“ Brand: Boots / Type: Insect Repellent / Dosage Form: Spray „
For me, insect repellent and sun tan lotion go hand in hand, and when I'm in a place where I need one, chances are I'll also need the other. While I use a lotion with in-built repellent during the day, I'll often shower at night before going out, at which point I'll apply this as the sun might have gone, but the midgies haven't.
I won't lie: I buy whichever repellent is the cheapest as long as it meets my criteria. Normally that means that it includes Deet, but for this part of the world it has to be super-strength, so rather than the normal range, I upgraded to Tropical with 50% Deet. The bottle's claims are:
*** Effective protection against biting insects which can carry infectious diseases
*** Scientifically proven
It is unsuitable for children under 6 months and the first trimester of pregnancy, but can be used after that and while breast feeding (as long as you don't spray it while you're nursing, and get some on the baby, or douse your nipples in it).
This product comes in various shapes, sizes and application types, and I have the 125ml spray, again because it offered the best value for money. This stuff isn't cheap, but then if I'm dead from Malaria I won't have any time to spend my riches, so it's a necessary expenditure. It was also stressed and stressed again at my pre-departure training that if we didn't use Deet and then fell ill they would be Very, Very Cross, and that nothing, including Avon's Skin So Soft and Citronella, was an acceptable alternative.
Insect Repellent is a funny sort of product because it's only the active ingredients that really make any difference. I've used pretty much all brands on the market, and there's little difference in their application. All the sprays are fine and quite dry. They're all clear too, which is a little annoying as you need to see where you've applied it, as missing a bit matters. Although it's supposed to mask your scent so the bugs can't find you, I find that if you only do, say, the your ankles or your arms, they'll easily find all other parts of you.
I prefer a spray to a gel, cream or wipe because I find it gives better, more even coverage. This has a wider spray than my current suntan lotion, meaning it covers a wider area with each pump and although you have to rub it in, doing so doesn't take long as it's easily absorbed and you only need a thin layer on skin. The quality of the pump is good, and the nozzle doesn't get clogged.
I always choose Deet because it works for me, though I know some people find it irritates their skin. The higher the concentration, the more likely you are to react to it, but while 50% is pretty high for the UK, a friend of mine in Australia happened across some 80% stuff which, we decided, would work by burning off any skin you had so there was nothing left for the mosquitoes to get...
Most repellents smell disgusting, and this one is no exception. It is as bad as my bug sprays for rooms, and I literally have to apply and then walk around so I don't start coughing. I do think this is perhaps one of the more repulsive ones I've had the pleasure of using, perhaps because of the higher concentration of Deet. It smells chemical and almost as if it's gone sour too, and the mist really hits the back of your throat. It amazes me that something to make you smell of nothing smells of so much and when I apply it I have flashbacks to a horrific Salsa class where a certain gentleman has clearly bathed in his very cheap aftershave before coming along. The smell of this lingers on your skin but eventually fades so you don't notice it unless you sniff your arm. I should add that it tastes disgusting too - I know it's not meant to be ingested, but put in on your face (by spraying your hands first) or accidentally lick a finger and you get a vile mouthful that literally makes me want to wash my mouth out with soap.
Smell and taste aside, what really matters is the protection it offers from biting insects. I find this product works well for a long time. I tend to use it mainly at night and never need to reapply in these circumstances as it will last the few hours I'm out and about. If applying during the day, you should put this on before sun cream, and also reapply after swimming etc. Last Friday I spent the day going house to house, vaccinating 287 children against Polio as part of an Africa-wide campaign. It was a cloudy day, so I opted for this rather than sunscreen. As luck would have it, the clouds shifted and I got a whopping load of colour that day without sun protection....but I didn't get a single bite. If you'd seen the neighbourhoods we were touring, with their many swamps and manky dogs, you'd realise just how impressive this is.
One annoying thing about the spray is that when you get to the end you still get the "pssssss" noise, even when it's run out, so you have to be careful to check there is still liquid being dispensed otherwise it's time to bin it. You can get a vague feel for how much is left by tipping the bottle, but because it's opaque you can't see exactly how much remains, and as it's an aerosol it doesn't slosh as much as a regular pump spray.
Insect Repellent is never going to be a luxury item. It's not going to be something I stand in the shop looking at, sniffing and admiring the colour as I would with toiletries and cosmetics. But, as the cheapest tropical strength Deet available, I feel I saved pennies but didn't compromise on quality or effectiveness. While I'm off saving the world, this saves me from the torture and, perhaps, fatality of bites. The hideous smell is a small price to pay, especially as the retail price is comparatively small (plus, bonus, you get Advantage card points).
Available from Boots and Boots.com
Current (Nov 2010) price:
Boots Tropical Strength Aerosol (125ml): £6.65
Boots Tropical Strenght Pump Spray (120ml) £6.75