Gwyneth Paltrow has a bath every day.

Whether she has always done this or is now just upping her bathing game as GOOP has a line of $35 bath soaks, I don’t know. Apparently, her evening bath is non-negotiable. She must not have to make dinner and clean up afterwards, help with home work, do laundry, and grocery shop like mere mortals.

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I was introduced to the GOOP line of bath soaks at In GOOP Health because it was in my swag bag.


I didn’t think much of it because I’m more into showers. I’m super tall and my bath is a relic from the 1970s, so it’s a tight fit.

However, yesterday I ran a half-marathon! Yeah me.


My 51-year-old legs were less enthusiastic about the awesomeness of the accomplishment. By the time I made it back home they were incredibly sore and stiff and a hot bath sounded good. My son, a Lush addict, tried to get me to use one of his bath-bomb things and then I remembered my GOOP bath soak called Phys. Ed. I was in actual possession of a “recovery bath soak!” GP’s medicine is wacky yet useless, but as a self-styled bath-goddess maybe she knew a thing or two about the tub?


The advertised ingredients seemed like they came from a trendy woo word generator. Apple cider vinegar, arnica, and turmeric just didn’t seem like they would complement each other olfactory wise. It was not as if they would be absorbed to provide any health benefit, after all that is why we have a stratum corneum to keep things like turmeric and apple cider vinegar out. The GOOPsters know that, right?

The ingredient list read like a strange spell and the instructions said they would work “magic.”

Okay then.


There is no science to support the use of Epsom salts (nice review here by the way) and so when I recommend sitz baths (as I often do for medical conditions) I just suggest water. However, if you like the feel of Epsom salts it’s fine. If you think they make your skin feel nicer afterwards, that’s all good too. Liking how something feels isn’t medicine, it’s life. Epsom and Dead Sea salts in your bath are preference not pharmaceutical. Magnesium is important for muscle function, but it isn’t like it is going to seep through the skin from bathwater and work directly on muscles, you know?

I was also worried about the turmeric. Given the color advertised on the packaging I did not want to end up the color of Donald Trump! My Cheetos skin fears were, however, unfounded as the package is a grand exercise in false advertising! Color me shocked.

The turmeric is obviously in homeopathic quantities. Maybe that is what makes it so strong? (Not really, I’m dying at the thought though).


So I took the plunge.

I felt as if I were making a brew because this shit stinks. I mean it is horrible!

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It smells like a compost bin in the fall if you have an apple tree. Think of a bin half full with rotting apples topped off with wet leaves, twigs, and food scraps. Like that, but with medicinal notes. My kids also thought it was disgusting. I was going to get their reaction on video, but they refused to smell it a second time for the camera.

The bath water was not orange. The water felt like Epsom Salts. It stank. It did not make me feel relaxed. I longed for Lush.

My hair and skin smelled like medicinal compost for several hours and my cat refused all cuddles. I was pleased that I did not develop any disturbing vulvar skin reaction.

My muscles did not miraculously recover.

If you like baths I am pretty sure you can get a far nicer product for less than $35.

There is no way the GOOP recovery bath soak can help your muscles any more than plain Epsom salts or just water. For me the point of adding scents to bathwater is to smell nice! Whether the other bath soaks are as disgusting I can’t say as I’m not going to try them.

After being at the In GOOP Health event it is clear that her acolytes are willing to give her a pass on everything that doesn’t produce miraculous changes (so basically everything sold by GOOP). GOOP is the cult of Gwyneth. I suspect people will buy the bath products and they will sell well for a time. When sales drop as repeat customers are unlikely (given the smell and expense) Gwyneth will find a new quasi-medical ritual with a matching product line.

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  1. You’re 51!!! Holy Moly I thought you were in your 30s. Congrats on the half marathon and thank-you for all the time you put in to keep us informed.

  2. I’m really surprised you like Lush. They have a long history of lying about products, not caring about customers’ reactions to ingredients, and violating workers’ laws, among other things. Here’s a series of 75 (and counting) blog posts, all employee, former employee, and customer stories, many of which have documented proof.
    I used to like their products until I had a very bad reaction to a soap; I’d previously never had an allergic reaction to anything. The way they handled it made me extremely disappointed and led to me looking into it further and finding the blog, along with others.

    1. Yes, indeedy. And Lush products are notorious for containing skin-hostile essential oils and other such ingredients. You don’t want lavender or any strong scent agent on your skin.

  3. So it’s basically the same effect as a dose of Radox bath salts from the supermarket, but it smells worse and costs about seven times as much, right? I’ll stick with the Radox, thanks (or even a cheaper alternative, on the rare occasion I actually have a bath rather than a shower).

  4. I’ve been waiting for this review all day. I was sure you’d end up the color of an oompa-loompa. Btw, plain Epsom salts are a great addition to your garden when you till it in the spring. Aside from that, they’re mostly useless.

