Gwyneth Paltrow, Hollywood megastar and wellness maven, is known for approaching life in her own unique way. Fittingly, when she hosted a party at her house, it was a “no makeup” shindig for her celebrity friends and influencers, sponsored by her personal brand Goop. And you won’t believe some of the famous women who attended and shared their fresh faces with the world on social media the following day.
Paltrow’s public persona is perhaps divisive and, these days, indelibly linked to her status as one of the biggest names in the “wellness” industry. She still acts on occasion, but focuses far more of her attention on Goop, the brand she began as a newsletter in 2008. An insightful 2020 profile from Town & Country magazine nailed the world’s contradictory view of Paltrow.
Journalist Marisa Meltzer wrote, “Gwyneth Paltrow is someone people make fun of: she’s too out-there, too privileged, a modern Marie Antoinette. But look closer and what you’ll find is a pioneer. Paltrow has spent more than a decade building one of the wellness industry’s most recognizable brands and driving home the idea to her millions of admirers (and, yes, a few trolls) that wellness is the new wealth.”
The trolls have no effect on Paltrow, though – or at least, that’s how she told it to magazine Town & Country. She said, “It doesn’t mean anything to me, because it’s not about me. It’s about what I represent, and that’s about you.” She just wants Goop’s followers “to live their lives exactly the way they want to live them, to be empowered to have difficult conversations and to be direct.”
Paltrow first rose to fame in the ’90s when she starred in a series of hit films such as Se7en, Sliding Doors and Shakespeare In Love; her performance in the last of these won her a Best Actress Academy Award. Roles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums and Shallow Hal followed. By the early 2000s, she was one of the premier leading ladies in Hollywood.
In particular 2002 proved a significant year for Paltrow. Her father Bruce died from throat cancer and, only three weeks later, she met Coldplay singer Chris Martin, who she would go on to marry by the end of 2003. Their first child, Apple, was born in 2004 and their second, Moses, followed in 2006.
After Apple’s birth, Paltrow didn’t work for a while. She then began to transition her career into the realm of supporting roles, as opposed to the leading lady parts she once took. It was in 2008 – the same year she starred as Pepper Potts in Iron Man – that she started Goop, and it has since grown into a company with 250 employees and $82 million in funding.
Interestingly, it was her father’s cancer diagnosis that first prompted Paltrow to look into wellness. She told Town & Country, “His treatment was so brutal, I was thinking, almost out of desperation, that we had to be able to do something else to help him. That’s when I started to research food and nutrition.”
At the core of things, Paltrow believes Goop is her way of helping people. She revealed, “I really believe that being alive is just a process of…figuring out how you can impact the world positively. You can choose to engage in life and participate in it, or you can back out and criticize everybody else in your arena.”
Speaking of criticism, Goop’s journey to the top hasn’t been without its fair share of controversies. In 2018 the company was forced to pay $145,000 in civil penalties due to alleged misinformation given about the benefits of its jade vaginal eggs. These days, though, Paltrow says any such kinks have been worked out.
Paltrow told The New York Times newspaper, “In the beginning, when we were selling third-party products, we would restate claims that they made on their website that turned out not to have any basis behind them. Those are mistakes that we made early on that we don’t make anymore.” Product mistakes aside, a different controversy then arose when the company signed a deal with Netflix.
In January 2020 The Goop Lab documentary series was released on the streaming platform. It followed Paltrow as she and her company explored some fringe ideas, including energy-healing and cold therapy. Newspaper The Guardian called the series “a dangerous win for pseudoscience.” But Paltrow and Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos were undeterred; the content provider simply put a disclaimer before each episode stating the series was “designed to entertain and inform – not provide medical advice.”
Sarandos told Town & Country, “Gwyneth could have a much simpler life not being a CEO. She is an unbelievable actress with a great career who could coast along. But she really runs that company day-to-day. Often, when you work with a celebrity of her caliber, you sort of tiptoe around how to present to her, but Gwyneth isn’t precious about herself or the brand.”
