Our top pick for protection if you want to go DEET-free, and gentle for children and adventurers with sensitive skin.
Ideal for use on children
Slightly oily and tingly
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Life Systems Expedition Sensitive is a gentle formula that's ideal for anyone who finds DEET irritates or dries out their skin, but still needs hardworking insect protection on their travels or in places where it’s important to avoid mosquito bites.
You can also use this spray on children (Life Systems recommend it for kids aged over two) and delicate skin such as around the eyes. Feedback from eczema sufferers is that this spray works a treat, without any irritation.
Instead of DEET (a strong chemical, which can cause irritation and discomfort and needs to be used with caution) employs Saltidin (also known as Picaridin, part of the same chemical family as black pepper) as an active ingredient instead.
- Best insect repellents (opens in new tab): our guide to the best you can buy
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In the field
We really rate Life Systems’ tough DEET-packed sprays, so were pleased to see their DEET-free ‘Sensitive’ spray on the market, using 20% Saltidin as an alternative, much gentler active ingredient.
We tested out a range of different sprays that don’t contain DEET, and reckon this repellent offers the most protection of the ‘natural’ and DEET-free options currently on the market. The Sensitive spray has a mild, watery consistency and a mild smell to match, but is slightly oily to touch, even when dry.
While it does offer protection for up to eight hours, we’d recommend reapplying every four to five hours, and more often if you’re getting hot and sweaty. If you’re heading to a country where protection from bites is imperative to protect from malaria and other insect-borne diseases, you could consider using a DEET spray on your body and this gentler spray on your face, hair and clothing.
The tough little aluminium bottle is ideal for using, abusing and chucking in your backpack on hikes and camping adventures, too.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.
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