Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle brand, Goop, has earned a certain reputation since its launch a decade ago, due in part to its approach to wellness that endorses things like jade eggs meant to be put in your vagina for no good reason — to name just one completely WTF (and unsupported-by-scientific-evidence) item available for purchase. But the questionable health advice and "potentially dangerous" claims didn't deter wellness obsessives from flocking to the opening of Goop's first UK pop-up store 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 (Goop sells over 30 different kinds of those, FYI) and I think "detoxes" and "cleanses" are outright bullshit. But skin care? I'm all over that. So when I was invited to experience a signature Goop facial with skin expert Anastasia Achilleos, using only products from the brand (which was formulated in collaboration with Juice Beauty), I was intrigued. I went in skeptical, but I'm now prepared to eat my words: Not only was the experience free of pseudoscience and annoying woo-woo vibes, but it also gave me the glowiest skin of my life — in just 30 minutes.
Of course, in true Goop form, all the skin-care products are natural and organic — but don't roll your eyes just yet. Achilleos has been working with the brand for years now, and pinpoints the so-called Meristem plant stem-cell technology as the secret sauce that fights hyperpigmentation, firms up sagging skin, and more. But the way you use the products is almost as important as the quality of them, and Achilleos was more than up to the task of transforming my skin.
I usually just use micellar water to wipe away my heavy makeup, but Achilleos reached for the Luminous Melting Cleanser. "It's almost like a moisturizer," she said of the balm, explaining to me that we really need to stop rushing so much when it comes to applying skin care. She used the pressure of her palms to massage away my makeup in sweeping, circular motions for almost five full minutes. "[The cleanser is] a 70% solid base, made from aloe and almond and olive oils — it's almost like a skin food," Achilleos said. "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 [for a deeper cleanse]." Despite the $90 price tag, I can't deny how luxurious it felt on my skin — rich, silky, and a little bit 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 skin tends to be very acne-prone, and lately, I've been getting lots of closed comedones — those tiny, colorless bumps under the skin that inevitably turn into big red ones. But I'm thrilled 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 Exfoliating Instant Facial on top of it so you can really massage it in," Achilleos said. The mask, she told me, contains five alpha-hydroxy acids along with salicylic acid, both of which slough away dead cells to uncover clearer skin, unclog pores, and reduce inflammation.
Most importantly, contrary to Goop's sometimes... alternative philosophy, these derm-approved ingredients are actually proven to work. Achilleos recommends leaving it on for three minutes before rinsing; because it's so potent, a little goes a really long way. A good exfoliating mask can be pricey, so in my opinion, $42 for the smaller 0.5 fl. oz. version isn't bad at all. I'm sold on the effects, and it's since become a staple in my skin-care routine.
Before rinsing both products off, Achilleos drove home the importance of a facial massage, and its potential for 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, then outwards to the cheekbones or up to the temples," she said. "This give you both a lifting effect around the cheekbones and a release from sinus congestion that gathers there. 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 initiate the innate way of igniting change in the body with your hands."
But it's the next step that impressed me the most. Using her forefinger and middle finger, Achilleos 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," she explained. 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," Achilleos said. "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 skin-care 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 usually hate to head outside without a bit of concealer on at the very least, but I skipped makeup all day after this step.
Adding oil to an already-oily situation is always a no-no for my acne-prone skin, but the Enriching Face Oil felt light, not greasy, and made my skin radiant, not broken-out — and it smells divine, like orange blossom and verbena. Yes, it's expensive at $110 for a .95 fl. oz. bottle, but one or two drops is plenty for each application. Achilleos again 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 skin care in this way," she told me. "Swap the quick approach of slapping on moisturizer for something that’s just a tiny bit longer but a hell of a lot more beneficial."
And if you really don't want to use an oil, it works with moisturizer, too. "Take all your pots of cream, put them to the side of your bed and lie down — this is the optimum position in which to best apply skin care," Achilleos said. "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."
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. This story was originally published on Refinery29 UK.