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Avon Skin So Soft: Understanding the Lore

When I first joined Avon, something peculiar kept happening when I would interact with new customers. Older women would call me up, exchange pleasantries, and ask me if I could order them “Skin So Soft”. 

Okayyy . . .” I would think. Our Skin So Soft skincare line has dozens of different products. Please be a little more specific! This would happen over and over again. When asking follow up questions, sometimes I would hear the following: “You know, the one that’s good for bugs.

After suggesting our Bug Guard products and missing the mark several times, I finally figured out what all of those women wanted. They were using the phrase “Skin So Soft” as a nickname for the O.G. itself:


Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil


Apparently, there is a widely known bit of folklore saying that our Original Bath Oil is effective at repelling insects. So, where did this idea come from and what is the whole truth?

bottle of Avon Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil against a white background

the origins

After searching and searching, I could not confirm any particular origin story for the claim that the Original Bath Oil keeps bugs away. I was able to determine, however, that people have been making the claim since the 1960’s – the same decade that the Bath Oil first hit the market in 1961!

One possible reason it began is Citronella. Until around the 1990’s, the Bath Oil contained Citronella as an ingredient. This extract is commonly regarded as a natural insect repellent. The curious thing, however, is that individuals still get incredible results even now that Avon has changed the Bath Oil formula. It now contains Jojoba oil instead of Citronella. So for now, we will have to accept the fact that this may forever be a mystery! Somebody (some say a fisherman) must have just discovered by accident that Skin So Soft works for them, and the rest is history!

the claim

So, does the claim hold up? Avon has said over and over again that the Original Bath Oil was not formulated to repel bugs, and is not sold as such. However, because of the direct sales business model, it is difficult to rein in the enthusiasm. I’ve even heard personal testimonies that the Bath Oil was used by the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army back in the day. That’s quite a ringing endorsement! In addition, many loyal customers have used it on their dogs and horses for years.

The lore is so pervasive that independent studies have included Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil when testing the effectiveness of different insect repellents on humans. So far, the results seem to be mixed. In one NMSU study, the Bath Oil did not provide protection from all of the species of mosquito tested. However, in a separate Canadian study, the bath oil was found to be 85% as effective as DEET. Those are just two examples – but based on my research, those examples are fairly representative of the overall non-consensus. With such starkly different results, it seems the jury is still out! Since this product is not meant to be a repellent, Avon will likely never issue a study on this themselves.

As far as I could find, no independent studies have ever tested the effectiveness and safety of using SSS Original Bath Oil on animals besides humans.

The verdict

Although I cannot recommend Skin So Soft Original Bath Oil from a scientific standpoint, many individuals have amazing stories about using it successfully to repel bugs. Since this product is so gentle, it is at least safe for those interested to test it out for themselves. My advice though, is to exercise caution if the mosquitos in your area carry dangerous diseases. If this applies to you, I would recommend playing it safe and reaching instead for one of our Bug Guard products, which have been tested and approved for the purpose of repelling such insects.

Two adults and four children forming a huddle and smiling at the camera below

Furthermore, I would advise exercising extra caution if applying this oil to any pets for the first time. Although most customers say they’ve had only positive experiences putting it on their dogs and horses, there are no studies proving that it’s safe. There is also a rumor floating around that the oil is dangerous for cats.

For a dog or horse, try testing it on a small area of fur/skin first, and wait to see if there are any reactions before applying to the rest of the body.

Now, let's hear from you!

Let’s keep getting to the bottom of this! What old stories have you heard about “Skin So Soft“? Do you use it personally, and what are your results?

Let us know in the comments!

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