When I meet Gwyneth Paltrow, on a charming outdoor patio at the Goop offices in Santa Monica, she has just turned 51. She looks her age, refreshingly, in a super-hydrated way. She has a few fine lines. The sides of her eyes crinkle when she smiles, which she does often. She doesn’t appear to be… filled. Her hair, that signature blond, shines in the California sun, beating down on us and causing me to sweat through my ill-advised silk shirt. Paltrow doesn’t seem to be sweating. How is that possible?
Paltrow’s wearing a white blouse, a navy pleat-front skirt from her G. Label by Goop line ($495), and white Santoni sandals. I know this because she posts the look on Instagram a couple weeks later with the caption “September OOTD’s.” There she is in a G. Label pink bow blouse ($425), straight-leg jeans, and Celine heels. Then a fitted gray G. Label button down ($395), gray slacks, and Le Monde Beryl Mary Janes ($491). Finally, a sexy G. Label racerback bodysuit ($145) and high-waisted white pants ($495). I want it all. While scrolling through, I even add some of the items to my Goop cart, but then remember that winter is nearing, and what the heck do I need high-waisted white pants for anyway? But at another moment, I might have pressed checkout, used ApplePay to ship a little bit of Gwyneth Paltrow to my small, decidedly un-Gwyneth Paltrow-esque New York City apartment. That, in a nutshell, is her genius, and what she’s built her 15-year-old company on.
We’re here to chat about Goop’s newest beauty venture, good.clean.goop, which launches October 22 exclusively at Target and on Amazon. It’s a line of skin care products and wellness supplements priced below $40, such as a $19.99 glycolic acid toner and a $24.99 vitamin C eye serum. Paltrow says she wanted to bring Goop Beauty, a premium skin care brand that includes $58 eye cream and $125 serums, to a wider audience. “Good.clean.goop is for a person who understands about the dangers that are in conventional products, somebody who is wellness-focused. I think from a values perspective and a lifestyle perspective, they’re probably similar [to someone who might buy Goop Beauty]. It’s just that the line is more affordable.”
“Goop” and “more affordable” might seem at odds, but for those who’d like to cry BS, who’d like to unearth gotcha quotes in which Paltrow talks about how Goop can’t be made mass market, here’s a newsflash: Businesses change. They have to, in order to survive and grow. People also change. They get older; they divorce; they get wrinkles; their kids leave home; they remarry; they remake themselves, over and over. And Paltrow makes reinvention look easy. I don’t have to list her bio here; we all know her bio. This is who she is now, at half a century. Who she’ll be when she’s 60 or 70 or 80 is anyone’s guess.
I feel like I’m Oprah and I’m interviewing Meghan Markle in the glorious California sun. There should be a camera here, and I’m like, “Tell me about Harry.”
Do you know I’m the only person in America that did not see that interview?
Well, I didn’t watch it at the time, and now I can’t… I don’t know where to find it. I’m so out of it culturally. It’s really embarrassing.
I don’t believe that.
Oh, my God, you have no idea. I was sitting with a friend yesterday, and she was like, “Did you see something, something… about…” I was like, “What?” She goes, “What is wrong with you?” It was like three big things in a row, and I was like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
But you’re on social media, though?
I’m on social media, but I’m really only on Instagram. The things that I follow, that come up for me, are lots of food and, you know, cool functional psychologists and psychiatrists. I end up muting a lot of things. I don’t know, I find it hard. I wish I could not be on it, but at the same time, you do want to have a sense of what’s going on. Then, of course, I need it for work, and they always make me do these stupid things on it all the time.
The idea of being on camera and talking to nobody makes me so uncomfortable.
Me, too. Me, too.
You seem pretty good at it, though.
I’m deeply uncomfortable, but I do my best.
You always come up on my feed, by the way.
Yes! Whenever I’m scrolling… There’s Gwyneth Paltrow! I always stop and watch.
It’s not totally fruitless then, my efforts of self-humiliation.
Let’s talk skin care. Goop Beauty has been out for seven years now. What was the impetus behind “OK, we need to do this next thing”?
Are we talking about Good Clean Goop?
I get so confused. So this line is actually something that we ideated really early. Maybe 10 years ago, we were like, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if we could do a line that would show up in Target?” We liked the idea of democratizing clean skin care. […] Then we had a couple false starts, especially during COVID, where it was like, “We’ve got to get really lean and tight and just focus on what we’re doing.” And then it came off the back burner again. I love the products. They’re really good, and they’re really clean.
