We put 16 mosquito repellents to the test — see what worked, what left us itchy

I am very itchy. And I’m about to make you very itchy, too. My apologies.

I spent the last week testing out 16 mosquito repellents in the woods by my house. First I tested these repellents by spraying or applying each on half a cutie, a quarter of a banana and a eighth of a potato — all foods mosquitoes are supposed to love. I sat back and watched who came crawling or flying to eat the fruit.

We tried 16 bug repellents in the woods near our house on our body and on fruit to see which ones worked best. Nicole Villalpando/American-Statesman Staff

Then I tried out each remedy on a limb of my body at dusk. With my trusty dog as my companion, we frolicked in the mosquito-heavy woods, especially by the wet weather creek. I took notes on ease of use, scent (or stench), how it felt to the touch, how the mosquitoes reacted and whether we got bitten.

In addition to the ones sold specifically for their mosquito-fighting powers, we tried out two beauty products that had become internet sensations to see if there was any truth to the rumors.

As seen on the internet

Johnson & Johnson’s Creamy Baby Oil with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E

This baby oil, and specifically the version in the green tube, caused an internet sensation. So much so that Snopes tried it out. Before you rush to the store to get it, know that it’s impossible to find. It’s been discontinued, Johnson & Johnson told us, because of a lack of sales. What? They are hoping to bring it back. 

We borrowed some from an editor that brought it back from a trip to Georgia when it was still on the shelves. She gave us just enough to try it, not the whole tube, because, after all, it’s precious gold.

Main ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, glycerin, cocoglyserides, soybean oil, cornstarch, mineral oil, shea butter extract, cocoa seed butter, cotton seed oil, aloe barbadensis leaf juice and “fragrance.”

Price and store: Not available, but you can find it on Amazon for $40 or more.

Scent: Light and fresh, slightly floral.

Feel: It does not leave a stickiness or oiliness after applying.

Fruit test: A few ants arrived, but not a lot.

Body test: No insects landed that arm and I didn’t get bitten on that arm.

Results: It really did appear to work for me. One question: It would take a lot to cover your whole body with it. When I was wearing it, and three repellents on my other limbs, I did get bitten on the rear, where no repellent had been used. Always protect the rear.

Want to see how the other 15 repellents did? See the story on mystatesman.com.






Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

3 thoughts on “We put 16 mosquito repellents to the test — see what worked, what left us itchy”

  1. So you can edit your post because that Johnson & Johnson lotion is back on the shelves!! I was looking up to see if it actually works (me and my 2 kids use It because it smells amazing and moisturizes amazingly) and i never knew it was discontinued because I see it all the time!! Thank you so much for this post. It really helped me out.


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