Gwyneth would be out in five minutes. "She's not ready yet," one of her people whispered to another one of her people. "Oh, and we need SmartWater."
I was sitting in the corner of the Ulta store where our interview would take place, and when I was offered one of the extra bottles, I accepted without hesitation. If SmartWater was Gwyneth's drink of choice, then today it would be mine too.
It hadn't quite hit me yet, but today I would be meeting with Gwyneth Paltrow in honor of her Phyto-Pigments makeup line for Juice Beauty, which launched at JuiceBeauty.com and Ulta.com earlier this year. I've always put Gwyneth in a premium category of celebrity; it's hard for me to imagine her living on planet Earth with the rest of us. But Juice's founder, Karen Behnke, guaranteed she is very much a real human. In fact, she was appointed as the brand's creative director of makeup for her authenticity.
"She walks the walk and talks the talk," as Behnke put it. Apparently, she even drove herself to the interview.
As I waited for the star to appear, I perused the various lipsticks, eyeliners, and foundations from the collection. "Gwyn's very into naming the products," an Ulta representative offered. "All the liquid lipsticks are named after her friends: Reese, Drew, Cameron." To calm my nerves, I swatched Cameron ($24) on the back of my hand (she was delightfully pigmented for a plant-based lippie) and sipped my $6 water.
Indeed, no more than five minutes later, Paltrow materialized from behind a partition, impossibly tall, blond, and swathed in polka-dotted fabric.
"Nice to meet you," she said with an ear-to-ear smile, and already I was under her spell. The next seven minutes were a blur. I don't remember a single thing that was said. Luckily, my recorder was able to capture the following—what I personally consider to be the Gwyneth Paltrow–iest interview ever.
To read the most magical Gwyneth Paltrow beauty lessons you'll ever find on the internet, just keep scrolling.
Lesson #1: When in doubt, add vitamin C.
If the '90s were the decade Paltrow earned her reputation as one of the world's most celebrated entertainers, the aughts have gained her equal respect in the wellness industry. After launching her lauded lifestyle site Goop in 2008 and publishing a number of food books since, Paltrow has constructed one of the most unmistakable identities in the beauty community—one which can be described as devoutly, almost unattainably, "clean."
Of course, it's one thing to have a reputation; it's another thing to deliver the goods. Out of the gate, I aimed to put Paltrow's authority as a natural beauty guru to the test.
"Ready for a wellness challenge?" I said. "If you woke up one day feeling bloated and icky [yes, I said the word "icky" to Gwyneth Paltrow] and you wanted to make a juice to feel better, what ingredients would you put in it?"
One of my co-workers back at Byrdie HQ doubted Gwyneth would even entertain such a question. But without skipping a beat, she answered. "Something with high vitamin C," she said with poise, like she'd been expecting the question all along. "And maybe something diuretic, like a citrus. Like a grapefruit-based smoothie."
"That's genius," I told her. "I'm going to take that one home."
Lesson #2: Eating clean doesn't have to be expensive.
Another element of Paltrow's beauty identity is shameless opulence. If I were a celebrity of her stature, I can't say I'd do it any differently, but Paltrow famously spares no expense in her pursuit of top-quality skincare and nutrition. A report from E! News used her diet book, It's All Easy, to break down the cost of a week's worth of Gwyn-approved meals—the final tally was over $470.
To see if Paltrow could handle my meager budget, I posed her another challenge: If she had only $20 to spend on dinner for the family, what ingredients would she buy?
"Mexican food," she said, breezily. "It's inexpensive; it's clean. You get corn tortillas; it's dairy-free. You get a good protein, some cilantro, onion, chili, and you’re kind of done. A can of beans."
Paltrow recommended buying the ingredients from a natural food store like Erewhon in Los Angeles. "Somewhere you can get good-quality organic produce," she said, before adding, "but you know, if you buy an avocado, it doesn’t have to be organic. The skin is so thick, they say it isn't necessary."
Evidently even Gwyneth makes exceptions.
Lesson #3: Treating blemishes at home is easier than you think.
