What REALLY goes into maintaining a celebrity complexion?
We know that stars love to attribute their glowing skin to "drinking lots of water" or "good genes." But following my recent interview with Kate Somerville—one of the best-known celebrity facialists—I got to thinking, there's a lot more to looking red carpet-ready than that.
You might remember Kate saying, "I can literally take someone who has the worst skin condition you've ever seen, and transform them." That intrigued me enough to order a copy of her book, which does indeed contain many incredible transformations. But here's the thing: every single person required multiple costly medi-spa treatments, such as laser and light therapies, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and injections. It shouldn't have surprised me, but when you listen to her speak, you kind of get the idea that such dramatic results might be possible through her product line alone.
So... I thought it would be fun to start a new series, all about celebrity skincare routines!
We'll dig a little deeper into which products they're actually using, plus the treatments they rely on (or at least admit to relying on!) to keep their complexions in top shape. I think we'll find that the medi-spa stuff plays a bigger role than we imagined, but hopefully we'll uncover some useful tips along the way.
Of course, the first celebrity routine I examined HAD to be Gwyneth Paltrow, whose beauty upkeep is rumoured to cost more than $20,000 a month (!!).
Here's what it takes to have skin like Gwyneth Paltrow:
Gwyneth's Morning Skincare Routine
"I wash my face in the shower, just with water."
2. Daytime moisturizer
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice*, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Glycerin*, Vegetable Oil, Diheptyl Succinate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Coconut Alkanes, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Fusanus Spitacus (Sandalwood) Kernel Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Stearic Acid, Squalane, Essential Oil Blend: Monarda Didyma (Bergamot) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, and Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil, Cetearyl Olivate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Sorbitan Olivate, Iris Pallida (Sweet Iris) Leaf Cell Extract, Narcissus Poeticus (Poet's Daffodil) Flower Extract, Gluconolactone, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Behenyl Behenate, Tribehenin, Lysolecithin, Sclerotium Gum, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Sodium Hydroxide, Pullulan, Tocopherol, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Ascorbic Acid. *Certified organic ingredient. This product is formulated with 73% organic content.
"After [sunscreen], I'll put on the Goop Revitalizing Day Moisturizer. [It] contains palmitoyl tripeptide-5, vitamins E and C, and a linseed extract, which help with firming. I'm lucky with my skin because of genetics and a good lifestyle. And I think the products have really helped with that glow."
Active ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% Other ingredients: Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Steareth-2, Ceteryl Alcohol, Steareth-21, Sea Water, Algae Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Algal (Astaxanthin) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Sprout Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil, Acetyl Glucosamine, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Raspberry Seed Oil/Tocopheryl Succinate Aminopropanediol Esters, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Glycine, Sucrose, Lecithin, Silica, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, Propanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Mica Carmine (CI 75470), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Water.
Active ingredient: Non-Nano Zinc Oxide 12% (Mineral Sunscreen) Other ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Cera Alba (Beeswax) *, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil*, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter*, Salvia Sclarea (Clary Sage) Oil*, Tocopherol. *Certified Organic Ingredient
"I personally don't like skincare products with SPF. I like to apply it at the end. We did a big story on clean, non-toxic SPFs last summer, and there's a great one by Drunk Elephant. I also like the ones by Coola and Honest. I only use mineral sunscreens, never the chemical ones. I don't understand why anyone would put on carcinogens."
Gwyneth's Evening Skincare Routine
Ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Wax, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Essential Oil Blend: Monarda Didyma (Bergamot) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil and Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil, Iris Pallida (Sweet Iris) Leaf Cell Extract, Narcissus Poeticus (Poet’s Daffodil) Flower Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Jojoba Esters, Tocopherol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter. *Certified organic ingredient. This product is formulated with 75% organic content.
"If I'm wearing makeup, I'll take it off with the Goop Luminous Melting Cleanser, which is a balm. You emulsify it in your hands and really massage it in and then take it off with a hot, wet cloth, and your skin is so clean and glowy afterwards."
