MUSIC

Your House Can Smell Like Erykah Badu's Hoo-Hah

The neo-soul singer is one-upping Gwyneth Paltrow's intimate-smelling candles.

First, Gwyneth Paltrow wanted to sell us a candle that smells like her vagina (which has since sold out).

Now, R&B legend Erykah Badu is giving Goop a run for their money with her own rather intimate scent, soon to hit the market. It's called "Badu's Pussy," and it's a fragrance intended to smell just like, well, the singer's lady bits.

Since first emerging with her jazzy soul music in the '90s, Badu has become known for her offbeat, at times even occultish aura. But the magic doesn't stop at her spellbinding lyricism. "There's an urban legend that my pussy changes men," Badu told 10 Magazine. "The men that I fall in love with, and fall in love with me, change jobs and lives." Now you, too, can be charmed by the wizardry of her hoo-hah.

According to 10, the scent will be sold in incense form, ensuring that all of your meditation sessions and dinner parties will have the perfectly musky aroma of Badu's crotch. But how to achieve such a distinct odor, you ask?

"I took lots of pairs of my panties, cut them up into little pieces and burned them," Badu added. "Even the ash is part of it." No big loss, though; Badu has been going commando for quite some time. "The people deserve it!"


I wonder if Badu's Pussy will come in a perfume form. I'm sure the strangers I share my morning commute with on the subway would appreciate me smelling like such enchanted genitalia. You can buy the incense from Badu's new online store, launching February 20.

Netflix's docuseries The Goop Lab is a show about B.S. self-care trends being branded and sold as "wellness" and close-ups of Gwyneth Paltrow's golden, glowy demon skin.

It's a show about self-optimization and a lot of beautiful, young, slender–but racially diverse (because it's a woke show)–content creators traveling the world and exposing themselves. Sometimes that means literally staring at their vaginas in a mirror as a sex educator tells them they're beautiful, and sometimes that means processing their personal traumas next to their coworkers and under the gaze of a camera crew and Paltrow's calm, waxy smile.

As familiar as we are with the dark side of constant self-optimization–what with the plagues of "millennial burnout" and influencer worship–bogus wellness trends are still working. The wellness industry is a whopping $4.2 trillion feature of our cultural landscape. Overpriced, often culturally appropriated, "all-natural" remedies promise not only to improve our lives but cure our loneliness, depression, anxiety, and existential sense that nothing we do matters. Plus, sometimes it smells like your vagina, like Goop's $75 candle named, yup, "This Candle Smells Like My Vagina."

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In the six short episodes of The Goop Lab, Elise Loehnen, Goop's chief content officer, oversees teams of Goop's editors, project managers, and assistants who "go out in the field" to try alternative medicines and therapies for themselves. In the first episode, "A Healing Trip," Loehnen ingests psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms) with her employees and later reflects, "This is not a typical workspace experience, although I kind of wonder if it wouldn't be incredibly therapeutic for workspace teams if you felt really safe and wanted to become even more intimate and connected with the people that you spend the majority of your day with."

I'm sorry, what? While there's a growing body of research confirming that psychedelics can have unique therapeutic benefits–when taken in carefully measured doses and within extremely monitored circumstances–there's more than one way to abuse them. Aside from recreational usage, the danger of psychedelics lies in their invasiveness in one's psychology and experience–a bad trip is an incredibly bad trip. In fact, Paltrow and Leohnen interview Mark Haden, executive director of MAPS Canada (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), who identifies the primary difference between traditional talk therapy and psychedelic therapy as, "You get access to somebody's unconscious material." So, yeah, let's do that with co-workers as a bonding experience. As Rachel Charlene Lewis writes for Bitch Media, "Encouraging coworkers not only to do drugs together, but to explore trauma en masse seems like an HR disaster waiting to happen. But in the world (or, rather, the career) of Goop, it's just another day at the office."

