Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop has been awarded the inaugural honor for promoting the worst “pseudoscience” this week by a UK magazine that says the health and wellness products offered by the actress’s company simply don’t work as advertised.
The Skeptic awarded Paltrow’s Goop its first-ever “Rusty Razor” award, for its long history of what the magazine says is its dubious health claims.
“We were surprised at quite how many public vote nominations GOOP received for the ‘Rusty Razor’ award for pseudoscience – it’s certainly a popular win,” Skeptic editor Deborah Hyde told Gizmodo this week. “When there are so many issues affecting public health today – the rise of measles and whooping cough due to reduced rates of vaccination, for instance – it’s a shame that many people prefer to contemplate their yonis than engage with evidence-based reality.”
The magazine reached out to congratulate the brand on Twitter this week.
Congrats to @goop for winning our Rusty Razor award of 2017.
— The Skeptic Magazine (@TheSkepticMag) October 14, 2017
Paltrow’s Goop has long come under fire for numerous products it claims can help alleviate or cure nearly every health issue a woman might face, from infertility and low sex drive to vaginal weakness and “energy” imbalance.
The company — which the actress launched as a newsletter in 2008 and has since expanded into a full-fledged online marketplace, along with a recently-opened retail location in the posh Brentwood Country Mart in California — regularly promotes and sells products with seemingly miraculous wellness properties, including a “moon dust” smoothie ingredient that can allegedly boost libido and “psychic vampire repellent” that can supposedly help “banish bad vibes” (the latter product is currently sold out).
The company was called out publicly in August, when consumer watchdog Truth in Advertising published a list of more than four dozen Goop products it said failed to live up to their claims of medical benefits. Included on the watchdog’s list was Goop’s “Medicine Bag” product — a bag containing eight miniaturized crystals, each promising specific benefits including “grounding and protection” and the ability to put women “in a mindset to make things happen” — and a “detox seaweed bath soak,” claimed to have anti-aging abilities.
Truth in Advertising called Goop’s health claims for its products a “terribly deceptive marketing ploy” and demanded the company “stop its misleading profits-over-people marketing immediately.”
The company suffered another embarrassment in June when a former NASA scientist criticized the supposed health benefits of Goop’s “Body Vibes” stickers, a collection of $120 stickers advertised as being made from “NASA spacesuit material.” The company claimed the stickers could help “rebalance energy frequency in our bodies.”
But former NASA scientist Mark Shelhammer called the stickers “a load of BS” in an interview with Gizmodo, while the space agency itself issued a statement to People magazine calling the claims inaccurate. The company later removed the references to NASA from the product description and issued an apology.
In an August podcast interview, Paltrow defended the brand and said she wished Goop’s critics would engage directly with the company and read its material thoroughly before criticizing.
“We’re very clear on what we’re doing. We stand behind everything we do,” Paltrow said. “But unfortunately, people who are critical of us sometimes get attention for being critical of us. It gives people a platform.”
Goop has also repeatedly been ridiculed in the past for other wellness items, including jade eggs meant to be inserted into the vagina, and for encouraging women to “steam clean” their genitals.
The company has also been criticized for its annual holiday gift guides, which have in the past featured exorbitantly expensive items like $55,000 headphones and a $46,000 Hermes mahjong set. Critics claim the gifts are far out of reach financially for the “common” women with which Paltrow claims to identify.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum