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 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.
[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.
[iii] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses.” May 23, 2018.
[iv] EWG. “How to pick a good sunscreen.” 2015.
[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.
[vi] University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “What is the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?” April, 2018.

Sunblock vs. Sunscreen

Sunscreen, sunblock, suntan lotion… these terms are all interchangeable, right? Wrong! There are several important differences among these descriptors. The FDA even regulates their use, so it pays to learn your lingo!

Shedding the light on sunblock

As the name implies, sunblock is intended to block the sun’s rays. At one time, this term was reserved for products like Goddess Garden’s that use minerals for sun protection. These minerals reflect the rays away from the skin, blocking them from doing damage. Natural sunblocks are referred to as mineral or physical blockers because the minerals provide a physical barrier to the sun’s harmful rays. The rules on calling something a sunblock have changed though, so keep reading!

What is sunscreen?

“Sunscreen” was initially nomenclature for the chemical screens that filter the sun’s rays and protect the skin from burns. They create a chemical reaction on your skin, and require 20 minutes to become effective. They also break down in the sun and must be reapplied often. The word soon became commonplace; however, the definition was blurred.

Sunblock vs. sunscreen

Natural Mineral Sunscreen SunblockThe term “sunblock” was adopted by the masses. Like the company name “Kleenex” became the blanket term for facial tissue, “sunblock” came to mean any product designed to prevent a sunburn, regardless how the product actually worked. At the same time, many people were also using the word “sunscreen” as an alias for all things SPF. It got confusing! It also posed a possibility for problems since the terms were being used interchangeably for two different types of products.

The FDA clarifies SPF

In 2011, the FDA stepped in to offer clarification. They felt the use of some labeling terms could lead people to think they were getting better protection than they actually were. For example, the FDA stopped allowing companies to use “waterproof.” Instead, they have to use “water-resistant.” At the same time, the FDA also stopped allowing use of the term “sunblock”—even if the product was a physical blocker. The FDA felt the term had the potential to overstate a product’s effectiveness. [i]

Sunscreen—the umbrella term for SPF coverage

Thanks to the FDA’s regulations, “sunscreen” is now the word of choice for describing all sun products—whether they are mineral or chemical. While habit still has people referring to products as “sunblock,” you won’t see that on a label anymore.

What is suntan lotion?

Suntan lotion adds another level of complexity. While many people refer to sunscreens as suntan lotions, true suntan lotions enhance your skin’s color. They do this by accelerating your skin’s reaction to UV rays. If you’re looking to protect your skin from burns, premature skin aging and cancer, a suntan lotion could have the opposite effect!

What to look for

To stay protected from burning UVB rays and the aging and cancer-causing UVA rays, look for a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30. If you want a safe way to block the rays and reflect them away from you, pick a natural sunscreen like Goddess Garden’s with the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. If you’re looking to achieve a deep, dark tan, we won’t judge, but we strongly encourage you to read a bit about tanning to see how the sun affects your skin before you head outside. Remember, nothing is more beautiful than healthy skin!

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

what is homosalate

Flip over a bottle of chemical sunscreen and you’ll likely see homosalate listed as one of the active ingredients. Nearly 45-percent of all sunscreens in the United States contain it, yet homosalate is a hormone disruptor for men and women! This means it messes with your endocrine system—the system responsible for regulating all the activity of your cells and organs. Your endocrine system doesn’t know what to do with homosalate, so it just assigns it to the same job as estrogen, androgen or progesterone.[i] Doesn’t everyone want pseudo hormones tagging along with them in the sun? No thanks!

Homosalate breaks down in the sun

Speaking of sun, homosalate protects people from sunburns by filtering the UV rays. Isn’t it a little strange that the sun causes homosalate to break down into harmful byproducts?[ii] This is sounding less and less like a day at the beach!

Homosalate enhances skin absorption

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives homosalate a four. That is considered a moderate hazard, but these things add up. Think about food. Many people have concerns over what they eat—and they should! Food has a direct route to your body and your organs, but your skin is your body’s largest organ. It doesn’t get any more direct than that! It’s true that the skin offers protection—that is its purpose—but these chemical sunscreens are readily absorbed through the skin, bypassing all that protection. Once they’re absorbed, they enter the blood stream without being metabolized by the liver. A study showed the estrogenic effect of these chemicals can be up to three times stronger after topical application than with oral exposure.[iii]

What else is wrong with homosalate?

The skin is supposed to protect your body, right? That rule doesn’t appear to apply to homosalate. Homosalate and other similar chemicals seem to know the secret password to get past your skin’s guards. Once in, it goes straight to your blood stream. What’s worse is that homosalate’s invitation has a plus-one. It can take other toxins, like pesticides, in with it![iv]

How Do You Avoid Homosalate?

It’s easy! Only chemical sunscreens and skincare products with sun protection, like lip balms or makeup, contain homosalate. To avoid it, simply look for the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—and only zinc and titanium—in the active ingredients. Natural sunscreens like Goddess Garden’s do not contain homosalate or any other chemical sunscreens. We think hormone look-a-likes and toxic chemicals don’t deserve a place in the sun—or in our bodies!