Actually, invading consumer psychology in order to bring individuals' traumas to the fore seems to be the integral approach of wellness brands these days. Companies like Goop exploit personal traumas by marketing their products as curative, with The Goop Lab targeting content to showcase how epiphanic and life-changing alternative therapies (and related products–you know, like theirs) can be. Also interviewed in this episode is Jenny, a photo editor, who talks about her personal trauma over her father's suicide and how it impacted her understanding of her own depression. There's Kevin, Paltrow's assistant and a veteran Gooper (yes, that's what Paltrow calls them), who talks about his attachment struggles after growing up with an absentee father. Among genuine testimonies from people who have overcome anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicide attempts thanks to these alternative therapies (which many people don't have access to due to resources and legal restrictions in their areas), there's an ugly spectatorship to watching Jenny and Kevin sob on a mat on the floor while soft-spoken counselors in white whisper to them softly and rub their backs. Kevin, in particular, is hugged tightly by two male counselors, which Leohnen later calls "very profound" since "they were embracing him in a way that he hadn't been embraced as a child by his own father."

Clearly, the Goopers who volunteered to participate in these experiments are aware of the vulnerability of (potentially) processing their trauma in front of a camera, but the whole show is designed for viewers to spectate and consume their personal trauma as content that ultimately promotes Goop as a brand. And aside from being targeted to those wealthy enough to spend $120 on "healing" wearable stickers, Goop as a brand is patently ridiculous, pseudo-scientific, and even dangerous for public health. With health claims that are repeatedly disproven by alarmed health experts, as well as NASA, studies show that the public has grown increasingly confused about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle.

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta, wrote a detailed overview of why the most popular (and lucrative) celebrity-backed health crazes have lodged themselves into our public consciousness. "This decade of celebrity health hogwash should also be considered in the broader context," he warns. "This is the era of misinformation, a time when trust in public institutions is declining and people feel uncertain about what to believe about, well, everything. Celebrity wellness hype contributes to this 'culture of untruth' by both inviting a further erosion of critical thinking and promoting what is popular and aspirational rather than what is true." Between Instagram fitness gurus and absurd celebrity "beauty secrets," we're all surrounded with contradictory pieces of wellness advice. Goop describes their prescribed practices as "out there" or "too scary" for people because they go against basic common sense.

With a throwaway legal disclaimer prefacing each episode (the series is "designed to entertain and inform–not provide medical advice. You should always consult your doctor when it comes to your personal health, or before you start treatment"), The Goop Lab is just cashing in on the trend of exploiting personal trauma for branding and, ultimately, profit. It's appropriate that the credits include Paltrow declaring their end goal as the "optimization of self," in the sense that "we're here one time, one life, how can we really milk the sh*it out of this." This is the next stage of "the age-old marketing language of 'Women, you suck, but this miracle product will fix you,'" only now it's saying, "The world has hurt you over and over again, and this can help heal the damage–for a price."

CULTURE

Debunking Weird Celebrity Beauty Secrets

The desire for youth and beauty has produced more conspiracy theories than Area 51.

Just like crystals won't align your chakras, smearing your own blood on your face won't make you look like an ageless vampire.

It will, however, give you something in common with Kim Kardashian, and it might make you a slave in Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop cult. The beauty and wellness industry has ballooned in the past decade, as the universal search for dupes for good genes continues worldwide. Between the singer Grimes recently sharing her daily regimen, which includes "screaming sessions" and 4 hours in a deprivation tank in order to "astro-glide to other dimensions - past, present, and future," and Gwyneth Paltrow hosting a $5,700 per-ticket Goop Summit in London, the desire for youth and beauty has produced more conspiracy theories than Area 51. Stem cells don't make your skin any younger and not all pain equals beauty, so don't bother stinging yourself with bees or covering your head in vinegar.

Here are 7 things you definitely shouldn't do for beauty, why you should never do them, which celebrities have done them anyway, and what you can do instead with cheaper and more effective resources.

