Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop has received a bad rap since its launch 10 years ago (think jade eggs meant to sit inside your vagina for whatever reason, to name just one completely WTF item on sale). But the strange objects (and some very questionable claims) didn't deter wellness obsessives from flocking to the brand's UK flagship store opening in London's Notting Hill in September.
Despite the buzz, I wasn't one of them. I don't really believe in taking dietary supplements (FYI, Goop sells over 30 different kinds of those) and I think 'detoxes' and 'cleanses' are bullshit. But skincare? I'm all over that. You'd be forgiven for not knowing much about Goop's own-brand line – Juice Beauty – which consists of cleansers, moisturisers, exfoliators and oils, because the whole wellness vibe seems to overshadow everything. So when invited to the store to experience a signature Goop facial with skin expert Anastasia Achilleos, I was intrigued. In all honesty, I had an inkling it'd be a bit woo-woo but I'll eat my words, because it wasn't dubious, annoying or typically Goop-y. In fact, the facial gave me the glowiest skin of my life – and it only took 30 minutes.
Of course, in true Goop style, all the skincare products are natural and organic – but don't roll your eyes just yet. Anastasia has been working with the brand for yonks and pinpoints the meristem technology (essentially plant stem cells, found in all the products) as the main component which helps fight pigmentation, firm up slack skin and more. But it doesn't matter how good the skincare is – it's how you use it that makes the most difference. Here's how Anastasia transformed my skin.
I usually use micellar water to eradicate my heavy makeup but Anastasia employed the Luminous Melting Cleanser. "It's almost like a moisturiser," Anastasia said, before telling me that we really need to stop rushing so much when it comes to applying skincare. For almost five minutes, she used the pressure of her palms to massage away my makeup in sweeping, circular motions. "It's a 70% solid base, made from aloe, almond and olive oils – it's almost like a skin food. You need the tiniest amount to take all of your makeup off, including mascara, and you can even leave it on for hours before you take it off." Despite the £80 price tag, I can't deny how luxurious it felt on my skin – ever so slightly textured and warming. It definitely does the job better than micellar water or wipes, and because it doubles up as a mask, the glow it gives is impressive.
My complexion is very acne-prone and lately, I've been getting lots of closed comedones – those tiny colourless bumps under the skin that inevitably turn into blinders. But I'm chuffed with how a once-over with the next product made my complexion a hell of a lot softer, smoother and brighter. "Instead of taking off the cleansing balm, apply the Instant Facial on top of it so you can really massage it in," advised Anastasia. "It consists of five alpha hydroxy acids, as well as BHA, salicylic acid," she added, which both slough away dead cells to uncover clearer skin, unclog pores and reduce inflammation. Contrary to Goop's alternative philosophy, these derm-approved ingredients are really proven to work. "Leave this on for three minutes before taking it off," continued Anastasia. "It’s a strength of 10% and you can use it up to three times a week. I wouldn’t recommend putting it on neat, though, and if you’re buying the smaller version, don’t use it in one go – it’s a waste and it might be too much for your skin." In my opinion, £38 for the 0.5 fl.oz version isn't bad at all, considering a good exfoliating mask can be pricey. I'm sold on the effects of this and it's now a solid in my skincare routine.
Before rinsing both products off, Anastasia hit home the importance of a facial massage and its transformative powers. "Take your forefinger, middle finger and thumb – like a crab pincer, then press these to the skin and sweep down the nose bone and then outwards to the cheekbones or up to the temples," Anastasia said. "This is where your sinus collects every day. To go over this area would give you both a lifting effect around the cheekbones and a release from sinus congestion. Do 10 of these, then, keeping your fingers in the same hold, do 10 circles all around the eye and over the brow. We’re not always going to have equipment at home but you can ignite the innate way of igniting change in the body with your hands." But it's the next step which impressed me the most. Using her forefinger and middle finger, Anastasia continued to press the skin firmly above my top lip 10 times, releasing for a few seconds in between. "By pressing the gums like this, you're pushing the blood to the surface and releasing tight, pursed lips, so they naturally inflate," said Anastasia. The visible results speak for themselves.
By splashing product off with water, you're cheating yourself out of a proper facial experience – trust me. "I’ve been using warm, damp cloths in facials for 25 years," said Anastasia. "Firstly, because it feels so great, but also because of the heat, the blood supply comes to the surface and makes skin flush and glow naturally." She continued: "There's an ingredient in the blood that most skincare brands wish they could formulate their creams with effectively – oxygen. It’s so challenging to create inside products but every time you stimulate your skin like this, it’s there. Plus, the use of the warm cloth helps attach dead skin cells so it gives you great exfoliation. Just place the towel over your face and press. When you take it away, you’ll see what glowing, flushing skin looks like and you can really see a lift. The blood also disperses which will provide you with a more even skin tone." I hate to head outside without a bit of concealer on at least, but I skipped makeup all day after this step.
I have incredibly acne-prone skin, so adding oil to an already oily situation is always a no-no, but the Enriching Facial Oil, £98, felt light, not greasy, and made my skin radiant, not spotty. Yes, it's expensive, although one to two drops is ample and it smells divine (like orange blossom and verbena), adding to the aromatherapy experience. Anastasia enlisted the same massage technique as she did in step one – using her fingertips and the pressure in her palms. "Don’t find the time to apply your skincare in this way," Anastasia told me. "Swap the quick approach of slapping on moisturiser for something that’s just a tiny bit longer but a hell of a lot more beneficial." And if you don't want to use an oil, it works with moisturiser, too. "Take all your pots of creams, put them to the side of your bed and lie down – this is the optimum position in which to really apply skincare," added Anastasia. "You’ll think it’s the biggest revelation. There is power in touch. Don't add it in as a luxury – change the technique, instead."