California Baby Bug Blend Collection: Send the Skeeters Scurrying!
Even though it’s the most effective at deterring mosquitoes and other nasty bugs, I’m adamant about not using bug repellent products that contain DEET (it’s been shown to cause neurological damage when absorbed int the bloodstream which it obviously is when applied to the skin). With that in mind, I checked out California Baby’s new Bug Blend Collection which uses natural repellents like lemon eucalyptus, citronella, cedarwood atlas and lemongrass to send the skeeters scurrying!
The Citronella Summer Lotion ($13.50/6.5 oz.) and Citronella Bug Repellant Spray ($13.50/6.5 oz and $4.15/2 oz) both contain natural ingredients like lemon eucalyptus, plus California Baby’s own “Citronella Bug Blend” which includes citronella, cedarwood atlas and lemongrass, to natural deter mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and biting flies, plus Vitamin E, organic aloe vera and yucca to soothe itchiness and heal the bites you and your kids may have gotten prior to using the lotion or spray. Because of their ingredients, they have that telltale citronella scent which may be repellent to you — I personally cannot stand the scent of citronella candles — but it’s on the mild side and the lemongrass makes it more citrusy while the lemon eucalyptus gives it a slightly herbal scent. Also, as the company points out, natural citronella has a much more pleasant scent than the synthetic stuff. The lotion is very light and not sticky; the spray also goes on lightly and is good if you don’t want to get it on your hands when you apply it.
If you’re looking for a combination sun/bug protection product, try the SPF 30+ Sunscreen Citronella Bug Blend ($20/2.9 oz). In addition to the natural bug repellents in the Repellent Lotion and Spray, the Sunscreen also provides protection from UVA and UVB rays using the physical sunblock agent titanium dioxide. Since it’s not a chemical sunscreen, it’s safe to use with babies under six months old but as always, ask your pediatrician. It’s highly water-resistant, meaning it withstands exposure to water or perspiration up to 80 minutes after application (no sunscreen is 100% waterproof). It’s pricey but it also saves you the extra step of applying a second product plus the ingredients are non-toxic.
Other bonuses about California Baby products (and part of why the prices are higher than drugstore products) are that the ingredients are organic, not tested on animals (they carry the PETA Cruelty-Free seal), and are gluten-, soy-, oat- and dairy-free (which may be important to some people). In general, their products are extremely gentle and have mild and pleasant scents.
A note about DEET: While DEET is extremely effective at repelling mosquitoes and ticks, its toxicity is a controversial subject in the United States. I think it’s pretty telling that it’s been banned in Canada and Europe.
In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says exposure to DEET is ok as long as it’s not long-term, but doesn’t define “long-term.” The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says it should not be used on babies under two months old and recommends no more than one application per day; keep in mind that, according to DEET.com, a high 30% concentration needs to be reapplied after 4-5 hours.
It’s also quite telling that the EPA advises you wash your skin with soap and water after returning indoors and washing your clothes before wearing them again.
For the EPA’s advice on DEET and safer active ingredient alternatives, read their sheet on “Active Ingredients found in Insect Repellents.”