Found: The Best Mosquito Repellent That’s Not Actually Mosquito Repellent

After this brutal winter, I was so, so excited when the sun finally came out and the average temperature rose from 6 to 76. “Ahh, spring is here!” I sang merrily as I busted out my flowy tank tops, lopped all the legs off my jeans, and hung a hammock in my backyard. After pouring myself a glass of iced tea, I went out to enjoy the first warm afternoon, but my fantasy was promptly interrupted by a terrible, ugly reality: MOSQUITOES. MOSQUITOES EVERYWWHEEERRRREEE. I fought them off for a few minutes before finally retreating inside to scratch my bites, clean the spilled tea off my shirt, and glare at the cloud of blood-suckers buzzing around my sad, empty hammock.

Mosquitos are like childbirth: you never remember how awful they are until you’re right in the midst of them. And, like clockwork, I had forgotten about the horrors of mosquitoes until they were upon me, ravaging my legs and arms and ruining my idyllic spring lifestyle.

But luckily, in spite of my mosquito amnesia, I did remember something else.

When I first moved to Nashville, I immediately fell in love with pretty much everything about the South — except for the terrifying, mutant bugs. Giant wasps and beetles are everywhere here, and the mosquitoes are bigger, hungrier, and infinitely more plentiful than any I ever encountered in Oregon.

I spent months testing out every single bug spray and mosquito repellent on the market. Very few of them worked well, and every single one of them made my sensitive skin break out in an itchy rash. The natural ones that promised to spare my skin seemed to actually attract mosquitoes. By fall, I was losing hope that I’d ever get to enjoy the outdoors. That is, until I went to get my nails done and mentioned my dilemma to my manicurist, Adrian.

“Have you tried Avon Skin So Soft?” she asked in her subtle Tennessee drawl.

“I’ve never heard of it,” I said, “Is it a bug spray?”

“No,” she said, “it’s just an Avon lotion, but mosquitoes won’t get near you when you wear it. My mama used to slather us up with it when we were kids and send us out to play. All Southern moms use it.”

I bought a family size bottle online. But then the weather got cold, the mosquitoes disappeared (hallelujah!) and I didn’t have a chance to test it out before winter settled in. My magical mosquito-repelling lotion sat in my bathroom cupboard next to the sunscreen and aloe, waiting for spring.

Cut to a few weeks ago and my disastrous afternoon in the hammock. Adrian’s words echoed through my mind and I ran to the cupboard to dig out the bottle. After coating myself with a thick layer of Skin So Soft, I took a deep breath, and went outside to test it out. When I’d gone out earlier with no Skin So Soft, mosquitoes had feasted on my exposed skin almost immediately. Now, minutes passed, and my skin remained untouched. I watched in stunned silence as mosquitoes buzzed around my legs, lost interest, and flew off. I stayed out in the hammock for three hours, and didn’t get bit once. NOT ONCE. I’ve used it every day since, and still no bites.

If that’s not amazing enough, this stuff smells wonderful, doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all, and really does make your skin feel soft and smooth. Oh, and did I mention it’s only 10 bucks for a gigantic bottle of it?

I don’t know why it works. I don’t really want to know why it works. But it does. And that’s more than good enough for me. I’m nominating Avon Skin So Soft as the new Patron Saint of Summer.

[Skin So Soft Original Family Size Body Lotion: $10, Avon]