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Sunscreen and insect repellent: How to apply them together

Published on August 9, 2018 at 13:55 / Updated on May 5, 2022 at 17:42

When you need protection against both hungry insects and the sun’s harmful rays, it’s important to follow a few guidelines.

Different application frequencies

You can apply sunscreen and insect repellent at the same time, but only during the first application. Afterwards, the two products will have to be applied at different frequencies. 

Sunscreen must be reapplied every two hours (or after sweating a lot or swimming).•Insect repellents are reapplied much less frequently, usually one to three times per day, depending on the person’s age and the product used (DEET or Icaridin).For the first application of the day, you can apply both products in this order:

  • Sunscreen first, so it has a chance to penetrate the skin
  • Insect repellent at least 20 minutes later

Afterwards, you can reapply the sunscreen every two hours (or as needed) over the insect repellent. You should not reapply more insect repellent on the skin until much later. Never apply an insect repellent more often than recommended by the manufacturer, especially on young children. You can, however, spray some repellent on clothing, such as a hat. 

Clothing can also offer protection

Wearing long, loose clothing and a hat is another way to protect yourself against both insects and the sun. Sporting goods retailers carry clothing designed to protect against insect bites (e.g.: featuring netting to cover the head). 

If you are still under mosquito attacks despite all these measures, it’s best to head indoors!

Never use combination products

Although sunscreen/insect-repellent combination products do exist, they are illegal in Canada. Such a product would require reapplication every two hours in order to properly protect against the sun, which would expose you to a dangerous amount of insect repellent.

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