Mosquito repellants: how to choose natural products that really work, according to ECHA

Mosquito repellents are made with biocides. Here's how to identify the safe and effective active ingredients according to DGCCRF and ECHA

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

Mosquitoes are returning and like every year, we will try to defend ourselves with different products: lotions, sprays, essential oils, bracelets, etc. Although presented in very different forms, all anti-mosquito products contain biocides, i.e. chemicals subject, as such, to specific regulations. But how to choose a product that is both safe and effective?

Biocides are chemicals that act as insecticides, in our case their goal is to keep mosquitoes away. Their effectiveness comes from some active ingredients they contain and of course, all biocide-based products (including mosquito repellents), must comply with regulations.

First of all, there is the EU Regulation n ° 528/2012. This requires that biocidal products must first be authorized in order to be marketed and used. Authorization is granted if the chemicals meet 2 conditions:

  • contain active substances approved for the declared use: the assessment is made at European level and considers the risks for humans, animals and the environment but obviously also examines the specific action against the harmful organisms concerned 
  • it presents no risk to human, animal or environmental health and is effective: a national assessment is carried out to estimate the risks that the product may present in terms of human, animal and environmental health but also to examine its effectiveness.

As noted by the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumers and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) French, to date not all active substances have yet been evaluated: this is the case for most of those present in mosquito repellents.

Anzi-mosquito products are often based on essential oils: but which substances have been authorized for this purpose?

Substances authorized by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

A mosquito repellent must contain active substances listed on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website.

Some products, such as mosquito repellent bracelets, contain essential oils (lavender or lemongrass, for example) and like other active substances, these too must have been evaluated and licensed for the products to truly claim repellent properties.

Here are some examples of substances included in the ECHA website and others that do not appear in the list.

Active substances listed on the ECHA website (authorized) Examples of active substances not listed on the ECHA website (unauthorized)

Mint essential oil

Lavender essential oil


Neem extract


Lavender oil (Lavandula hybrida extract)


Estratto di Chrysanthenum cinerariaefolium



Lemongrass essential oil


Australian tea tree essential oil

Neem essential oil

Essential oil of geranium

Eucalyptus lemon essential oil

Lemongrass essential oil

Essential oil of ylang ylang

Peppermint essential oil

You can also search and check other active substances directly on the ECHA website.

Pay attention to the labels

The DGCCRF suggests paying the utmost attention to the indications on the label. This must in fact inform you about:

  • the identity of any biocidal active substance contained in the product and its concentration in metric units;
  • Instructions for Use;
  • the batch number or designation of the preparation and the expiry date under normal storage conditions;
  • the time required for the onset of the biocidal effect and its duration of action.
Also be careful to identify in a mosquito repellent product, depending on its composition, any warning indications, as well as hazard pictograms. When buying, it is important to take these statements into account and verify the nature of the active ingredients that appear on the label. Finally, the DGCCRF recommends identifying on the labels and advertisements of mosquito repellent products, statements such as "low-risk biocide", "non-toxic", "not harmful to health", "natural", "environmentally friendly", " animal friend ”or any other similar indication. Source: DGCCRF / ECHA Read also:  
  • Anti-mosquitoes, the 6 most effective products according to a French test
  • Natural mosquito repellents: here are which ones really work (and which don't)
  • Mosquitoes: the best repellents to keep them away in an ecological way
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