Research Outline

Insect Repellant


Compare insect repellant sprays available through retail for personal use. Focus on health benefits and risks of the various products according to research.

Early Findings

  • According to a study done by Consumer Reports, all of the top performing insect repellents on the market contains one of the following active ingredients: deet, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE).
  • Studies suggest that deet-based repellents are most effective when they contain 25-30% deet. However, they can pose health risks if the concentration is higher than this level. Risks include rashes, disorientation, and seizures. Studies from both the EPA and the Environmental Working Group have found that deet-based repellents are safe and highly-effective as long as the user carefully follows the label instructions.
  • For picaridin sprays, a concentration of 20% is recommended by Consumer Reports for efficacy and safety.
  • Repellents containing OLE should have a concentration of 30% to be most effective. These products are generally considered safe, although they can cause eye irritation and are not recommended for children under 3 years old.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends deet-based repellents for children, and only products containing 30% deet concentration or less. Insect repellent should not be used on children under 2 months of age.