Summer is here finally, and one of the first things that I am quickly reminded of each year no sooner than my skin is on show, the critters are coming to eat me alive. My fair complexion and sweet Irish blood leaves me the prime target for midges and mosquitoes, whilst those in my company usually leave unscathed. With that in mind and having travelled abroad in the past to very hot countries where the mosquitoes came in giant swarms. I have lots of experience in defending myself against these blood thirsty beasts that if bitten would keep me awake at night in a lot of discomfort. Once I have a bite, it doesn't leave me for days, so a highly effective insect repellent is a must for me. There are many essential oils which act as an insect repellent, I will list a few below. I have never been a fan of citronella, and some of the common insect repellent blends just smell so over powering that they leave a bad taste in my mouth! Here are just a few of the commonly and not so commonly used essential oils.
- Lemon Eucalyptus
- Tea Tree
You can experiment with any one or combination of these oils. What is important of course is that you like the smell! You don't want to be slathering on an essential oil blend that makes you want to climb out of your skin when it is applied. The point I'm making is insect repellent can smell lovely! Trust me on this one, I will give you a recipe below that is totally unoffensive, it even smells good.
One essential oil I always add to my blends is lemon eucalyptus, this essential oil has been proven to be as effective as deet in repelling mosquitoes. What is deet? 'Diethyl-meta-toluamide' is a chemical which is present is many over the counter insect repellents. "It is highly toxic if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin." As we are all aware now we absorb everything that we put on our skin. There are many side effects from using deet and personally having travelled and spent long periods in countries such as cambodia, India and Thailand I have managed without it. It is especally dangerous for children, seizures being listed as a possible side effect, I think that is enough said about that.
Another point I would like to make about an insect repellent being effective, especially if you are in a country with big biting critters, you need to cover all of that skin that is exposed in repellent. Yes making a spray is useful and I will add a recipe for that below but covering exposed skin is a must. My quick and easy recipe is as follows.
- Aloe Vera Gel 40g
- Fractionated Coconut Oil 40g
- Lemon Eucalyptus 10 drops
- Rosemary 10 drops
- Clove 4 drops
- Fennel 2 drops
Simply weigh out the ingredients, mix well. I use fractionated coconut oil in this recipe because it is already liquid and it has a very long shelf life. This recipe will separate as oil and water don't mix so you must shake it up in the bottle before each application. This is quite a low dilution of essential oils, but the oils in this recipe are quite potent and I have sensitive skin so this is something to bear in mind, you can increase them if you like. 40drps of essential oils to 100mls is a 2% dilution and I wouldn't go above that with these potent oils. I love this recipe because it is simple to make, it is light weight when applied to your skin, it has a cooling action, it doubles up a moisturising aftersun and it smells great! I store mine in a plastic squeezy bottle, obviously glass is a better option unless you are travelling and then there is the danger of the glass breaking in your bag. Again as this formula does not contain any emulsifiers an important point is to shake it very well before each application. I have found this lasts without preservatives, it lasts a long time up to 3 months.
As I mentioned above, a spray is useful as a second point of defence! I would cover myself first in my repellent, then bring my spray in my bag whilst I was out and about, spritzing my hair and around myself if I was sitting outdoors in the evening. Here is a nice recipe for that.
- Spritz bottle
- Witch Hazel 50ml
- Distilled Water 50ml
- Peppermint oil 10 drops
- Rosemary oil 10drops
- Lemon oil 6 drops
I would use up this spritz in a couple of weeks as it does not contain a preservative.
It is important to steralize your bottles and equipment before use as this prevents bacteria growing on your formulations.