What Is Avobenzone and Is It Safe In Sunscreen?

what is avobenzone

Avobenzone was introduced in the 1990s and is a common chemical sunscreen. Unlike other chemical sunscreens that just protect from the sunburn-causing UVB rays, avobenzone also protects from UVA rays, the rays that cause premature aging and skin cancer. This chemical is given a two rating by the EWG. So what’s wrong with avobenzone? It seems like a safe sunscreen, right?Sunscreen Ingredients UVA and UVB protection

What’s wrong with avobenzone?

Avobenzone, by itself, is relatively safe in terms of toxicity, but it breaks down quickly in the sun. Once exposed to the sun, avobenzone alone only offers about 30 minutes of protection.[i] Since UVA rays are the sneaky rays that do their damage deep within the layers of your skin, you wouldn’t even know it until many years later.

Why is avobenzone used in sunscreen?

So maybe you’re asking why they don’t they just use an ingredient that is better friends with the sunshine. We wish we knew! Because many chemical sunscreen companies still use avobenzone for UVA protection, they then have to add not-so-safe chemicals like octocrylene to make it work longer than 30 minutes.[ii] Octocrylene helps stabilize avobenzone, which is good, but it is a known endocrine disruptor that also releases free radicals.[iii] Not good. Skin sample tests showed there were more free radicals when using octocrylene than skin exposed to the sun with no sunscreen at all.[iv] And remember, free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), can damage skin cells and increase the risk for cancer and other health issues.[v]

Alternatives to avobenzone

Free radicals are neither free nor rad. Solving one problem by creating another one just doesn’t make sense. Luckily, zinc oxide, like we use in Goddess Garden sunscreens offers natural broad-spectrum sun protection from both burning rays and the rays that cause premature skin aging and skin cancer. Zinc doesn’t break down in the sun, and it doesn’t release free radicals. It is also reef safe, unlike octocrylene.

A sunscreen that is good for us and good for coral reefs? Now that is actually rad!

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[i] http://www.acne.org/blog/2010/07/06/more-on-avobenzone-and-octocrylene-our-sunscreen-ingredients/

[ii] http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700596/AVOBENZONE/

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3443608/

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17015167

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/

Tips for Applying Mineral Sunscreen

In a lab, sunscreen success is tested according to rigid specifications. These tests measure the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) for UVB protection, and determines how well a product protects against UVA rays, the ones that lead to premature aging and even cancer.

In real life, well…life gets in the way. Do you remember to put on sunscreen before you leave the house, or do you wait until you noticed a red tint before applying? Are you careful to use the recommended one-ounce portion when you wear shorts or a swimsuit? Do you reapply at least every two hours, or do you sometimes lose track of time? Do you always reapply after swimming, or does a sun-warmed towel take precedent?

Of course, we’ve never ever made any of those mistakes… Oh wait, we created our Daily Facial Routine products to address sun damage—it seems we’re guilty, too.

Six Steps for Sunscreen Success

Sunscreen doesn’t need to be your new hobby, but here are six simple steps to help ensure a burn doesn’t cause you to see red and spoil the fun.

Put on sunscreen before you go outside.

With chemical sunscreen, this is a must because it takes 20 minutes or so for the chemicals to go through a chemical reaction and become effective. This isn’t a requirement for mineral sunscreens since they are effective immediately, but it’s a great precaution. For me at least, nature is distracting, so it helps to know you’re covered!

Applying natural sunscreen

Make sure you use enough.

The minerals reflect the rays, so they need to be on your skin. Start with a small amount of sunscreen and add more as you need it. This will help ensure you’re evenly covered, without the minerals layering up and leaving a whitening effect. One ounce of sunscreen is recommended anytime you cover large areas of your body, like when you wear shorts or a swimsuit.

Rub the sunscreen in evenly, and don’t miss spots.

Have you ever seen a person who missed a spot or had red streaks? Referring back to being easily distracted, I manage to burn the tops of my feet nearly every summer! Like computers only do what we tell them to, sunscreen only protects where we tell it to protect. A little extra care here will definitely pay off!

Don’t rub the sunscreen off.

For sunscreen to work, it has to be there. If you sit with your legs crossed, you may want to reapply sunscreen to your legs since you could have rubbed it off. If your kids (or you—we don’t judge) are roughhousing and rolling around, they could also rub it off. Minerals sunscreen stays on the skin’s surface. It takes some effort to rub it off, but depending on the activity, you may need to reapply. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, but the sun breaks down these chemicals so they are less effective over time and require reapplication as well.

