2018 – A Year to Remember!

As we embrace 2019 with optimism, we also close on an incredible year. 2018 was a year to remember! We look back on the past 12 months with gratitude for all of you who allow us to do what we love, and excitement for what we will be able to achieve together.

The year of the reef

For us, 2018 will always be the year of the reef. This year saw the groundbreaking decision to ban chemical sunscreen in Hawaii in an effort to preserve their reefs, followed by similar decisions to ban them in places like Bonaire, Palau and Aruba. Caring for our planet became more than mainstream; it became a legislative focus!

Spreading the reef-safe wordHealthy Reefs

We rallied for the reefs! Goddess Garden provided testimony, research and even reef-safe sunscreen distribution reports. We sent free samples and provided reef-safe sunscreen for events and education opportunities. We even created a Care2 petition that garnered nearly 55,000 signatures that we sent to Governor Ige, urging him to sign the bill into law. Many of you signed it and we can’t thank you enough! The bill became a law on July 3rd, marking a huge victory for reefs.

B Corp LogoOfficially a “Changemaker”

Our activism efforts to support the Hawaiian ban on chemical sunscreen not only made waves and helped push the bill forward, but it helped us earn a Certified B Corporation® Best for the World Changemaker Award. We’re grateful to organizations like B Corp for recognizing that businesses can effect positive change and for encouraging companies like ours to use business as a force for good.

Press: Reefs go mainstream

News of the chemical sunscreen ban in Hawaii—and the traumatic effects these chemicals have on the reefs which led to the ban—became national news. What was once considered a coastal issue became a global issue—another huge victory since water runs down and eventually makes its way to the oceans. Here’s a peek at some of our press:

  • Fast Company released a story on the ban and what it means to sunscreen companies. They called out Goddess Garden sunscreens as a reef-safe brand and even shared the news that CVS was planning to reformulate their store-brand sunscreens to avoid those chemicals.
  • The Denver Post talked about our efforts to support the ban and helped spread the word on how fast the reefs are disappearing as a result of harmful sunscreen chemicals.
  • SWAAY Magazine shared Nova’s story on why protecting the coral reefs became her rallying cry and the steps Nova and our company took to help save the reefs.
  • Conscious Company named Nova as one of their 35 World-Changing Women in Conscious Business for her efforts to protect the coral reefs—on stores shelves through reef-safe products and though her activism efforts.

On the shelfC-Spray Trio

We create products that make it easy for people to respect and protect the planet and the Earth’s inhabitants. To do that, we have to create great products! This year, we reformulated our sunscreens to make them easier to spray, easier to apply and more sheer than our previous formulas. We changed our packaging to make it easier for people to find us and get the right products for their needs. We also heard you when you asked for SPF 50! Look for our new, ultra-sheer SPF 50s that are, of course, reef safe and safe for sensitive skin. We’re excited to continue to make life easier and safer for people and the planet! We’re also unveiling several new products in the coming weeks, so stay on the lookout for our announcements!

Whale JumpingBeyond the shelf

Aside from making reef-safe products and supporting legislative action to protect reefs, Goddess Garden was working behind the scenes. 2018 marked the beginning of an annual company-wide river clean-up to help local waterways. Our founder, Nova, was asked to join the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. And, in addition to her efforts on the board, Nova made a lot of progress with her ocean preservation foundation, Protect Our Mother. The Foundation is dedicated to protecting marine mammals and their habitats. The first goals are in the areas of protection, legislation and climate balancing. Stay tuned for more updates on the foundation!

Looking forward

As momentous as 2018 was, we’re embracing 2019 with open arms. We know this year will be another one for the books and we hope you know we couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for all you do. Let’s make 2019 the best year yet!

Happy New Year!


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DIY and ASAP Gift Guide

During the holiday season, it seems there are two types of gifters: The DIYs and the ASAPs. Maybe you’re both, especially if DIY projects take longer than planned and ASAP alternatives become a necessity. But however you gift, our DIY and ASAP gift guide has options that will help you wrap up the holidays with style!

Gifting like a DIY

Homemade gifts are fun to make and almost universally well-received. They show thought and are truly personal. You can customize scents or textures and create something that is, well, made especially for your loved ones! Below are four gift ideas that will help everyone on your list de-stress and find a little peace and joy this holiday season. Who couldn’t use that! While you’re add it, make some for yourself as well. You’ve earned it!

Essential Oil BathEssential Oil Bath

What’s better than a relaxing bath? A relaxing bath that softens your skin and offers calming aromatherapy benefits! Here’s what you need:

  • 7 oz. coconut, jojoba, sweet almond or other carrier oil
  • 10 drops of essential oil or blend

Pour carrier oil into a dark-colored 8-oz. bottle. Add 10 drops of essential oil. I used 8 drops of lavender and two drops of frankincense. Close tightly and gently shake. To use, fill a bath and add one or two tablespoons to a full bath. Step in carefully, since the oils can make the bathtub slippery, and enjoy! To gift, write the directions on a gift tag and tie the bottle with a ribbon.

Bath SaltDetox Bath Salts

Soothe, relax and detox with this easy-to-make combination. Epsom salt is made of both magnesium and sulfate and offers many purported health benefits. It’s used to ease pain, swelling and inflammation, and may even help you sleep better. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup Himalayan salt
  • 3/4 cup Epsom salt
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 30 drops essential oils or essential oil blends

In a large bowl, combine salts and baking soda. Add essential oils, one drop at a time, into the salt mixture to combine. I used 18 drops of lavender, 6 drops of frankincense and 6 drops of eucalyptus, but feel free to customize! IMPORTANT! Do not add the vinegar to the salt mixture until you are ready to use. Remember making baking soda volcanoes in school with baking soda and vinegar? That same thing can happen with this recipe and you don’t want a volcano on your counter! To use, fill the tub and add ¾ cup of the salt mixture along with 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar. To gift, fill an 8-oz. jar with the salt mixture. Fill a separate jar with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Write directions on the back of a gift tag and give both jars together as a set.

