Experts Do Not Recommend Applying Sunscreen Like Gwyneth Paltrow

In a recent Vogue beauty tutorial, Gwyneth Paltrow brought a camera into her bathroom to share her morning skin-care routine. As far as celebrity medicine cabinets are concerned, Paltrow’s lineup is pretty predictable: mostly her own GOOP-brand picks, with a few other labels mixed in.

While the products Paltrow gravitates to aren’t surprising or problematic, the way she’s using one of them in particular has sparked serious backlash. The actress and wellness CEO’s flippant approach to sunscreen — she dabs it only on her nose and cheeks (“where the sun really hits”) — has earned criticism from skin experts and hundreds of YouTube commenters, as has the terminology she uses when talking about “clean” beauty.

Yesterday, anonymous beauty collective Estée Laundry shared a critique of Paltrow’s tutorial on Instagram, with a screenshot of the video’s thumbnail. “Gwyneth Paltrow using SPF like highlighter and slathering moisturizer on top, while repeating misleading buzzwords like ‘clean beauty,'” reads the commentary along with the eye-roll emoji.

NYC-based esthetician and certified acne specialist Sofie Pavitt also responded, advising people not to apply sunscreen like Paltrow. “Please, for the love of God, don’t apply SPF like highlighter,” she warns followers in an Instagram Story stitched over the Vogue tutorial. “SPF should be the non-negotiable for any preventative skin-care routine if you don’t want to prematurely age, or get, you know, skin cancer.”

Instead of applying your daily sunscreen sparingly, dermatologist Jessica Weiser, MD, says it’s actually better to err on the side of slathering. For maximum sun protection, she recommends a half teaspoon of broad-spectrum SPF rubbed over your entire face until it’s fully absorbed.

Beyond Paltrow’s incorrect sunscreen application, Pavitt adds that viewers should be aware that there’s no FDA regulation on marketing terms like “non-toxic” and “clean,” which the Goop founder uses repeatedly throughout her tutorial. “When brands heavily promote their ‘clean,’ ‘vegan,’ ‘chemical free, ‘natural,’ paraben free,’ non toxic,’ skin-care lines [it] make[s] my eyes roll back into my head,” Pavitt wrote in a followup post. She then added her own advice for people shopping for skin-care products: “You should buy a product because it’s good, not because you’ve been scared into doing so,” she says. Any sunscreen you don’t mind applying — and reapplying — to your entire face falls firmly under the category of “good.”

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