skip to content
My Green Pod Logo

The sunscreen that bites back

Introducing the triple-action suncream that repels insects naturally
The sunscreen that bites back

This article appears in the spring issue of Magazine, distributed with the Guardian on 07 April 2017. Click here to read the full digital issue online.

Howard Carter knows a thing or two about being bitten. As well as surviving a pitch to the Dragons, he’s pulled himself through a dose of dengue and a serious encounter with malaria, contracted – both times – while wearing maximum concentration Deet-based products.

The good news for the rest of us is that the experience inspired Howard to find effective, natural ways to keep bugs at bay. He launched the award-winning incognito® in 2007 and has been developing new formulations of organic, natural insect repellent ever since.

The latest product is a suncream that protects against UV rays and insects in one swift, suitcase-lightening application. ‘Sometimes insect repellent can interfere with the ef ficacy of suncream’, Howard tells us, ‘making it dif ficult to ensure you’re fully protected from both sun and insects.’

The new incognito Second Skin Suncream uniquely overcomes this; it’s a triple-action sunscreen, moisturiser and insect repellent that frees up luggage space and saves you the hassle of applying three different products. ‘It’s also far more effective’, Howard explains, ‘with no conflicting scents that could help attract mosquitoes or other biting insects.’

Click here to find out why incognito’s Second Skin Suncream has been crowned a MyGreenPod Hero!

This isn’t the f irst time a company has combined a suncream – which Howard describes as ‘the holy grail of travel accessories’ – with an insect repellent, yet nearly all similar products have been withdrawn from UK and US shelves. ‘Previous efforts all went pear-shaped!’, Howard explains. ‘We’ve devised a new formula that solves the previous problems; it’s the only product on the market that combines natural ingredients to create a multi-action suncream and insect repellent, packaged in renewable sugarcane material.’


Second Skin Suncream offers protection from mosquitoes, midges, ticks, fleas, sandflies, wasps and many other insects. The active ingredient PMD – also known as oil of eucalyptus – is recommended by Public Health England and the NHS, and tests show it’s 100% effective against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, malaria, dengue and chikungunya.

‘We source the purest PMD’, Howard tells us, ‘so it’s highly effective as all allergens and impurities have been removed.’ It works by camouflaging the user rather than repelling insects, so the cream – which contains other ingredients with repellent qualities – has a dual mode of action.

The suncream element offers the highest medium level of protection you can get; it’s SPF 25 and will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. This broad-spectrum protection is important as UVA rays damage the skin, causing ageing and wrinkling, while UVB rays can lead to skin cancer.


The worst bite you could get in the UK over summer would be from the Blandford fly, though wasps, mosquitoes, midges and horse f lies can all cause distress, irritation and even severe reactions. Ticks, which are arachnids, are the only organisms in the UK that can give you a disease that’s fatal, but the list of insect-borne diseases abroad is long.

‘Various mosquito species are vectors for a host of different diseases’, Howard tells us. ‘Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit dengue, chikungunya, Zika and West Nile viruses, whereas Anopheles gambiae are the most common vector of malaria.’ The tsetse fly, which looks similar to the housefly, is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and transmits the potentially fatal (and very dif ficult to treat) African trypanosomiasis, or ‘sleeping sickness’, while Leishmaniasis is a debilitating infection passed on by species of sand-fly.

‘Every year the threats are getting more severe’, Howard says. ‘There are more insects around and they keep moving into new places. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, follow humans around so whenever we build a new city or large town they quickly inhabit our surroundings.’

On top of that, insects are developing a resistance to the active ingredients of conventional insect repellents, such as Deet, pesticides and insecticides, which have been around for over half a century. ‘Mosquitoes are the most dangerous animal on Earth’, Howard tells us. ‘They only tend to live for a short time so they can adapt really quickly, and have evolved over millions of years to become a hugely resistant organism.’ They’re developing a resistance to active ingredients that have been used in excess, which presents a real challenge – particularly in the f ight against malaria.

