Gwyneth Paltrow's Sunscreen Info Is (Dangerous) Woo-Woo Nonsense

by Katie Cloyd
Julia Meslener for Scary Mommy, Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty and Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

In case you missed it, “Gwyneth Paltrow’s Guide to Everyday Skin Care and Wellness” is available on Vogue’s website. I get that it’s Vogue, and the whole point is luxury or whatever, but the whole thing is hilariously expensive and out of touch. I was truly amused in the first half. You want skin like Gwyn? Just wake up, make a nut milk smoothie, meditate with your partner, dry brush your skin (always toward your heart) then use a $125.00 exfoliating scrub, a $185 serum, $75 “hydrating eye pads,” a $200 vibrating face massager thingy, and a $48 “glow lotion.” Oh! And an $18 moisturizer because celebrities! They’re just like us!

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge the woman her seven-zillion-dollars-worth of skincare products. If I was her kind of wealthy, I would probably spend $185 on a face oil that promises me new skin in 3 weeks, too. Who doesn’t want their face to look as unspoiled as a newborn baby’s?

But when Ms. Paltrow started discussing her sunscreen routine, things went sideways.

While applying a poppy seed sized amount of a mineral sunscreen that she deemed “clean” to the bridge of her nose and across her cheeks, she started spitting out this mouthful of woo:

“You know, there are a lot of really harsh chemicals in conventional sunscreen. So that’s a product that I really want to avoid, that isn’t certified by the EWG, and which is a great website, by the way, if you ever wanna understand how clean a product is, you can go check that out on their website, Skin Deep. And I’m not, you know, I’m not a sort of head-to-toe slatherer of sunscreen, but I like to put some kind of on my nose and the area where the sun really hits.”

Blythe Danner, come collect your child. Gwyneth Kate is talking some bullshit again. In her morning routine video, she lovingly mentions that you passed on a “less is more” approach to her when it comes to wearing makeup. Could you possibly attempt to convince your offspring to adopt that same less-is-more attitude to spouting dangerous, privileged, anti-science nonsense?

In case you don’t know, the EWG is the Environmental Working Group.

They’re an activist group that is, like, obsessed with GMOs and “toxic chemicals.” They even dabbled in anti-vaccine waters in 2004. You might have heard of their “Dirty Dozen,” a list they publish yearly of the top 12 fruits and vegetables they think you should avoid because of pesticides. (Beware of those poison apples, y’all.) You might also have seen their yearly roundup of safe and unsafe sunscreens, in which they claim that the vast majority of sunscreen products are either ineffective or dangerous, then encourage people to buy expensive organic mineral sunscreens so they don’t…I don’t know. Get cancer or something, I think?

If you know even a little bit about science, you know that pretty much everything is a chemical. Even water is a chemical. You also know that “the dose makes the poison,” and many, many, many things are safe in tiny doses and the right combinations, but toxic or lethal in giant doses. (Pure sodium, for example, explodes when it hits the water. Sodium chloride makes your food taste good.)

But ya know. Real, science-backed education is not really the EWG’s jam. They’re constantly being called out by actual scientists who basically use a bunch of science words to say, “Um, we read the EWG’s report, and all we can say is….really, really not. Definitely wear sunscreen. It’s safe and effective. Oh, and eat apples. They’re fine.”

Unfortunately, lots of people — including Goopy Gwynnie — get totally sucked in by the EWG’s sciencey-sounding findings. They buy into their ideas about food, skincare products, cosmetics, household cleaners, and even the water supply.

I mean, am I surprised that Gwyneth Paltrow, the woman who brought us Goop in all its…goopiness…is saying some whacked out shit about sunscreen?

Clearly not.

But am I annoyed that yet again, some uber-privileged celebrity is sharing information about her own personal routine that could mean life or death to us common peasants if we follow her lead?


Although Gwyneth Paltrow thinks sunscreen is like, super poisonous and totally icky, here in the real world where the rest of us commoners live, sunscreen is an essential part of skin cancer prevention.

You can’t turn around in my dermatologist’s office without finding a tasteful, sleek reminder to use sunscreen. He has about one zillion bottles laying around too.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, we should all be applying SPF 30 or greater to all of our exposed skin every time we are going to be outdoors. (Kids, too!) Sunscreen should be part of your face routine every single day. The AAD says the best sunscreen is whatever sunscreen you’re likely to use properly, so grab a cream, lotion, spray or stick, and use it every single morning.

And you know what? Expensive mineral sunscreen is fine. Sunscreen is regulated like an OTC drug. If it’s on the shelf, it’s been tested, and it works. If you have the means to invest in one of the few dozen products that the EWG endorses and you want to do that, have at it.

But don’t let a golden-haired Hollywood beauty like Gwyneth Paltrow dazzle you into believing that you need to spend big money and listen to some self-proclaimed “experts” at the EWG to keep your family safe from harmful UV rays. And definitely do not apply your sunscreen sparingly. You definitely want to be a “head to toe slatherer,” and you want to listen to actual experts who agree that using it every day is best practice against sun damage, sunburns, and skin cancer.