Itching for Autumn

As my hometown of Houston moves out of monsoon season into a hopefully dryer summer, I find myself itching for autumn. Literally. The unusually heavy rains of March and April have left us with a surplus of mosquitoes. Every day more and more are rising up out of the flood waters, like ancient mongol warriors ready to pillage our fair city.
My poor pup can't even make it to our back fence (a vast stretch of 20 feet) without stirring up a swarm that proceed to savagely assail her. Our evening and weekend walks are an ordeal as I obsessively swat at anything with wings with one hand while pushing my stroller in snaking motions with the other, selflessly defending my offspring at all costs.
My pitiable toddler bumps along, quietly suffering in long sleeves, jeans, thick socks and high-top converse (a necessary but cruel infliction now that temps are already reaching mid to upper 80's and the humidity is higher than normal thanks to the added moisture.)
This is what inspired a search for a new and more effective bug repellent. Last year myself and my daughter endured the suffocating fumes of Burt's Bees natural bug repellent for roughly six months, a small sacrifice had it actually been effective. It was not. (Much to my disappointment as I am a huge Burt's Bees fan.) This year we are trying All Terrain's Herbal Armor Natural Insect Repellent.

But before I give my review, I'd like to say a bit about why I feel it is important to go natural when choosing bug repellent.

Chemical based insect repellents such as Off and Cutter contain significant amounts of DEET, which many claim to be a neurotoxin. The suspected side affects of DEET range from skin and respiratory irritation to birth defects, seizures and cancer. That said, no reliable studies can be found to prove (or disprove) these claims. The EPA and CDC do caution consumers about the use of DEET based products, especially on small children. They advise not applying it directly to the skin if possible, and if it is applied to the skin they recommend washing it off once you return to the indoors. They also recommend not spraying it directly onto the face, especially a child's, and not inhaling the vapors.
In their most recent review of DEET in 2007, the EPA was very clear that they did not find DEET to be a strong toxic risk, placing it in Toxicity Category III (the 2nd lowest of four categories.) They also did not find any studies that verified claims of it being a carcinogen (cancer causing substance) nor did they find studies proving it responsible for seizures in any small children.
Many would argue, however, that there have not been enough studies on the effects of DEET on human health. And many more would just prefer not to take the chance when there are natural alternatives that carry no risk. I am one.

Now for my review.

All Terrain's Herbal Armor Spray

What I love:

  • It works. I put it on before my run and never had to swat away one mosquito. My daughter only had one bite during our 1 1/2 hour outing. (I was not as generous when applying it on her, worrying that she would stink all night. Lazy mom- I know.)
  • It's not oily like the brand we used last year.
  • The smell is not as strong as other repellents, including DEET based ones. It's not nice- but which ones are?
  • It comes out of the spray bottle like a spray on lotion and absorbs into the skin quickly. You do have to smooth it out like lotion to get optimum coverage.
  • Price! This is normally a negative point with natural products, but the price here is competitive.
  • It's made of all natural ingredients and is non-toxic.

What I don't love:

  • It does not having the staying power that it claims. You should be prepared to reapply every hour or so, depending on how much you are sweating.
  • The spray bottle is not the highest quality. After ever few sprays I have to loosen the cap to allow air back in so that it works properly.

Over all I give this product an A-. I'm sold.


Nonnie said...

Where did you get it?? Walmart, Target??

Beth @ Spots On My Apples said...

I picked it up at Target. It was on an end cap next to Off and Cutter near the gardening isle.

Nonnie said...

Thanks Beth, good to know! :)

Anonymous said...

All Terrain products can also be found at Whole Foods and REI.

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