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NEW YORK, United States — The boxed alkaline water was flowing and all-you-can-eat kale and cauliflower “steaks” were on the lunch menu. Attendees — who were informed by a makeup artist that they matched foundation shades ranging from “linen” to "sand” — could enjoy on-demand B-12 shots and a form of acupuncture known as “ear seeds."
This was the scene at last weekend’s In Goop Health summit, where Reiki energy healing sessions and “Spiritually Fly” yoga classes were on the agenda alongside panels featuring beauty entrepreneurs, gurus and Gwyneth herself. The crowd was teeming with attractive women of all ages. Suggested attire for the day was athleisure, a directive many attendees took to heart: there was barely a heel in sight, and, aside from one fuchsia logo Balenciaga sweater, no one looked dressed to impress their Instagram followers.
Say what you want about Gwyneth Paltrow, her lifestyle brand is firing on all cylinders. Over the last decade, Paltrow has turned a newsletter into a fast-growing e-commerce business with a stable of in-house brands in categories ranging from apparel to skincare to fragrance, as well as a growing number of brick-and-mortar stores. Increasingly, she’s parlayed her rabid fanbase into a lucrative events business, including sold-out summits like the one I attended Saturday.
What’s the secret formula? Goop manages to churn out a staggering volume of products, editorial content, events and more, all impeccably produced and centred on a clearly identifiable set of lifestyle principles that resonate with a certain subset of consumers.
Paltrow, who has faced criticism in the past for claims made about products her site sells, said on Monday at SXSW that she's being more careful now and has hired a team of in-house lawyers, scientists and regulatory team. She acknowledged there's a difference between the site talking about "controversial" beauty treatments (ie vaginal steaming) and making medical claims on products created by Goop's in-house brands.
All that was on display at the summit. Candidly, when Goop sent me the schedule, I was overcome with anxiety (I feared this article would be titled “Goop’s Wellness Summit Gave Me an Anxiety Attack”). The volume of panels, classes, workshops, group fitness classes and aura sessions felt like wellness in excess. But for so much happening at once — at one point I had to choose between a session on psychedelic medicine taking place at the same time as a gallery medium reading, a “Healing Superfoods” class and a “Money and Self-worth” workshop — the vibe was chill, dare I say relaxing.
Maybe it was the decor (rustic wood tables and couches, cozy white seating, delicate white hyacinth and narcissus flowers and greenery draped throughout) or the presence of Paltrow herself, who floated around the day’s festivities and mingled with guests. Or it could have been all the kale. But most likely, it was the connection Goop has forged with its consumers, and the fact that the event was a true physical manifestation of Paltrow’s vision and lifestyle.
“I openly cried, which I did not except to do,” said Katie Sturino, founder of the beauty brand Megababe, who had just attended a medium reading hosted by “The Happy Medium” Kim Russo. “I have drunk the Kool-Aid.”
I was unable to attend one of the medium readings due to scheduling. But I did get a sample of Goop’s newest skincare product, a glycolic peel, sat in on a makeup class, listened to a panel where I learned about my “psychic toolbox” and witnessed a daytime adult slumber party at The Sleep Sanctuary.
There was a shop selling clean beauty and G. Sport merch, an ear-piercing booth (not to be confused with the ear seeding), a Glamsquad “No-Makeup Makeup” station stocked with Beautycounter and Kosas and a kitchen set up for cooking classes.
I ran into Dr. Nigma Talib, the naturopathic doctor to the stars who has her own line of supplements and skincare, makeup artist Gucci Westman and Gregg Renfrew, founder and chief executive of Beautycounter.
Westman and Renfrew participated in a clean beauty “fireside chat” with Elle MacPherson and Paltrow. Westman, who launched her Westman Atelier brand last year, sat on a plush velvet couch beside Renfew talking about the challenges of formulating clean cosmetics and raising awareness about their properties.
Westman called fragrance the “next big accountability situation” in clean beauty, and Renfrew added packaging to a growing list of concerns. Currently, Renfrew is trying to tackle the complexities of sustainable packaging with Beautycounter’s Countermatch, a preservative-free skincare range that needs airtight pumps. The problem: a switch from plastic to glass bottles means you can’t have those airless pumps.
“The more brands — the more big brands — that step up and join us, the easier it’s going to be for us to source better ingredients,” Westman told me.
While Westman’s line is not yet sold at Goop, Beautycounter is, and it’s merchandised alongside Paltrow’s own Goop Skincare. Paltrow is open about her support of other brands and their founders — many who put out similar products to hers — which has no doubt contributed to Goop’s success.
THIS WEEK IN BEAUTY
Beauty brands head to SXSW. L’Oréal, Charlotte Tilbury, Lush Cosmetics and OGX are all investing in SXSW, and they’re using words like “significant” and “largest” to describe their investments at the conference. RealSelf is even offering free injectables to prove there’s “nothing to be scared of.”
Your skincare ingredients might come from fish scales or the shells of marine animals. There are more common beauty ingredients containing animal byproducts than you think.
QVC's first beauty festival is in June. Beautycon and Sephora might have some competition from QVC, which revealed plans for Beauty Bash, a "three-day extravaganza" that will take place in Philadelphia June 7-9.
Dollar Shave Club expands with deodorant. The men's razor company is getting into a new category: deodorant and antiperspirant (and butt wipes) via new brand Groundskeeper.
Harry's is expanding, too. Harry's, another men's shaving brand, is getting into men's skincare. The grooming label created a detoxifying and exfoliating mask in partnership with Heyday, a facial salon.
That's hot. Paris Hilton is a partner and investor in The Glam App, a provider of in-home services. The heiress and creator of a multi-million dollar fragrance empire wants to help users "look hot on all their dates."
Estée Lauder gets street cred with Kith. The beauty brand has teamed up with streetwear company Kith on a limited-edition collection. The set of five products are emblazoned with Estée Lauder's archival logo that hasn't been used since it launched in 1946 and come in an acrylic “modern dopp case.”
How Oribe became a cult haircare brand. Late hairstylist Oribe Canales went through 30 to 40 iterations to create the brand's signature Dry Texturizing Spray. Despite the volumizer-dry shampoo hybrid costing "more per ounce than Veuve Clicquot champagne," one $46 can is sold every minute.
The Business of Beauty wants to hear from you. Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to our beauty correspondent, Rachel Strugatz (firstname.lastname@example.org).