Reapply after swimming or sweating.

Most of us towel dry after swimming. That means we likely rub off some of the sunscreen. It’s important to choose a water-resistant sunscreen to counter swimming or sweating, and remember, if you’re wiping away water or sweat, you could be wiping off your sunscreen.

Know your limits.

SPF is not a time frame. It’s a multiplier that gives you an idea of the length of time you can spend in the sun. If you start to burn in 20 minutes of direct sun without sunscreen, you should easily be able to follow the two-hour reapplication recommendation if you don’t swim, sweat or wipe it off. If you naturally burn almost immediately, you may need to apply sunscreen a little more often.

Need more tips for sunscreen success? 

Learn from CFO and Lead Formulator, Paul, as he walks you through the best ways to apply mineral sunscreen. Or learn five tips for using mineral sunscreen to help ensure it goes on sheer and evenly. 


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Dermatologist-Recommended Sunscreen

Dermatologist-tested sunscreen - Goddess Garden

What could be better than a dermatologist-recommended or tested sunscreen? Isn’t that just what the doctor ordered? Although “dermatologist tested” appears straightforward, according to the Environmental Working Group, that term actually has no legal definition.”[i]

Frustrated? We hear you, but before you lose all trust in labels, some companies are doing it right. Ideally, “dermatologist tested” means an unbiased, certified dermatology lab tested the products for skin reactions. Some dermatologist-tested label claims have scientific backing, but since they aren’t regulated, consumers need to ask questions.[ii]

How is the dermatologist-tested label verified?

Great question! The FDA hasn’t defined the term “dermatologist tested,” and doesn’t verify these labels. That opens things up for confusion. In fact, when our founder, Nova, formulated her first sunscreen, it was because her daughter was having allergic reactions to other “dermatologist tested” products on the market.[iii]

Doctor using computer

We’ve been there, so we want our customers to really know what they’re getting. That’s why we certified our products through AMA Labs—the same FDA-accredited lab we use to substantiate our SPF value. They conducted a Repeat Insult Patch Test to determine if any volunteers showed sensitivity to our sunscreens. Over a six-week period, and with a large control group, our sunscreens didn’t irritate a single person! When we say our sunscreens are dermatologist or pediatrician tested, you can trust we’ve verified it, even though it wasn’t required.

We conducted the testing because we understand the struggle to find safe skincare products for sensitive skin. We hope the FDA will eventually restrict how companies use a dermatologist-tested label, but until then, ask questions and do your research. Your skin is your largest organ, and it’s important to protect it!

What is a dermatologist-recommended sunscreen?

Like “dermatologist tested,” the “dermatologist-recommended” sunscreen label isn’t regulated by the FDA either. “Dermatologist recommended” often means a dermatologist was handsomely compensated to do just that. Laboratories can provide this claim to manufacturers as well, but verification costs a pretty penny. Until this is regulated, ask questions and go with products from a company you trust. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor if you ever have any concerns. We suggest looking at ingredients and speaking to your dermatologist or pediatrician about the best sunscreens for you and your family. And if you ever have any questions, we’re always here to help!

What is a dermatologist tested sunscreen?

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Happy Earth (and Water) Day!

“Earth” is defined as the planet we live on. It also means the substance of the land surface or the soil

Have you ever wondered why we refer to the soil as “earth” when in fact, 71-percent of the Earth is covered in water? It’s kind of a head scratcher, but it really highlights the idea of “out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t it?

The oceans hold about 96-percent of all that water, but unless you live near them or get to visit often, we rarely think about them. But we should.

Beyond being beautiful, the oceans host life for one-million species, with a scientific possibility of nine-million more species yet to be discovered.(i) That means we’ve only begun to learn what the ocean has to offer.

Did you know an enzyme used by corals to protect themselves from disease is actually used to treat asthma, arthritis and other inflammatory disorders? Blue-green algae is used to treat melanoma and small-cell lung cancer.(ii)The oceans affect people everywhere, whether we get to gaze at their beauty or not. What secrets do the oceans hold? And more importantly, what would happen if the life within them disappears?

There are many issues affecting the oceans and the reefs in particular. The reefs provide homes to 25-percent of all marine life, so they’re particular important—and particularly at risk since they are disappearing twice as fast as the rainforests! (iii) (iv) Luckily, we can help!

What is Goddess Garden doing?

