Biting insects are one of the quickest routes to a ruined beach trip, but luckily there are products available that help you avoid the issues while relaxing at the shore. The best repellent for biting flies at the beach is one that keeps insects away, and keeps your skin protected and comfortable throughout the day. Shopping for a bug repellent can be overwhelming with so many options available, so we’ve created this guide to the best bug repellents on the market to make your shopping a breeze and get you adventuring as soon as possible!Whether you’re looking for scented or scentless repellents, sprays or lotions, chemical based or natural essential oil based, this guide has you covered. Here are the six best products on the market to ensure you enjoy your next vacation without the nuisance of insect bites.
The Best Repellents for Biting Flies at the Beach Reviewed
1. Repel Lemon
The Repel lemon and eucalyptus insect repeller is both effective and powerful at keeping bugs at bay. This product works to repel a variety of insects including biting flies and mosquitoes. Not only does this help you to avoid itchy or painful bites, it also keeps these insects from spreading diseases to you through the bite, like Zika, West Nile and more. Furthermore, it uses plant-based ingredients like lemon eucalyptus to get the job done naturally and powerfully.Made with the oils of lemon and eucalyptus, this DEET-free bug repellent offers you ultimate protection from insects during your adventures to the beach, or anywhere outdoors. The natural scent is refreshing and doesn’t leave your skin feeling sticky or greasy. Designed to keep you and your family protected for hours, this spray is said to last for up to six hours.
2. Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent
The Sawyer Premium insect repellent is a powerful product for keeping biting insects away from both you and your gear. The formula for this product uses permethrin to keep insects at bay, which is both highly effective at repelling bugs and provides and is odorless to humans after it’s dried. This is ideal for someone who’s particularly sensitive to the scent of other insect repellents.This product is highly rated and reviewed by it’s customers, described to be effective for keeping ticks, chiggers, mites, mosquitoes and biting flies away. This spray is designed for use on clothing and gear materials, like your beach tent or beach chairs, and will last for up to six weeks or six washings. To protect materials, this product will not stain or damage clothing, fabrics, plastics, finished surfaces or outdoor gear. Additionally, the non-aerosol pump bottle is easy to use and to control the spray.
3. Avon Skin IR3535
The Avon Skin insect repellent cream is great for those who want to combine their skin protection and bug protection. This formula is effective at repelling insects as well as protecting you from harmful UV rays. Additionally, it helps to moisturize skin and it's PABA-free, meaning that it's safe to use for the entire family. The formula was designed to avoid greasiness on the skin to keep you comfortable and protected throughout your day at the shore.This lotion is SPF 30 and water resistant, which is great for a day on the beach. Using the product means you won’t have to carry a separate sunscreen for your seaside adventure. It’s highly rated and reviewed by its customers as a 3-in-1 insect and bug repellent, and skin moisturizer. It is worth noting that some customers find that this repellent lotion isn’t as effective for keeping insects away as tougher options on the market.
4. Natrapel Insect Repellent
For those who prefer a safe and eco-friendly bug repellent, the Natrapel insect repellent is an ideal solution. This is a great product for avoiding the potentially negative effects of DEET as well as the diseases that can come with bug bites. The spray design makes this easy to use and to control the application of. Additionally, it's made to be long lasting to keep bugs at bay while you explore the great outdoors for up to 12 hours.
This spray is an EPA-registered product that’s highly rated and reviewed by its customers for keeping insects away. The formula is safe for the entire family to use, as it’s approved for children as young as 2 months old. Made with Picaridin, which mimics the Piperine compound found in pepper plants, the CDC recommends this active ingredient to keep disease-carrying insects away. Additionally, the easy application spray provides a constant and even coverage using it’s environmentally friendly Eco-Spray delivery system. This design releases a fine mist at any angle for easy applying, and it prevents you from having to get your hands dirty by rubbing it in.
5. OFF! Insect Repellent
Many people turn to the OFF brand for a highly effective protection against biting insects. The Deep Woods formula is designed to keep unwanted pests at bay, like chiggers, mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies and more, for long-lasting protection outdoors for up to 8 hours. Using an effective DEET-based formula, this product is designed for the harshest conditions, and great for beach camping and hiking, heavily wooded areas and more. It’s explained to create a vapor barrier at the skin that deters insects from landing on your skin, thus preventing the bite.The aerosol spray allows for easy and controlled application in a continuous sweeping motion, and the can is durable enough to conveniently carry along in your beach or camping gear. While this product is highly rated and reviewed for its power and effectiveness at keeping biting insects away, it’s important to note that the effects of DEET on the body are undetermined, and there is some question whether it should be used on the skin.
