Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand, Goop, has promoted “energy stickers” made from “the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits” — even though the stickers had nothing to do with spacesuits at all.
And coffee enemas.
And vaginal steaming.
And those eggs made from jade — the ones that were supposed to be inserted into women’s vaginas to help them “get better connected to the power within.” That may not be advisable. One gynecologist called the vaginal eggs “the biggest load of garbage” — and the green orbs ended up costing the company $145,000 in civil penalties last month.
But when asked whether the products Goop sells online are based on pseudoscience, Paltrow told BBC News no.
“We disagree with that wholeheartedly,” the actress and business executive said Tuesday on “BBC Breakfast.” “We really believe that there are healing modalities that have existed for thousands of years, and they challenge maybe a very conventional Western doctor that might not believe necessarily in the healing powers of essential oils or any variety of acupuncture — things that have been tried and tested for hundreds of years. And we find that they are very helpful to people and that there’s an incredible power in the human body to heal itself.
“And so, I think, anytime you are trying to move the needle and you’re trying to empower women, you find resistance, and we just think that’s just part of what we do, and we’re proud to do it.”
Goop’s $145,000 penalties stemmed from a consumer protection lawsuit filed by 10 prosecutors across California who accused Paltrow’s company of advertising products with medical claims that “were not supported by competent and reliable science."
The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office detailed some of Goop’s claims in a news release about the settlement:
Goop advertised that the Jade and Rose Quartz eggs — egg-shaped stones designed to be inserted vaginally and left in for various lengths of time — could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control. Goop advertised that the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, a blend of essential oils meant [to] be taken orally or added to bathwater, could help prevent depression.
But when BBC News asked Paltrow about Goop’s claim that one of the products could help prevent depression, Paltrow said she wanted to set the record straight.
“One of the products that we sell, some of the regulators in California said, ‘You can’t say that it does that,’ " she said, noting that Goop did not receive any complaints from customers. “We didn’t have to admit any wrongdoing. But we just wanted to settle it and put it behind us.”
Paltrow said it has been a learning experience, adding that Goop now has a science and research team as well as a regulatory team to vet products.
“A lot of times, we’ll find that with third-party products that we sell, people make claims about products, and so, it’s very important for us now — as we grow and as we learn — to make sure that the claims that we make on the site are efficacious and good,” Paltrow told BBC News.
Goop could not immediately be reached for comment.
Paltrow’s company started simply in 2008 as a newsletter — telling readers where to shop, what to cook and how to better their lives.
But as Goop grew, so did the criticism of its medical and spiritual claims. And the controversy helped drive business, according to the New York Times Magazine:
Goop knew what readers were clicking on, and it was nimble enough to meet those needs by actually manufacturing the things its readers wanted. When a story about beauty products that didn’t have endocrine disrupters and formaldehyde got a lot of traffic in 2015, the company started Goop by Juice Beauty, a collection of “clean” face creams and oils and cleansers that it promised lacked those things. When a story about “postnatal depletion,” a syndrome coined by one of the Goop doctors, did even-better-than-average business in 2017, it introduced Goop Wellness, a series of four vitamin “protocols” for women with different concerns — weight, energy, focus, etc. Goop says it sold $100,000 of them on their first day.
The weirder Goop went, the more its readers rejoiced. And then, of course, the more Goop was criticized: by mainstream doctors with accusations of pseudoscience, by websites like Slate and Jezebel saying it was no longer ludicrous — no, now it was dangerous. And elsewhere people would wonder how Gwyneth Paltrow could try to solve our problems when her life seemed almost comically problem-free. But every time there was a negative story about her or her company, all that did was bring more people to the site — among them those who had similar kinds of questions and couldn’t find help in mainstream medicine.