"P-e-n-i-s Facial"

Listen, we understand that the pressure to look youthful these days, especially for women, is immense. But if you want the same specialized procedure that Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock had done in New York, then please ask for it by their loving (and accurate) nickname: the p*nis facial. Invented in Korea, the Mecca of overblown skincare, the process involves an acid peel, micro-needling, an "electrifying mask," and a serum with FDA-approved Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF). What is EGF? "It's derived from the progenitor cells of the human fibroblast taken from Korean newborn baby fore-skin - which helps to generate collagen and elastin," Georgia Louise, the actresses' New York facialist, explains. It's stem cell technology harnessed to extract the young cell tissue from infants to inject it into your face.

Blanchette told Vogue Australia, "It's something—I don't know what it is, or whether it's just cause it smells a bit like sperm—there's some enzyme in it so Sandy refers to it as the peni$ facial." With a two-year waiting list and a cost of $650, your face could be made as smooth as a baby's bottom—except instead of a bottom it's a pen*s.

Alternative(s): Try taking collagen supplements instead of placing collagen on your face. And leave...baby...fore-skin...alone, I guess?

"Vampire Facials"

If Kim Kardashian is promoting it, then odds are it's not backed by science. In the case of "vampire facials," It's not even completely safe. The treatment combines a microdermabrasion of your outer layer of skin with being covered in your own blood. Specifically, your blood is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to extract its platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The blood platelets are then applied to your skin or injected into your face. Why? It's said "to improve skin tone and texture, smooth fine lines, and even promote hair growth," which, studies suggest, might be slightly possible but far from proven.

Mainly, because the bizarre procedure requires drawing blood and using a syringe to puncture the skin of your face dozens of times, this "could potentially spread blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to clients." And that's happened—at least twice. A spa in New Mexico was closed earlier this year after it was confirmed that two of its clients contracted the same HIV virus around the same time. State health officials confirmed, "Additional laboratory testing on specimens from the two clients indicates recent infection with the same HIV virus–increasing the likelihood that the two HIV infections may have resulted from a procedure at the VIP spa."

Alternative(s): Other than age gracefully until you die? Moisturize with aloe vera. Go make-up free more often to let your skin breathe. Wash your face with cold water.

Placenta

horse placenta beauty Horse Placenta

What better use for placenta is there than as a face cream? Both human and animal placenta are thought to stimulate collagen production if absorbed into the skin, resulting in Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham, Madonna, and even Harry Styles having tried it out of boredom, beauty, and having access to almost as many resources as Jeff Bezos' ex-wife.

Placenta is said to have similar benefits to EGF facials, in that the stem cells are said to help your skin renew itself and reverse wrinkling. It costs about $2,000 to have placenta cells injected into your face, while expensive placenta masks are becoming more widely available from beauty companies. You could also just track down vets who sell jars of placenta from their horses, who are sometimes named Divina—in the case of Alba Carreras from Vice, she took home a tub of Divina's placenta, saying, "When we took it out of the tub the next day, it already smelt like death—really one of the most unpleasant smells I've come across in my entire life."

After she had laid the blood-stained substance on her face, she called Dr. Marisa Monzano, a plastic surgeon, to consult her about the effectiveness of stem cells. Dr. Manzano broke the news: "Creams with animal and vegetable stem cells are a scam. It's not scientifically proven that they work. Think of lizards—when you cut off their tail it grows back again. We have a much more complex system than animals and rely on a much richer immune system. Putting animal placenta on your face has no effect whatsoever, because our tissues do not absorb the benefits of an animal placenta," she explained.

Alternative(s): Drink more water than you think you need, always use SPF, moisturize, and other boring skin-care steps that don't involve innards.

Vinegar - Everywhere

Rinse your hair with it. Wash your face with it. If you do, you can look like Scarlett Johansson (which apparently means you could play any role, ever, even a tree or an animal). She told Elle UK, "A while back, I started researching natural skincare. It's a nice way to treat your skin if you don't want to use all those harsh chemicals that a dermatologist would recommend."