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[iii] Klimova, et al. (2013). “Current problems in the use of organic UV filters to protect skin from excessive sun exposure” (PDF). Acta Chimica Slovaca6 (1): 82–88. doi:10.2478/acs-2013-0014

[iv] Brand R, Pike J, Wilson R, Charron A. Sunscreens containing physical UV blockers can increase transdermal absorption of pesticides. Toxicology and Industrial Health, vol. 19, pp 9-16, 2003.

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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A Daughter’s Story: An Auto-immune Disorder and Sunscreen (Guest Post)

When we created Goddess Garden, Founders Nova and Paul were trying to help their baby daughter, whose skin was sensitive to the harsh chemicals in skincare products. Through the years, we’ve heard from many people who were not previously able to use sunscreen due to similar sensitivities. One story in particular, really stood out. Instead of a mom helping her daughter, in this case a daughter helped her mom, who suffered from an auto-immune disorder that was made worse by sun exposure. We were touched by this story, so we’re sharing it in case it helps anyone else battling an autoimmune disorder or suffering from extremely sensitive skin.

Helping My Mom Enjoy the Sun – Lisa Newcomb’s Story

About a year ago, my mom was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder. One of her most bothersome symptoms was a pretty extensive rash whenever she went out into the sun. We assumed the sun exposure was the only thing contributing to the rash. About a month ago, I had a thought, and asked her what sunscreen she was using. It turned out to be a sunscreen filled with many chemicals.

Maybe it’s the sunscreen, not the sun

This made me think—maybe it is the sunscreen, not the sun, that’s causing her reactions. So, I gave her a bottle of Goddess Garden, and we are both amazed at the results! She has spent the last few weeks by the Bay, with many hours outside. Her rashes have diminished dramatically, having many days without any rash at all. Also, she found that Goddess Garden is creamy and goes on smoothly, unlike some of the other natural products that are thick and goopy. She is SO delighted and we are very grateful for your awesome product!

– Lisa Newcomb

Do you have a story to tell?

Lisa’s story is the reason we keep doing what we do. We’re inspired by our fans, and we’ll always work to provide ways to help them get out and enjoy the sun with less worry. Do you have a story to tell? Share it with us!


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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 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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(iii) ttp://

The Sun Can Age Your Skin!

Most of us know the sun can age your skin. Most of us have also embraced sunscreen for those weekend hikes or trips to the beach. The concept of “Slip-Slop-Slap”— slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat—is second nature for long stints in the sun. That’s a great thing, but did you know most sun-related skin damage doesn’t actually happen during these planned outings? It accumulates instead from occasional, non-deliberate sun exposure that just adds up over time.

The sun can age your skin prematurely!

The premature aging of the skin due to chronic exposure to UV light is known as photoaging. While a burn is the short-term consequence of too much sun, photoaging reminds you of your time in the sun years later, and accounts for 90-percent of the age-related changes in skin appearance.(i)

Do you shade hop when you drop off your kids? Do you wear a beach hat when you go to the bank? Do you stop and slather on sunscreen before every trip to the mailbox? We don’t either. That’s why sunscreen should simply be a normal part of your morning routine, even if sunshine isn’t written into your schedule.

UVA rays can go through glass!

If you can’t get outdoors as much as you’d like, we sincerely hope you can fix that soon. Until then, keep in mind staying indoors doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fully protected. Those same aging rays can go right through glass! A study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging demonstrated asymmetrical skin aging, where ten test subjects appeared to be aging faster on one side of the face. All ten people had indoor jobs, but all ten habitually sat with one side of his or her face near a window. The side near the window exhibited more signs of sun damage. This is called asymmetrical facial damage and is believed to be a result of UVA rays. At least 50-percent of these rays can pass through glass and silently damage your skin. Car windows are even worse, letting in 60-percent of all UV rays!(ii)

You wouldn’t sunbathe for 60 hours, would you?

Think of how much time you spend driving. The average American spends about 25 minutes a day just driving to and from work, with many of us spending much longer than that. That’s over 100 hours! With 60-percont of those rays hitting our skin, it’s like 60 hours of exposure to aging rays every year! And that’s just one of the things you do outside. See how this exposure can add up over time?

All rays are not created equal. Neither are our risks.

UVA rays and UVB rays are very different. UVB rays show up quickly, are kind of brutal when they burn and leave a lasting reminder to do better. We’ve all learned from those rays. UVA rays, on the other hand, are the ones we have to watch out for. They’re subtle. Their damage may not show up for years. And aside from aging our skin, they have been shown to lead to some forms of cancer.

Environmental factors also contribute to our risk. According to the World Health Organization, sand reflects up to 25-percent of UV rays. If you think you’re safe in the winter, snow reflects up to 80-percent of the sun’s rays. If you seek out the snow by heading to the mountains, UV radiation levels are boosted by 10 to 12-percent because there is less atmosphere to protect us.(iii)

Stop aging in its tracks!

UV rays can trigger a chain reaction in the skin that might not show its effects for years. You can’t go back in time, but you can stop the chain of events with a proper suncare and repair routine. And, of course, you can prevent future damage by wearing sunscreen everyday—even if your schedule isn’t looking super sunny. Who knows, you might find time to steal a walk during your work week, and you’ll already be prepared!

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(ii) Clinical Interventions in Aging 2010:5 277–284 © 2010 Mac-Mary et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

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, 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., 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. []

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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