*This post is NOT SPONSORED but does contain affiliate links. This means that if you click through and give the product a whirl, I get a tiny fee for spreading the news at no extra cost to you. This helps me offset the enormous amount of time that goes into Compost & Cava.
“Ommmaygaaaaw,” the woman behind me at Whole Foods gasped. “Are those chicken pox?!”
I rolled my eyes and primly explained no, my legs are not covered in infectious boils. I have mosquito bites.
First, that is a terrible way to make friends. The odds are great that whatever the afflicted person is suffering from, the affliction is NOT chicken pox. The odds are even greater that they don’t feel like talking about it with some stranger at the salad bar.
Second, I am one of those rare individuals who gets eaten no matter what. They will bite me through my clothing, through my hair, they will angrily throw themselves at the screened door I stand behind like some sort of SciFi channel made-for-tv movie.
I once spent 10 days of an Alaska summer dressed like Kenny from South Park to avoid mosquito bites, which resulted in giant red welts on only my forehead.
Applying natural bug spray* to my skin is basically like slathering A1 sauce on a steak to mosquitoes.
*There is one and only one exception to this, which I’ll get to.
Here’s the thing about DEET, though the information is still murky: while deemed safe for humans by the EPA, it is a known neurotoxin.
The exact effects of this neurotoxicity in humans aren’t currently identified, but “a study in the open access journal BioMed Central Biology shows DEET works in the same way as paralysing nerve gases used in warfare,” and “In work on rodents at the cellular level, DEET blocked an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, whose job is to control one of the main chemical messengers used by the nervous system.”
DEET might not have a quantifiable negative effect on humans, but the fact that it’s been found in groundwater from Florida to lakes in Minnesota, where it was found in 76% of the lakes tested in a 2013 study, should probably make us uncomfortable.
The problem is DEET works... and mosquito-borne illnesses can kill you.
Is there a natural repellent that ACTUALLY helps that percentage of people deemed Mosquito Magnets? (If you have less than 10 healing bites right now despite bug spray use, you do not qualify by my standards.)
And that’s when I tripped over Osana Bar, a mosquito repelling, all natural soap. How interesting, I thought. I skimmed over the rave reviews, researched the company, and placed my order. You can skip to the end to find out whether or not it worked, but I’ll recommend reading the entire post.
Here’s What’s To Love About Osana Mosquito Repelling Bar:
All natural and non-toxic
Environmentally friendly and biodegradable
Shipping materials and outer cardboard box are recyclable (there is a small plastic bag, though)
For every package of natural mosquito repellent soap sold, they donate a bar to a group of people at risk of malaria or sanitation based illnesses – both of which Osana helps prevent.
What I Wanted To Know:
Would it work?
Is it safe to use on my WHOLE body?
Won’t I sweat it off?
Will it work even if I apply lotion or sunscreen after I shower?
Would it stink?
Daily Diary During 6 Day Osana Mosquito Repellent Bar Trial
(Osana recommends 3 days continued use for best results, I doubled that for my trial since I'm basically a human juice bar for mosquitoes.)
Keep in mind I was averaging 10-20 bites each time I spent more than 5 minutes outside without coating myself in bug spray prior to my Osana bar trial.)
Day 1: No hives, arms did not fall off. Soap appears to be safe for sensitive skin and smells lovely. Played with dog in the evening, received three bites to back of knees and ankles, only, where I didn’t use as much soap. Noticed mosquitos hovering but they couldn’t seem to find a spot they wanted to land. Huh.
Day 2: I GARDENED. (My house has two ditches with stagnant water along the property, and I normally am swarmed within minutes.) Spent 30 minutes puttering in the garden and playing with the pupper, and only received TWO bites. Considering the mosquito population, my mind is blown. Many circling, though.
Day 3: Played with dog outside before showering for the day, received 3 bites. Disappointed, but showered and got no more bites the rest of the day. Skin needs more lotion than normal, though.
Day 4: Started day with an outdoor photo shoot. Showered and went to a rural outdoor festival for 3 hours. Showered again, tempted the mosquito gods by dining al fresco and listening to musicians outside at night without spray. TWO BITES for the entire day.
Day 5: Unfortunately spent most of the day indoors, other than time exercising dog. No bites.
Day 6: Played tennis in the morning, exercised dog, had coffee outside. No bites!! Skin is definitely drier than normal, but my old bites are healing quickly and I hope to have normal skin again soon!
Definitely deters mosquitoes
Lets you skip that oily residue on your skin or clothes from sprays
No risk of inhaling chemicals during application
Requires next to no effort (since I'm already using soap)
Great company with great ethics
Protection is NOT 100% perfect
Slightly more expensive than my other soap
May dry out sensitive skin
Requires online purchase/shipping
You must bathe regularly... Can we really call this a con, though?
Osana bar is here to stay for mosquito season.
The feeling of being able to leave my house without being covered in oily natural or DEET-laced sprays is amazing. I love being able to eat outside without anxiously swatting at my legs every 15 seconds or play fetch with my dog in my mosquito-filled backyard without running for the back door after 3 throws. Using Osana bar has made me realize how many activities or social situations I've avoided or become anxious about BECAUSE of the mosquito situation. I am the Debbie Downer who refuses happy hour on the patio no longer.
My legs still look like hell from the last several weeks, but if using Osana bar can keep my bites even somewhat at bay? I'm all in. I'm already using bar soap, and I'd rather use a little more lotion than cover myself in DEET or oily sprays in my nice going out clothes.
There is a caveat.
DO NOT MESS WITH MOSQUITO BORNE ILLNESSES. If you live in or are about to visit an area where you are at risk for any mosquito borne illness such as West Nile, Zika, malaria, dengue, or EEE, prioritize your health and follow officials' or doctors' protocol on how to best protect yourself.
I will be coating myself in DEET head to toe when traveling to any areas with mosquito borne illnesses, but the Osana bar will also be coming with me.
When I plan to be outdoors in areas with minimal risk of mosquito-borne illness but with a high mosquito population (Charleston is basically in a swamp, lest we forget), I'm going to be using Osana bar and carrying Swamp Gator with me. Swamp Gator is to date the ONLY all natural DEET-free bug spray that is effective for me... and I have tried virtually every natural product I can get my hands on, and this is literally the only one I'll recommend.
Osana bar definitely helps. Will I say it's perfect? No, but I also didn't expect it to be. I hoped it would let me relax, heal, and venture outside a little more during what I can only describe as the South's most hostile season.
I'm counting down the days until fall, but until then? I'll be lathering up.