely wear this one on a regular basis as I love it and I enjoy applying it to my wrists before I go out for a walk or run. For me, this was a close favourite with Perfect Potion because I just love it, and I know that I’ll go on to buy other things from wanderlightly as I adore their brand.
Urthly Organics Bug Off Body Spray
Championing eco-friendly, handmade skincare, Urthly products are vegan-friendly, made in Australia using recyclyed packaging and they are certified palm oil-free. This small Australian brand creates sustainable products using essential oils and environmentally-friendly ingredients. I love how the brand grew from the founder, Julie, buying a book about how to make aromatherapy soap and it evolved into a market stall and then a full-time business, with Julie’s mum joining in creating the artwork for the packaging. It’s a proper family business and a really inspiring story of somebody following their dreams!
Urthly sells all kinds of products that are kind to your skin and to the environment. I love supporting small brands like this as they have such passion behind them and they’re really striving to encourage us to live more sustainable lives. They have lots of different products for sale in their shop. Their soaps, in particular, look divine and almost good enough to eat!
To me, it’s like having access to a handmade market stall online.
The Bug Off spray came out in a fine mist and dried instantly. The scent reminded me of spa days with my mum at our favourite day spa in England (they had an aromatherapy steam room that smelled just like this!) I really enjoyed wearing it – it didn’t make me feel like I was spraying on an insect deterrent at all – it felt uplifting as though I was applying some essential oil scents!
I love the metal spray tin the product comes in – it means it can be carried and thrown around without damaging it (I have three kids, remember!) The plastic lid clicks on tightly (so it doesn’t fall off in my bag). The product can also be used on horses or dogs too (but not cats) so it’s useful for those of you with animals that suffer from bites too.
For my gang, it was a very easy product to use and very practical for us going out and about. It was a smaller bottle (it still held 100ml like some of the others but the bottle was smaller) making it a super handy size for my handbag. I love the packaging design – it was very clean and clear and I liked the earthy-style artwork on the label.
We tested it on a few trips to our local park where there are usually lots of mozzies around and we didn’t get any bites even though we saw lots of them flying around us. They hovered but didn’t land on our bare skin.
I really liked this product for its scent and the compact, hard-wearing bottle plus the fact that it’s handmade using essential oils. This one was my daughter’s favourite product as she liked the smell the best.
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A late afternoon trip to the park was the perfect opportunity to begin trying out some of the mosquito repellents and natural bug sprays and sticks that I’ve been sent to test. 🦟 Our local park is a NIGHTMARE for mosquitoes usually, and we always avoid it as the sun is going down because we get bitten far too much. This makes it the perfect place to test the natural insect sprays and sticks! Having a family of five is handy too as it gives me five people to try different products on every time we visit! The boys enjoyed properly testing their products by laying with their bare arms on the picnic table trying to lure mosquitoes to take a bite. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t get them to land on them. 🦟 Then, we played soccer ⚽️, threw a frisbee and rode bikes 🚲 around so gave them a thorough test and even came home via a local pond where there is usually even more mozzies. There were lots of mosquitoes around – we saw them hovering all around us but for once they didn’t land on any of us. We’ve all returned home bite-free and smelling sweetly of lemon and natural products! We’ll be back again a few more times this week trying them out again. Look out for the article about it on the blog in a few weeks when I’ve given them all a solid road test. Thanks for sending the products for me to try @wanderlightly @nobites_repellent @perfectpotion @lemonmyrtlefragrances #gifted #blogresearch #roadtest #mosquito #mosquitorepellent #bugspray #bugsprays #insectrepellent #insects #bites #nobites #perfectpotion #wanderlightly #lemonmyrtle #madeinaustralia #australianmade #naturalinsectrepellent #naturalbugspray #deetfree #mozzies #mossies
A few other brands of natural insect repellent worth considering
I haven’t tried these myself but these are a few other brands on the market that you could try…
Have you thought about a mosquito band or mosquito repellent bracelet?
I haven’t yet road-tested any mosquito band brands, but something to consider is choosing a mosquito repellent bracelet that can be refilled and reused rather than the ones that you wear for a few days and throw away. Think sustainably where you can.
You could try a brand like Para’kito.
My favourite shops for buying natural skincare products including bug sprays and natural mosquito repellents
I don’t generally shop for natural skincare products in stores anymore as I find there is a much wider variety online. My two favourite shops for buying natural products online are…
Nourished Life is Australia’s trusted one-stop shop for all-natural clean beauty, health and fitness products. They offer a wide range of natural bug spray and balm options as well as bite treatments.
>> Shop at Nourished Life <<
Biome Eco Stores
Biome is an eco-friendly store that can help you live a low toxin life.
>> Shop at Biome <<
Our overall verdict: Did we find the best outdoor mosquito repellent Australia has to offer?
Yes and no! To be honest, I don’t think it’s fair to name a single product as the best insect repellent in Australia with natural ingredients from those we tested as there are so many variables when you’re choosing the best mozzie repellent and we each liked different products for different reasons. These are some things to consider when looking for the best outdoor mosquito repellent:
How do you feel about plastic packaging with your insect spray?
Do you mind if the bug repellent container or the lid is plastic?
What type of scent do you prefer for your natural bug repellent?
Do you mind a product that takes a few minutes to sink in or do you want one with a fine mist that dries immediately?
Are you looking for a large, family-sized bottle or a smaller handbag-sized bottle for your Australian mosquito repellent?
Do you prefer to support a small company that makes products by hand?
Are you looking for a natural bug spray product that is APVMA approved?
Does it matter to you if the company donates a percentage of sales to good causes?
Are you looking for a vegan-friendly mosquito repellent?
There are so many things to consider when choosing your Australian mosquito repellent.
I loved the very fine mist spray of the Perfect Potion Outdoor Body Spray as it sank in immediately, I liked how long the NoBites seemed to last so long on our big day out, I liked the zesty scent of the Lemon Myrtle products and its antibacterial and antiseptic qualities, I loved the handy little metal tin and the scent of the Urthly Organics Bug Off and I adored the wanderlightly Bug Balm for its sustainable packaging and how it felt to apply the balm to my skin. All of the products seemed to hold up on our trips out to the park – we did many tests where we sat at the picnic table with all of our arms out and watched the mozzies hovering around but not actually landing on the areas we’d applied the repellents. So I don’t think it’s fair to name one of them the BEST insect bug spray on the market. They all got a thumbs up from us!
I can now say that I’m a convert and won’t be buying DEET products – I don’t like how they smell, I don’t like how sticky and heavy the lotions make my skin feel or how the smell of the aerosol sprays catch the back of my throat. After this test, even my hubby is now a convert too (and for me that is a huge win as I honestly didn’t think I’d turn him around!)
I hope this article has introduced you to some new brands of natural insect repellents and bug sprays that you hadn’t heard of before so you can go out and support some awesome, eco-friendly Australian brands.
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