What We Look for in a Sunscreen


Sunscreen is a critical part of taking care of your skin and protecting yourself from lifelong sun damage. But not all sunscreens are created equal. When choosing a sunscreen, we run through a number of questions. What level of SPF do we need? What sunscreen is the most effective while also using the safest ingredients? Which ingredients do we want to avoid – Avobenzone? Octinoxate? Oxybenzone? Do we choose mineral or chemical suncare? How does mineral sunscreen even work? What sunscreen should I use on my kids?

After 16 years of making safe, effective, planet-friendly sunscreen, here’s what we know.

chemical vs. mineral suncare

chemical-vs-mineral-suncareSunscreens are broken up into two main categories. Mineral (a.k.a physical) and chemical. The main difference between these two types of sunscreen comes down to their ingredients and how they protect us against UV rays. If you aren’t familiar with these terms when it comes to talking about sunscreen, keep reading.


mineral sunscreen

Mineral sunscreens work by reflecting or scattering UV rays with the help of active minerals like zinc and/or titanium dioxide. These natural minerals sit on the surface of the skin and act as a physical barrier against the sun’s rays. Almost like little mirrors that reflect the rays away. They are essentially tiny rocks, so they pose no threat to our waterways, coral reefs, or bodies.

Unlike chemical sunscreens, minerals are not absorbed into the skin and don’t interfere with the body’s endocrine system. Not to mention, they don’t break down in the sun and lose their effectiveness.

chemical sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, use ingredients that work by actually absorbing UV rays. Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, octinoxate, homosalate. To react with and protect from UV, these ingredients sink into the skin’s pores. And while this can offer strong protection, many of these chemicals are absorbed into our bloodstream.

Recent studies referenced by the EWG show that chemical sunscreens can enter the bloodstream after only one day of use. The length of time they remain there is still unknown. This has led the FDA to pressure manufacturers into conducting further research before deeming ingredients safe for use. It has also propelled many coastal areas to take legislative action (more to come on that).

what are safe sunscreen ingredients?

mineral-suncare-safe-ingredientsZinc oxide and titanium oxide, the naturally-occurring minerals found in our SPF collections, are the prominent ingredients of many mineral sunscreens. They fall into the FDA’s category of GRASE — ingredients that are “generally recognized as safe and effective.”

One downside is that many zinc or titanium-based SPF’s can leave a white, chalky cast when applied. At Goddess Garden, we use nano-sized versions of these minerals for a more transparent, sheer application.

what suncare ingredients to avoid?

mineral-suncare-ingredientsOxybenzone and octinoxate are some of the main ingredients to avoid. But, you should also look out for avobenzone. Unfortunately, you’ll find these ingredients in most of the sunscreens you’re used to seeing on the shelf.

So, what’s the main problem with these? They are absorbed by the skin into the bloodstream and can remain in the body for an unknown amount of time. Hormone levels, early puberty, male infertility and low sperm count are just a few of the byproducts these ingredients have been linked to.

legislative action to ban chemical sunscreen

There is a growing movement in various parts of the country and the world to ban harmful chemicals found in sunscreen. Hawaii has put a complete ban on SPF containing oxybenzone and octinoxate — with the help of our founder, Nova Covington, who worked with Governor Ige on this legislation.

Islands and coastal communities like Hawaii are taking legislative action when it comes to sunscreen to protect their coral reefs and sea life. Goddess Garden has been involved in these initiatives since day one, and we continue to do so through our nonprofit, Protect Our Mother.

what level of spf do I need?

mineral-suncare-spfWe recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. When it comes to how often you should reapply sunscreen, check the back of the SPF label and follow the suggested timeframe. According to the FDA, mineral sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.

Sunscreen can help protect you from the harmful effects of UV rays, but keep in mind that it doesn’t make you immune to them. So, lather up for sure, but also be mindful of your time in the sun! And keep your SPF handy when it’s time to reapply.

what’s the best suncare for kids?

kids-mineral-suncareThe primary sun defense for babies under 6 months of age is shade and protective clothing. Baby-safe sunscreen is a must though, and should be used as a necessary backup.

When it comes to what type of sunscreen is best for kids of any age, mineral sunscreen is the best option. Mineral sunscreens are less irritating for sensitive skin, and don’t contain many of the controversial ingredients with side effects that haven’t been fully studied or understood yet.

explore goddess garden’s mineral suncare.

If you’re on the hunt for an effective mineral suncare that’s safe for you, your family and our planet – we pride ourselves on offering effective, safe and sustainable sunscreen since day one. 16 years ago.

Check out what we have to offer, and sign up for our newsletter to keep up to speed with all the latest when it comes to SPF education.

Also, be sure not to miss out on FREE shipping sitewide for the month of July!


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Daily Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Daily Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Scented with organic lavender essential oil, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Sport Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Sport Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Unscented, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Kids Mineral Sunscreen

Goddess Garden – Kids Mineral Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin
Sheer, Zinc, Broad Spectrum, Water Resistant, Scented with organic lavender essential oil, Vegan, Reef Safe, Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free

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Baby Sunscreen

Reef safe sunscreens & cooling spray
Made with organic aloe vera & lavender oil

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