Mommy Greenest Approved: Goddess Garden Organics Reef-Safe Sunscreen

product photo of reef safe sunscreens next to before and after photo of damaged coral reefFor several years I’ve celebrated May Skin Cancer Awareness month by pointing out the ineffectiveness of hormone disrupting toxic sunscreen chemicals like oxybenzone (also known as Parsol 1789) and benzophenone-2 (or BP-2), while encouraging everyone to up on sunscreens with non-nano physical blockers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that block UVA/UVB rays.

So that’s the story on sunscreens and you. But did you ever think about what toxic chemical sunscreens can do to the ocean? I didn’t either, until I connected with Goddess Garden Organics, which has been formulating reef-safe sunscreens for more than a decade. They gave me the deets on how to preserve our oceans—and the go-ahead to hook up SIX Mommy Greenest readers with a sunscreen splurge!

It turns out, toxic chemical sunscreens do more than just expose you to endocrine disruptors—and the possibility of sun damage: In 2013, researchers reported that BP-2 damages coral reefs. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, nearly 30% of the world’s coral reefs have already been destroyed; if these rates continue, 60% of our reefs will be destroyed in the next 30 years. Responsible for providing a safe breeding ground for fish and other marine species, coral reefs also protect shorelines against damage from storms and floods, buffering against erosion. And they’re a key source for the development of new medicines to fight human illnesses, according to the National Ocean Service. Here are what coral reefs look like before and after they’re damaged by elements such as toxic chemical sunscreens.

coral reefs before and after the effects of toxic chemical sunscreens

Scary, right? Luckily, Goddess Garden Organics has manufactured reef-safe sunscreen from the get-go. I discovered the brand last year and was impressed with the light consistency of their sunscreens. At as much as 92% USDA Certified Organic, they’re water-resistant, vegan and biodegradable, and contain no synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens or GMOs.

Goddess Garden Organics makes broad-spectrum, reef-safe sunscreens—meaning they block UVB (burning) as well as UVA (aging, cancer-causing) rays—unlike many chemical sunscreens, which allow the skin to absorb the UVA rays.

And they’re 97% effective! Like all physical blockers, you have to rub a little to blend in the product, but once you do there are no telltale white streaks and no greasy after feel on your skin. Here’s a handy-dandy graphic that shows you just how these sunscreens stack up.

A chart showing how chemical sunscreens stack up against reef-safe sunscreens

Goddess Garden Organics has a huge range of reef-safe sunscreens. I’m a big fan of the non-aerosol sunscreen spray, which lets you hold a squirmy child in one hand and apply with the other (just make sure they don’t inhale as you spray it on). For daily use, their SPF 30 Facial sunscreen can’t be beat.

Want to try? Now through the end of June, get 30% off with “ReefSafeSunscreen” at check out. And six lucky Mommy Greenest readers can win the Goddess Garden Organics reef-safe sunscreen of their choice, by entering here. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by Goddess Garden Organics and meets the standards I’ve established to endorse a brand as “Mommy Greenest Approved.” Click here for more about Editorial Standards.



  1. Patricia C says:

    I haven’t worried about toxic chemicals in our reefs, because of ignorance. I live in the northern US where the weather is cool and hadn’t realized how detrimental chemicals can be to a reef

  2. Connie Williamson says:

    I never knew this! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  3. Christina says:

    I know all sunscreens are not created equal, so I use Babo at the moment, but I never knew of there impact on coral reefs. Something to keep in mind. I like looking at the ocean, but I stay out of it.

  4. I had no idea! Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. With knowledge comes power. So glad I know better now.

  5. Denise Lytle says:

    Ever since I heard about this issue, I have done my best to only use sunscreens that are “ocean-safe”. I really don’t want to harm the planet while trying to protect myself!

  6. Sherry Blamer says:

    We haven’t been to the ocean to worry about reef safe sunscreen. I worry about the ingredients in my daughters sunscreen. Its important of course to save the reef by using reef safe sunscreen. I wish more companies would do that and that these sunscreens were avaie in stores more people would buy them.

  7. Jennifer S. says:

    I haven’t, but probably because I’m almost never in the ocean. It’s great that this option is available, because we do need to do everything we can to preserve our planet.

  8. I am sad now. I didn’t know this was happening to our reefs. So sad. I will be buying much more consciously. Thank you.

  9. Jia Hui says:

    I didn’t but now I do; that’s so awesome about this brand! I have learned about coral bleaching before, and had no idea it was connected to sun screen!

  10. Thank you for bringing the issue of reef safety to my attention – and, now that I know about it, I will always choose reef-safe sunscreens over any other kind! With Goddess Garden products, we can keep our environment just as healthy as we keep our bodies!

