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A Natural Defence: Alternatives to Traditional Bug Repellent

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When it comes to protecting ourselves from pesky insects, many turn to traditional insect repellents. However, at O&3, as advocates for health and sustainability, we understand the importance of finding alternatives to traditional insect repellents that are laden with chemicals. So, join us today as we delve into the world of essential oils and discover their remarkable efficacy of protecting ourselves and the environment.

Traditional insect repellents often contain artificial chemicals that can have negative health and environmental impacts. These chemicals, such as DEET, may be effective at repelling bugs but can also have adverse effects on human health and ecosystems. Is it time for us to seek natural alternatives that strike a balance between effectiveness and safety?

Why do we use insect repellent?

Insect repellent is used to protect us from insect bites and the potential diseases they may carry, here are a few reasons why people use insect repellent:

Prevention of insect bites

Insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and flies can bite and cause discomfort, itching, and sometimes allergic reactions. Insect repellents create a barrier on the skin, making it harder for insects to land and bite, reducing the chances of getting bitten.

Protection against diseases

Certain insects are known to carry and transmit diseases to humans. Mosquitoes, for example, can transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and others. Insect repellent can help minimise the risk of contracting these diseases by repelling the insects that carry them.

Outdoor activities

When engaging in outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, or gardening, insect repellent is essential to ward off insects that may be present in those environments. It helps to make the experience more enjoyable and reduces the risk of insect-related discomfort or diseases.

Traveling to insect-prone areas

Insect repellent is particularly important when traveling to regions with a high prevalence of insect-borne diseases. This includes tropical and subtropical areas where mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects are more common. Using repellents can provide an added layer of protection against potential health risks.

Prevention of secondary infections

Insect bites can sometimes lead to secondary infections if they are scratched, and bacteria enter the broken skin. Repellents can help minimise the occurrence of bites, reducing the chances of secondary infections.

Why do we need a natural alternative to traditional insect repellent?

It is important to note that when used as directed, traditional repellents are generally considered safe and effective. However, natural alternatives are gaining popularity due to personal preferences, concerns about chemical exposure and environmental considerations. Some of the key concerns associated with conventional insect repellents include:

Human health risks:

Chemical exposure can be detrimental to human health and traditional repellents often contain synthetic chemicals such as DEET, picaridin or permethrin. Prolonged or excessive exposure to these chemicals can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions, and in rare cases, more severe health effects. Some chemical ingredients found in traditional repellents may also have neurotoxic or carcinogenic properties and improper use or ingestion can lead to adverse health effects.

Environmental impact:

When traditional repellents are used, they can end up in water sources through rinsing, swimming, or when sprayed in outdoor areas. These chemicals can be toxic to aquatic life and can persist in the environment, potentially disrupting ecosystems. Traditional repellents can cause harm to and have unintended impacts on beneficial insects, including pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as other non-target organisms in the ecosystem.

Resistance development:

Over time, insects may develop resistance to certain synthetic chemicals used in traditional repellents, reducing their effectiveness in controlling pest populations.

Is there a natural insect repellent alternative?

Fortunately, nature provides us with a myriad of options for keeping bugs at bay. Many of O&3’s Essential Oils offer a natural alternative to chemical-laden insect repellents. These oils, derived from various plants, possess inherent bug-repellent properties. Using these oils, you can create effective, environmentally friendly bug repellents that protect homes without compromising our well-being.

What are the natural alternatives to insect repellent?

Some of the more common natural oil alternatives that harness the power of nature to repel insects, include Citronella Oil, Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender Oil, Tea Tree Oil and Lemongrass Oil. However, today we would like to introduce you to some of our favourite, less well-known oils that also possess insect-repellent properties:

  • Catnip Oil

O&3’s Catnip Oil contains a compound called nepetalactone that is known to repel mosquitoes, flies and other insects. It can be used in diluted form as a topical repellent or even planted in your garden to naturally deter pests.

  • Thyme Oil

O&3’s White Thyme Oil and Red Thyme Oil has been found to have insect-repellent properties. It is particularly effective against mosquitoes and can be used in combination with other oils or as an ingredient in repellent sprays.

  • Cedarwood Oil

O&3’s Cedarwood Oil has a woody scent that acts as a natural insect repellent. It is especially effective against fleas, ticks, and moths. It can be used as a diluted topical application or added to diffusers and sachets to repel insects indoors.

  • Cinnamon Oil

O&3’s Cinnamon Oil from cinnamon bark, has a strong scent that can deter mosquitoes and other insects. It can be used in diluted form as a topical repellent or combined with other oils to enhance its effectiveness.

What formulations can natural oils be used in for repelling insects?

There are various products and formulations that can be made with natural oils to repel insects. Here are some examples:

  • Repellent Sprays

Natural oils can be combined with water, witch hazel, or rubbing alcohol to create insect repellent sprays. A common recipe includes mixing essential oils like citronella, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender with a carrier liquid. This spray can be applied to exposed skin or clothing to repel insects.

  • Oil-Based Roll-Ons

Natural oils can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied using roll-on bottles. This provides a convenient and mess-free way to apply the repellent directly to the skin.

  • Scented Candles

Essential oils can be added to melted soy wax or beeswax to create scented candles with insect-repellent properties. Citronella, lemongrass, and lavender oils are popular choices for candle-making as they help keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay.

  • Diffuser Blends

Essential oils can be diffused using an oil diffuser to create a fragrant insect-repellent indoors. Combining oils like citronella, eucalyptus, and tea tree can help deter insects while providing a pleasant aroma.

  • Solid Lotion Bars

Natural oils, such as shea butter or cocoa butter, can be melted and mixed with essential oils to create solid lotion bars. These bars can be applied to the skin, providing moisturisation while acting as a natural insect repellent.

O&3’s Thoughts…

We have the power to protect ourselves from bugs while prioritising our health and the environment. O&3 Essential Oils can provide your company with natural alternatives to traditional insect repellents, offering effective bug control without harmful chemicals. Let’s embrace the power of natural oils and bid farewell to synthetic insect repellents for a safer, more sustainable future.

Why O&3?

As marketing leaders in zero-waste natural ingredients, quick lead times of only 3-5 days, O&3 could be your one-stop shop for ingredients in your bug-repellent products.

O&3’s commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing ensures that your cosmetics line is environmentally responsible.

We help cosmetic, personal care, nutrition & pet-care brands with low MOQ, cost saving and carbon cutting manufacturing services, creating a beautiful, attractive end product bespoke to fit any requirement and brand.

Our state-of-the-art, purpose-built facilities can help to capture the exact vision in mind. We specialise in sub-25,000 units, commercial and large-scale production runs.

If you’re launching a new brand or line of products, let us quote on your next fulfilment project, and let us handle oil sourcing to the delivery of finished products, taking the complexity out of creating products. Visit our formulation and bottling webpage here.

For more information about how having O&3 as your supplier would give you access to premium ingredients that support your company’s mission, head over to our website, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.


Please note that the views/opinions expressed in this blog are solely our own. It is the responsibility of our clients to conduct the necessary testing to substantiate any claims and ensure compliance with industry standards for every ingredient. We will not accept any liability for claims made based on our content.