On top of championing wellness, Paltrow first publicly put her weight behind the no-makeup movement in 2016. On her birthday, she posted a selfie to Instagram with the caption, “#nomakeup for my 44th birthday, embracing my past and future. Thank you for the instalove #goopgoesmakeupfree.” The following day she provided Allure magazine with a more thorough statement.
The statement read, “One of the most interesting things about being a woman is that around the time you turn 40, you get what I like to call a software upgrade. The future suddenly has a scarcity to it, and the past is all over your face.” This contemplation of her age, and its implications, led Paltrow to the no-makeup movement.
“I have been very inspired by the #nomakeup movement as the message behind it says, here I am, this is me,” continued Paltrow’s statement. “This is what I look like, this is where I am in time, and I embrace it.” Over the next several years, Paltrow’s Instagram feed became a ready source of makeup-free self-portraits.
Keen to clarify that her stance wasn’t simply for Instagram likes, though, Paltrow explained her beliefs further during an appearance on the Beauty Closet podcast. She claimed that her daily makeup routine was “dispassionate” and that she didn’t use any to go to work at Goop. She also claimed to not wear makeup for the benefit of her husband Brad Falchuk.
The podcast host asked, “Do you get glamorous for a date night out? Like, you’re no makeup during the day at work…”. Paltrow jokingly replied, “Sadly, for my husband, no.” She then added, “Really the only time I do it is if I have to go be ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’ on a red carpet or something like that, and I have my hair and makeup done.”
Luckily for Paltrow, she said Falchuk wasn’t really a fan of the heavily made-up look sported by many women today. He preferred her looking as natural as possible. She happily revealed, “He loves it when my hair is frizzy, and I have freckles and no makeup. He just likes me super, super-natural.”
This as-nature-intended look was spotlighted on February 19, 2020 when Paltrow hosted a unique event at her home: a “no-makeup” party. Wearing a pale Oscar de la Renta dress, she had dinner with her guests at an outdoor table which was festooned with ornate hanging lights. The ladies ate a winter salad, followed by salmon steaks and chicken, along with fries made from sweet potato and a serving of kale. Miniature citrus-flavored cakes were on the menu for dessert.
The Goop website published an article entitled “What really happened at GP’s no-makeup dinner party.” It revealed that Paltrow had written, “No concealer. No mascara. No blush. Just you, in all your natural glory,” on the invitation. Much to Paltrow’s joy, nearly everyone who attended the party did as she asked.
Addressing her guests with a peach-and-orange-blossom spritz in hand, Paltrow reportedly said, “I felt a little shy about showing the bags under my eyes tonight, but you all look beautiful.” This wasn’t just a throwaway comment: all the guests had been supplied with a GOOPGLOW skincare starter kit along with their invite.
Paltrow revealed that, ultimately, she isn’t anti-makeup, as a rule. She said, “I have nothing against makeup, though.” Rather, her belief is that taking better care of their skin would mean women wouldn’t have to rely on makeup as much. She said, “I do think with great skin care, you can wear a lot less of it if you want to.”
Co-president of Los Angeles-based charity Baby2Baby Kelly Sawyer felt similar hesitation to Paltrow before the event. She revealed, “Walking into dinner was definitely nerve-racking, but seeing so many similarly barefaced friends supporting one another made me feel more comfortable. Plus, I had a lot of glow luminizer on my face.”
Sawyer added, “I also drank lots of green juice and lemon water and used my GOOPGLOW scrub to get me in makeup-free shape.” Another guest, model TyLynn Nguyen, was also happy to attend the dinner. She said, “I’m usually barefaced, so I felt right at home. It was nice to have that on the invitation. There was no pressure to glam.”
As the aperitifs transitioned into dinner, Paltrow and Alexandra Grant held an open conversation for everyone to hear. Grant, a Los Angeles artist who had stepped out in public for the first time with her boyfriend Keanu Reeves only a few months previously, was an unofficial honored guest at the dinner. Their conversation interrogated the concept of beauty.
