DIY Beauty Bar: Bug Off!

queer-beauty-bar-graphicFor years I never got a mosquito bite. My secret? Dryer sheets. Even though this is apparently an urban legend, I swear I wasn’t touched my the little guys for the past 5 years. Last summer, though, I found a new way to keep bugs away: essential oils. Diluting a mixture of whatever you need to keep the insects in your neck of the wood away from you in soap, lotion, or another carrier can keep you from getting bit in the first place. And the same essential oils – along with a whole list of normal household items – can stave off the itch if you forget to rub on some anti-mosquito stuff ahead of time.

Un-Buggable Essential Oils

Geranium: Repels ticks

Lavender: Repels chiggers, moths, mosquitos

Peppermint: Repels cockroaches, moths, mosquitos

Tea Tree: Repels chiggers, ants

Eucalyptus: Repels mosquitos


Bug-Repelling Lotion Bars

Making a solid lotion bar is an easy way to keep yourself un-bugged. 1 cup of coconut oil per 1/2 cup of beeswax is a good starter recipe. You can mess around with ratios if you want to add butters or use a liquid oil in place of coconut oil, but a good guideline is to use less beeswax when adding butters and more when adding liquid oils. After melting them together, add your essential oils and let the mixture solidify in ice cube trays so that you have convenient little bars to rub all over you next time you’re outside.

Bug-Repelling Spray

An easy way to get anti-bug oils on your skin is by using a spray. If you know you’ll be spending the day outside, using jojoba oil mixed with essential oils can be a good preventative measure. Jojoba oil is really similar to the oil produced by your skin, so it’s a good non-comedogenic yet moisturizing option.

If you want something that definitely won’t get your clothes oily when you spray it on, mixing equal parts of distilled  or boiled water (so that you’re sure there’s nothing gross growing in it) and witch hazel with essential oils works. Adding vegetable glycerin will kept keep your skin moisturized and helps keep the essential oil suspended in the carrier liquid, but it’s very important to use really clean water if you’re going to add glycerin because it’s a sugar that will feed bacteria in the water and encourage it to grow.

Bug-Repelling Soap

Adding essential oils that bugs hate to a liquid castile soap (like unscented Dr. Bronner’s) can go and easy way to get the scent all over your body. Use 10-15 drops per ounce of soap.

Anti-Itch Remedies

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Honey helps stop itching as does soap, vinegar, teabaking soda (but be careful if you have sensitive skin), plantain and basil leaves, the inside of a banana skin and citrus fruits. The itching in mosquito bites is caused by saliva, so if you’ve noticed you’ve been bit, you can help stop itching by running inside and washing the bite right away.

Resources: The Daily Green, Wellness Mama, Tip Nut

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. yessss thank you so much for this!! my fiancee is allergic to conventional bug sprays so i’ve been looking at alternatives and the spray looks like a great idea

  2. Awesome! The misquitoes have been so fierce this summer here in Alaska that every store was out of bug repelant for awhile. I’ve been dousing myself in the stuff for a month and a half now. Bleh

    This looks wonderful though and I’m excited to try it out! :)

    • Not to be a total creep, but where in AK are you from?? I’m from Glennallen, east of Anchorage. There’s a big sign in Glennallen that says “Save the Alaskan Mosquito!” Pretty sure I smelled like nothing but bug spray until I was eleven or twelve as a result of the legendary Alaskan mosquitos. What gems.

  3. Be careful of those banana peels though! I don’t know whether this is true, but I’ve heard that eating bananas makes you smell *more* attractive to mosquitos

  4. I am so happy that this column came back! Lotion bars are so cute and make really good presents. I put lavender in my homemade shampoo/body wash and lotion, and mosquitos never bother me.

  5. Such a great post! Never had to deal with mosquitos and didn’t want to use the conventional stuff. Thanks!

  6. Thank you so much for this! I work at a summer camp in the forest where I literally sleep in trees. This will be so useful. In our camp song, there’s a line dedicated to fighting mosquitos. I rather smell like lavender than deet. woot woot!

  7. Thank you for a good article! Indeed, it is better not to use chemicals for health care. But recently I became interested in Aurvedics in combination with yoga and I can say that I felt a positive effect. The materials used are only natural and therefore such a great benefit, I learned from, for which thanks very much!

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