Sugar ScrubSugar Scrub

These are easy to make and, with the sugar sparkling like the holidays, they offer a beautiful presentation! While there are both sugar and salt scrubs, sugar granules are typically smaller, so they are less abrasive than salt scrubs and better for sensitive skin. They’re also more versatile since you can adjust the granule size specifically for the recipient. For rough places like elbows, knees or feet, turbinado sugar is the coarsest and will offer the best results, while brown sugar has the finest granules and will be great for the face. Here’s what you need:


  • 3 cup organic brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 9 Tbsp coconut, jojoba oil or other carrier oil
  • 15 drops essential oils

Place sugar in a bowl and add the oil, one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between to create a sandy consistency so it exfoliates properly. If you add too much oil, it can also dissolve the sugar before you have a chance to gift it. Add in your favorite essential oils. I kept it simple and used only lavender. To use, apply in a circular direction, then rinse. For brown sugar, use up to four times a week. For turbinado sugar, use up to two times a week. To gift, write directions on the back of a gift tag and tie with a ribbon.

Yoga Mat SprayYoga Mat Spray

All the yogi in your life will love their own customized yoga mat spray. Customize with their favorite essential oil or follow this recipe that not only refreshes but can also help their practice. Frankincense can slow your breath and make it easier to meditate. Peppermint can help you clear your mind and focus. Lavender can help you relax. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 drops lavender
  • 1 drop frankincense
  • 1 drop peppermint
  • 4 oz. purified water

Fill a dark-colored spritzer bottle with purified water. Add the essential oils and shake. To use, spray directly on your yoga mat or into the air to set up a calming practice. To gift, write directions on the back of a gift tag and tie with a ribbon, or wrap in a yoga towel for a themed gift.

ASAP gifts that show real thought

AromaMood Candy CanePressed for time? You can still give a perfectly customized gift—we’ve already done the hard work for you!

On-the-Go Aromatherapy

Our Aromatherapy Bracelets and Blends offer options for everyone on your list. Need a teacher gift? Who couldn’t use a little more Serenity during the busy holiday season! With three bracelets, Serenity, Ambition and Perseverance, and five coordinating blends: Grounding, Brain Boost, Happy Day, Take 5 and Pick-Me-Upyou can mix and match to create a thoughtful and customized gift.

Perfume Burlap

Essential Oil Perfumes

Everyone wants to smell nice, but many people have allergies to perfumes and colognes. That’s what makes our Essential Oil Perfumes such a thoughtful gift. Five unique perfumes were created with scent in mind, so they are not blends or remedies. And instead of sneezing or headaches commonly associated with many perfumes, they offer a bonus mood lift from the essential oils. For parents of tweens and teens, they also make a great option you can feel good about giving!

Facial Care Sets

Pamper friends and family! Our Morning Repair & Protect Duo, Evening Duo or Full Daily Facial Routine sets are ideal for relieving dry winter skin and are great for those with allergies or sensitivities. And because our facial care products fight the wrinkles, dark spots and other signs of aging that are caused by the sun, your loved ones can turn the page of the calendar without their skin looking like it!

Morning Duo Berries    Evening Duo Pinecones

Happy gifting and happy holidays from all your friends at Goddess Garden!


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Relieve Cold Symptoms with Essential Oils

Cold V1

There’s a nip in the air, but along with it can come the cold and flu germs. We tend to stay indoors more this time of year, which means colds and flus are on the rise. And nothing’s worse than missing out on a fa day of fun because you’re stuck near a tissue box!

If you get caught by a cold, take care to keep it from spreading by washing your hands frequently, especially after touching your face. Then, know your limits. Try to get some rest, and relieve your flu and cold symptoms with a natural remedy like the one below that uses pure essential oils.

Essential oil remedy for cold symptomsEucalyptus Branches

1 tbsp. coconut oil
7 drops of eucalyptus
5 drops lavender
2 drops of thyme

Thoroughly mix ingredients together and place in a dark-colored container to preserve the essential oils. Rub a small amount on your chest at bedtime. You can also rub a small amount on the soles of your feet and under your toes. Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer, and the oils have long been used for their antiviral and antibacterial properties. The combination should help you breathe easier and relax so you can rest.* 

Avoid catching a cold by heading outdoors!

Some disease experts suggest it isn’t the colder weather that makes us sick, but how we react to it—by staying inside and spreading the infection to each other. The best remedy for cold symptoms is to avoid catching a cold in the first place, so get outside! Being in nature relieves stress, which we all know can also hinder your immune system at a time when you need it most.Tea Blanket Book

Bundle up and take a walk with your family to see holiday lights or gather pinecones and re-purpose them for decorating. You can even scent them with your favorite oil or blend to enhance your holiday mood. We love cinnamon, but fir needle or cedarwood work well, too. Just place the pinecones in a container with a lid and add 3-4 drops of essential oil. Seal the container and give it a gentle shake. Use immediately or store the sealed container for up to a few weeks for a stronger scent. And of course, when you venture outside, don’t forget your sunscreen!

Stay happy and healthy this holiday season!

*Note: This recipe is intended for adults.

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Reef-Safe: Why Saving the Reefs in Hawaii Became My Rallying Cry

By Nova Covington

As reported in SWAAY Magazine

When I started my reef-safe skincare company, Goddess Garden, I had no idea that 13 years later, I’d be invited by the Governor of Hawaii to attend the historic signing of the first sunscreen bill banning harmful chemicals which damage the coral reefs. As the founder and CEO of a reef-safe mineral sunscreen brand that is a Certified B Corporation® and a certified woman-owned business (WBENC), our mission is built into every decision we make. We’ve always taken a stand to do what’s best for people and the planet.

