The best mosquito protection.

How to be the best consumer you can be.
July 26 2005 2:20 PM

Bug Off!

Which mosquito repellents work best?

(Continued from Page 1)

Ease of use: 8 (out of 10)
Practicality: 12 (out of 20)
Effectiveness: 2.1 (out of 70)
Total: 22.1 (out of 100)

Cutter Advanced Spray
Price: $5.95 at rei.com
Category: chemical agent
Active ingredient: picaridin

Advertisement

Cutter Advanced depends on 7 percent picaridin, not DEET, to repel mosquitoes. What does that mean for you? Well, for starters, it's odorless, and it glides onto your skin without any stickiness. It can cause eye irritation, however, so you have to wash your hands after application. And although the instructions on the back of the pump bottle recommend spraying yourself every three or four hours, our testers found that gnats were immediately attracted to the area, and mosquitoes flocked back after a mere 90 minutes. Given this short-term protection, Cutter failed to make the cut.

Ease of use: 7
Practicality: 14
Effectiveness: 28
Total: 49

Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus Spray
Price: $10 at avon.com
Category: chemical agent
Active ingredient: beta-alanine, carboxylic acid, and IR3535

When Avon Skin-So-Soft lotion first came on the market, housewives in the know quickly recognized a fringe benefit: The lotion's perfuming agent, called coumarin, also wards off mosquitoes. As Skin-So-Soft's "underground" reputation grew, Avon developed its Bug Guard Plus formula. The new recipe relies on IR3535, a water-resistant coumarin compound that, unlike DEET, doesn't have to be washed off after use.

Testers were initially pleased with Avon's results; the odorless spray has a cooling effect with no greasy residue, and Skin-So-Soft boasts an SPF of 15, additional vitamin E, and a water-resistant formula. But within an hour (Avon promises four-hour protection), bites welled up on arms and feet. And after repeated applications, the aerosol sprayer went on strike, squirting tiny bits of gummed-up repellent. Nonetheless, a few testers remained impressed with Skin-So-Soft's scentless, sunscreen-boosted formula, and vowed to buy their own can, despite the need for repeated application.

Ease of use: 6
Practicality: 16
Effectiveness: 28
Total: 50

Bite Blocker Herbal Spray
Price: $8.99 at homs.com
Category: natural treatment
Active ingredient: soybean oil

Bite Blocker has flower power going for it: This nontoxic spray is made from coconuts, geraniums, and soybeans, giving it a more pleasant scent than other products on the market. And it feels cool going on—an important factor for sultry summer nights. That's the good news. Testers also reported that Bite Blocker is sticky and has a tendency to burn superficial cuts. And although it promises to be as effective as DEET, those pesky bloodsuckers were biting 90 minutes after application.

Ease of use: 8
Practicality: 10
Effectiveness: 35
Natural ingredient bonus: 5
Total: 58

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 23 2014 12:16 PM Another Intervention?    Anti-ISIS airstrikes aren’t about keeping Americans safe.  
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon That Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.