Ingredients: Aloe vera leaf juice (Aloe barbadensis)*, Water/aqua/eau, Witch hazel leaf water (hamamelis virginiana), Willow bark extract (salix nigra), Rosemary leaf/flower water (rosmarinus officinalis), Leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, Sodium hyaluronate, Glycerin*, Sugar cane extract (saccharum officinarum), Lemon extract (citrus medica limonum), Orange fruit extract (citrus aurantium dulcis), Apple fruit extract (pyrus malus), Green tea leaf extract (camellia sinensis), Rice seed extract (oryza sativa)*, Birch sap (betula alba), Lactobacillus, Bamboo ferment filtrate (arundinaria gigantea), Caprylyl/capryl wheat bran/straw glycosides, Fusel wheat bran/straw glycosides, Polyglyceryl-5 oleate, Sodium cocoyl glutamate, Glyceryl caprylate, Olive leaf extract (olea europaea), Fir needle oil (pseudotsuga menziesii), Lavender flower oil (lavandula angustifolia)*, Rosemary leaf oil (rosmarinus offinalis), Geranium leaf/flower oil (pelargonium graveolens)*, Frankincense resin extract (boswellia carterii), Alcohol denatured* (* denotes organic)
"When I'm on the go, I use Ursa Major Face Wipes. Also, oil is really good for getting off eye makeup. You don't want to use a harsh chemical."
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice*, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice*, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Lactic Acid, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cetyl Esters, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Glycolic Acid, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Diheptyl Succinate, Coco-Glucoside, Essential Oil Blend: Monarda Didyma (Bergamot) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, and Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil, Iris Pallida (Sweet Iris) Leaf Cell Extract, Narcissus Poeticus (Poet’s Daffodil) Flower Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Fruit Extract, Malic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Gluconolactone, Tartaric Acid, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Hydroxypropylcellulose, Sodium Benzoate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Panthenyl Triacetate. *Certified organic ingredient. This product is formulated with 86% organic content.
"I follow that with the Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial, which I do every night. I mean, I think on the thing it says you're only supposed to use it like two or three times a week, but I use it every night because I'm old and I need regeneration. But, it's an incredible product that's really effective. It just brings fresh skin to the surface and you feel really clean and plump. My makeup artist was just saying she sees such a difference in my skin, so that's great to hear."
3. Nighttime moisturizers
Ingredients: * Camellia Oleifera (Camellia) Seed Oil, *** Butyrospermun Parkii (Shea) Butter, *** Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, *** Sclerocarya Birrea (Virgin Marula) Oil, Calodendrum Capense (Yangu) Oil, * Adansonia Digitata (Baobab) Oil, * Tanacetum Annuum (Blue Tansy) Oil, ** Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Oil, * Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, ** Boswellia Carteri (Frankincense) Oil, * Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium Rose) Oil, * Vanilla Planifolia CO2 Total Essential Oil, Schisandra Sphenanthera CO2 Fruit Extract, * Helichrysum Italicum (Immortelle) Oil, Ravensara Aromatica Oil. (* Certified Organic; ** Wild Harvested; *** Fair Trade, Raw & Unrefined)
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice*, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Coconut Alkanes, Fusanus Spicatus (Sandalwood) Kernel Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Gluconolactone, Essential Oil Blend: Monarda Didyma (Bergamot) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, And Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil, Capryloyl Glycerin/Sebacic Acid Copolymer, Diheptyl Succinate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Iris Pallida (Sweet Iris) Leaf Cell Extract, Narcissus Poeticus (Poet’S Daffodil) Flower Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil*, Squalane, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Macadamia Integrifolia (Macadamia) Seed Oil, Jojoba Esters, Cetearyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract, Behenyl Behenate, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherol, Tribehenin, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate. *Certified organic ingredient. This product is formulated with 79% organic content.
"We also just started selling the May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon on Goop, and it's so good to soothe skin after exfoliating. So after I scrub off the mask, I make sure to put that on, sometimes with the Goop Replenishing Night Cream and Perfecting Eye Cream."
4. Eye cream
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Juice*, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Juice*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice*, Vegetable Oil, Glycerin*, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyglyceryl-6 Tetraoleate, Jojoba Esters, Coconut Alkanes, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Fusanus Spicatus (Sandalwood) Kernel Oil, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Squalane, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Iris Pallida (Sweet Iris) Leaf Cell Extract, Narcissus Poeticus (Poet’s Daffodil) Flower Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil. *Certified organic ingredient. This product is formulated with 78% organic content.
"I want an eye cream to be really hydrating and lifting, but also cooling. I think we got this one right and I'm proud of it."
