Goop? Riding the “All Natural” Gravy Train

100% Natural Logo for "goop"Dr. Jen Gunter is my new hero. She shines a crystalline light on the current crop of snake oil sales(wo)men like Gwyneth Paltrow and her multi-million- dollar GOOP women’s lifestyle brand.

Full transparency here. I have spent $30 on a bottle of sulfate-free shampoo with “emollient-rich Red Sea kelp.” I have been swayed to spend more on a beauty product if it contains the words “natural,” “organic,” or “botanical” on the label. And (I am ashamed to admit) I have even been persuaded to insert a vaginal egg into my “sacred female space.” Otherwise known as “love eggs,” “jade eggs,” and “yoni eggs,” these pelvic galvinizers purportedly possess the power to help you develop a more loving relationship with your “yoni” (vagina) while  powering up your kegel capacities.

Still, it was with a smirking delight that I saw the recent Stephen Colbert send-up  of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Wellness Summit, the tickets to which ranged in price between $500 and $1500.

The Goop Media Wars

And it was with an eager finger that I clicked on an op-ed piece in the New York Times over the weekend by Dr. Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain medicine specialist dedicated to  “Wielding the lasso of truth” about dangerous health fads aimed at women. Dr. Gunter has raised the ire and media backlash of Paltrow and her goopy promoters by pointing out the dangerous disinformation her brand peddles to women. Those vaginal eggs, for example, may have a connection to toxic shock syndrome because superatigens are reintroduced vaginally with air during jade egg insertion .

It would seem that women are especially vulnerable to the false promise of advertising. Not that I haven’t lived with a “metrosexual” man who spent far more that I ever did on spas and gels and oils, even hair implants. But I’m sure his excesses pale in comparison to what the average woman spends in the $20 billion dollar hair and nail industry. And this newer focus on “pure” and “natural” products only opens the door to more price gouging.

No Face Goop Can Turn Back Time

Why are we so vulnerable to the cons? Why do we suppress our common sense that tells us, no, there is no such thing as an “anti-aging” agent; no, you may be super fit and you may look great for your age but you are aging nonetheless; no, that hair color looks great but it does not take ten years off your face. The bloom of my fertile years is fading. The maiden and mother phases are behind me. I can get rather wistful about it sometimes. But what I want is not eternal youth. What I want is to be a healthy, beautiful, and even desirable crone, one whose age makes her less, not more, susceptible to advertising claims that manipulate my valid concerns about environmental toxins.

The women who attend Goop summits are no doubt younger that I am. And they must have a lot more disposable income than I do. I guess they don’t blink at spending $60 on a .17 ounce compact of “Multipurpose Balm (packed with carrot seed, Marula oil, and Jojoba seed oil.”) They must really buy the hype that it will do more “to moisturize dry lips and to smooth out the wrinkle-prone areas around the mouth and eyes” than, say, my $2 tube of Nivea kissable lip moisturizer or my extravagant purchase of $12 emu oil eye cream.

But the issue is not money. Given Paltrow’s outsized influence, her lack of expertise, and her underlying profit motive, I’m thankful that professionals like Dr. Gunter are (wo)manning the watchtowers and making us think more carefully about our healthcare and beauty consumption. And while I certainly look for alternatives to products that use toxins or test on animals, I think I’ll stick with my $10 Sprouts tub of coconut oil and vials of herbal essences, even if I do splurge on that shampoo.

Crystalline lake waves washing over rocks


Today’s post was inspired by  Charli Mills’s flash fiction challenge for July 27, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the word crystalline.

My Crystalline Complexion

The sales associate was all of 20.

“I just want some eye cream,” I said.

“I have the perfect product for you,” she enthused. “The Gone in 60 Seconds Instant Wrinkle Eraser.”

“C’mon, nothing is going to erase my wrinkles,” I said.

“This one will. With all-natural sodium silicate, it instantly erases fine lines and wrinkles. It’ll provide that little bit of a ‘lift’ you need. ”

“Hmmm” I said, my skepticism deepening the frown between my eyebrows.

“Really, I use both the eye and the face cream in the line. I’ve been told I have a crystalline complexion.”






