The In Goop Health (IGH) summit took place on Saturday, November 16 at Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion. About 600 attendees spent the day immersed in a 3-D version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s (brain) lifestyle brand. Translation: all speaker panels, workshops and experiences were rooted in wellness, health, natural beauty and self-care.
I was there. And I have thoughts.
But before I jump in, there are a few things I want to share:
I am not a hardcore wellness devotee: I try to eat healthy, do yoga when I can and be compassionate with myself. But I consume gluten, carbs and sugar on the regular, don’t have a daily skincare regimen, sage my home nor keep a gratitude journal.
I am a proud Gen X-er: Although I am young at heart and mind (a Perennial if you will), my age clearly informs the way I see and experience things. Let’s not forget, though, Ms. Paltrow herself belongs to my generational tribe.
I did not pay for my ticket: Writers routinely get complimentary access to events they’re covering, NBD. I bring this up simply because general admission tickets were $1000—not chump change. I approach the event with the mindset of an average-Jane attendee who will have a hefty credit-card bill to pay at the end of the month.
And we’re back.
Hello, G-Day. I land at Craneway, thank the Lyft driver, grab my Goop welcome tote and beaded tassel bracelet (a chic substitute for an ID badge) and make a beeline for the Equator Coffee counter. With yummy latte securely in hand, I inhale deeply, promise myself to be open and off I go…to get a manicure.
What? My nails are atrocious, and Hayes Valley’s Lux SF is offering its services. Plus, there are 20 minutes to go until the start of the opening ceremony at 9:30am. Two coats of JINsoon Nostalgia it is. This is my kind of symposium.
Things only get Goop-ier.
Indeed, the day is enlightening. It includes intense and lighthearted moments, endless matcha drinks, an appearance by a presidential candidate (Marianne Williamson) and moisturizers aplenty. Below, find my top five highlights.
IRL Gwyneth (GP as her friends call her) is as naturally glow-y, gorgeous and stylish as she appears on screen.
I first spot her at the Opening Ceremony, après saging, as she and her co-host Elise Loehnen, Goop’s chief content officer, greet the crowd. Notecards in hand, the two banter easily as they lay out the program for the day. I’m listening, but I can’t help but obsess over GP’s perfectly perfect no-makeup makeup, brilliant highlights and ridiculously chic outfit—black blouse, chunky cardi, modern black-and-white pleated skirt and booties.
I encounter the Oscar winner outside of her moderating duties—in the Goop wilderness—twice: First, I spy her in Food Hall eating a plate of salad (gasp!) and later, I watch her do a fragrance drive-by at the Heretic natural-perfume display. “I need a spritz of my favorite perfume,” she whispers before floating away. I pounce immediately, examine the bottle (Dirty Violet) and, obvi, buy, it straight away.
My conscious mind may not know what an energy clearing is but, boy, my body and soul sure do.
Reiterating: I am not a woo-woo, crystal-clutching, ear-seed-y kind of girl. But since getting out of my comfort zone is on the agenda, I opt for an energy clearing. I stand before Laura, a petite practitioner with a soothing voice, and after a little chitchat, I do what she says: close my eyes, think of something emotional that’s been holding me back, breathe deeply. It’s quiet and a swirl of energy and activity envelop me. I’m not really sure what’s going on, but I’m feeling a lot, like viscerally feeling not my normal thinking feeling.
Tears begin to trickle down my cheeks; I’m caught off guard. (Is that you, vulnerability?) Stuff is moving within. When Laura finishes, I am both shaking and shook. The tears continue to flow. What is happening here my logical, control-freak brain wonders. Stunned, I sit on a stool near the long queue of people awaiting their turn. Laura rubs my back and comforts me: “It’s OK, this is your time. You are very powerful.” P.S. Still processing this.
When GP’s rockstar British facialist tells you to make chairs for your cheeks with your hands, you do it.
I am super psyched for the Skincare Master Class, a DIY facial sesh being taught by Anastasia Achilleos, Goop’s (and Gwyn’s) go-to aesthetician. I, along with about 100 ladies (and one guy), grab a seat in front of an individual setup with all the makings necessary for what’s to come: a large mirror, a headband, and all the Goop brand lotions and potions.
For 30 minutes, the ever charming (that British accent!) and commanding expert works her magic on a model while walking us through the steps of the Goop facial—cleanse and massage, exfoliate, moisturize, enrich with face oil and perfect with eye cream. Watching other people rub and scrub is kinda funny and not too pretty, but I’m 100 percent focusing on the prize: glowing, healthy skin. Anastasia continually emphasizes the massage aspect of the facial. We need to really dig in, use our entire hands as tools, she says. My favorite “make seats for your cheeks” means putting the heels of your hands under your cheeks, applying pressure and lifting. When the proverbial school bell rings, I look at my reflection, note my ultra-dewy visage and smile. (Intrigued? Get your own lesson from Anastasia.)
Good talk: The first chat of the day with B.J. Miller, MD, was the most heartwarming. The subject matter: death.
GP and B.J. Miller, MD, a SF hospice and palliative medicine physician and educator at UCSF, settle into the sleek lilac couch to discuss his quest to help people die better. Several things stand out right away: 1. Dr. Miller is crazy handsome. 2. Dr. Miller is a triple amputee. 3. There’s a dog on the Think Room stage.
Things become clear as Miller shares his gripping personal story—how at 19 while a student at Princeton, a freak accident involving some innocent horsing around on a parked commuter train ended with his electrocution (via his wristwatch and overhead wires), and the subsequent loss of both of his legs below the knee and his left arm below the elbow.
Throughout the Q+A, B.J. thoughtfully shares anecdotes about how he uses his experiences to help terminally ill patients (and the rest of us) to face death and grief head on and “to appreciate what you have while you have it.” Meanwhile, Maysie, B.J.’s support dog, enjoys lots of pets from GP and nuzzles her master any time his emotions heighten. No doubt about it, this guy had me at goodbye. Other than my GP-approved fragrance, the only thing I purchase all day is a book: A Beginner’s Guide to the End.
The Goop gift bag is the swaggiest I’ve ever seen—and I’ve seen my fair share.
Not gonna lie, when I first read that IGH was touting the fact that its gift bags would be “packed with beauty and wellness gear worth $1000,” my inner skeptic alerts. Turns out it was a false alarm: this damn bag is all that and more.
Just a partial list of goodies stuffed into the gigantic The Little Market jute tote (printed with “Goop for you” on the front) includes: Goop Replenishing Night Cream, Goop Enriching Face Oil, Goop Revitalizing Day Moisturizer, Ilia True Skin Radiant Priming Serum, Biossance Squalane Vitamin C Rose Oil, Innersense I Create Waves Salt Spray, Christophe Robin Anti-Frizz Rescue Milk With Shea Butter, True Botanicals Resurfacing Moisture Mask, Lavido Thera Intensive Foot Cream, Yoga Hustle microbial mat towel and yoga block, Plus One Air Pulsing Arouser (hey, girl), Electric aviator sunglasses, Year & Day dip dishes, several books (The Secret Therapy of Trees, The Inflammation Journey and The Five-Minute Journal), two bags of Skinny Dipped Almonds (Dark Chocolate Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter), Welly Flex Fabric Bandages, a Soji amethyst crystal, and on and on. Cha-ching!
Final thoughts: The summit was long but didn’t drag. I got vulnerable and Goop-y, and I liked it. Am I going to replace my morning coffee with kombucha and start scheduling weekly B12 shots? Probably not. Cheek massage, however… that’s happening.
// Photography courtesy of Getty Images for goop.