A study published in the Journal of Insect Science shows that Victoria’s Secret ‘Bombshell’ perfume repels mosquitos nearly as well as products containing DEET.
Researchers from New Mexico State University tested a variety of products on two mosquito species: the Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito (both can transmit the Zika virus, yellow fever, and dengue fever). They coated volunteers’ hands with a variety of mosquito-repelling products for the experiment. Several (Repel 100 Insect Repellent, OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent VIII, and Cutter Skinsations Insect Repellent) contained DEET, while four were DEET-free (Cutter Natural Insect Repellent, EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent, Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent, and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard). They also tested a vitamin B1-based mosquito skin patch, Avon Skin So Soft Bath Oil and, almost by accident, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, which one of the researchers had received as a birthday gift.
While researchers weren’t surprised to discover that the products containing DEET were the best at repelling mosquitoes, they were taken aback to find that the perfume was an effective repellent:
Interestingly, other studies have shown that floral scents attract mosquitoes, and it is suggested to avoid floral scented perfumes to reduce mosquito attraction. Surprisingly, the perfume we tested, Victoria Secret Bombshell (Fragrance type: Fruity floral notes: Purple passion fruit, Shangri-la peony, Vanilla orchid) has shown to be a strong repellent with effects lasting longer than 120 min.
They suggested that the perfume might provide a “masking odor resulting in low mosquito attraction rates.” Bombshell perfume provided protection rivaling that of DEET-containing products at initial exposure, 30 minutes, and 120 minutes. Researchers noted that the study volunteers were wearing the perfume in a high concentration and warned that a lower concentration might have a different effect. By 240 minutes the “masking effect” had disappeared.
Overall, sprays containing DEET performed the best in the tests. Two of the DEET-free sprays (Cutter Natural Insect Repellent and Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard) “did not result in any reduction of attraction” and Ecosmart Organic Insect Repellent also performed poorly after the first few minutes. Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus performed well against the yellow fever mosquito and Avon’s Skin So Soft Bath Oil “resulted in significant reduction of attraction” at the initial exposure to the Asian tiger mosquito. The skin patch did not reduce attraction rates at all.
At $52.00 for 1.7 fl. oz. of Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, most people aren’t going to be able to douse themselves in it before healing out for a walk in the rainforest. However, this new discovery might lead to the development of new, non-DEET products that are effective at repelling mosquitoes in the future.