The Internet may call apple cider vinegar a mystical ambrosia, weight loss cure, and beauty secret all-in-one; but, "There is actually no good scientific study to prove the skin-healing claims of ACV," as dermatologist Raechele Cochran Gathers says. "Before jumping to ACV, I'd recommend getting evaluated by your dermatologist first." Remember: vinegar is an acid, with a pH level between 2 and 3 (6th grade science reminder: the acid-base scale ranges from 0 to 14). Healthy human skin has an ideal pH level of about 5.5. Introducing a strong acid to your face, however diluted, is risking skin damage.

While we're on the topic of abusing vinegar: the famously melodramatic 18th century writer Lord Byron would reportedly douse all his food with vinegar in order to curb his appetite (some say he had classic signs of an eating disorder). He also subsisted on hard biscuits, soda water, and the rare potato—before he died at age 36. We're not saying his vinegar habit was necessarily related, but consuming or bathing in vinegar is gross, and the minor benefits it may bring you aren't worth the misery you'll bring to those around you with your acidic stench.

Alternative(s): Literally anything else. Seriously, if you'd like an all-natural face wash, try a fancy micellar water, like the Korean brand Son & Park.

Eating Clay

Shailene Woodley said she dissolves half a teaspoon of clay in 8 ounces of water to drink each morning. "Clay is one of the best things you can put in your body," she claimed in an interview with the beauty blog Into the Gloss. "I've discovered that clay is great for you because your body doesn't absorb it, and it apparently provides a negative charge, so it bonds to negative isotopes," she continued, probably half-delirious from the intestinal blockages she seemed to be giving herself.

Regarding the notion that clay is beneficial to ingest because it "detoxes" your body: No, it's not, and it doesn't. Unless you've been poisoned or are experiencing organ failure, your liver and kidneys are already efficient systems for filtering waste and toxins from your blood. In fact, the myth of "detoxing" is one of 10 brilliant marketing ploys that's allowed the beauty and wellness industry to become a $4.2 trillion industry.

Alternative(s): Don't eat poison (or clay).

Stung by Bees

Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it, so naturally it's not safe (at least one woman has died), it's inaccessible to most, and studies have not found bee-venom therapy (BVT) to be effective. In 2016, the Goop cult leader told The New York Times, "I've been stung by bees. It's a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It's actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it's painful." Apitherapy has been used in alternative medicine to treat everything from M.S. and arthritis to Lyme disease.

Imagine that iconic scene in My Girl when Macaulay Culkin gets swarmed by a hive of bees and loses his glasses forever, except on purpose. Technically, apitherapy isn't like that, with one bee at a time being held to your skin, and even topical ointments containing bee venom are available. Still, Macaulay Culkin dies in that movie, and everything Gwyneth Paltrow endorses is a scam.

Alternative(s): CBD oils and creams. Research proving CBD's effectiveness against chronic pain and inflammation (as well as cognitive distress like anxiety and even Alzheimer's symptoms) are in its nascent stages just as much as bee venom is. But unlike bees, CBD doesn't leave welts, because they're f**king bees.

Hemorrhoid Cream but Not for Hemorrhoids

Most skin treatments include the directions "avoid area around the eyes"; but whatever, put some butt cream on your undereye bags. From Kim Kardashian's makeup artist to Sandra Bullock, celebrities have used Preparation H to reduce inflammation under the eyes. Make-up artist Mario Devanovic shared the "beauty secret" with his Masterclass in New York, during which 1,200 fans watched him apply Kim Kardashian's make-up for over four hours. "It tightens the skin. That's a really old, old trick. It smells really bad but it works," Devanovic said.

Dermatologists who were probably baffled that they had to comment on this said, "It may not be the best choice because it is oil-based and comedonal, which means that it may clog your pores and contribute to the development of acne, particularly blackheads." Also, it usually burns. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest and most fragile (that's why crow's feet form in the first place), so you probably don't want to place medicinal-grade active ingredients near your eye, where "ingredients [in hemorrhoid cream] can cause serious damage"—obviously.

Alternative(s): Cold compresses, lavender oil, green tea bags, positive affirmations, the inner light of self-confidence to not care, religion, literally anything else.