- Gwyneth Paltrow is receiving backlash for her sunscreen application technique.
- The Goop founder shared her full skincare routine in a new video with Vogue.
- In it, she applied SPF only to “the area where the sun really hits,” which according to her, is just her nose and cheekbones. Dermatologists say this is irresponsible messaging.
If you don’t diligently follow the skincare corner of the internet, you may have missed the current controversy surrounding Gwyneth Paltrow’s skincare routine—particularly, her sunscreen application. In short: It’s wrong and people—especially dermatologists—have a lot to say about it.
The actress, model, and Goop founder shared her routine in a March 31 video for Vogue. In it, she applies sunscreen on her nose and the tops of her cheekbones—“the area where the sun really hits,” as she says. Although the 48-year-old admitted she’s “not a head to toe slatherer of sunscreen,” applying that little—and then diluting it by following it with moisturizer, which she does—is hardly better than using zero protection at all.
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According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, to achieve the proper sun protection factor (SPF), “you should use approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin.” That’s equivalent to an entire shot glass full of product to cover the entire exposed area, and a solid “nickel-sized dollop” or two finger lengths for the face alone.
For maximum protection, your sunscreen should contain at least SPF 30, per the foundation, and even then, should be reapplied every two hours “or more frequently after swimming, heavy perspiration, or toweling off.” Not only does consistent and thorough sunscreen application prevent premature signs of aging, but it’s also essential in preventing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States.
It goes without saying that Paltrow and her Goop empire (which sells sunscreen, by the way) are influential in the beauty and wellness world—Paltrow alone has 7.5 million Instagram followers—which is why so many people are disappointed by her advice.
“Don’t even bother to apply sunscreen if you’re adding that little to your face, it’s not gonna do much,” one person commented on the YouTube video. “Sunscreen is not a highlighter – COVER YOUR FACE,” another wrote. “The layering of her skincare leaves me a bit 🤔🤯,” another added.
The experts have chimed in, too. “I do think it’s a bad message,” board-certified dermatologist Barry D. Goldman, M.D., a clinical instructor at Cornell NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital told USA Today. “80-90% of all skin cancers are on the face and neck. I’ve seen many tumors on the eyelids or around the eyes, the forehead. Basically, the whole face should be covered… We think of the whole face as a high-risk area for skin cancer.”
Many dermatologists have turned to social media to further explain why promoting this form of application is irresponsible. “Sunscreen is only effective if enough of it is applied,” Marisa Garshick, M.D. F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and assistant clinical professor at Cornell – New York Presbyterian Medical Center, wrote in an Instagram post. “To be clear, it is not meant to be a sprinkle on the nose and cheeks. Even the Environmental Working Group (as is referenced in the video) highlights one of the biggest mistakes with sunscreen is not applying enough of it.”
Board-certified dermatologist Adeline Kikam, D.O., F.A.A.D., (known as @BrownSkinDerm on social media) also spoke out on Instagram, stating “you don’t get to pick where you get your skin cancer—that’s not how it works.” She further continued in her caption: “People already under-apply sunscreen so this is not the message we want to be sending.”
Paltrow herself hasn’t responded to the influx of criticism, but Goop released a statement to USA Today alleging that she indeed “applies sunscreen to her entire face, though the video is edited down for timing’s sake and does not show the full application.” The statement continued: “We’re huge proponents of SPF at Goop and always advise that people should consult their dermatologists to find out what is right for them.”
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