Colorado sunscreen company provides solution to Hawaii ban

LONGMONT — Hawaii has passed a bill banning sunscreen that can harm coral reefs, but it’s a Colorado company that has positioned itself to be the alternative to most over-the-counter sunblock.

Goddess Garden Organics, based in Longmont, has been creating reef-safe sunscreen by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the sun protecting ingredients.

Goddess Garden sunscreen is made with minerals, not chemicals, allowing it to pass Hawaii’s ban on reef-harming sunblock. Courtesy Goddess Garden.

Nova Covington founded the company with her husband, Paul Halter, after their first daughter was allergic to the chemicals in most skin products. The company had its big debut in 2005 at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

It was on a vacation to Mexico about eight years ago, however, when Covington learned about the chemical sunscreen ban and what the products were doing to natural reefs. Six years ago, Goddess Garden hired an MBA student to research the effects of chemical sunscreen on reefs, research Covington said is now being used as testimony in government hearings on why they should be banned.

“We were the only company that stood up and said there was an alternative,” Covington said. “We’re proud of the sunscreen we’ve built.”

While Goddess Garden has been championing the need for reef-safe sunscreen, it has also been positioning itself to be an option for Hawaiian locals and tourists today, even though the new law — which still has to be signed by the governor — won’t go into effect until 2021.

“We’re the biggest mineral-based brand in Hawaii,” Covington said. “We worked hard to be in Hawaii. We’ve been in the natural grocery market there for eight years as well as other, more conventional, stores.”

Covington said that while there are 16 ingredients approved for sunscreen, 14 of those are chemicals found in mainstream sunscreens like Banana Boat, Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropic — brands that will be banned in Hawaii’s bill. The other two are zinc and titanium, the ingredients used by Goddess Garden.

Looking ahead, Covington said the brand was looking to hire a distributor in Hawaii to grow its presence as demand picks up. Goddess Garden is also providing sunscreen samples in protected beach areas. And the company is working on a petition to encourage Hawaii’s governor to sign the bill into law.

Hawaii may not be alone in its sunscreen ban and that could mean even more market share for Goddess Garden. Covington said she expects Colorado, Florida and California to propose similar bans, to not just protect beach areas but also because it can be difficult for water treatment plants to process the chemicals used in mainstream sunscreens.

Meanwhile, Covington said she expects other brands to take the route she has and go chemical-free, but that she has the benefit of being a mineral-only sunscreen since the beginning 13 years ago.

“We’re coming from a really authentic place,” she said. “For a long time, we’ve believed in clean water. We make healthy sunscreen that is good for people and the planet.”

LONGMONT — Hawaii has passed a bill banning sunscreen that can harm coral reefs, but it’s a Colorado company that has positioned itself to be the alternative to most over-the-counter sunblock.

Goddess Garden Organics, based in Longmont, has been creating reef-safe sunscreen by using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the sun protecting ingredients.

Goddess Garden sunscreen is made with minerals, not chemicals, allowing it to pass Hawaii’s ban on reef-harming sunblock. Courtesy Goddess Garden.

Nova Covington founded the company with her husband, Paul Halter, after their first daughter was allergic to the chemicals in most skin products. The company had its big debut in 2005 at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

It was on a vacation to Mexico about eight years ago, however, when Covington learned about the chemical sunscreen ban and what the products were doing to natural reefs. Six years ago, Goddess Garden hired an MBA student to research the effects of chemical sunscreen on reefs, research Covington said is now being used as testimony in government hearings on why they should be banned.

“We were the only company that stood up and said there was an alternative,” Covington said. “We’re proud of the sunscreen we’ve built.”

While Goddess Garden has been championing the need for reef-safe sunscreen, it has also been positioning itself to be an option for Hawaiian locals and tourists today, even though…