If you've been following the beauty editorial world recently, you'll know it's exploded over her recent Vogue 'Beauty Secrets' video, and dermatologists, skincare enthusiasts and Goop followers alike have been up in arms about her use of sunscreen.
In the video, Gwyneth first discusses how she likes to avoid chemical sunscreens because "there are a lot of really harsh chemicals in conventional sunscreen" - now, this isn't outrageous for the founder of Goop - not a brand or a website I would ever want to purchase from, and certainly a greenwashing and wishy-washy company that is always focused on 'clean' (which really means nothing) and demonises anything synthetic. Having said that, a lot of people LOVE her brand, find a lot of benefit from using only "natural" products and look to them for new product options - this in itself is fine, although the fear-mongering around chemicals isn't ideal. To be fair, I also prefer mineral sunscreen because chemical filters (like avobenzone) do often make my skin sting especially when rinsing off, plus I like my current sunscreen (Ultraviolette Lean Screen) so much that I have no desire to switch it up.
Next, the real star of the video is: "You know, I'm not a sort of head-to-toe slather on sunscreen but I like to put some on my nose and the area where the sun really hits." She applies a small amount a bit like a highlighter as many editorial outlets have noted, before moving on to her next skincare item (applied over the sunscreen, which isn't going to maximise protection in any way).
It's not the first time we've seen celebrities with bizarre and wacky skincare routines that would make a medical professional cringe - I've seen people rubbing cherries on their face, using multiple chemical exfoliants morning and night, extreme temperatures whether it's steaming hot towels or ice baths. What aligns all of these celebrities is that often any beauty "sin" is balanced by regular and $$$ visits to a dermatologist, facialist etc. More often than not, they will get professional treatments on a consistent basis, whether it's injectables, oral antibiotics or Accutane, light therapy, laser procedures, needling - and they won't often mention this in this kind of video.
Here's the thing - Gwyneth LOOKS LIKE she gets sun. Now as someone who has always been acutely aware of the dangers of sun exposure and skin cancer (having had a close family member experiencing a late-stage melanoma), it's NOT good to replicate her routine, but she also doesn't suggest you do (I didn't in the video ever hear her say "Don't wear any more sunscreen than this!") - she's simply sharing what she does, and clearly her skin has some pigmentation, colour, wrinkles and freckles - she's not Dita Von Teese in terms of looking absolutely sunless. In other words, she seems like she walks the talk.
Do celebrities influence people to purchase products and try to emulate their routines, even indirectly? Yes. Will this ever stop? Likely, no. At the core of this issue is the idea of assuming that what works (not that I'm suggesting that a drop of sunscreen will work for ANYONE) for a celebrity will work for you, and that they must be a role model in every step of their daily lives.
Celebrity beauty routines are almost always extensive, expensive and not achievable for the average person and most importantly, they are not necessary. Any dermatologist will tell you that a simple cleanser, sunscreen and moisturiser is all you really NEED to care for your skin, adding in perhaps a prescribed active to combat acne or signs of ageing, but with someone who is as historically eccentric about their self-care as Gwyneth Paltrow is, what is so unexpected and shocking about her having a silly approach to sun protection?
Naturally, dermatologists who are looking to dispel the myths around sun protection and encourage people of all ages to properly protect their skin will be frustrated by a major celebrity not being informed about how much sunscreen you need to really stay protected, but if we can take anything away from this video, it's that we shouldn't let celebrities impact our personal routines or assume that what we see on these "behind the scenes" videos really is the whole story.