Skip to content

The Zone Blog

Picaridin! “You're simply the best, better than all the rest”

by Brian Baer 13 Jan 2024

Thank you Tina Turner for that perfect song lyric from 1991.  Ever since the U.S. military developed that petroleum based, insect repellent chemical called DEET in the 1950s, we have been screaming (not literally I don’t think) for something better and with Zone Protects insect repellents, it’s here!

Summertime means picnics, bike rides, hikes and outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, summertime also means mosquitoes and other pesky insects. Bug bites can certainly put a damper on your outdoor fun, but more importantly mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases that are harmful. A safe and effective picaridin-based insect repellent can limit bites and protect you and your family from illnesses carried by insects. 

So, what is Picaridin exactly and why is it the best?

Picaridin, also called Icaridin and Saltidin, developed by Bayer AG in the 1980s and sold in the U.S. since 2005, is not only an alternative to DEET but it far surpasses DEET in every category that matters. Why haven’t you heard about Picaridin?  Oh, I have my theories so be sure to look for the Deep State of DEET, coming soon!  But first, let’s dive into why and how Picaridin is simply the best and better than all the rest (cue Tina).

Picaridin was made to resemble the natural compound piperine, which is found in the group of plants that are used to produce black pepper. For all you chemistry geeks out there like me, Picaridin is an insect repellent in the piperidine chemical family (piperine).  The chemical name is long but it is essentially an aromatic nitrogen compound and of course, nitrogen comprises 79% of the air we breathe.  Very safe!

Does it work?  There exists a very fun scientific experiment called the Mosquito Cage Test. This is where hungry mosquitoes are enclosed in a space and lucky scientists stick their arms into the cage and watches what happens.  A dream job to be certain. They are testing for “efficacy” or how well a mosquito repellent works when applied to the skin and then subjected to feasting insects.  After they retrieve their arms and check their life insurance policies, they determine the efficacy of repellent chemicals.  

From that efficacy testing Picaridin performed better than DEET, appearing to repel a wide range of pests (Badolo 2004, Barnard 2004, Carroll 2010, Consumer Reports 2010). The World Health Organization recommends Picaridin for protection against mosquitoes that carry diseases (WHO 2012). According to the WHO, Picaridin “demonstrates excellent repellent properties comparable to, and often superior to, those of the standard DEET.” The WHO also states that picaridin is better than DEET because of its efficacy and safety.

EPA registration data indicate that Picaridin at a concentration of 20 percent is effective against mosquitoes and ticks for 8 to 14 hours.  The data for DEET and all the other repellents is simply not this good.

Experts warn that mosquitoes are becoming resistant to DEET. There is no data suggesting that mosquitoes are becoming resistant to Picaridin.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using repellents based on Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (containing p-menthane-3,8-diol, PMD) for effective protection against mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and other illnesses.  As a government agency, the CDC can’t come out and say which is their favorite but we all know its Picaridin.

How Does It Work?  What a great and intuitive question.  Picaridin works by "masking" the human skin (and skin/hide of other animals like horses) and hides our natural scents that attract ticks, mosquitoes and flies.  DEET and those natural oils that don't work, claim to repel by their intense and obnoxious smell...we certainly don't like it and I guess the bugs don't either.  Picaridin is odor-free and keeps you bug-free!

Picaridin does not damage materials, fabrics or surfaces.  This is in stark contrast to DEET.  And it has the ability to dissolve certain plastics and some synthetic materials, including rayon, spandex, and vinyl. This is a particular hazard for sunglasses and plastic eyeglass lenses.

Is that all?  No, there’s more Johnny!  DEET has some more notable drawbacks. It imparts a greasy feel to the skin upon application. It emits a distinctive—and to many, unpleasant—odor.  Our friend Picaridin is odorless (like air) and does not have a greasy or oily feel on the skin.

According to studies in rats, 60% of picaridin was absorbed through the skin when it was applied to the rat’s skin. In humans, less than 6% of it was absorbed through the skin. Once it is in the body, picaridin may be degraded. Within the day of exposure, humans and rats excrete picaridin through their urine.  DEET, however, is absorbed at a rate 20%.

Without a doubt, the best insect repellent ingredient on the market is Picaridin.  Drop the DEET, forget those worthless natural oils and choose health.  Choose Picaridin.
Prev Post
Next Post

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look

Choose Options

Back In Stock Notification
this is just a warning
Shopping Cart
0 items