I can’t thank the people of Hawaii and Governor Ige enough for doing the same thing! Having just returned from the ceremony in Hawaii where the governor signed the chemical sunscreen ban (SB2571) into law, banning chemical sunscreens oxybenzone and octinoxate from use or sale, starting in January of 2021, I want to wrap my arms around the entire state and give it a hug! I guess it makes sense that I was affectionately referred to as a reef-hugger in the media. I’ll happily embrace my new title, right along with the reefs.

Mobilizing to save the reefs

As I told SWAAY in 2017, I was inspired to create my skincare company after my baby daughter, Paige, had allergic reactions to the synthetic chemicals in sunscreens and other bodycare products. I made my own products for her, replacing the synthetic ingredients with all-natural ones. While looking for better ingredients that were safe for her, I learned a lot about how these same synthetic chemicals affect the environment—and specifically the coral reefs. That’s when saving the coral reefs really became my rallying cry.

Our company worked hard to support this bill. I provided testimony, wrote to legislative leaders and participated in awareness campaigns. Goddess Garden provided monetary donations and free reef-safe sunscreen. We supplied studies when the opposition said there wasn’t enough research. Goddess Garden sunscreens are being sold in 25,000 stores, so when the argument switched to a lack of available options, we provided product distribution reports to counter it. This ban took a lot of people, banding together, to come to fruition.

Apparently industry lobbyists spent more than 16 million dollars to fight the ban. That’s a lot of money from the opposition, so we had to work together and invest with our time and our voices. I started a petition with Care2 to give everyone a chance to be heard. We gathered and sent nearly 55,000 signatures to Governor Ige, urging him to sign the bill into law. I’ll never forget meeting him at the signing ceremony. When I told him I was the one who created the petition, he laughed a little and thanked me. He was grateful that I had brought awareness to the issue and had helped make so many voices heard. That moment will always stand out as a milestone in my career. It felt so exhilarating to be part of the process, to stand up and fight for what I believed in, and help other people do the same thing.

Nova and Governor Ige at the signing of the sunscreen ban into law.
Nova and Governor Ige at the signing of the sunscreen ban into law.

A reef-safe movement in the sunscreen industry

In his speech at the ceremony, Governor Ige said, “By signing this measure today, we will become the first in the world to enact this type of strong legislation to actively protect our marine ecosystem from toxic chemicals.” When he said that, I knew this was the beginning of a movement. To be there to see it happen—and have a role in the process—was incredible! Hawaii is leading the way, and there is already lots of talk about other states following suit.

What’s exciting is that it’s not just states that are getting on board. Some of the big sunscreen brands are taking this very seriously.  My company was featured in a recent piece in Fast Company that also mentioned CVS’s plan to reformulate their private-label sunscreens of SPF 50 and below to be oxybenzone- and octinoxate-free. Some companies are just brushing it off, but if even a few of these big brands switch to reef-safe formulations, it’s a major win!

Of course, I want Goddess Garden to be the brand of choice. We’ve always offered reef-safe formulas, and we’re always going to go above and beyond to ensure our products are safe for people and the planet. But, our ultimate goal is to keep these chemicals off the skin and out of the water. If these ingredients aren’t as prevalent on the shelves—mission accomplished!

Rallying around positive change

To me, it feels like our efforts have made a real difference in the world. For 13 years we’ve been educating the public about how these chemicals effect people and reefs. It’s been a real rally by every definition of the word. We’ve been offering a solution to people who often don’t know there’s a problem. We have done a lot of education and we feel people have a right to know what they’re putting on their skin and in the environment. It’s been a labor of love, driven by a need to protect the things I care about most.

When Hawaii took a stand and banned these chemicals, they simplified the chemical conversation to five simple words: They’re so bad they’re banned. I see this as similar to what happened with BPA. There are people who don’t know how BPA works and why it’s harmful. They just know it is and that they should avoid it. We don’t think people should have to have a degree in chemistry to shop for sunscreen. They should just be able to trust their products are safe for people and the planet. Hawaii is taking a necessary step and making that a lot easier for everyone.

Thanking Hawaii

The signing ceremony was the culmination of both a dream and a vision. I fell in love with the ocean years ago when my husband Paul and I traveled to Baja California, Mexico for our first anniversary in our old VW van.

And Mexico is where we first learned some marine sanctuaries were not allowing chemical sunscreens because of what they were doing to the reefs. My husband, Paul, who is a biochemist, really dug into the research on those ingredients. At the time, he said that stuff was so bad it could—and should—be banned. And now, it is!

So again, thank you, Hawaii, from the bottom of my reef-hugging heart. I can’t wait to see where this reef-safe movement will take us, and I’m excited to ride the wave, especially now that that wave will be free from oxybenzone and octinoxate!

ocean-goddess-garden-activism-reef-safe-sunscreen 2


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Can I Use Oil As Natural Sunscreen?

Coconut pieces rest beside jars of creamy coconut oil.

The benefits of coconut oil and other plant oils are seemingly endless when you’re trying to live naturally. Some studies have even shown that certain oils, including olive and coconut oil, can protect against sun damage. So in the era of DIY, why shouldn’t you use just oil as natural sunscreen? Here’s how we see it.

Oils Often Have Low SPF Values

Oils from coconuts, almonds and even lavender have been shown to offer a natural SPF. In other words, they absorb a percentage of the sun’s radiation and prevent some of the damage it might cause. Because of this, some naturalists claim you can slather on coconut oil in preparation for a day in the sun. But according to recommendations from health organizations, the SPF levels of most oils aren’t high enough to adequately protect against harmful UV radiation.i

For reference, here are some of the higher SPF values of oils according to a particular study:

  • Coconut Oil: 8
  • Olive Oil: 8
  • Peppermint Oil: 7
  • Lavender Oil: 6
  • Almond Oil: 5

This might seem pretty good for natural oils—and it is!—but it isn’t enough to adequately protect you during sun exposure. In fact, at SPF 8, coconut oil and olive oil only absorb about 20% of UV rays!ii

Because products with low SPF provide little coverage, the FDAiii and EWGiv recommend using sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. (The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology go even further. They recommend sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30!) The FDA even requires products below SPF 15 to contain a warning stating they have not been shown to prevent skin cancer or early skin aging. Since many oils fall well below that number, using just oil as natural sunscreen won’t provide the protection you really need.


