Now that experts are saying Zika can be sexually transmitted for longer than previously thought, you have even more reason to avoid mosquitoes like it's your job. While the smartest strategy is to steer clear of areas where Zika-carrying mosquitos lurk, projections suggest these insects (aka Aedes) will reach many U.S. cities by this summer.
While religious use of bug spray sounds like a solid defense, not all formulas are equally effective, according to proprietary research recently released by Consumer Reports to serve the public good in light of the Zika epidemic. Here are the six most effective products, as per Consumer Reports's testing of 16 different brands, which involved real
humans heroes who stuck their repellent-treated arms into mosquito-filled cages and recorded frequency of bug bites.
This formula did its job for more than eight hours. Despite its slightly oily consistency and unique scent, which has been compared to corn chips with a hint of citrus, Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin ranked first among its competitors.
Earning a respectable 93 out of 100 possible points, this aerosol spray protected testers from two types of mosquitoes for 7.5 hours. The only downside: A chemical aroma that doesn't subside and an oily residue.
3. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus ($5)
Made from oil of lemon eucalyptus, this fresh-scented formula stood up against Zika-carrying mosquitoes for seven hours without the help of any scary-sounding chemicals.
4. Repel Scented Family ($4)
With just 15 percent deet, this formula smells vaguely of chemicals with a hint of lemon. Unlike the top three picks above, this spray won't make you feel greasy, but still fights off Zika-carrying mosquitoes for up to five hours.
5. Natrapel 8 Hour ($9)
Besides the fact that Natrapel held off Zika-carrying mosquitos for eight hours, testers also noted Natrapel's floral, "perfumey" aroma.
6. Off! Deepwoods VIII ($6)
Awarding this aerosol spray a solid 74 points, testers appreciated its fruity, floral scent and thin, dry coating—quite the departure from some of the more oily formulas listed above. Like a champ, it also protected testers from Aedes mosquito bites for more than eight hours.
If you can't find any of the top six insect repellents, look for others that earned a high score on this list, or follow the guidelines below to pick the best possible product among whatever options you've got:
- Look for deet (15 to 30 percent), oil of lemon eucalyptus (at least 30 percent), or picaridin (at least 20 percent)—all of these active ingredients proved effective at repelling mosquitoes for upwards of seven hours, and are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- Avoid mosquito repellents with more than 30 percent deet. You don't need more than 15 to 30 percent deet to provide adequate protection. Any more than that, and you could risk rashes, disorientation, and even seizures, according to some studies.
- Avoid products that rely solely on IR3535 or 2-Undecanone or other natural ingredients. The first two ingredients proved ineffective at repelling the mosquito responsible for spreading Zika after three hours. Natural ingredients like cedar, citronella, lemongrass, and rosemary essential plant oils didn't ward off mosquitoes effectively, either.
- Don't waste your money on bracelets that claim to repel mosquitos. They failed the tests right away.
- Don't cheat with sunscreen-repellants. If you reapply sunscreen as often as you're supposed to (about every two hours, and after swimming or sweating), you risk overexposing yourself to chemicals.
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.