Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images
Goop—purveyor of jade eggs, energy stickers, and $200 smoothies—built a highly Instagrammable brand on some, shall we say, out there ideas. Now, due in part to backlash from the medical community, the wellness brand has hired scientists to ensure that its product descriptions don't include any claims that aren't rooted in science.
Founded by wellness aficionado Gwyneth Paltrow, Goop has never been afraid to get a little weird when it comes to health and wellness advice. Unlike mainstream health outlets, Goop doesn't always stick to science-backed recommendations or the advice of credible experts—instead, things can get a little woo-woo. (Like this story about manifesting your dreams or the piece about thyroid cancer based on the "expertise" of a doctor who takes his medical advice from a divine spirit.)
Aside from becoming a bad internet joke, pushing unproven health claims can be harmful (just take a look at what the board-certified gynecologists we spoke to had to say about those vaginal eggs). In fact, last year, the site was accused of making more than 50 "inappropriate health claims," after an investigation by consumer watchdog nonprofit Truth In Advertising.
So, in response, Goop is in the process of making some changes in an effort to be more transparent. It's started labeling its content on a scale of "proven by science" to "probably BS." Stories covering scientific claims on the site are now given a label designed to clue readers in on how seriously they should take the claims. For example, "Rigorously Tested" articles cover concepts that are "pretty much undisputed within the world of M.D.s, D.O.s, N.D.s, and Ph.D.s," according to the brand. Next, there's the "Supported by Science" category, which covers health advice with a decent amount of research behind it. "Speculative but Promising" covers stories with merit but not a ton of research behind them yet—think stories on new methods of mindfulness.
There's also an "Ancient Modality" label for stories that promote information based on ancient healing traditions "even if modern-day research hasn't caught up yet." And finally, the fully funky "For Your Enjoyment Stories." According to Goop's description, they know these stories are probably BS but they're "fun, and there's real merit in that."
Health transparency is even more important when it comes to actual products—another area in which Goop has been slammed for hawking snake oil. As Business of Fashion reports, the wellness website is taking some concrete steps to make sure the claims of its supplements are verified, including hiring a staff of scientists to vet the claims the company makes about the products it sells. The research team has begun by creating standards for how ingredients are disclosed in Goop brand products, and will later move on to third-party products, according to BoF. They've also started tweaking existing product descriptions to eliminate any claims that can't be backed up by science.
Goop is right: There is, of course, nothing wrong with having fun with the "crunchy granola, woo-woo" stuff. Health and fitness don't always have to be super serious. (See: A story filled with photos of the Shape staff's butts published in the name of journalism!) So if you want to invest in Goop's "energy-balancing" stickers, we say go for it!—as long as you know they probably won't do anything except take you back to the good old days of temporary tattoos. What is wrong: Presenting unsubstantiated medical claims as health gospel to unsuspecting readers. We're happy to see Goop has come up with a system to differentiate the two.