The SPF of Oils Can Be Inconsistent

Without performing a lab test, there isn’t a good way to know a product’s actual SPF value. For this reason, FDA regulations require the SPF level of every batch of marketed sunscreen to be tested. However, since natural oils aren’t marketed as sunscreen, they don’t go through that testing.

Even with higher SPF oils, like wheat germ oil, it’s hard to know how much protection you’re actually getting. The oil quality can vary between brands and even batches. So while some sources quote specific SPF values for oils, others list wide ranges. Coconut oil, for example, is sometimes said to range between 2 and 8! That’s a big margin of error.

Another study identifies even more factors that can change an oil’s SPF value. For starters, perspiration and water can easily dilute the oil concentration. Additionally, an oil’s interaction with other substances—even with the skin—can impact its ability to absorb UV rays. All of this makes using oil as natural sunscreen a relatively unreliable mode of protection.


Consider Both UVA and UVB Coverage

According to EWG, an SPF value only signals a product’s ability to protect against UVB rays. That means harmful UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin and cause DNA damage and premature aging, are sometimes not accounted for.

This is a problem because UVA rays make up a huge portion of our sun exposure! While our atmosphere absorbs approximately 90% of UVB rays, damage to the ozone layer prevents it from absorbing hardly any UVA rays.v For this reason, there are approximately 500 times more UVA rays reaching the earth’s surface than UVB.vi We think that warrants protection!

Experts now recommend products with broad-spectrum coverage, meaning products that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. However, since testing on natural oils in this area is limited, we can’t know if they offer any protection against UVA rays. In fact, the few available studies on oils’ ability to absorb UV rays only experimented in the UVB range.

Red raspberry seed oil provides a great example. While it’s said to have an SPF rating as high as titanium dioxide’s, it has not been shown to protect against UVA rays. We pair titanium with UVA-blocking zinc for safe, broad spectrum coverage. However, there haven’t been any studies showing that oils can provide the same protection.


Using Oil as Natural Sunscreen Alone Is an Inadequate Means of UV Protection

Everybody loves luxurious ingredients like coconut oil and almond oil, and for good reason! These ingredients offer wonderful skin benefits and offer antibacterial properties. Still, results from the few studies available show that using oil as natural sunscreen doesn’t meet health professionals’ recommendations for adequate sun protection.

At Goddess Garden, we understand wanting to do things as naturally as possible. That’s why we’ve created sunscreen formulas with gentle minerals and nourishing botanical ingredients. In fact, many of our sunscreen formulas contain coconut oil and others said to provide SPF. They nourish the skin and add to the texture and overall user experience of our sunscreens. But we’ll leave the heavy lifting of UV ray protection to titanium and zinc!

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[i] Gause, S. and A Chauhan. “UV-blocking potential of oils and juices.” Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Aug;38(4):354-63. doi: 10.1111/ics.12296. Epub 2016 Jan 29.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26610885
[ii] Korac, Radava R. and Kapil M. Khambholja. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation.” Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jul-Dec; 5(10): 164–173.
doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.91114. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263051/
[iii] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses.” May 23, 2018. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049090.htm
[iv] EWG. “How to pick a good sunscreen.” 2015. https://www.ewg.org/sunsafety/tips-how-to-pick-a-good-sunscreen.php
[v] Rai, Reena, Sekar C Shanmuga, and CR Srinivas. “Update on Photoprotection.” Indian J Dermatol. 2012 Sep-Oct; 57(5): 335–342.
doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.100472. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3482794/
[vi] University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?” April, 2018. https://uihc.org/health-topics/what-difference-between-uva-and-uvb-rays

Sunscreen and Coral Reef Conservation (Guest Post)

Sea Turtle and Coral Reef

Guest post by One People One Reef


We are a group of communities and scientists working together to keep the reefs, culture and people of the Micronesian Outer Islands healthy. We are bringing traditions and modern science together in a revolutionary approach to sustainable ocean management.

Micronesian Outer islanders from the remote atolls of the Yap and Chuuk outer islands in the Western Pacific have sustainably managed their oceans for centuries, even millennia. Their culture, traditions and livelihoods are intimately linked to the reefs that surround their islands. However, their future is threatened by rapid environmental and cultural change. In 2010, they recognized a decline in fish populations and reef health, along with human health challenges. They asked for help to learn more about how to manage a sustainable food supply from their oceans in the face of these changes, a critical issue for their present and future wellbeing.

We brought together a team of scientists to respond to the outer islanders’ call for assistance. The result was a revolutionary approach in which communities lead through traditional management, backed and informed by modern science. Our work, which began on a single atoll–Ulithi–has now expanded across Yap State and into neighboring Chuuk State, at the request of local communities. Explore our website to learn more about our program’s history, approach and achievements.

Reef conservation and sunscreen


In our work studying and helping manage coral reefs in the outer islands of Yap State, Micronesia, our team spends long hours snorkeling and diving in the intense tropical sun. For coral reefs this strong sunlight is essential: Reef-building corals have single-celled algal partners called zooxanthellae that need plenty of sunlight to photosynthesize. It is the products of their photosynthesis that give the corals the energy they need to build their skeletons, which are what form the structure of the reef. For us, the UV radiation in this strong sunlight presents a serious risk of skin damage and related cancers. Both sun-protective clothing and sunscreens can offer effective protection from UV rays. However, the possible effects of sunscreens on coral reefs are a cause for concern.