8 thoughts on “Goop? Riding the “All Natural” Gravy Train

  1. Great post, Jeanne. It’s great to expose the snake charmers. I really enjoyed Steven Colbert. Thanks for linking. Your flash is great. I get accosted each week at the shopping mall to buy beauty products made from something from the Dead Sea. I wonder how it’s going to make me more alive. I do look for products that are plant based and not tested on animals. I’m pleased to say there are a few ethical companies to choose from. I wondered if your shop assistant was going to inform you that she’d been using the product for 50 years! 🙂

    1. I know those Dead Sea kiosks. I used to stop, but I am prepared now. I do grab the sample though 🙂 About 6 months ago I let a vendor talk me into doing one of my eyes with a product similar to the one I described in my flash. I did feel a tightening of the bags under that eye. When I asked my husband what he thought, he said he could see no difference (not that that is a reliable test.) Then I had to go around with one eye done since of course that was the angle to get one to buy the stuff. Ah me… I am ambivalent about it all. I do buy products without the chemicals as often as I can. And every six weeks I struggle with the old question of whether to finally let my hair go gray or not. As for those young clerks, the worse offense is when they say, as a waitress did to me and my sister recently, “What can I get you two young ladies?” Much eye-rolling ensued 🙂

  2. Another downside of these fads that we see in food as well as cosmetics is the environmental impact. For a while I was taken in by soya milk, despite its disgusting taste, which is responsible for some loss of rainforest. Then there’s the scarcity of avocados.
    I think it’s partly down to not knowing how to genuinely care for ourselves, so we collude with the charmers who try to persuade us we’re doing ourselves good. You tell it well in the flash, but so sad for the young when they don’t realise how genuinely gorgeous they are without all this gunk.

    1. Good point Anne! Part of the reason I recently decided to go vegan was the horrible effects and cost of cattle and pig farming (etc.) on the environment, not to mention the cruelly grotesque practices of agribusiness. But of course a mainstay of such a diet is soy, and though I was happy to find a milk/cream substitute that is not bad, now I see I will have to look more closely at the down sides of that product. Avocado is another mainstay of my meal plan. Damn! You are right, it is hard for even informed consumers to know which “study” to believe in and how to be an ethical consumer. As for the gunk, seems it’s only when we reach a “certain age” that we come to realize the heavily marketed creams and makeup detract from the natural beauty of youth and health.

  3. You popped the top on this can of snake oil! I read the Gunter article and was encouraged to see this medical doctor, who specializes in gynecology, take on Goop. Of course, I also think western medicine plays into these same aging and beauty fears and ply us with sleek pharmaceuticals, as if we could stop the daily process of aging or mortality itself. Worse yet is the shaming from society — tsk, tsk, she’s not aging well. I write for the natural and organic industry so I’m well aware of all the goop out there. Fortunately, my clients are the goop-busters within the industries — the coalition of cooperatives, most started over 40 years ago to combat harm to people and the environment. I think the best activity anyone can do for health and graceful aging is to garden…with or without a love egg! 🙂

    1. Ah yes, hail to the grassroots efforts out there, of which you know so much. I first learned of food coops in the mid 70s when my awareness of food issues dawned. One Christmas I gave all my siblings a copy of sugar blues and some book on additives with a picture of a hotdog on the cover. I’m pretty sure no one opened the covers! With the emergence of big chains like Whole Foods and Sprouts, it has become much easier for consumers, though I miss the feeling of having discovered a community based alternative to industrialized food. I congratulate you on your goop-busting efforts! And I’m with you. Gardening is a great aid to aging well. Poking into rock pools and ponds too! Inner health has a way of working its way to the surface 🙂

  4. “The women who attend Goop summits are no doubt younger that I am.” It reads strangely when a person has to use a text reader to read words to them. Who names a beauty product, “Goop?” It’s like naming a restaurant O’Reilly’s Pizza Dumpster.

    It takes a while to give up the ghost of a beauty past. I’m still trying to make that leach unhook from my psyche. 🙂

    1. Your response got by me somehow, Joelle, but thanks for stopping by. Right. Goop. Guess it’s supposed to be funny. As for giving up the ghost of beauty past, I wish you luck with that “leach”! Ha! That sucker knows how to cling. And still, are there not a few consolations? Is our beauty something which “having been must ever be”? At least in some sense. Or is it even worth mourning.Some lines from Marguerite Duras come to mind, the opening of her novel, The Lover. “One day, I was already old,in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said, ‘I’ve know you for years.Everyone says you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you’re more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged.'” Ah me….

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