Review: Boots Insect Repellent, Bite & Sting, And Travel First Aid Kit

14 July 2010

Kids Beach Holiday

Mossie bites can totally ruin my holiday. This is not a problem at home. It’s as if I have built up a resistance to the little bloodsuckers around here, because I barely get a bump on my arm if I’m bitten. But as soon as I go somewhere else I come up in lumps the size of a small golf ball. And that’s before I scratch the bite. If I’m idiotic enough to do that, then I’m walking around on holiday sporting a lump on my arm, or leg, or heaven forbid my face, the size of an orange.

Not a pretty sight.

So, top of my shopping list for my summer holiday is always insect repellent, shortly followed by a first aid kit. Because, even if I do remember to spray myself, I’m sure to trip over a misplaced bit of air. That’s just the kind of luck I have!

In the interests of keeping our readers safe in the great outdoors this year, I got a bunch of products from Boots. And gave them to Katharine, a PlayPennies mum with a lot of experience taking children on holidays to the seaside, camping and abroad.

Repelling mossies

Repel Natural Insect RepellentBoots gave us two insect repellents. Repel Insect Repellent Lotion Natural Citrepel 75 (100ml) £6.99. And Repel Once Insect Repellent Spray (125ml) £8.99.

First impressions were good. As Katharine comments “Both types of insect repellent (Natural Citrepel and Repel Once) have a quite pleasant odour, and don't smell anything like as strongly as repellents I've used in the past.”

Although the name of the active ingredient, Citrepel 75, sounds a bit sci-fi, the substance is natural and comes from the lemon eucalyptus plant. According to Boots, the Natural Citrepel 75 repellent is suitable for non-tropical areas with a low risk of malaria and insect-transmitted diseases. It also claims a light and non-greasy formulation.

That wasn’t quite what Katharine experienced however. “Whether using the spray pumps or the lotions, they all go on easily, though they all leave your hands feeling slightly sticky” she says. The Repel Once ones (which are designed for tropical areas where malaria is a problem) are the stickiest. A quick wash of the hands, though, and the problem's solved - I've never been troubled by mosquito bites on my hands, so I can't see it being a problem not having lotion on them.”

Repel Once contains 25% DEET and claims to provide protection from mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. Neither repellents are suitable for use on children under six months.

Repet Once Insect Repellent SprayWhat were the repellents like in use? "While wearing the lotions outside, I haven't been bothered by any insects - but I haven't really found insects to be a problem at all this year," Katharine explains. "So it hasn't been a very fair/thorough test. (Most years I end up covered in bites - I must taste good.)

What was Katherine's final verdict? "The prices, ranging from £7 for the non-tropical Natural Citrepel repellents to £9 for the tropical Repel Once Spray are probably quite reasonable, but unless I was going somewhere with a particularly rampant mosquito population, I doubt I'd bother buying them. If they were a couple of quid cheaper, I would."

Soothing stings

Boots Bite And StingEven with the most careful application of repellents, you can be sure that if you miss even the tiniest spot, a mosquito will find it. Scratching such a bite is, for me, a really unpleasant and unsightly experience! Boots has a product, Bite and Sting Relief Click It (£5.49) to help people like me. Our tester found Bite & Sting Relief Click It rather intriguing. "You click it five to 10 times on and around a bite or sting to dispense tiny electrical charges, which supposedly relieve the urge to scratch." Certainly sounds like an unusual approach. What is it like to use?

"Thankfully, I haven't been bitten or stung lately, so I've been unable to test its efficacy." Katharine told us. "However, I have used it on un-stung skin to see what it feels like - in a word, strange. Not unpleasant, though, and I'll certainly be taking it with me on my travels this summer. At just £5.49 and with the ability to treat up to 2,000 bites, it seems incredibly good value, too."

Travel First Aid Kit

Boots Travel First Aid KitWith two boys, we definitely always needed to carry at least a few band aids with us, wherever we went. But it was my energetic and adventurous step-daughter who required a more substantial first aid kit! I was never confident enough to be able to carry just a little one. However, I might have done with this Boots Travel First Aid Kit (£8.99), as, from what Katharine says, they're thoughtful enough to include space for you to put a few extras of your own.

Katharine says "Finally, the Travel First Aid Kit is another great value piece of kit for just £8." In fact, it is a kit that she has bought and used in the past because it seems to fit such a lot into such a handy pack. "I just sling it in with our luggage when I pack for a holiday and I know I'll have everything I need for any minor medical mishap. There are plasters, dressings, a bandage, scissors, antihistamine cream, a blister plaster, antiseptic wipes and even a very brief guide to basic first aid. The small bag it all comes in is roomy enough for you to pop extra bits and pieces in too."

And Finally

My plan this year is to go camping, and more of us than ever before taking advantage of the festivals abounding in our countryside. For use here I'll be going with the natural repellents, but in a hotter country I'd probably opt for something with DEET in it to be doubly sure.

Plus if this summer continues to be as hot and muggy as it is, especially with the humidity, I don't think I'll have to go on holiday to find bumper crops of mossies! Some of these items will probably see just as much use in my own backyard, which makes sure I'll get my money's worth out of them.


  • Fiona
    We never travel without Avon Skin-so-Soft Dry Oil Spray from their bath care range. It was recommended by a friend who'd been given it on the courtesy carts at Disney. Apparently, it contains DEET, but with several fragrances to choose from, it smells a whole lot nicer than marketed insect repellents, is moisturising and non sticky. Just 'cos you're camping, you don't have to smell like a chemical toilet!
  • Lynley O.
    Oh I love your description! That's exactly what all the mossie repellents I remember from my childhood smelt like. Chemical toilets! Our reviewer did comment specifically on the nice smell of Boots. Maybe next time you're in a Boots you can do a 'sniff' comparison and let us know how it measure up to Avon's one!
  • Julie H.
    Thanks for your review Lynley, I've only registered to share my own experience. Recently I read in Take a Break that there is a natural product that is much more stronger than Avons, so I bought of incognito to try & it is amazing -not a single bite for the whole family which was a first! The point is that it also has Citrepel75 in it but incognito's recipe is non-greasy and smells great. Their website has all sorts of good advice too

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