Coral reefs are already under great stress from climate change-related ocean warming and ocean acidification, destructive fishing, coastal development and pollution. Recent research is now showing that certain ingredients in sunscreens pose an additional threat. Estimates of the amount of sunscreen entering reef areas annually range from 4,000 to 14,000 tons.[1] This either washes off people’s skin when in the water or reaches the ocean via water treatment plants. Importantly, it is estimated that 90% of snorkeling/diving tourists are concentrated on 10% of the world’s reefs, so any environmental impact is likely to be concentrated in a few heavily visited areas.[2]

“Chemical” vs “mineral” sunscreens

There are two main types of sunscreen: Those that use carbon-based chemicals, and those that use zinc or titanium oxides to protect our skin. The former are often referred to as “chemical” sunscreens, and work primarily by absorbing UV radiation through their chemical bonds, and releasing the energy as heat. The latter are referred to as “mineral” sunscreens. They contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which work primarily by scattering and reflecting UV light off the skin.

Chemical sunscreens—oxybenzone

Many sunscreens contain the carbon-based chemical oxybenzone (also called benzophenone-3 or BP3). It has been the focus of much of the research into sunscreen effects on corals to date. A 2015 study[3] found that:

  1. Exposing coral larvae to the chemical deformed and immobilized them
  2. The more corals were exposed to oxybenzone, the more likely they were to bleach (lose their algal symbionts, which they need to survive)
  3. Oxybenzone damaged coral DNA
  4. It also caused abnormalities in the coral larval skeleton

The same study found concerning concentrations of oxybenzone on coral reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The authors conclude “Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.” On May 1, 2018, Hawaii became the first State to pass a bill banning the use of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and a second ingredient—octinoxate—based on such studies.

Other ingredients of concern

In 2008, Danovaro et al linked a number of carbon-based UV filters to coral bleaching and viral infections.[4] In an article for Alert Diver Online, the lead author of this study recommends avoiding all of the following ingredients because of their potential environmental impact:

  • parabens (common preservatives such as butylparaben)
  • BMDBM (4-tert-butyl-4-methoxydibenzoylmethane benzophenone
  • BZ (benzophenone-3)
  • MBC (4-methylbenzylidene camphor)
  • OMC (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate)
  • OCT (octyl methoxycinnamate)
  • BEMT (bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine)
  • any component that includes the term –benzene

None of these ingredients known to be of concern are found in Goddess Garden products.

Mineral sunscreens—“nano” vs “non-nano”


Less research is available on the effects of mineral sunscreens on coral reefs. However, some attention has been paid to the effects of nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium oxide, now used in many mineral sunscreens since they help the product appear clear on the skin. Studies have raised a number of concerns about them, both environmental and human health related. One such study found that nanoparticles of zinc oxide damaged the exoskeletons of the small crustaceans at the base of the coral reef food web.[5] Another found that zinc oxide nanoparticles were toxic to sea urchin embryos.[6]

We recognize that Goddess Garden is using particles that meet Australian and EU guidelines for “non-nano” size in response to these studies.

More research is needed

According to both the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI)[7] and the Environmental Working Group, more research on the environmental effects of all UV filters and other sunscreen ingredients is needed. Currently, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) considers that “the weight of evidence indicates that both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide pose a lower hazard (to the environment) than most other sunscreen ingredients approved for the U.S. market.”

Our approach to sunscreen

In the field, our team uses sun-protective clothes like rash-guards and swim leggings, along with sunscreen to cover still exposed skin like faces and hands. Our team uses non-nano, zinc and titanium-based sunscreens, as the evidence points to those being the best options given our current state of knowledge.

As the ICRI briefing states, “Considering the many stresses already faced by reefs and current concerns about the toxicity of certain components of sunscreens to corals, a proactive and precautionary approach to dealing with this issue may be required. Reducing the amount of harmful sunscreen components that reach the reef environment is a high priority and will require the involvement of governments, reef managers, divers, snorkelers and swimmers, and the tourism and pharmaceutical industries.” We recognize and appreciate that companies like Goddess Garden are doing their best to develop products that are as ocean-friendly as possible, given the lack of conclusive data, and are responding to developments in the research as they become available.

We want to thank Goddess Garden for their generous donation of sunscreen to our team and the local people of the Yap outer islands for our summer 2018 field season. We feel a responsibility to share what we know not only about marine science and the management of sensitive coral reef ecosystems, but also about secondary impacts to these systems–and sunscreens are definitely part of this. For more on our work, please visit onepeopleonereef.org.

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[1] Wood, Elizabeth “Impacts of Sunscreens on Coral Reefs”, ICRI Briefing, Feb 2018. www.icriforum.org Web. Accessed June 4 2018.
[2] National Park Service. “Protect Yourself, Protect the Reef!”, Sunscreen Bulletin. n.d. www.cdhc.noaa.gov. Web. Accessed June 4 2018.
[3] Downs CA, Kramarsky-Winter E, Segal R, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter,Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 2015 Oct 20. doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7.
[4] Danovaro, Roberto, “Sunscreens linked to Coral Bleaching.” Alert Diver Online. Winter 2014. www.alertdiver.com Web. Accessed June 4 2018.
[5] Wong, S. W. Y., Leung, K. M. Y., Djurišić, A. B., & Leung, P. T. Y. (2010). Toxicities of nano zinc oxide to five marine organisms: Influences of aggregate size and ion solubility [electronic resource]. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 396(2), 609-618. doi://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00216-009-3249-z
[6] Sonia Manzo, Maria Lucia Miglietta, Gabriella Rametta, Silvia Buono, Girolamo Di Francia, Embryotoxicity and spermiotoxicity of nanosized ZnO for Mediterranean sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Volumes 254–255, 2013, Pages 1-9, ISSN 0304-3894,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2013.03.027.
[7] Wood, Elizabeth “Impacts of Sunscreens on Coral Reefs”, ICRI Briefing, Feb 2018. www.icriforum.org Web. Accessed June 4 2018.