  11. Stefanie says:

    I definitely care about the oceans and reefs and love that this sunscreen helps protect the environment.

  12. Yes, I do! I don’t currently live near the water, but even so, it all adds up. I’m sooo excited to tell some people about this sunscreen, they have a tourist biz on the ocean in Maui! I”m sure they will be excited about this! I had no idea there was a reef safe sunscreen!

  13. hadn’t thought about it before, but now i sure do!

  14. Tannis W says:

    I never would have considered reef safety when choosing a sunscreen because I live nowhere near an ocean. If I would be near an ocean I would definitely consider a reef safe sunscreen option.

  15. IzzyFrost says:

    I’ve heard wonderful things about Goddess Garden Sunscreen Products!! I love that it’s safe for myself and my family while providing protection against the sun’s harmful rays! I can’t wait to try it!

  16. Becca Z says:

    Had not worried about this issue before because I was uneducated about it. Also, most sunscreen usage is for a pool or the general outdoors, not for being in the ocean.

  17. I don’t worry about much, so needless to say, sunscreen + reef safety has never been on my radar. But I’m well aware of how destructive humans are to the planet, and as such, I try to make day-to-day choices that have the least impact on my environment. Every little effort helps, and this fair lady will certainly be switching to a healthier sunscreen!

    • Rachel Sarnoff says:

      Yay! I’m so glad you were inspired to make this change. Thanks so much for sharing, Megan!

  18. Charity James says:

    I had not thought about sunscreen and reef saftey in the past, but I will now be much more aware. I do however use mineral sunscreens as it is better for the skin and enviroment in general.

  19. I was not aware of reef safety prior to this. I prefer that there is safety in all things possible.

  20. Goddess sunscreen sounds great for yourself & also the environment! I would love to win some to try it out!

  21. Heather says:

    I wasn’t even AWARE of this, thank you!

  22. This may sound silly but it had never even occurred to me the damage sunscreens could do to ocean life. I will definitely be switching sunscreens.

  23. Lindsey says:

    Not usually as I don’t swim near reefs but I did purchase special sunscreen when I was in Mexico,

  24. Alison Bramham says:

    I know this is not scientific but most people instinctively hate the smell of chemical sunscreens. They are often heavily perfumed with toxic fragrance ingredients to mask this. Mineral sunscreens are such a better choice and the technology is becoming available to make them both safe and cosmetically elegant.

    • Rachel Sarnoff says:

      I so agree! I love Goddess Garden, it just smells fresh and clean and…warm, if that makes sense? Good point Alison!

  25. I’ve been wanting to switch to a nontoxic sunscreen and now I know exactly what to look for! Thanks for the info!!

  26. Lisa Willey says:

    It is crucial for the reefs to be safe from chemicals for ecosystem survival!

  27. I am always looking for safe products for my family and myself!

  28. maureen kennedy says:

    I haven’t thought about reef safety, but now I will!

  29. It has been brought to my attention recently so I make sure that the sunscreen I buy is reef safe!

  30. I hadn’t been worried about reef safety until reading this! Shocking stuff!

    • Rachel Sarnoff says:

      I know, I was so surprised at how little I knew. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kim!

  31. That UVA/UVB chart is quite telling!

  32. I never thought about it before. I am worried about chemicals and ingredients though.

  33. i have been reading about how sunscreens can damage the Ocean for several years. I hd heard Goddess Garden is a good brand, but have not been able to find it locally.

  34. Marlene V. (Enelram) says:

    I usually swim at lakes so it’s not needed but I would like to travel more to the ocean and yes then I care about preserving the reefs!

    • Rachel Sarnoff says:

      Hm, I wonder what the impact of chemical sunscreens has on the freshwater ecosystem. I’m sure it’s not good! Minerals are better for you, too! 🙂

  35. Kim Cage says:

    I do now after reading your article and seeing the difference in the coral! This sounds like a fantastic product!

  36. Jessica says:

    I do, as I worry about the chemicals entering my own body, I would obviously also worry about their effects on the environment as they wash off my body, or as they are eliminated by the body.

  37. I totally worry about reef safety when we go snorkeling we try to use swim shirts and not sunscreen.

    • Rachel Sarnoff says:

      Those shirts are great protection, but what about your face? I think minerals are the key. Thanks for commenting, Betsy!

  38. I had never narrowed it down to just reef safety, but just toward harmful items in all purchaseditems – period. However, I do love our reefs!


  1. […] UVA/UVB protection. It’s certified organic, biodegradable and—best of all—reef safe. (For more on why that’s so important, click here.) You know you still need sunscreen in winter, right? That’s why it’s in the gift […]

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