Neal’s Yard Citronella Formula insect repellent review

Neal’s Yard Citronella formula is an all-organic citronella-based spray that will still fend off most British bugs – ideal if you have sensitive skin

Neal’s Yard Citronella formula
(Image: © Neal's Yard)

Advnture Verdict

Organic, natural and deliciously scented, this citronella spray is strong enough to work on staycations, but won’t be strong enough to fend off the more fiendish flying foes found in more tropical climes.


  • +

    Natural ingredients

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    Great smell

  • +

    Gentle on skin


  • -

    Won’t contend with mosquito-ridden areas

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    On the expensive side

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First thoughts

If you hate the idea of smothering your skin in strong chemicals (or if you suffer from eczema or have sensitive skin), try this light citrus-scented spray, made with organic natural ingredients and not a hint of anything artificial.

Unlike most strong insect repellents, the Neal's Yard Citronella Formula feels as light and pleasant as water to apply and dries clear, with no stickiness. As a result, you can spray it everywhere, including on your clothes and face, and it’s also nice to use on your scalp without ending up with oily repellent-drenched hair.

Just remember to reapply as you go, spraying skin every two to three hours, or any time you sweat or go swimming. This repellent also smells good enough to be a body spray (which is how it’s described on the bottle), with a pleasing scent of lavender, witch hazel and citrus, which makes its more expensive price tag seem well worth it.

In the field

Neal’s Yard market their citronella spray as a ‘sun spray’ (which is slightly confusing, as it doesn’t offer any protection from the sun), and don’t make claims that it will always protect you from insect bites, but on test we found it does work as a good barrier against insects in milder climates such as the UK.

You’ll need to reapply it every couple of hours, but we found when using the spray on camping holidays around the UK that when sprayed on oft-bitten areas such as feet and ankles as evenings draw in, or used on more casual walks (only in malaria-free climates such as Britain and the Mediterranean) it was effective at keeping bugs at bay.

Sian Lewis

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,, champions accessible adventures.