Beat What Bugs You—Essential Oils Are a Natural Bug Repellent

Essential Oils as Bug Reppellent

Beat what bugs you with pure essential oils! Whether you dab essential oils onto our Aromatherapy Bracelets, diffuse on your porch or drop onto cotton balls and strategically place on your patio, some essential oils serve as natural bug repellent and work wonders to push away pests. Have fun by blending to create your own scents. Here are some of our favorite oils for guarding against unwanted guests!

Essential Oils that Prevent Pests

Lemongrass – The fresh, lemon scent has a subtle grassy undertone that is enjoyed by most, while repelling mosquitoes and other pests at the same time.

Cedarwood – The woodsy scent is often used to instill feelings of harmony and calm the mind, but it also wards away insects—mosquitoes are especially repelled!

29092947_157726271569264_3174003998797594624_nPatchouli – The musky, earthy essence offers a convenient duality. Many enjoy its scent, but insects and moths aren’t fans.

Thyme – The strong, tangy, herbal scent is used to relieve tension and anxiety, but the same can’t be said for insects who naturally avoid it.

Sweet Basil – While most people enjoy the sweet, herbal scent, bugs do not, and it effectively repels moths and insects.

Lavender – The sweet, floral, herbal aroma, is almost universally loved by people, but mosquitoes don’t share the sentiment and will steer clear.

Peppermint – The fresh, cool, minty scent might give your spirits a lift, but it will tell mice, spiders, mosquitoes, ants and bugs to take a hike!

This summer, beat what bugs you—naturally—and enjoy the mood-boosting bonus of essential oils at the same time!

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Did Hawaii Really Ban Sunscreens?

Hawaii Sunscreen Ban

On May 1st—May Day—Hawaiian legislators answered the reef’s Mayday and passed a bill banning chemical sunscreens that have been proven to harm coral reefs. State Bill 2571 bans the use or sale of oxybenzone and octinoxate, two common chemical sunscreens. It goes into effect in January of 2021, giving the reefs a much-needed break!![i]

Legislators in Hawaii have been trying to ban sunscreens like oxybenzone and octinoxate for some time because of their hazardous effects on coral reefs, but what does that mean for people? Maybe you’ve read how quickly the reefs are disappearing and that we need to act now to save them. Maybe you’ve heard the opposition argue that people still need sunscreen to protect themselves from sunburns and skin cancer. Do people really have to choose who and what they want to protect?

Hawaiian legislators only ban sunscreens oxybenzone and octinoxate

The simple answer is “no.” Not all sunscreens are harmful to the reefs. Mineral sunscreens like the ones used in Goddess Garden’s products are safe for the reefs and people alike. We can protect ourselves and the reefs, and most people won’t even notice a difference. There are currently 16 sunscreens the FDA will allow as an active ingredient for sun protection. Of those, only eight are used regularly and only two of those eight protect against UVA rays, the rays that cause skin cancer and premature aging.[ii] The legislative ban in Hawaii affects two of the 16 ingredients—oxybenzone and octinoxate—leaving plenty of sun protection options, including zinc, that protect from cancer-causing UVA rays.

What’s really happening in Hawaii with sunscreen?


Even though this has only recently gained attention, there has been a lot of effort happening behind the scenes. In January of 2017, Senator Espero, along with Senators English, Chang and others, introduced a bill to ban reef-harming chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone from being used or sold in marine life conservation districts. It passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives, but narrowly missed becoming a bill.

Opponents cited the need for more research and countered with the importance of people protecting themselves from sunburns and skin cancer. Reef-safe sunscreens like Goddess Garden’s have been available for a long time, and the best UVA/skin cancer protectors were not even up for the ban, but their arguments were strong enough to sway the vote. The ban failed to pass at the time, but reef-safe education was out there and a plan was in place. Senator Espero promised to keep fighting for the reefs and was true to his word.

How was Goddess Garden involved in Hawaii?

Since 2005, we’ve been making reef-safe mineral sunscreen. Our motivation originally stemmed from our founders’ need for a safe and effective sunscreen for their daughter who was allergic to the chemicals in sunscreens. As it turns out, the reefs have sensitive skin as well. Goddess Garden Founders Nova and Paul have always been dedicated to protecting the environment. Long before the bill was introduced, they worked with the University of Colorado Boulder to study the effects of sunscreen chemicals on the coral reefs. As a company, we’ve used that and other research to educate the public about the need to use reef-safe sunscreen. We’ve offered samples to help people do their part to protect this fragile ecosystem and we supported organizations who are protecting the reefs and oceans. When Hawaii proposed the ban, we knew we had to support it, too!

In 2017, we provided testimony in support of the bill and wrote to senators and representatives urging them to protect the reefs. We sent free sunscreen to multiple groups for educational events all over Hawaii. People traded in in their chemical sunscreen for a free bottle of our reef-safe sunscreens. We provided monetary assistance to groups helping to spread the word. And most importantly, we made our reef-safe sunscreen available in the places people shop. In 2017, when the bill was first introduced, we expanded our sunscreen sales into retailers like Walmart to make it easier for people to find safe options. If people were going to make a change, the change needed to be as easy as possible. We knew safe sunscreen needed to be more accessible!

ReefLegislationBlog4-01Mineral sunscreen gets along swimmingly with coral reefs

A single ounce of chemical sunscreen product can contaminate 114 million gallons of ocean water.[iii] This can ultimately kill the coral reefs and affect all the life that depends on them. When you consider 14,000 tons of chemical sunscreen reach the reefs every year, you can see why Hawaii wanted to ban sunscreens oxybenzone and octinoxate and why the bill was such a milestone. Hawaii is blazing a trail we hope other states will follow, but we still have work to do. Because the ban doesn’t take effect until January of 2021, reefs are still at risk. Hawaii isn’t the only state with coral reefs either. We need to continue to educate people on the use of reef-safe mineral sunscreen and give all our remaining reefs a fighting chance. We need to help other states follow in Hawaii’s footsteps, ultimately leaving footsteps only in the sand and not on the reefs!