Is it more difficult to make clean skin care at a lower price point? Aren’t the ingredients expensive?
Yes. What happens is that you use a lower amount of actives and botanicals and stuff like that. It’s all about “At what concentration will this still be efficacious but affordable?” In certain cases, you’re balancing, like, “It would be so nice to also have this in there, but it’s going to make the cost of goods too high.”
How did you settle on Target and Amazon as the two retailers?
We actually started the conversations with Target years and years ago. I really like Target. I think it’s a great brand. I’ve been spending a lot of more time in Target lately, just looking at the breadth of what’s available. They have cool spins on things, and they seem to care about aesthetics. Then Amazon, the consumer is there, and so you want to make it easy.
All that said, what’s a good headline for this story? I couldn’t really come up with one except for Gwyneth Goes Mass. How are you thinking about this as a moment for you and your company?
I am thinking about just being able to reach more people. I’m so passionate about what we do and being able to offer product that isn’t going to f*ck up someone’s endocrine system. So I can understand that idea, but I don’t think of it as us going mass. I just think of it as us being able to offer something that can be more broadly consumed, which I guess is kind of…
…the same thing as going mass?
I just didn’t approach it like that, like “Let’s go mass.”
What does the word “clean” mean to you?
I think it means something different to everybody, and I think there’s “clean” by a lot of different standards. I really trust our product development department here. We have amazing scientists. We ban thousands of ingredients from both what we make and what we sell on the site from a multi-brand perspective. Because it’s not broadly regulated, we’ve come up with our own internal dos and don’ts.
There’s also been backlash to the word “clean,” in that sometimes it can feel exclusionary.
Like clean meaning pure and without imperfection. I think some women have taken issue with this idea that everything needs to be perfect and clean.
Well, for us, it means nontoxic. Though clean has become a sort of umbrella term for a lot of this stuff. I think it’s a really nice word. My life is super messy, so the idea that you can strive for cleaning it all up feels refreshing in a way.
How is your life so messy?
I’m in a phase where I feel like things are just extra, extra messy because I have so much to do. My son and stepson are both seniors in high school, and sometimes I feel like the college process is a full-time job in and of itself. So I’m trying to keep the domestic stuff on track, and we have a lot going on at the company… So I’m just f*cking up. I’ve burned three things in the oven this weekend, just stuff like that, where you’re like, “What the f*ck?” I should say I’m trying to learn to be more tolerant with myself when I make messes, because I really don’t like it. It’s just one of those seasons. It’s like this fulcrum of life. I thought in my 50s I could downshift for some reason. I don’t really know why I thought that would happen. I was talking to my friend who’s in her 60s, and she’s like, “Oh, no. No way. You got 15 more years.” I was like, “Oh, my God.”
I am constantly in an exercise of embracing where I am and also embracing this painful thing of not being young and beautiful. Sometimes I almost think of it as a person that I’m hugging, like, ‘This is supposed to happen. This is OK.’
I’m in my 40s, and I’ve been feeling this as well, like, it’s all too much. But then I think about getting older, and maybe not being so vital or active or needed, and that’s also a scary thought.
We as women are so programmed to be busy. It’s like a badge of honor, and we’ve all bought this thing from the patriarchy hook, line, and sinker that we have to be busy and overperforming. I’d like to move into the next phase more from a place of discovery and gentleness. To let life unfold, as opposed to “I’m not doing enough.” Because now, if I fully take a weekend off, sometimes I’ll start to feel anxious, like, “Oh, my God, what should I be doing?” Even when I’m trying to relax, I’ll think, “OK, I’ll sit down with a great novel!” And it’s like, Jesus, can you not just sit down and daydream?
I do think that the younger generations are better at not feeling that way.
I hope so. I really hope so.
How was being 50? I found turning 40 freeing in a way, in that I stopped caring so much about what people thought of me.
Fifty was great. I was concerned I was going to feel a lot of grief or fear because I remember when I turned 40, the anticipation… I really flipped out. I didn’t have that at all at 50. I was like, “I love my friends. I love my husband. I love my kids. Yeah, my job is hard. But this is good.” To your point, it’s like: I don’t give a f*ck what anyone says about me, thinks about me, this is who I am. I felt like 50 was a deepening into myself. And, apparently, that just keeps getting better.
Until you’re 75.
