DEET or No DEET? Do Natural Bug Sprays Really Work?

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I'm wendy!

I'm a environmental toxins lawyer turned clean living coach who is obsessed with morning sunshine, Ningxia Red and all things holistic living (but for real life).  Catch me over on Insta and come say hi.


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Bug bites can be a serious issue during the Summer months, especially if you live anywhere near water. It can become more than a minor inconvenience when one small bite grows into a larger problem like Lyme Disease or West Nile. These tiny critters can pack a real punch to our bodies and I want you to be protected!

The risk to using a bug repellent that doesn’t is a much bigger issue than a toxin free detergent that doesn’t bleach your clothes. The latter might leave your clothes less white, but the former could pose a serious risk to your life. When I moved to Virginia, I really wanted to make my own toxin free insect repellent, but the environmental toxins attorney in me had to do a two-week deep dive on all of the research that is out there on bug sprays and insect repellent and DEET and all of it.

Let’s set you up for a safe and joyful summer with this weeks episode.

I’m going to be breaking down the ingredients in the bug repellents, what has been shown to work and what hasn’t. Now, this weeks episode is a bit more nuanced than “this is bad so don’t use it.” I’ll walk you through exactly what circumstances may call for using the more toxic option AND how to use them properly. But for the everyday walk or backyard barbecue, I’ve got you covered. By the end of this episode, I want you to feel empowered to go outside and enjoy yourself with out stressing about pesky bug!

In this Episode, we talk about:

  • The risks of bug bites that go beyond a pesky itch and into real disease

  • What is DEET? and why I would still personally use DEET in specific circumstances

  • How well does oil of lemon eucalyptus work?

  • What about essential oils?

  • How to use essential oils correctly to create an effective bug repellent

Top Toxin Free Insect Repellent Picks:

Young Living makes the only essential oil blend that utilizes sesame oil as a base and was clinically proven to repel mosquitos, fleas and ticks. It WORKS. This one 6 ounce bottle will last forever, you only need a little bit. They also come in Wipes.

Aunt Fannie’s is made with soybean oil, rather than sesame oil. Also comes in wipes.

More options found on my Toxin Free Shopping Guide

Wendy’s DIY Bug Spray

In a 2 ounce glass spray bottle, add 7 drops each of Citronella, Lavender, Purification, Cedarwood and Lemongrass. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt (to help the oils mix with the water) and fill with distilled water. Spray on any exposed skin while outside and re apply every 60 minutes.

Purchase all the oils here.

(Disclaimer: Essential Oils are only work when they are pure. Do not use store bought oils that could contain synthetic oils and fillers for this, you could make your sun burn worse.)

Related Episodes:

Episode 16: The Truth About Sun Exposure and Sunscreen

Episode 2: The Fragrance Dilemma: How an Entire Industry Hijacked Your Hormones

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