  5. That is one hell of a swag bag. The nail polish you got in there is terrible too, so it’s not just the soak that was a fail. I’m glad you tried it out for us, but I have no idea why anyone would pay that much money for a bath soak in the first place.

  6. There should be a regulatory label on this stuff. “There is ZERO scientific evidence this will have any positive effects that you wouldn’t get anyway with a normal hot bath.”

  7. It’s a good job there wasn’t much turmeric – never mind turning into a Cheeto, scrubbing that off the bath would be a real pain (especially after a half marathon)! (Brought to you by “Whoops I accidentally stained my countertop yellow while cooking curry and it took about one million hours of scrubbing to get it off”.)

    1. Yes! I was worried about a coloured bath – boy, that would be a pain! (brought to you by someone who used turmeric in a meal and didn’t rinse the plates immediately afterward). I don’t blame the cat for the avoid. Did you bathroom stink for a long while afterward?

  8. Always incredible. You are a true martyr to put your olfactory sanity at risk with this gunk. And thank you for reaffirming that your skin is designed to keep things out! That’s its main purpose! It is not magical gateway into your body

  9. “My Cheetos skin fears were, however, unfounded as the package is a grand exercise in false advertising!”

    No, wait, the packaging shows an orange powder, but the stuff inside was colourless?
    Naive as I am, I would have thought the manufacturer put a different product by mistake. Or that the stuff was way past its sell-by date (and the smell would have pushed me in that direction, too).

    When I was into bubble bathes, waaay long ago, the coloured water under the soapy bubbles was part of the attraction. Expecting a coloured product and not getting any would have been a major disenchantment, big time.

    “Color me shocked.”

    Eh, you still managed to get some colour out of it.

  10. My hair and skin smelled like medicinal compost for several hours and my cat refused all cuddles.”
    Go for Dr. Teals. Epsom salt with nice scents like eucaplyptus, cheap, feels good, smells good and your cat will love you.

  11. On yes yet another dreary grey PNW Monday, your post was just what any sane doctor would order. Please never stop!

  12. My wife ran that half! Assuming it’s the one that goes over GGB. Thanks for taking another bullet for us, Dr. G

  13. Dear Dr. Gunter,
    I had a similar horrifying experience with some seaweed bath salts that smelled like rotting ocean water.
    On a different note, I just watched the Netflix doc, Unrest, about ME/CFS, and I’m very curious about your thoughts about ME/CFS and how it’s been treated in the medical field. I’m a clinical psychologist and have dealt with many ME patients who have been labeled as hysterical/conversion disordered. Would love to hear your perspective as both a women’s health physician and a pain management specialist.

    1. I would love this as well. I have it and personally prefer the newer term SEID. I think the people who advocate for the term ME specifically can be kind of conspiracy theoryish about viruses and the whole term describes something medically in Latin that there is no evidence for because there is no known cause but these people think it’s just been “covered up” the medical community. It is hellish to suffer from though, I got sick when I was a teen in high school I think because of stress because I was very emotionally distraught over not being allowed the local equivalent of an IEP for my diagnosed LD because the admins held ableist views such as being with LDs are “not smart” which is wrong because LD isn’t a general IQ deficiency like intellectual disabilities. I had to drop out of high school because of the school’s ableist treatment of me making me ill and I fear if I take the GED I will fail just like I failed so much in school.

      School admins accused me of being lazy and defiant as well because I didn’t do my work but it was rly because I didn’t understand it at all. I actually hate having more than one disorder. I have OCD, SEID, NVLD and some kind of sleeping disorder either delayed sleep phase or idiopathic hypersomnia but I was too damn dumb to get the sleep test right because I couldn’t take a log of when I sleep and wake because of my LD I have no sense of time, spatial awareness and space and I slept at the wrong time and then I wasn’t tired for the test. There are some people on Tumblr that self dx and there is a spoonie aka chronic illness community online but there are a lot of people that might have Munchie or attention seeking tendencies. They wear their illnesses like identities and a source of pride but if there was a cure for any and all of my disorders I would take it in a heartbeat. Even just something to manage exertion intolerance so i can work out and be healthier. I feel like my bones are filled with cement.

  14. I’m sure there’s some intrinsic value to soaking in enhanced water above/below our body temperature…but, whenever an anointed celebrity gains financial benefit from that process, I’m skeptical

  15. You kill me; I love your posts and common sense! There are so many “public” doctors in the media who seem to eschew their scientific training. You are the perfect antidote!

  16. Thanks for being the brave one to try this and for affirming the whole Epson salt false advertising too!

  17. Congratulations on your marathon success. Very public spirited of you to subject yourself to yet another “GOOP”y idea from Gwyneth. Muscle compression and massage are are the best things for muscle recovery, Some people swear by icing but the evidence is not strong.

  18. Goop have entirely the wrong recipe, this is the one 🙂

    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn and caldron bubble.
    Fillet of a fenny snake,
    In the caldron boil and bake;
    Eye of newt and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
    Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
    Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble

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