And then everything starts to hurt.
Maybe you can be the person who teaches us all how to head into our 70s and 80s with grace.
I’ll probably try, knowing myself. Or I might be like, “F*ck this.” I might just disappear, and no one will ever see me again.
Have your thoughts about skin and skin care changed over the past 10 years?
Yeah. I think that’s also why turning 40 was so jarring, because that’s when I started to notice crow’s feet and this and that. It’s so interesting to me how until you have that, you somehow think you’re never going to have that. You think you’re going to be impervious, and it seems like this whole thing that other people are needlessly worrying about. Then you’re like, “Oh, my God, my face.” So it’s double-pronged for me. I am constantly in an exercise of embracing where I am and also embracing this painful thing of not being young and beautiful. Sometimes I almost think of it as a person that I’m hugging, like, “This is supposed to happen. This is OK.”
Do you compare yourself to other women your age? Or any age?
I never do that. I made a pact with myself never to measure myself against any other woman. I’m never going to be able to look like X, Y, and Z, especially as I become 50, 55, 60. So it’s like: how do I feel? How am I holding myself? Do I like myself? What is my anxiety level? Am I strong? Yeah, I’m bummed that my stomach is… I had two babies and now, for some reason, at 51, it’s like all the elasticity’s going. But if I look at a 28-year-old model on Instagram and think my stomach’s supposed to look like that, I’ll just go into a depression. So I’ve really tried to divorce myself from that comparison.
That is why women are always looking at you on social media. You’re an actual example of a person who looks the right way. Like, human.
Thank you. I don’t do a ton of stuff, and I don’t put all those crazy filters on my pictures. I just posted on Instagram this morning. I had our red lip balm in the car, and I forgot I was supposed to post it to Amazon, so I did it to our own feed. But I was like, “Wow, you can see my pimple and my wrinkles and my bags.” I was like, “Whatever. This is how I look.” I’m not going to go put it through… What’s it called, that app?
Facetune. I’m like, “I don’t have f*cking time to do that anyway.”
I could never get attracted to the really rich guy. I’ve always done independent films. Money has never been my thing. It’s never been my driver.
Do you feel freed of the male gaze as you get older?
I love my husband so much, so that’s really shifted things for me. I probably don’t walk into a room the way I used to walk into a room because of that. I feel really lucky. He’s a great guy, and he’s my best friend.
That’s so nice.
He’s so patient and he’s so nonjudgmental and open-minded. I’m able to think through whatever. The other day, I was just like, “Am I out of integrity here because I did this to spare someone’s feelings…?” He’s just a great partner.
You’ve always been outspoken about finding what’s right for you. I listened to you recently on Alex Cooper’s podcast, and you talked about getting a divorce, and at a certain point just being like “I just have to free myself from the expectations of anyone else, and just make myself happy.”
I was very burdened by this idea that I can’t get divorced, and it’ll be a failure, and this is not the right thing for the kids and all that. It weighed very, very heavily on me.
My kids are great. They’re grounded and grateful and funny. But [Chris Martin] and I both really did not want to have them experience the divorce as a trauma. We knew that it would be hard, of course, but we didn’t want them to ever feel in the middle, or that one of us was slagging off the other one. At that time, I did a very me thing, which was when I knew I wanted to get a divorce, I did this data collection of talking to adults who had been products of a broken home. Every single one of them said “I didn’t care that my parents got divorced. That wasn’t it. But the fact that they wouldn’t speak to each other, that they couldn’t both sit at a dinner table for my birthday…” They said that was the most awful thing. You could see they held it with so much hurt and anger. I was like, “That’s what I’m never going to do.” And we really didn’t.
Apple is now 19. Is it fun to have a daughter that age?
It’s so fun to have a daughter that age, especially because she’s into clothes and skin and all that kind of stuff. She’s more girly than I am. She’s really good at doing makeup and loves to do it.
Does she teach you stuff?
I just don’t wear makeup that requires skill. I can wear lip balm, I can wear cheek color and mascara, and that’s as far as I go. It’s great because she’s plugged in to the cool stuff, and not the rubbish-y, depressing part of our culture. We were FaceTiming yesterday, and she was telling me how she uses all the Goop products. I never pushed anything, but over time she’s just migrated over to it, and so I was beaming from ear to ear. She’s such an eminently nice person, and her values are in the right place.
How’s the college process going?
