June 3, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

As Goop Lab TV show approaches, my look at their ‘stem cell’ products

Gwyneth Paltrow of Goop Labs
Gwyneth Paltrow of Goop and the upcoming Goop Labs TV show.

Gwyneth Paltrow has a new Netflix show coming up in a couple of weeks called “The Goop Lab” and her Goop company promotes a lot of wacky things so one Sunday over lunch I thought I’d take a look at what they sell related to stem cells.

Going into this, I didn’t know for sure they sold stem cell stuff, but I thought it was likely and they do.

Shocker, right?

Note that the Goop Lab TV show hasn’t even aired yet but has already taken hits (e.g. see here) for the expected squishy science and hype in it.

My search of the Goop website for “stem cells” retrieved a half dozen or so products and a variety of articles that mention stem cells.

See a screenshot of some of these below.

The core ingredient listed for these products is “fruit stem cells”. For instance, the anti-wrinkle moisturizer is described this way:

“Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular™ range takes the concept of fruit stem cells to new heights by combining them with other organic ingredients. This moisturizer blends fruit stem cells and Vitamin C, infusing them into organic grape juice to improve the appearance of skin tone and luminosity; organic jojoba and shea deeply hydrate skin; and evening primrose, linseed, and borage seed nourish with fatty acid emollients.”

Wait, what?

This product seems overall like an expensive Jamba Juice-like substance you slap on your skin to me.

Yet the Stem Cellular anti-wrinkle product costs $70 for 50ml.

Screenshot of stem cell products from Goop.

That’s a price tag of over $5,000/gallon. Not even Jamba or Starbucks costs that much!

I suppose it could help your skin somehow, but maybe just rub an apple or apple sauce on your face instead for $1 or less?

Over the years I’ve covered various “stem cell” cosmetic products that seemed like wastes of money to me, but unfortunately they are ubiquitous these days. The FDA has even taken action on “stem cell” cosmetic cremes in the past, but not recently. Maybe it gave up.

Getting back to these particular Goop products, do they have actual living fruit stem cells in them? It sounds that way, but I kinda doubt it.

If instead we assume the products are supposed to have some kind of extract of fruit stem cells, how did the company isolate just the stem cells from the fruit?

Yes, plants have stem cells (and legit plant stem cell research is the topic for a whole other post) but they’re not necessarily easily isolated.

Does the Juice Beauty firm have a research lab up to the task of isolating fruit stem cells? If so, I’d like to learn more about it. Call me crazy, but I sent them an email to ask. If the product has actual living fruit stem cells in it then that could make it harder to be classified as a cosmetic rather than a biological product.

Goop itself has been penalized in the past for iffy claims related to vaginal eggs, but Paltrow to the media has asserted that they’ve learned from past issues and now have solid scientific and regulatory teams:

“Paltrow also told CNBC that Goop has learned from past mistakes.
“I think when we were a little startup and we didn’t know about claims and regulatory issues, we made a few mistakes back in the early days, but for over a year now, we’ve had an incredibly robust and brilliant science and regulatory team in house,” she said. “We’re very focused, of course, on backing up the things that we talk about with scientific claims when necessary or being able to say like, ‘Hey, this is just for your entertainment.”

With Goop “stem cell” products like these, what can we expect from the Goop Netflix show? I don’t have high hopes. Unfortunately, the stem cell universe already has plenty of hype. I hope the Goop Lab TV show doesn’t get into stem cell or regenerative medicine stuff to add more.

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