6. Nantucket Spider Summer Camp Repellent
Biting insects can really put a damper on a fun day at the shore. To help prevent this, the Nantucket Spider Summer Camp Repellent is designed to be effective and safe for the entire family, including children. It’s free from harmful chemicals like DEET, and packed with non-GMO and organic essential oils which have been carefully blended to create a fantastic alternative to harsh chemical based repellent products. The scent of this product is light, fresh and clean, and leaves the skin with a non-greasy feel.
Since each included oil has a special job, users don’t have to worry about putting superfluous oils on their body. This product is packed with spearmint, rosemary, lemongrass, geranium, peppermint, cedarwood, and clove bud oil. Additionally, this spray can be applied to skin, hair, and clothing without a risk of staining or irritation. While it’s a good idea for people who have very sensitive skin to do a skin patch test before using any product, since it is made from natural ingredients reactions are very rare. By spraying it evenly over any exposed clothing, hair, and skin before going outside, users can make sure that they have the protection they need from biting and stinging insects.
Choosing a Insect Repellent: Buyer’s Guide
There are several factors you’ll need to consider when choosing which insect repellent is the right product for your needs at the beach. Here are 5 things to consider when choosing the best repellent:
Safety and Ingredients
All insect repellents are made using chemicals, some which are harsher than others. There are products on this list which use lemon and eucalyptus oil, or a carefully curated blend of organic essential oils, to create long-lasting and natural protection. On the other hand, there are products available, such as the Off! BackWoods, which uses a DEET-based formula which has concern for potential long-term damage to the body. Additionally, powerful products using Picaridin feature the effectiveness of DEET-based counterparts, without the harshness or concern. It’s important to do your research if you’re concerned about your family's safety using these products, and be an educated consumer.
Here are some of the active ingredients used in insect repellents, some harsher than others:
- Lemon Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Essential Oil Blend
Effectiveness at Repelling Insects
Many bug repelling products on the market make bold claims, without the results to back it up. Additionally, some products are going to be more effective than others but may come with a reaction for sensitive skin. There’s a reason why essential oils are used more widely in repellents, even though these oils do act as a natural and effective bug repellent- because it isn’t quite as effective as harsh chemicals like DEET.
DEET is proven to be a powerful and effective chemical for keeping biting insects like mosquitoes, ticks and flies away, but it potentially comes with a cost. Additionally, it’s suggested by users that mosquitoes in a specific area may become conditioned to the smell of the chemical, and thus its effectiveness decreases. On the other hand, a chemical like Picaridin is shown to be as effective as DEET for repelling mosquitoes without the risk, and thus this product is becoming more widely used in products across the market.
Here are some things to consider in regards to the effectiveness of your insect repellent:
- Pro: Highly Effective
- Con: Harsh Chemical
- Pro: Highly Effective without Harshness
- Con: Typically Has Additional Fragrance
Essential Oil Blends
- Pro: Natural and Safe for All Ages
- Con: Less Effective than Harsh Chemicals
Spray Application and Coverage
Insect and biting fly repellent typically come in one of three application styles:
- Pump Spray
- Aerosol Spray
Choosing which style is best for you depends on your needs as an individual, or as a family, and may require additional preparation. For example, if you’re using a lotion application repellent it’s important to bring a beach towel for wiping access lotion off your hands afterwards. On the other hand, pump spray bottles avoid you having to spray lotion directly into your hand, but do often require some rubbing in on skin for even coverage.
Additionally, aerosol spray has a big advantage of a continuous spray which provides the ultimate even coverage on skin. It comes out quickly and consistently which is great for coverage, but it can be difficult to use in windy conditions or when you’re trying not to get it on other gear around. Consider your needs at the beach to choose which style is right for you.
Traditional insect repellents, and some still today, came with a pungent smell which deterred some from using the product. Luckily, many repellents available on the market today feature pleasant and refreshing scents, which can actually be pleasing to the wearer along with protecting you from biting insects. Here are some of the products scents of insect repellents:
- Picaridin with Fragrance
- DEET with Fragrance
- Natural Scent (Essential Oil Blend, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, etc.)
If you’re someone who’s sensitive to harsh chemical scents, it’s likely that a DEET-based formula will not be best for you. Picaridin products, in this circumstance, have a much better smell and are easier to add a pleasant scent to. Other products containing lemon or essential oils have a naturally fragrant scent, which tends to be pleasant to most humans while naturally repelling biting bugs.
Choosing the best insect repellent for your beach adventure depends on your protection needs, your skin, and the members of your group. Consider your needs and preferences, and use this guide to get you one step closer to your next beach adventure. If you’re looking for additional beach gear guides and reviews, check out these Seaside Planet articles to support your outdoor adventure needs:
- Best Waterproof Walkie Talkies in 2020
- Best Beach Games for Families
- Best Pop Up Canopy for Beach Use
- Top Packable Beach Chairs for 2020
- Best Portable Speaker for the Beach
Has this guide helped get you one step closer to your next beach adventure? Share it with us in the comment section below!
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.