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[i] https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i20/Decade-FDA-Still-Wont-Allow.html

[ii] https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billnumber=2571&billtype=SB

[i] http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/20/450276158/chemicals-in-sunscreen-are-harming-coral-reefs-says-new-study


Tips for a Clean, Green Home

clean home

Often, the path toward choosing a more natural lifestyle is a trigger. For our Founder, Nova, her biggest trigger—and the one that inspired her to start a company—was her daughter’s allergies to synthetic chemicals in common bodycare products. Unfortunately, her daughter’s allergies didn’t stop at bodycare. She was also suffering reactions to cleansers and even the chemicals in their carpet. For her daughter’s sake, they had to create a clean, green home!

Other people might be inspired to create a green home from a food allergy or a health scare. For them, the toward a clean lifestyle starts at the grocery store. We truly are what we eat, so it makes sense to start by choosing healthy foods. Wherever your journey starts, it usually takes a few twists and turns before it gets to all areas of your life. I started with food, branched out to body products, then looked at my cleaning cabinet. I was eating organic carrots but didn’t consider the chemicals I used on my skin or inhaled when I cleaned. Weird? Yes, but this isn’t uncommon. Because something is causing us to pay more attention, we focus on that, often overlooking other aspects of life.

Every step gets you closer to a clean, green home

If you’re trying to live a cleaner lifestyle, first, get over the notion of being perfect. Forgive yourself if you ate processed foods but used organic soap. It’s okay if you used chemical cleaning supplies while being devoted to avoiding GMOs. Every little bit counts, so pat yourself on the back for every step you’ve taken!

Tips for an eco-friendly green home

Here’s more good news. If you’ve already made some changes to your daily routine, it’s easier to incorporate other changes into your home—maybe in ways you didn’t even think of! Our friends at Arhaus, for example, with their dining sets made from reclaimed wood, create sustainable furniture for our homes, while protecting the forests outside. They made some extra steps within their business that are making a big impact, so we’re passing along the inspiration! We compared notes and developed some tips that are quick, easy, and will make a big difference as well. Perhaps you can incorporate some of these changes into your regular routine!

Ways to make your home environmentally friendly

More ways to keep chemicals out of your home

Want to do even more? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently sent out their Healthy Living Home Guide that highlights some areas you may have overlooked. Our home should be our sanctuary. Let’s all work together to create a green home and make it a truly safe place!

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Top five blog posts for 2017

2017 best blogs

What a great year! In 2017, we gave our facial care products a makeover, doubled the number of stores that carry our sunscreens and took on the mystery ingredients that are hidden in fragrances by offering a line of essential oil perfumes with the ingredients clearly listed. It was an exciting and busy year. We’re still catching up on our blog reading and we bet you are, too. In case you missed it, here are our top blog posts for 2017!

  1. What Is Avobenzone and Is It Safe in Sunscreen? 

Avobenzone is relatively safe in terms of toxicity, but breaks down fast in the sun requiring no-so-safe chemical stabilizers. Learn how minerals offer natural, broad-spectrum sun protection that won’t break down in the sun!

  1. Homosalate: What Is it and Is It Safe in Sunscreen?

Homosalate is in 45-percent of all sunscreens in the U.S., but it breaks down into harmful byproducts. It’s also readily absorbed, where it messes with your endocrine system. It can even take other harmful toxins with it! See what homosalate does to the body and learn what you can use instead!

  1. Rethink Retinol with a Proven Natural Wrinkle Remedy!

Looking for a natural wrinkle remedy? Under the Sun Hydrating Serum and Face the Day Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30 showed a 23-percent reduction in wrinkles, when used together, after just 90 days! Learn how they work!

  1. Sunblock vs. Sunscreen

Sunscreen, sunblock and suntan lotion aren’t interchangeable terms! To avoid burns and other sun damage, it pays to learn your lingo! See the differences and to learn what is best for you.

  1. Essential Oils for Laughter and Levity!

Essential oils can lift your spirits higher if you’re already happy and pull you out of a funk if you aren’t. Discover the best essential oils for laughter!

Here’s to a wonderful 2018! We’re glad you’re on our path.

hello sunshine

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Animal Origins of Fragrance

animal origins of fragrance

You may have a nose for fragrance, but do you have the stomach? Some fragrance ingredients have animal origins that might have you turning up your nose with distaste, while others use methods that are either cruel or lethal. Below are some perfume ingredients that might leave you fuming—and hopefully seeking out animal-friendly perfume like our essential-oil perfumes!

Hyraceum – Petrified Poo

This musky, tobacco-like ingredient sounds beautiful, but hyraceum, or African stone, has humble beginnings. Hyraceum is the petrified, jelly-like urine and feces of the rock hyrax, a small mammal found all over Africa and the Middle East. This petrified poo is harvested from the caves and passage ways where the rock hyraxes group together.[i] Unlike some scents, this one is collected without harming or killing the animal.

Ambergris – Pathological Poo

Ambergris, with its seductively sweet, yet earthy and marine-smelling aroma, is really just pathological poo. [ii] Ambergris is a smooth, waxy substance with a subtle scent that amplifies fragrance. This makes it a prized component in perfume. [iii] It forms from a sperm whale’s inability to fully digest squid. In about one percent of all sperm whales, the hard parts of the squid, called beaks and pens, make it past all four of the whales’ stomachs. There, the mass compacts and layers until it forms a solid. It either eventually continues its journey and “exits” the whale, or it causes intestinal issues that end up being fatal.[iv]

While gathering whale poo isn’t technically harmful, whales are sometimes killed with the hope of finding valuable ambergris. Possession and trade of ambergris is illegal in the U.S., but it is still allowed in several other countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.[v] [vi]