“I was thinking about this idea of, ‘What is beauty to me?’” began Grant. “And it’s something that you can see with your eyes closed. Honestly, it’s being around another woman. For me, anything that is inherently competitive, especially with another woman, it can’t be beauty.” She then delved into how women deal with that competition.
“Because we have to be around each other in a sense where there isn’t a scarcity model of competition,” explained Grant. “How is that processed? I think we’re seeing it on so many levels. It’s people going to therapy. It’s people identifying as witches, which is a phenomenon. Let’s not go down that portal.”
But despite her apparent reluctance to continue that train of thought, Paltrow encouraged Grant to explore that aspect further, reportedly interjecting, “Let’s do it.” Grant replied, “It’s like, why are so many people trying to find a way into talking about, ‘How can I be fully present in the now? How can I be enough in my body and how can I hold that space if I have more than another person, or another person to stand by my side as an equal, no matter what their background is?’”
Grant continued, “Ultimately, I think it’s love. And it’s truly loving yourself. It’s loving the people in your community. And it’s learning how to love people who are truly different than who you are. And it’s that third thing that becomes the most important. That tripod of love will fall unless you have all three legs. And I firmly, firmly believe in that.”
“Some people are so good at helping others, and they don’t take care of themselves,” concluded Grant. “And the love falls over because they’re sick all the time or they haven’t learned how to take care of themselves.” Paltrow agreed, before adding, “It’s knowing with your whole heart that you’re beautiful just the way you came.”
After this, the guests ate and discussed a variety of topics including feminism and modern culture’s perception of beauty. The negative media coverage of Grant’s natural grey hair, and aging in general, were also hot-button topics. Grant asked, “How do we examine ourselves first to make sure we’re not carrying the patriarchy virus?”
The next morning, Paltrow took to Instagram to tell the world about her party. She posted a photograph of her smiling face in between Grant and actress Demi Moore, without an ounce of makeup between the three of them. The hashtags #nomakeup and #goopglow were also included, below a thoughtful caption.
Paltrow wrote, “About last night…had the immense pleasure of interviewing Alexandra Grant, one of the most brilliant, expansive, talented thinkers I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with. A beautiful gathering in celebration of beauty just the way we come.” Referencing Moore, she jokingly added, “The one on my left ain’t so bad either.”
A longer post was then made, with a series of photos highlighting some of the other guests at the party, including D.J. Samantha Ronson, fashion designer Rachel Zoe and interior decor guru Brigette Romanek. Paltrow captioned this post, “No makeup, no filter. An amazing gathering of some of the best women on planet earth #goopglow.”
Unfortunately, some fans took issue with Zoe, who looked like she may have been wearing mascara and lip gloss. The designer later confessed on Instagram that she did have a small amount of cosmetics on. She wrote, “Okay, so for those who know me…you know that I never leave the house without at least my five-minute #makeup face on.”
Zoe continued, “Well, last night our favorite natural beauty Gwyneth Paltrow held an intimate, very empowering girls’ dinner, asking us to come totally makeup-free. I felt totally naked and insecure and then GP took this selfie. And here I am fully exposed. Thank you for encouraging confidence in being our most natural selves at every age.”
Moore, who attended the event with her 31-year-old actress daughter Rumer Willis, also took to Instagram to tell the world about it. She wrote, “What an incredible night makeup-free with these extraordinary women. I feel so nourished and full of joy.” She then addressed Paltrow and Grant with, “Thank you both for sharing your light, love and wisdom.”
“Beauty is more than what you see, it is what you feel,” continued Moore. “So grateful to be included in such a powerful, memorable and meaningful evening! #goopglow.” Finally, guest of honor Grant also made an Instagram post about the evening, which included thanking Moore and Willis for asking engaging questions following her conversation with Paltrow.
Grant wrote, “Last night I had the joy of speaking with Gwyneth Paltrow in front of an extraordinary group of women about being creative, the importance of mentorship and collaboration, building positive identities for a more equal world, and of course: love! Thank you, GP, for your thoughtful questions, for seeing and listening to me as your interlocutor, and for creating such a safe space for connection and vulnerability.” She finished with the hashtag #thesebeautifulhumans.