The warmer weather means more time outdoors, and before spending extra time outside, it’s important to apply sunscreen and bug repellent, especially in the summer. But which one should you apply first? Keep reading for the correct order of applying sunscreen and repellent.

Should I apply sunscreen or repellent first?

When determining whether to use sunscreen or insect repellent first, always apply sunscreen first, followed by your insect repellent. It’s recommended that people reapply their sunscreen more frequently. No need to reapply your insect repellent more than once per day.

The same logic applies to natural repellents, such as oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE). Apply a layer of sunscreen first, wait for the sunscreen to dry, then apply the oil of lemon eucalyptus to your skin.

Safety tips for being in the sun and preventing mosquito bites

To maximize the effectiveness of your sunscreen and insect repellent, consider the following tips.


  • Read all product instructions before applying sunscreen.
  • Limit your time in the sun between the hours of 10am and 3pm—this is when the sun is at its hottest.
  • Put on sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, as your skin can take up to half an hour to absorb sunscreen.
    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re going into the water or sweating.
  • According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, physical or mineral sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are safe to use on young children or people with dry skin or eczema.
  • Consider wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect your head and face from sunburn.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Insect Repellent Safety Tips

  • Read the product label before using the repellent and follow all manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t use repellents on skin that’s broken, damaged, or irritated, and don’t apply repellent under clothing.
  • Instead of spraying a repellent directly on your face, spray it on your hands first before gently applying it to your face.
  • Avoid rubbing repellent around your eyes and mouth and use sparingly around the ears.
  • Never let a child spray repellent on themselves—help them out by spraying repellent in your hands first and applying it to their skin. Repellents that come in balm or towelette form may be more child-friendly than sprays.
  • Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), which is not the same as lemon eucalyptus essential oil, are natural, safe to use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and protect against mosquitoes for up to six hours.

Benefits of using Murphy’s Naturals products

For an alternative from chemical repellents , consider Murphy’s Naturals repellents. Murphy’s Naturals products have the following benefits:

  • Made with plant-based ingredients that are good for people and the planet.
  • Won’t damage your gear.
  • Each purchase gives back. Murphy’s Naturals is a 1% for the Planet member, which means we donate 1% of our revenues to non-profits that are focused on climate solutions, environmental preservation, and education.
  • Effective products that are tested and include a high concentration of active ingredients.


Jennings Ridout