Giving In to Gwyneth

Baby it’s cold outside. Add central heating, not drinking enough water, staring at screen(s) 24/7, subsisting on a diet of n’importe quoi and not getting enough fresh air because there’s no daylight ever. No wonder my skin has been rather on the sallow side as of late.

Obviously no amount of spendy ointment is going to bring back the juicy gorgeousness of anyone’s face if every other aspect in life is constantly being (grossly) overlooked, but one has to start from somewhere.

I’m something of a Vintner’s Daughter convert. I like the brand because they have stuck to doing one thing well. Actually they do have two products in their repertoire, but unlike almost everyone else in the business, the founder has stayed true to her original business idea: do one thing, and make it the best there is.
(I’m assuming everybody knows the product I’m talking about here: their Active Botanical Serum, the gold standard of, I don’t know, active serums.)

Botanical is an interesting thing. When the Californian luxe hippie thing of everything being natural without chemical nasties landed on our European shores some years ago, it was difficult not to lap it up, as it seemed too delicious to be true. No chemicals! How about that! No scientists in white lab coats whiling away at their Petri dishes stuck away in Switzerland, mindlessly adding chemicals to our cosmetics! No way science should have anything to do with products we smear on our biggest organ on a daily basis!

Instead our products had to be conscious, which, following the logic of the many PR-campaigns, scientists were not.
Now, there’s obviously a massive amount of bullshit associated with the marketing of any cosmetics. Shower-gels removing cellulite, shampoos making hair thicker, that sort of stuff. There was a time people (by which I mean me) went through the INCI-lists of tubes and bottles in order to figure out whether mineral oils had been used and to what extent. (Oh, the sorrows of pre-pandemic life!)

So, botanical. There’s hardly a skincare/cosmetics line that does not include a botanical product of some kind. I don’t know what botanical really means in the context of skincare, and I have a suspicion that neither do most of the brands. I believe an adjective was needed to market the ointment, in a manner of anti-ageing, urban, slimming, thickening or glossing, and botanical resonated the most and made the cut.

I’m sure there were many botanical serums on the market before Vintner’s Daughter’s genius golden juice hit the shelves. Because of its cult status the brand doesn’t really have to advertise their two products at all. Also, because of its cult status the serum is very, very expensive.

I wanted to go on slathering my face with rare balms instead of doing improvements in my daily routines that would require actual effort. I also wondered whether there might be something similar on the market that I could alternate with the Vintner. There is! And it’s by Goop, no less!

It’s another brand that doesn’t really have to pay for advertising space – Gwyneth Paltrow is a masterful marketer of her lifestyle emporium. The second season of her brand’s infomercials is currently on Netflix, complete with her regular appearances talkshows and glossy magazines.

Adding Goop’s serum to basket was therefore a moment filled with mixed emotions. I’ve spared no snark whenever I’ve written about Paltrow’s brand’s more outlandish ventures. Listening to her sometimes gives the impression that she’s genuinely, benevolently tongue in cheek when putting some of her crazy merch on the market. At the same time some of Goop’s health claims of borderline harmful practises and their piggybacking on female empowerment while simultaneously trying to make a buck off women’s insecurities by creating insecurities we didn’t know we even had, make for a complicated brand.

But was this personal sometime resentment enough to stop me from trying some of their products? No, it was not, and damn you, Gwyneth Paltrow, because isn’t this just how you roll? The All-in-one Super Nutrient Face Oil is a masterclass in all-botanical everything. It’s a solid product that does what it says: it’s densely packed with ingredients du jour, such as bakuchiol and several oils rich in vitamin A, glides on easily and feels very hydrating.
Gwyneth’s oil is a bit runnier than Vintner’s, but I would say they are otherwise very similar. An added bonus with Gwyneth’s oil is its smell, which is distinctly celery. Having my face smell of a green vegetable gives me a fabulously virtuous feeling given that I haven’t actually eaten one in ages.

Goop is a luxury brand, but some of their price points are not absolutely insane. If you manage to see beyond the ludicrous PR-language praising their products as “nontoxic”, I think they might be worth trying.

For the record, and I do not tire of repeating this (my readers might): The European Union has the world’s strictest criteria for beauty products. Only as regards cosmetics, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.
Add this to your Christmas cheer: There are no toxic beauty products sold in the EU.
Gwyneth’s oil is nontoxic. Everybody’s oils sold in Europe are nontoxic. Not everybody’s oils smell of celery, so if you needed a reason to try her oil, this is the reason.

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