Life stinks for fragrance animals 

If you love animals like we do, here’s a good reason to be wary of fragrance and parfum on an ingredient label. Many common ingredients are harvested from animals in very inhumane ways. Civet, for example, is an ingredient that comes from the African civet, a cat-like creature native to Africa and Asia. This thick, yellow substance is produced in the civet’s perineal gland.[vii] When fresh, the scent is described as nauseating and fecal, but it softens with age into an aromatic and even floral scent. In nature, the scent is used for marking, so it’s not surprising that it can last up to four months. It lends its longevity perfumes, which is the main reason it made its way into fragrances.[viii]

Sadly, the civets used to produce the scent often don’t last nearly as long. Cruel extraction methods, cramped living conditions and a lack of proper medical treatment make civet a no-no for anyone concerned with animal welfare. [ix]

Fragrance to die for

Many use that term in jest, but with musk and castoreum, that is a reality. Both of these fragrance ingredients are extracted from animals. Musk is taken from a little pouch just in front of the male sex organs of the musk deer. Castoreum is taken from the castor sacs of beavers. There is no way to humanely harvest either of these ingredients, and in all cases, the animal is killed.

Are there vegan perfumes?

leaping bunnySome perfume ingredients, like the ones we use in our perfumes, come from plant-derived sources. Some come from synthetic chemicals that don’t involve animals. However, unless it’s called out on the label, there is no way to be sure a perfume is animal friendly since listing fragrance ingredients isn’t required. Rest assured, Goddess Garden Essential-Oil Perfumes, like all Goddess Garden products, get their scent from pure essential oils. They are also vegan and Leaping Bunny-certified to be cruelty free.

Transparency in perfume

Animal welfare aside, we feel there is a complete lack of transparency when it comes to fragrances. It’s not a requirement to disclose any fragrance ingredients. Due to a loophole designed to protect trade secrets, any combination of thousands of chemicals and other ingredients can simply be grouped under the terms “fragrance” or parfum”. That’s why we set out to change that! Even though we don’t have to, we list each and every one of our natural ingredients. People with allergies, sensitivities, animal-welfare concerns or any other reason under the sun all deserve to know exactly what they are putting on their skin. If there’s nothing to hide, why not?

Shop vegan and cruelty-free perfume

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[i] https://www.fragrantica.com/notes/Hyrax-411.html

[ii] Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Ambergris“. Encyclopædia Britannica1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 794.

[iii] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-01-12/ambergris-treasure-of-the-deep#p2

[iv] http://press.uchicago.edu/books/excerpt/2012/kemp_floating.html

[v] “Ambergris, Treasure of the Deep”. Businessweek. 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2014-03-13.

[vi] http://us.whales.org/blog/2015/09/ambergris-lucky-lucrative-and-legal

[vii] “Civet Farming: Raising a Stink. World Society for the Protection of Animals report.” Mike Pugh investigation, 1998. Report by World Society for the Protection of Animals.

[viii] “Civet Farming: Raising a Stink. World Society for the Protection of Animals report.” Mike Pugh investigation, 1998. Report by World Society for the Protection of Animals.

[ix] “Civet Farming: Raising a Stink. World Society for the Protection of Animals report.” Mike Pugh investigation, 1998. Report by World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Gift Guide: Peace, Love and a Lazy Saturday

holiday gift guide

The holidays are hectic. Among the shopping, cooking, decorating, gatherings—and oh yeah, employment—there never seems to be enough time. Now, more then ever, is when you need a break, even if it’s just of the mental variety. With everyone being so busy, why not wrap up your gifting by giving all the serenity and happiness of a lazy Saturday?

Our holiday gift guide gathers some great, eco-friendly products from some of our favorite companies. Just place these items in a basket, and viola—a lazy Saturday in a basket! You might even save enough time to enjoy a lazy day of your own for a change.

Serenity Aromatherapy Bracelet and Take 5 Bracelet Blend

Set a peaceful mood with aromatherapy that goes where you go. Let’s face it, we’re mobile this time of year, but wearable aromatherapy goes with you on those errands! Our Serenity Aromatherapy Bracelet features the iconic Hamsa hand, the spiritual symbol of faith and protection, combined with blue jasper and turquoise. Calming blue jasper balances emotions, while turquoise quiets the mind and inspires inner peace. The perfect gift for anyone this busy season, pair it with Take 5 Aromatherapy Bracelet Blend to refresh and energize the mind and body—even on the move!


Mandala Love Bottle

Used throughout history as a meditative symbol, the Mandala featured on this Love Bottle is certain to soothe the soul of the lucky recipient. The symmetrical, concentric mandala pattern is calming in and of itself, and is said to allow the observer to gain a higher level of awareness. It was designed to absorb the mind in a way that silences chattering thoughts—is there a better gift than that? And by choosing this reusable glass bottle, you can further put your mind at ease, knowing you’re doing your part to keep plastic from polluting the planet.

love bottle

Bhakti Chai

Nothing says relaxation like a peaceful cup of Bhakti Chai! Wrap up a Bhakti Chai concentrate and give serenity in a cup! Mix the concentrate with milk or your favorite non-dairy beverage, such as almond milk, so everyone can enjoy a treat. The fiery spices, fresh pressed organic ginger and organic Fair-Trade Certified black tea offer the taste of a lazy Saturday. If the calendar argues the contrary, mix and go by pouring it in the Love Bottle!

bhakti chai

Birch Benders Pancake Mix

What’s a lazy Saturday without pancakes? With delicious pancakes mixes from Birch Benders, even the chefs of the family get a break! Birch Benders has already done the hard work of combining the best ingredients, plus they carry organic, natural and specialty mixes to accommodate everyone’s needs. All you have to do is add water! With all the extra time spent in the kitchen this time of year, everyone on your list will appreciate a helping hand. And everyone at their table will appreciate the perfect pancakes!

birch benders

Check it off your list!

This holiday season, follow our gift guide and give someone the gift of a lazy Saturday, while you give yourself some time back in your life! Happy holidays from all your friends at Goddess Garden, Love Bottle, Bhakti Chai and Birch Benders!

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