A lot! Common chemical sunscreens are big contributors to the destruction of the reefs. The chemicals awaken a latent virus in the algae the reefs depend on, ultimately killing both the algae and the reef. That then harms the the 25-percent of sea life that use the reefs for protection, and the life that depended on that life for food, and so on and so forth until the effects are felt back on the soil.

Every single bottle of reef-safe sunscreen keeps enough harmful chemicals out of the water to save 250 million gallons of water from contamination! Beyond that, we have donated directly to organizations like REEF.org and The Ocean First Institute . We’ve also taken it a step further and established the Protect Our Mother Foundation to generate funds for organizations that foster healthy reefs and oceans, and educate the public on the dangers facing this fragile ecosystem.

What can you do?

A lot! And, no, it’s not the usual “it all adds up” kind of way. The damage adds up one person at a time—and it will take that same one-at-a-time approach to reverse it— but one person’s small steps, like choosing reef-safe sunscreen, can have an immediate and lasting effect!

On Earth Day, and all year long, take a few minutes to think about the Earth beyond the soil. Remember, we can all make a difference by keeping in mind the very thing that makes our little blue planet blue—the oceans!

Happy Earth (and Water) Day!

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(i) chool.discoveryeducation.com/schooladventures/planetocean/ocean.html
(ii) ttp://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/oceanscoasts/explore/coral-reefs-and-medicine.xml
(iii) ttp://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/coralreefs/index.htm
(iv) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/08/070807-coral-loss.html

What Are Phthalates and Parabens?

What are phthalates and parabens? Aside from being hard to pronounce, they are hard on the human endocrine system!

Think for a moment about the number of products you apply to your body throughout the day. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, moisturizer, toothpaste, makeup, makeup remover, sunscreen… phthalates and parabens can be found in most typical daily cosmetic products. Cosmetic ingredients do not remain on the surface of the skin. They are designed to penetrate deep into our skin and there they remain. According to Mercola.com, the body can absorb as much as five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year. This constant exposure is raising questions about health risks from potentially dangerous chemicals.

What do phthalates and parabens do?

Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers to add flexibility and softness to plastics. They are used in cosmetics and personal care products as well as household items such as shower curtains, food packaging, and vinyl toys, and are almost always present in anything with artificial fragrances, from candles to scented lotions. Parabens are synthetic preservatives used in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care products to allow the products to survive on shelves for long periods of time.

While products such as sunscreens won’t outright label them as containing phthalates and parabens, a simple test is to turn the package around and look at the ingredients. If it lists “fragrance” then it almost assuredly contains phthalates.

EWG.org, an online database of safety profiles for cosmetics, considers phthalates and parabens, among hundreds of other ingredients, dangerous to reproductive health and breast tissue. Pregnant women and young children should be most wary of these dangerous chemicals, but everyone should be aware of their effects. Phthalates have been linked to deformed sex organs in baby boys and early puberty in young girls. They have already been banned in children’s toys, and there is a growing feeling that they should be banned in personal-care products as well.

A study by Dr. Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist at the University of Rochester Medical School compared the levels of phthalates in a group of pregnant women with the health of the baby boys they gave birth to. Dr. Howard Snyder, a pediatric urologist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, says Swan’s findings line up with what he’s seeing in newborn baby boys: an alarming increase in deformed sex organs. “Thirty, 40 years ago, the best data we had then was that hypospadias occurred in about one in every 300 live male births. It’s up to now about one in 100. So there’s been a threefold increase,” Snyder explained. [CBS news]

Long-term risks of parabens

Parabens can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt functions of the endocrine system. Multiple studies have reported that long-term exposure to estrogen can increase breast cancer risk. Estrogen, and synthetic chemicals that act like estrogen, play a role in stimulating the division of breast cells and affect other hormones that stimulate breast cell division. Your body does not easily break down synthetic estrogen, and it can accumulate in fat cells, including breast tissue. Endocrine disruptors such as parabens can lead to early puberty in adolescent girls and boys and can adversely affect the male reproductive system. [livestrong.com]

Due to the omnipresence of phthalates and parabens, it is hard to completely avoid exposure. So how can you to minimize risk? A lot! You can start by avoiding artificial fragrances, ditching the hairspray and only using plastics with recyclying codes 2,4, or 5 (meaning they are less likely to contain phthalates). For your skincare regimen, do your research beforehand and avoid products with harmful chemicals. We can help! Goddess Garden mineral sunscreens, Daily Facial Care Routine products, Essential-Oil Perfumes and Aromatherapy products do not contain phthalates, parabens or any other nasty chemicals.

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