You want spend every free moment outdoors, but the sun and critters, such as ticks, mosquitoes and biting flies, have you running for the house. Defense against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays is essential to preserve the health of your skin, but you also need to ward off bugs. Not only are their bites and stings a nuisance, but some, such as those from ticks and mosquitoes, can carry potentially debilitating diseases such as Lyme disease and the West Nile virus.
Read on for 15 products that will protect you from the more harmful aspects of the great outdoors.
Alba Botanica Anti-Bug Spray
This DEET-free, biodegradable bug spray is made with natural ingredients, including citronella, rosemary and lemongrass, and has been clinically tested to be effective against mosquitoes and ticks.
If you plan to spend extended time in an area with a heavy tick population, bring out the big guns. This powerful formulation will repel ticks for up to 12 hours and contains 20 percent picaridin, which is known to be more effective than DEET and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for repelling ticks.
Kids can be particular. If your child can’t bear the smell of other repellents, give this one a shot. Thanks to a combination of natural ingredients, such as lemon, eucalyptus and soybean oils, it has a unique smell. And it promises to ward off everything from biting flies and mosquitoes to ticks and even fleas, which can be plentiful in the summer.
Para’Kito Roll-on Gel
For an alternative to a cloud of spray repellent, this gel roll-on can be applied sparingly, yet it masks your scent to mosquitoes, making it difficult for them to find you. The concentrated formula comes with its own lanyard for easy portability.
Ocean Potion Sunscreens
$1.99 and up
Ocean Potion’s budget-friendly and effective sun protection products for kids and adults include lotions and sprays with a sun protection factor, or SPF, as high as 70. The formulations are easy to apply, feel comfortable on the skin and cost between $1.99 and $8.99. Many of the products have earned the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of recommendation for “safe and effective sun protection.”
If you’re looking for completely chemical-free protection from the sun, this baby- and reef-safe lotion contains ingredients, such as raspberry seed oil and tamanu oil, which provide natural sun protection and leave no white residue, unlike products that contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
If you do spend too much unprotected time in the sun, this handmade sunburn treatment contains shea butter, apricot kernel oil and vitamin E to soothe the skin and promote healing.
This combination LED and blue ultraviolet lightbulb lures flying insects and zaps them on a metal grid. It’s good indoors or outdoors, and you can use it as a combination light source and zapper or just as a zapper.
$119 and up
This device traps bugs using a UV fluorescent bulb, a titanium dioxide-coated surface that generates carbon dioxide and a vacuum fan. If enjoying your backyard or porch has become impossible due to flying insects, this can dramatically improve your experience.
BugBand Insect Repellent Portable Diffuser
$19.95, including three cartridges
For portable relief for the beach or campsite, bring this lightweight diffuser along. Batteries power the fan, which distributes the contents of the geraniol (a pleasant-smelling bug repellent) cartridge. Each cartridge keeps bugs away for up to 120 hours and across 300 square feet.
Apparel and Physical Protection
Wearing long sleeves and long pants can help keep the bugs away from your skin. For even more protection on your next hike, try these bug repellent pants and leggings from Westmarine.com, which repel bugs for up to 70 washes.
$94.99 and up
No matter how diligent you are about applying and reapplying sunscreen, and no matter how water-resistant the products are, the risk of sun exposure during a long, sunny day is high. This lightweight beach tent comes in a shoulder bag, is easy to set up and provides a UPF of 50+ (UPF is the protection factor for fabric) to greatly reduce sun exposure as you lounge in the sand.
For long days filled with sun and water activities, a rash guard will provide a level of protection that sunscreen products cannot. These flattering women’s rash guards have a zipper at the neck and are available in two patterns. For men, try Shedo Lane Men’s Long Sleeve Sun Protection Shirts. They are available in four colors for $32.
For women planning to snorkel, paddleboard or go from water to beach volleyball and back again, Splashpants will protect your lower half (unlike your bikini bottoms). They function well at the beach or the pool and have a compression feature that helps prevent heat-induced bloating.