It's always nice to come home from a summer holiday with a few mementos. Except when those come in the form of insect bite marks or, even worse, a mosquito-borne disease.
Having experience the former on almost every holiday to date and the latter (alongside an expensive hospital stay twice), I'd go as far as saying the best mosquito repellents are, in fact, life-changing.
There are two main types of mosquito repellants around: those that include DEET and those that do not. Diethyltoluamide (DEET) is the most common active ingredient in high-powered insect repellents and works by forming a vapour barrier on the skin's surface to deter mosquitoes from landing on the skin. While some people may stay away from DEET if it has caused irritation, as long as it's used safely (not ingested), it should be fine for use.
Mosquito repellents that don't include DEET usually focus around plant-based equivalents, like Citriodiol or Citronella, which can be kinder to skin and offer a similar method of protection. These have traditionally not been so powerful, although newer additions to the market promise similar staying power to their DEET-based counterparts.
Mosquito repellent should be applied to exposed areas of the skin like the arms and legs. For ease of application, sprays and aerosols are ideal for the body while, for more sensitive areas like the face and the neck, lotions and roll-ons are more appropriate. Patches are a great option if you're travelling around a lot or would like something quick and easy to keep you protected.
We've hunted down the best tried and tested sprays, creams and patches below.
Lifesystems Expedition MAX
A fresh launch, Lifesystems replaced its 95 per cent DEET Expedition 100 with this potentially life-saving formula. It pairs 50 per cent DEET with a DermoLOC liquid that keeps the repellent lingering on your skin for longer, so you’ll actually experience complete 24 hour protection.
Not only can you apply it to more areas, but Expedition MAX can also be used by kids as young as two, making this an excellent option for protecting the whole family.
Buy now £8.10, Amazon
Jungle Formula Maximum Aerosol Insect Repellent
It doesn’t matter where you’re going in the world: mosquitos are no match for the power of Jungle Formula’s Maximum Strength spray. As its name suggests, this is one of the strongest mosquito sprays around with a 4/4 insect repellent factor and a heavy dose of 50 per cent DEET to match.
You’ll want to use this repellent outdoors because its fresh, citrus smell is almost as strong as its power. If you’re someone who regularly gets bitten on holidays, this is an essential purchase. Would rather avoid a spray? It’s also available in pump spray and roll-on formats.
Buy now £6.30, Amazon
Mosi-Guard Natural Extra Strength 75ml Insect Repellent Spray
Wary of mosquitos but struggle with sensitive skin? Mosi-Guard makes a range of DEET-free mosquito repelling products, made using a range of scents and ingredients hated by not just mosquitos but also midges and ticks. The active ingredient in Mosi-Guard Natural is Citriodiol, a plant-based DEET equivalent which comes doubly armoured with lemon and eucalyptus. The natural nature of this product makes it a great choice for children.
Buy now £8.69, Amazon
Incognito Mosquito Spray
Don’t be put off by the fact that Incognito’s mosquito spray doesn’t contain DEET as this highly rated mosquito repellent works wonders anyway. Clinically tested to provide impressive protection against Aedes aegypti (Zika and Dengue carrying mosquitoes) for 4.5 hours, it’s one of the best products around if you’re heading to a tropical country.
Plant-based PMD is its power of choice, which isn’t just NHS, WHO and Public Health England approved but also recommended for high-risk areas where mosquitoes may thrive. Better yet, the bottle is made from sugarcane plastic, with a positive carbon footprint and is fully recyclable.
Buy now £11.99, Planet Organic
THEYE High Power Mosquito Repellent Cream
Mosquito-repelling cream is one of the best ways to ensure you’re sufficiently slathered from head to toe and many also include moisturising properties - hitting two birds with one stone when you’re in a hot, exotic location. THEYE is one of the best mosquito creams around, a potent combination of extra strong ingredients that’s somehow also free of harmful chemicals and additives.
This 75ml tube is ideal for throwing in your bag and reapplying throughout the day if necessary, although one initial application should last for up to eight hours on the skin. It’s hand-luggage friendly and perfect for camping trips, too.
Buy now £7.99, Amazon
Xpel Tropical Formula Mosquito Insect Repellent Wipes
Xpel’s Tropical Formula wipes are suitable for babies over six months old, making them a great option for bringing away on holiday and offering a little cool relief alongside mosquito protection. These easy to apply wipes offer up to four hours of protection against instinct and are specially formulated with 30 per cent DEET. Rub them over the skin just before heading out for the day or bring the pack along with you to apply again later in the afternoon. You’ll love their refreshing benefit on those extra warm days.
Buy now £5.36, Amazon
Pyramid Trek Sensitive DEET Free Mosquito Repellent
If you're hoping to avoid DEET but still want something protective and powerful, Pyramid Trek's Sensitive Repellent is a top choice. Proven to be as effective as up to 50 per cent DEET repellents, but utilising natural ingredients instead, this spray is non-greasy, sweat and splash resistant and, just to top it off, smells good too.
Use it once a day, preferably in the morning, and rest safe in the knowledge that you should still be bite free by the end of the day. It works by using its advanced time-release technology, which releases Saltidin slowly over the course of the day.
Buy now £8.95, Amazon
Diptyque Body Spray Citronnelle & Geranium
Looking for something a little less medicinal and a little more delicious? Diptyque's Citronella spray is by no means the cheapest mosquito-repelling body spray around but it might just be the most delicious. A light - yet powerful - spray that won’t look out of place in your bedroom or bathroom, this gentle bottle comes formulated with essential oils to produce maybe the most luxe repellent on the market.
Its floral touch of neroli and orange blossom ensures this is a bottle you'll pick up even in a totally mosquito free zone.
Buy now £45.00, Space NK
Mrs White's Unstung Hero Natural Mosquito Repellent Eau de Cologne
Mrs White's Unstung Hero spray prides itself on being "people, pet and planet friendly", making it one of the friendliest sprays around that still does the job of preventing bites.
This stylish looking bottle comes with a delicious fragrance of lemon tea so you'll never dread spraying yourself - you may even do so once or twice extra throughout the day. Offering protection against mosquito, ticks, black flies, wasps and bees, it's a versatile spray that protects for up to four hours.
Buy now £15.00, Amazon
VIE Anti Mosquito Patches
VIE's Anti Mosquito Patches last a little longer than your average spray will: a whole 36 hours, per patch. The best option if you're heading somewhere filled with mosquitos and won't have easy access to multiple sprays - or you're someone who doesn't want to keep reapplying throughout the day - these patches are as straightforward as sticking on and continuing as normal.
Perfect for repelling not just mosquitoes but also midges, gnats, ticks, and sand-flies, you'll love these patches on all sorts of holidays. They're also non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
Buy now £13.13, Amazon
Safe to use on everyone ages two and up, Lifesystems Expedition MAX is your best bet for avoiding mosquitoes this summer, particularly if you’re travelling long-haul to somewhere hot. Buy yourself a bottle and feel smug in your bite-free state at the end of each day.