It's going to be a buggy summer. I'm testing a few different brands of bug repellent for you! As always, there are volunteer reviews to help fellow parents, nothing was paid, and I haven't received free samples from companies. The official recommendation is to apply bug repellant, then sunscreen on top.
If we were going into the deep woods or a malaria zone, I would not hesitate to use a DEET-based repellent. The natural guys just don't repel like DEET does. But since bites here are usually a nuisance rather than life-threatening, I avoid using it as our everyday repellent, mostly because I dislike aerosol sprays around children - I feel very nervous about the Nugget inhaling pesticide. You are also not supposed to apply DEET to babies under 6 months, but you can protect your baby with most natural versions. So here's our first review of "natural" bug repellants.
Burt's Bees - We've used this oil based repellent for years. People compliment me on my "perfume" when I wear it; it has a very strong, pleasant lemongrass scent. It has a squirt top (not aerosol) that you pump into your hands, then apply. I dislike that it is an oil formula, I just don't like the feel of oil on my skin and I have to keep it in a plastic baggie so it doesn't leak in my bag...but the pro side is that it slides on the Nugget very quickly, no need to rub it in. One $8 container has lasted 4+ years for our family of 3, making it a wise investment. I get far fewer bites when using BB than unprotected, but probably at least 1 per outing in a mosquito zone.
Tropical Traditions - My friend A thoughtfully gave me a bottle to try. This brand is a moisturizing lotion, which is nicer in my bag and feels good on my skin. It's easier to put on the Nugget's face without worrying that it will drip into his eyes. The scent is much milder, and more of a citronella scent. It's not quite as effective as Burt's Bees.
Group 2 will include California Baby and Badger Anti-bug Balm.