Apple was very clear on where she wanted to go, and did everything in her power to make it happen and manifested it. Moses is like, “I don’t know, I like this and I like that, and let’s go back and see this, let’s go back and see that one.” He’s more relaxed about it. He’s kind of like “I’ll be happy wherever; it’s fine,” which is a great feeling.
It’s not the last life decision that you’ll ever make. It’s just one of the first.
And it generally seems to work out. What I’ve observed is that sometimes you’re like, “Oh, no, this person didn’t get into there, and it seemed like such a good fit.” But in the end, the college knows what they’re doing, and they end up, I think, taking the kids that are going to really thrive. I think they have it down to a science.
On a different note: How much do you spend on your skin care? Nothing, right? Because you get it all for free.
That’s not true. I buy everything, but I get a discount, yes.
No. You buy all your products?
I buy everything from Goop. There’s this concept in Kabbalah called Bread of Shame. It’s this idea that if you get things without earning them they eventually lose their value, and it can be very corruptive. When my friends are starting businesses, I’m like, “Don’t give your stuff away. You are creating value, imbuing value at every touchpoint all the time.” So I’ve never asked if I could get it for free. I don’t know. I could, but I like paying for it. I think it’s good. I should pay for it.
Goop just released its first foray into color cosmetics, the Colorblur Glow Balm. Are you going to expand more into the makeup category?
I think very minimally. Again, as the founder, I think a brand works when it’s very true to its DNA, and I think it would be weird if we got into contouring. So I doubt we’ll ever make a foundation, but we might make some more skin-enhancing things.
So who’s going to buy Goop and make you hundreds of millions of dollars?
I have no idea. We’re not ready to sell yet. I need a few more years.
Maybe you could make a dramatic exit on your 55th birthday.
I’d be happy with that.
Sail off into the sunset.
I will literally disappear from public life. No one will ever see me again.
You think that’s true?
You don’t get any pleasure from having to do that side of it?
No. I don’t.
What does your professional pleasure come from?
Creating, collaborating, being struck with new ideas, innovating, thinking ahead, strategy, vision, that kind of thing.
Are you motivated by money?
Unfortunately not. I could never get attracted to the really rich guy… And I don’t make choices to build value in the wrong way. I’ve always done independent films. I don’t know. Money has never been my thing. It’s never been my driver.
The Goop brand is so entwined with the Gwyneth Paltrow brand — do you worry about its survival without you?
It’s going to be really critical to share the consumer-facing responsibility with other people. I don’t know who that would be and how we would start to figure that out, but that’s going to be important. I was saying this to my son, actually, the other day, because he was like, “I have so much to do.” I said, “I so relate to you.” I said, “Today I had to go and do a photo shoot for G. Label all day, and I was the model.” Between every shot, I’m trying to run the business and fix problems and address stuff, and it’s a lot. It’s usually two completely different roles.
But people do like to see you in the clothes!
I know, I know, I know, I know. So I am. I’m the model. But if I’m constantly doing pictures into my late 50s, it starts to get very niche. I’m trying to appeal to a broad swath of women. The fact that Apple and her sorority sisters are so into Goop is so exciting to me.
Well, you always have Apple, who could be a lovely model.
Exactly! She doesn’t want anything to do with it, though. She’s a very private person, actually.
Navigating being part of your family must be quite something for a 19-year-old college student.
Now there’s this whole nepo baby culture, and judgment that exists around kids of famous people. She’s really just a student, and she’s been very… She just wants to be a kid and be at school and learn. But there’s nothing wrong with doing or wanting to do what your parents do. Nobody rips on a kid who’s like “I want to be a doctor like my dad and granddad.” The truth is if you grow up in a house with a lot of artists and people making art and music, that’s what you know, the same way that if you grow up in a house with law, the discussions around the table are about the nuances of whatever particular law the parents practice. I think it’s kind of an ugly moniker. I just hope that my children always feel free to pursue exactly what they want to do, irrespective of what anybody’s going to think or say.
You are certainly a good role model for them, then. Finally: What is your dream for Good.clean.goop?
I just hope people really like it and try it.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Cover photo: Gucci top and bra, Tiffany & Co. jewelry, Ferragamo shoes, Bottega Veneta silver jewelry (on counter), Prada gold jewelry (on counter)
Photographs by Ellen Von Unwerth
Styling by Tiffany Reid
Hair: Lorenzo Martin
Makeup: Georgie Eisdell
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SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert