Eco Beauty & Fashion

DIY Natural Bug Repellant Perfume

close up of woman's hands spraying something from a translucent brown bottle onto her wristTis the season for bugs. And although I happen to love the scent of citronella, others—I’m not naming names, but we could be married—hate it. So I whipped up a new recipe for DIY natural bug repellant perfume that employs three of my favorite scents, with no citronella in sight. Want to try? I’ll show you how!

I wore this DIY Natural Bug Repellant Perfume to an outdoor barbecue recently. I smelled amazing—DH thought so, too. And I didn’t get one mosquito bite! Before we get to the good stuff, I just have to say that I helped spread the word about the Environmental Working Group’s launch of their Bug Repellant Report last year and I recognize how important DEET can be in areas where Lyme disease and West Nile Virus are prevalent. But because the incidences of those illnesses are low in my area, I decided to stick with natural bug repellants, and began researching alternatives to citronella-based sprays.

Stephanie Moram of Good Girl Gone Green recommends a daily dose of B1 vitamins during bug season as a natural bug repellant—a prescription that I saw repeated many times as I did further research. I checked my multivitamin—I’m still taking those prenatals!—and found that it contains 10 milligrams, nearly 600% times the recommended daily intake. Check!

Lavender essential oil is apparently a skeeter deterrent and natural bug repellant, according to Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse. I checked that recommendation in several tropical travel forums, where I also found nods to coconut (used in the Caribbean) and vanilla (Costa Rica) essential oils, too. And Aromaflage,an amazing-looking new natural bug repellant and perfume that uses those and other amazing scents to repel bugs, is racking up online testimonials about how great it works.

So I decided to put my favorites together in my very own recipe for Mommy Greenest Bug Repellant Perfume. Just as with my DIY Spring Perfume, you’ll need a clean spray bottle, preferably one made of dark blue or brown glass to block UV rays that degrade the scent. You’ll also need:

Food-grade organic vanilla extract (make sure it’s sugar-free)

Food-grade organic coconut extract (ditto)

USDA Certified Organic Essential Oil of Lavender

Now here’s the recipe. My measurements are based on a small bottle, and are proportional. If you have a larger bottle, you could double the initial amount of essential oil, or you could mix based on the recipe below and add more adjust the oils to how you like the scent.

Start with 20 drops Lavender oil.
Fill one-half of the remaining space in the bottle with coconut extract.
Fill the remaining space in the bottle with vanilla extract.
Shake and spritz, focusing on areas where skin is exposed.

After whipping up a bottle in Diane Mizota’s kitchen (check out the video below), I gave my magical bug repelling perfume a whirl at an outdoor barbecue recently. I smelled amazing—if I do say so myself! (DH thought so, too.) And I didn’t get one mosquito bite, although they were in the air. You have to be pretty liberal with spraying and rubbing in the bug repellant—and repeating every few hours—but I think this mix really works (although maybe it’s the B1 vitamins). If you live in an area where there’s no threat of West Nile Virus or Lyme disease, give it a whirl. Let me know how this yummy (to us, not skeeters) scent works for you!


  • Barbara DesChamps

    There is a section on insect repellants in my Lightweight Travel book (see my dot com.) Although Picaridin repels insects, you must re-apply more often than DEET. If using DEET, I prefer the stick made by Cutter as it is compact and you can dab it in small areas without getting it on your fingers. Do you know if using only one of the ingredients in your blend would still be effective? I live in a forest and one of my neighbors got Lyme disease. I heard that if you find a tick within the day and remove it, you greatly reduce the risk. Therefore, it behooves us to check our bodies carefully at the nightly shower and not wait until morning.

  • sophie

    PS and I would probably not use the DIY perfume when in the sun because I am afraid lavender can make your skin sun sensitive…

  • sophie

    I will try it, I am sure it smells amazing! When there is a high risk I will go for store bought though. I skip the DEET and use Icaridin (or Picaridine), it is as efficient as DEET but less toxic. Safer for the whole family, kids and pregnant women included. Widely used in France, though harder to find in Canada. It works great, I have tried it numerous times. Believe me, mosquitoes love me. 🙁

  • nicole

    these are my favorite scents too! thanks for this awesome recipe…and i think i WILL use it as perfume ;)! i’m not usually a commenter who goes off topic, however, lyme disease is endemic in california, and can be found across the continent, and the incidence is anything but ‘low’. the cdc now estimates there are over 300,000 cases per year in the US (compared to previous years, where the numbers were estimated to be 30,000!). i would encourage you to check out [the lyme disease association in california ;)] to learn a bit more about protecting yourself and your munchkins from lyme disease. it’s a very serious, debilitating infection. i grew up in the bay area, and contracted lyme disease as a child. 20+ years later, i’m still in treatment (6 years and counting) and am in a wheelchair, with severe pain, short-term memory loss etc. i use essential oil bug spray, never DEET (who needs more toxins!?).

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Wow, thank you for sharing your story, this is really good information. I am in a part of LA where Lyme Disease is not a problem, but I do encourage everyone to check out and to protect themselves as much as possible. Thanks again for sharing, Nicole. Your blog is great!

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