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Victoria's Secret Perfume And Skin So Soft Are Actually Pretty Good DEET-Free Bug Repellents

mosquitos
Perfume may be an effective albeit expensive way to keep mosquitoes away. Tarek Mahmud CC BY-ND 2.0

A recent study by researchers from New Mexico University suggests a line of Victoria’s Secret perfume is almost as good as DEET when it comes to repelling mosquitoes. However, the reason for this odd bug-repelling side effect lies not so much in the perfume’s ingredients but rather its strong flowery fragrance — something mosquitoes apparently aren’t very fond of.

As anyone who has ever either visited a wooded or tropical area knows, some of the most effective bug repellents are those which contain the chemical N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, better known as DEET. However, along with repelling insects, some suspect that DEET may have other more adverse affects on both human health and the environment. Although this has not ever been confirmed, many consumers prefer to play it safe and buy DEET-free bug spray.

In their recent study, researchers from New Mexico University attempted to explore the effectiveness of a variety of chemicals found in these commercially available DEET-free bug sprays as well as the effectiveness of Avon Skin So-Soft bath oil and Victoria Secret Bombshell, two beauty products which have been reputed for their bug-repelling qualities. The scientists then observed how many mosquitoes were attracted to a bare hand when compared to a hand that had bug sprays or beauty scents on it.

Results revealed that Cutter Natural insect repellent, the Mosquito Skin patch, and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard did not result in reduction of insect attraction. Another spray, Ecosmart Organic Insect Repellent, did repel bugs when it was first applied, but these effects did not last longer than 30 minutes. Avon Skin So Soft bath oil resulted in a “significant reduction of attraction” for up to 120 minutes but began to fade by 240 minutes.

The Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume also proved to be an effective mosquito repellent and lasted longer than 120 minutes, although the researchers noted that “the concentration of perfume we used in this test was rather high and that lower concentrations of the same fragrance might have different effects.”

According to the researchers, these results were nearly the complete opposite of what they had expected to find. “There was some previous literature that said fruity, floral scents attracted mosquitoes, and to not wear those,” said Stacy Rodriguez, a research assistant involved in the study, said in a statement. “It was interesting to see that the mosquitoes weren’t actually attracted to the person that was wearing the Victoria’s Secret perfume — they were repelled by it.”

The researchers noted that the perfume’s mosquito-repelling abilities were most likely due to the perfume’s “fruity-floral” fragrance, which “may provide a masking odor resulting in low mosquito attraction rates but over a shorter duration of time.”

And while the findings are interesting, the team concluded they do not advise consumers begin using the perfume strictly as a mosquito repellant.

Source: Rodriguez SD, Drake LL, Price DP, Hammond JI, Hanson. The Efficacy of Some Commercially Available Insect Repellents for Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae). Journal of Insect Science. 2015.

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