Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

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Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
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Ever since I discovered how to make my original lotion bars, I’ve been experimenting with different variations including sunscreen bars, Vapo-Rub bars, and others. Today’s favorite: bug repellent lotion bars!

They are as easy to make as the original bars, and they seem even more effective at keeping bugs away than regular homemade bug spray, probably because they actually coat the skin with a protective layer. They are easy to take along and the kids can apply it themselves.

Instead of being filled with chemicals and toxins like conventional bug sprays, this recipe actually nourishes and moisturizes the skin while protecting it.

Items Needed

I also use silicone molds to set the bars. These are the molds I used but I also love these sunflower ones and these heart ones, which would both be great for gifts. There are also simple flower molds and actual bar shaped ones.

Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
4.83 from 17 votes

Bug Repellant Lotion Bar Recipe

Keep away bugs without chemicals using herbs and essential oils in a nourishing lotion bar.
Active Time15 minutes
Infusing Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Yield: 10 bars
Author: Katie Wells



To infuse the herbs into the coconut oil

  • Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of water (in bottom pan) until starting to boil.
  • Place the coconut oil in the top part of the double boiler and add the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip, and mint.
  • Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium/high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until the oil has adopted a darker color and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.
  • Strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or cheesecloth and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about ½ cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time!

To make the lotion bars

  • Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler with the infused coconut oil and stir until all have melted.
  • Remove from the heat and add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils.
  • Pour it into the molds.
  • Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best). Or you can speed up the process by placing it in the fridge.


To use, rub the bars on exposed areas of DRY skin to protect against mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren’t.
I use cupcake-size molds for my lotion bars. If you use a different size, your yield will be different.

Don’t Want to Make Them?

If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is HardLotion.com and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)

How do you keep the bugs away? Share below!

These homemade bug repellent lotion bars have herbs and essential oils to repel insects and bugs while you are outdoors!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


160 responses to “Bug Repellent Lotion Bars”

  1. Jody Avatar

    My friend purchased the ingredients for me to make the lotion and got Shea body butter. I used it and found it doesn’t want to firm up on the bottom. Do you think adding more beeswax would help? Or would it still work ok not firmed up?

  2. Lin Barrett Avatar
    Lin Barrett

    Found your blog on another I follow, which cited yours multiple times (Lifehack). After bookmarking a half-dozen pages, I gave up and subscribed. This is only one of many excellent recipes for self-care I’ve found on your site; thank you.

  3. Shanie Avatar

    Can I use more coconut oil in place of Shea/cocoa butter? Iv searched high and low for them here in Uruguay and I’m not able to make online purchases.

  4. Margo Avatar

    Great stuff; but I am vegan and most of the ingredients call for beeswax. What do you suggest in place of the beeswax? I am always looking for cruelty free, animal free products.

  5. Katherine Avatar

    Just wondering if I could infuse it with citronella leaves? And how much would you use?

  6. Linda Sanders Avatar
    Linda Sanders

    I’m very interested in the bug-off lotion bars. Where can I buy the ingredients? Are they available at a craft store? Or on line? Health food store?

  7. Angelica Avatar

    Hello, thanks for the great looking recipe! Just so I’m clear, if I plan to use just the bug off blend essential oil and no other essential oils or herbs, how many drops of the bug off oil would I use ? Thanks!

  8. Steph Avatar

    If I want to put this in the deodorant containers will I follow this recipe or the lotion bar stick recipe and just add the oils? I noticed there is no vitamin e oil in the lotion bar stick recipe. Can I add vitamin e to the stick recipe? Also, will the bars melt if left in the car? Thank you so much!!!

  9. Erica Avatar

    Hi, love your site! We are going to a lake house in the woods in a week and I wanted to make these for myself and my family, however I am pregnant. I started checking the herbs on MRH, but the first two (catnip and rosemary) said no during pregnancy. Would they be as bad if put on skin? Less safe than commercial bug spray? Any substitute recipe for a prego? Thanks!

  10. Emily Avatar

    Do you know if the herbs and essential oils used in this recipe are considered safe to use while nursing? I have a hard time finding good info about safety while nursing; everything seems to focus on pregnancy. Thanks!

  11. Christine Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    We are being relocated to Tanzania, Africa, which is a Malaria-risk area. I want to keep whole family safe but esspecially my 1yr old and 3yr old. Would you feel confident enough to use this product alone (with Mosquito nets at night), or because of the seriousness of Maleria, would you be inclined to double up with locally used commercial products? Sorry, I realise its at its tricky question I’m asking

  12. Jess Avatar

    When it says 1/4 cup rosemary is this the amount used for fresh or dried? I know typically in cooking you’d use 1/3 the amount of dried to sub for fresh.

    Also has anyone tried making these bars in metal muffin tins? I have many pans of these, but no silicone ones. I don’t want to make it and have it stick and ruin the batch.

    1. Becki Avatar

      Jess, try using greaseproof muffin cup liners. I’ve read in a few places that they work quite well for lotion bars and the like. I’m about to embark on lotion bar making and that’s what I got to use. 🙂

  13. Brittany Benson Avatar
    Brittany Benson

    Can I infuse my coconut oil with all of the above mentioned herbs and use said coconut oil in the sunscreen bar recipe? I want a sun and bug repellent!

  14. Lindsey Avatar

    I am curious about storage of these. I made them last night, they look and smell wonderful!! But they are very soft already (and it’s not hot out) is this something that you could/should keep in the fridge? closed container?

    thanks so much. having so much fun with your site.
    (already made your boo boo cream!)

  15. Rhonda Avatar

    Ticks also hate tea tree oil. It can be added to the essential oil blend.

  16. Naomi Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I know you do your research on products- I am wondering if Young Living oils or DoTerra oils are as good as MRH oils. Is there a reason you specifically chose to get all your oils from MRH? I just wondered if it was price or quality or another reason. I have some Young Living oils but they are about 6-7 years old now. Its just expensive (as you know) to order a ton of oils and butters at one time. I really trust your judgement and thank you for all your work.

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’ve found that MRH oils are cheaper and at least as good quality as DT or Yl. Also, despite the claims by both companies, I have a source that verified that most of DT/YL oils are made by the same company so there is really no difference in quality

      1. Vickie Avatar

        I have come across the same information regarding YL and DT oils… they are fantastically expensive and no better than MRH AND, MRH is clear about which EO’s you can use when pregnant etc… the others, who promote ingestion often neglect to mention these facts, which scare me 🙁 MRH – great supplier, great quality and reasonable prices.

  17. Jess Avatar

    I apologize if this has been asked already, I’m wondering if you can add Zinc Oxide to make this a double duty beauty…I ask because I want something I can just slather on before working in my garden and not have a dozen and one bottles of stuff just so I can stay comfy

  18. Nicolette Maxey Avatar
    Nicolette Maxey

    Will this be ok without catnip if we have everything else? I won’t be ordering anything else from mountain rose herbs and I can’t pay $10 to ship some catnip lol.

    1. Cathy Avatar

      How did it work without catnip? I forgot to add it & wonder if I just wasted my time :~}


    2. CATHY Avatar

      I forgot to add Catnip. will this still work or do I need to make it all over again? :~}

  19. Rosanna Davies Avatar
    Rosanna Davies

    Hi Wellness Muma! I just live by your recipes and informative write ups, thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I’m from the UK and (embarrassingly) I am petrified of wasps (and bees) would this repel them also? x

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