Gwyneth's Skincare Treatments
Facials, microdermabrasion and peels
"Sonya Dakar is my facialist in Los Angeles. I try to go once a week now that I live in LA. I think facials really help with staying young. It’s hard-core—squeezing, peeling, microdermabrasion, and lasers! I [also] try to get one when I can from Vanessa Hernandez or Molly Lucio at Lasky Aesthetics, just to keep it all happening."
Thermage skin tightening
"Karyn Grossman is my number one beauty recommendation. She did a Thermage laser treatment on me that took five years off my face. It's not invasive. I went out to dinner right afterward and I didn't look crazy, but it's quite painful. It feels like someone's smacking your face with a rubber band that has an electric shock in it."
"I've been stung by bees. It’s a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It's actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it's painful."
Gwyneth's Diet, Exercise and Supplements
"Me with no coffee is not a good look. Then I'll have a smoothie after I work out. For lunch I usually have a big salad with grilled chicken, and then for dinner I'll have whatever I want. Most nights I eat with the kids, like, a stir-fry of chicken and broccoli or pasta or roast chicken and potatoes."
"My beauty routine starts with exercise in the morning. I do an hour of dancing every day—I'm a lifelong Tracy Anderson member. I wake up at 6:30am every day and I get my kids ready, take them to school, and then I go straight to the gym for an 8am cardio class. It's key to get a good sweat every day. I think that's an important foundation for a skincare routine."
"Gywneth does an hour and a half, and every ten days it's different," says Tracy. "She does the same routine for ten days, and then it changes. She's done that for almost a decade."
Ingredients: Polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagic acid, polysaccharides, and quinic acid) acai fruit extract, raspberry fruit extract, grape skin extract, lycium (goji) berry extract, bilberry fruit extract, clueberry fruit extract, elderberry fruit extract, pomegranate fruit extract, cherry fruit extract, blackberry fruit extract, cranberry juice extract, stevia leaf extract, lo han guo extract, natural flavors, guar gum, citric acid, malic acid, silica, xanthan gum, potassium citrate.
"I discovered Dr. Perricone through a friend. I got hooked on his Super Berry Powder with Acai, an antioxidant supplement which I now add to my water after workouts."
And Moon Juice Moon Dust:
Ingredients: Organic Goji, Rehmannia, Organic Schisandra, Pearl, Organic Stevia
"Gwyneth drinks one of these every morning, whether or not she’s detoxing. Choose your Moon Juice Moon Dust depending on what the day ahead holds… Brain before a long day at the office, Sex Dust before a date, etc."
"As soon as I arrive in LA after a long flight, I head to Be Hive of Healing, a holistic healing centre in Santa Monica, to see Dr. Habib Sadeghi, the founder. He gives me an IV [intravenous therapy] full of vitamins, which is incredible. Dr. Sadeghi has also changed my life in terms of allergy testing and food."
So how do you think Gwyneth's skin looks, considering her age (44) and skin type (dry and fair)?
I know she gets a lot of grief for sounding obnoxious at times, but I do respect her dedication to living a healthy lifestyle, and using clean products wherever she can.
I like that her skincare routine is all-natural, and we share the exact same philosophy when it comes to avoiding silicones, plastics and parabens. I'm impressed that she does hot cloth cleansing (a great, gentle way to exfoliate), wears mineral sunscreen and understands the power of regular gentle exfoliation. It's just too bad her own line is so high in the unstable seed oils I always recommend against. These are intrinsically aging, and even more toxic when exposed to UV light (that's why they should never be in a sunscreen).
As for Gwyneth's skin treatments, I'm definitely intrigued about the Thermage—that was quite the testimonial! However, I've often wondered if the over-use of microdermabrasion and peels has caused her skin to look a bit reddened at times. That said, she doesn't have any age spots or discolourations to speak of, so the treatments are definitely working for that purpose.
Besides the bad oils, the main problem I see with this routine is the strenuous exercise. Daily intensive 1.5-hour cardio sessions (particularly on an empty stomach!) are a huge stress on the body (studies on that here). That can definitely contribute to a prematurely aged appearance by suppressing thyroid function and triggering the release of harmful stress hormones.
What do you think of Gwyneth Paltrow's skincare routine?
Have you tried any of the products or treatments she uses?