There isn't the faintest memory of a blemish on Paltrow's skin, so I figured she had to have a secret at-home remedy. But surprisingly, her favorite breakout treatment is probably sitting in your bathroom right now.
"I always just use the same pimple thing from the facialist in New York I've had forever—that chalky Mario Badescu," she said. "I guess you could put toothpaste if it's an emergency, but then they say that it can, like, eat through your skin and not to do it. Yeah, Mario Badescu is the best one."
Lesson #4: If you aren't already dermarolling, it's time to start.
Paltrow is well-known for undergoing outlandish beauty treatments, like bee sting therapy and "vaginal steaming." So I was curious to hear what she considers her all-time strangest beauty experience. After taking a long pause to think, Paltrow finally revealed that the most unusual beauty treatment she's ever gotten isn't really so strange at all.
"One time I had a facial in France where they pricked your skin with little needles and put vitamins in it," she said. "It was like a roller with a ton of teeny needles in it."
"A dermaroller!" I exclaimed, giddy to be speaking Gwyneth's language.
"Yes, it was amazing," she said. "It was the only time I've ever done it; it was great. It struck me as very unorthodox at the time."
(Dermarolling is not only Gwyneth-approved, but beloved by the Byrdie team, as well. Click here to learn all about how to do it at home.)
Lesson #5: Hydration should be your #1 priority.
Beauty challenges are all well and good, but as an admitted product junkie, all I really wanted to know was what Gwyneth uses on her skin.
She told me that staying moisturized is always her main goal. "I have the Goop organic face oil ($110) at all times," she said. "That is my 100%. I'll put some in my hair, on my legs if they're dry, my face—it's the most genius."
Lip balm and coconut oil are two more of her must-haves. "I'm a real lip balm person, so I always have a million different lip balms," she said. "I really like the Grown Alchemist one. I like the Juice Beauty one. ... [and] paw-paw ointment. ... And I love coconut oil, too. I slather my life in coconut oil."
Lesson #6: Sometimes you have to take your skin into your own hands.
Ever since creating her skincare range for Goop, Paltrow's nighttime routine has undergone a considerable transformation. The line's luminous melting cleanser ($90), instant facial ($125), and night cream ($140) have become her go-tos. "I'm literally obsessed with [the line]," she said. "I was able to make my dream products. It's heaven; it totally changed my skin. And I'm not just saying that because I made it."
"If you made it, then it certainly should," I said without thinking.
"Exactly," she responded with a smile.
Lesson #7: The secret to beauty (and life itself) is sleep, sleep, sleep.
With about a minute left with Paltrow, I asked her the following: "On a typical day in your life, what is the one thing that you look forward to the most and the one thing that you look forward to the least?"
This would be a hard question for me. But Paltrow knew her answer immediately: "On a typical day in my life," she said, "I most look forward to going to bed, and I least look forward to waking up."
First, let's take a moment to appreciate how morbid this sentence is. Under different circumstances, I might have interpreted it as a cry for help. But, as someone who's obsessed with sleeping, I knew what Paltrow meant.
"You're a sleepaholic!" I said with a laugh.
Paltrow truly is addicted to sleep. She makes a whole ceremony out of it. As she told me about her routine, her eyes glimmered, like a girl in love.
"I take a bath every single night before I go to bed," she told me. "It's my ritual to get grounded and get the energy of the day off. I have all different kinds of salts, and oils, and scrubs. I'm a real bath girl." Paltrow's favorite bath products include salts and scrubs from English brand Ila, as well as regular Epsom salt from the grocery store. Though her all-time favorite is House of Intuition's violet water. "I just feel like it clears bad energy," she told me.
I wasn't ready to leave Gwyneth's presence. After all, who knew when she would return to Earth next? But alas, our seven glorious minutes were over. I thanked Gwyneth dearly and floated out of the Ulta store, counting down the seconds until I was out of earshot, so I could hit the play button on my recorder and live the whole thing over again.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Want more celebrity exclusives? Don't miss that one time we went on a beauty safari with Shay Mitchell.