A fun fact about me: mosquitoes love me. If you hang around me, they will completely ignore you and feast upon my skin. This happens no matter who I’m with or where I am (e.g. I once came back from Thailand with 37 bites and my then-boyfriend whom I traveled with came back with none). That said, I am willing to try anything and everything to protect myself from what I believe to be are nature’s most annoying insects. So when the internet says there’s something that can be done to repel these tiny little monsters, I am all in to give it a shot. The latest TikTok hack taking over my FYP is using the iconic Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Amber Romance as mosquito repellent sprays.
Before you roll your eyes at another TikTok beauty hack, this one actually has evidence backing it up. A study done in 2015 shows that Victoria’s Secret Bombshell fragrance repelled mosquitoes for up to 120 minutes while multiple first-hand accounts in comment sections swear that Amber Romance is just as effective as any commercial chemical spray. So can I actually replace my beloved DEET spray with these fragrances? To get a definitive answer, we must turn to the experts.
Meet the experts:
What attracts mosquitos?
Before diving into what to actually use to repel them, we have to understand what attracts mosquitoes to people in the first place — and, unfortunately, the answer isn’t entirely straightforward. Mosquitoes, says Floyd W. Shockley PhD, entomology collections manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, use a combination of olfactory cues to find their source of proteins, with the three most important cues being body heat, carbon dioxide, and skin odor. He also notes that the specific mechanisms that make one person more attractive to mosquitoes than another person are unknown but calls out skin odor as likely being the most important because, unlike body odor, it varies from individual to individual.
“While body odor is uniform to all humans, the exact chemical combination of one’s skin odor has a genetic and physiological basis [that likely makes them] more or less attractive to mosquitoes,” he explains. Other factors that may make you more attractive to mosquitoes could include whether you are pregnant or not (he says there are some studies that pregnancy can increase one’s attractiveness to mosquitoes), your sweat composition, diet, and alcohol consumption.
Can these Victoria’s Secret fragrances repel mosquitos?
In short: It could, but don’t go replacing your DEET-based sprays just yet. The main notes in Bombshell are purple passion fruit, Shangri-La peony, and vanilla orchid, while the main notes in Amber Romance are amber, cherry, and vanilla. Shockley says that there aren’t reputable studies showing that Amber Romance has proven to be an effective repellent as there are with Bombshell, but both do share vanilla notes, and different studies have shown that pure vanilla extract can be an effective mosquito repellent for a short period (think less than 30 minutes). That said, these ingredients in general aren’t known to deter mosquitoes from biting you anyway. “I don’t see anything in the ingredient list that would specifically be repellent to mosquitoes,” he says.