‘Mosquitoes are often overlooked as more of a nuisance than anything else’, Howard says. ‘A recent survey revealed that 67% of Brits heading abroad hadn’t packed insect repellent.’

The incognito Second Skin range



A proper skincare routine is the best way to keep insects at bay at home and abroad. Mosquitoes are attracted to our kairomones; some of these metabolic byproducts come out of our pores, so our attractiveness is dictated by how we wash and care for our skin. ‘Bacterial colonies create a scent that’s particularly attractive to mosquitoes, so keeping clean is a fundamental aspect of remaining unattractive to mosquitoes’, Howard says. ‘We have a range of products designed to keep skin free of the detritus on which bacteria feed, and which then act as a powerful attractant. Our loofah in particular is aimed at removing these tasty chemicals; for maximum protection, we recommend travellers start using it up to two weeks before they travel and continue whilst away.’

Part of incognito’s new Second Skin range of plant-based anti-mosquito beauty products, the suncream is one step in a whole-skin approach to the battle against bites. ‘We’re an ethical company and want to protect people from two of life’s greatest dangers: sun and insect bites’, Howard explains.

Women and children generally tend to get bitten more, so it was important for the suncream to be suitable for the whole family. ‘All our current products are safe for babies from the age of three months upwards’, Howard tells us. ‘The ingredients in this product mean we’ve had to increase this to two years old, but this should still mean most of the family will be able to use it safely.’

The ethical nature of incognito extends beyond protection from life’s dangers and into the company’s packaging. ‘The plastic used in the new green tubes and bottles is made entirely from renewable sugar cane oil’, Howard tells us, ‘which reduces carbon emissions.’ For every 1,000kg of green plastic produced, 2,500kg of CO2 is captured, while the production of 1,000kg of conventional plastic, which is made from raw Earth oils, releases 2,100kg of CO2 emissions. ‘Therefore when 1,000kg of green plastic is produced, 1,000kg less conventional plastic is produced’, Howard explains, ‘leading to 4,600kg of CO2 being saved.’

All-round protection that lightens your luggage and helps save the Earth: what’s not to love?

10% of profits to charity

Each year, incognito® donates 10% of all profits to charitable causes. Beneficiaries may be individuals on a mission to raise money for a cause close to them, student-led groups passionate about social change, charities supporting local communities or international organisations raising awareness of global issues.

‘In 2015 we donated to the Bethsaida Hermitage, a wonderful eco-travel lodge in India’, Howard tells us. ‘It funnels profits into a variety of charitable projects including its two orphanages, which house and educate over a thousand children, and an institute that teaches vocational skills to women who were unable to finish their education. Since then we have also helped to fund projects supporting the refugees, schools, mental health charities and much more.

Click here for more from incognito on repelling insects naturally.

Here's more related content

Sorry we don't have any suggested related content at the moment. Please check back later.

Join The Conversation

Leave a Reply

Here's More Ethical Health & Beauty, Travel News & Features

  • All
  • EU
  • Fairtrade
  • Hero
  • Italy
  • P.E.A. Awards
  • Personal Care
  • Spirits
  • activism
  • activists
  • air pollution
  • air quality
  • awards
  • baby
  • beauty
  • business
  • celebrity
  • climate
  • climate action
  • climate justice
  • community
  • consumer
  • cruelty-free
  • drinks
  • eco resort
  • eco travel
  • education
  • environment
  • ethical business
  • ethical travel
  • events
  • family
  • farmers
  • farming
  • food
  • garden
  • greenwash
  • hair care
  • health
  • helath
  • holiday
  • home
  • human rights
  • inequality
  • insects
  • justice
  • kids
  • law
  • leadership
  • legislation
  • lifestyle
  • media
  • mental health
  • natural beauty
  • natural health
  • natural products
  • natural skincare
  • organic
  • organic beauty
  • packaging
  • pets
  • plastic
  • plastic-free
  • podcast
  • policy
  • politics
  • pollution
  • schools
  • shopping
  • skincare
  • sports
  • sustainability
  • travel
  • vegan
  • wellbeing
  • women