Sorry, Gwyneth Paltrow. Dermatologists say the star’s sunscreen routine is dangerous

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Gwyneth Paltrow is taking some heat for the way she applied SPF in a recent video. 

On Tuesday, Paltrow gave fans a look at her “guide to everyday skin care and wellness” in a video for Vogue. The actress and businesswoman, 48, said she doesn’t slather on her sunscreen, but instead likes to put some on her nose and “the area where the sun really hits.”

The video shows her applying it similar to a highlighter, hitting her nose, cheeks and a bit of her upper lip and chin.

Paltrow’s routine garnered attention, and some viewers took to social media to denounce her advice.

“Gwyenth Paltrow really made a video telling people to apply SPF like a highlighter to your face… That’s literally not how it works. It goes on the entire face, neck, & the back of hands,” user @dacrystvlmethod tweeted

“@voguemagazine letting Gwyneth Paltrow say spf only needs to be used like a highlighter is just wildly irresponsible, congrats on contributing to everyone’s sun damage guys! 👏🏻” user @GrraceI wrote

Dr. Caroline Robinson, a dermatologist and founder of Tone Dermatology, told USA TODAY using sunscreen as “a spot treatment, sparingly, or ‘just where the sun hits’ … is a very dangerous message.” 

“The misconception that you only need to apply it to part of your exposed skin is harmful,” she said, adding that skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of skin color.

Dr. Barry D. Goldman, a clinical instructor at Cornell NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said neglecting certain spots is “almost looking for trouble.”

“I do think it’s a bad message: 80-90% of all skin cancers are on the face and neck,” the dermatologist said. “I’ve seen many tumors on the eyelids or around the eyes, the forehead. Basically, the whole face should be covered… We think of the whole face as a high-risk area for skin cancer.”

In a post to her Instagram Story, aesthetician Caroline Hirons called the SPF portion of the Vogue video “horrifying.”

“I don’t know what’s more irresponsible: GP actually saying all of this, or @voguemagazine giving her the platform,” she wrote.

Paltrow also said during the video there are “harsh chemicals” in “conventional sunscreen” in the video, adding she uses a “clean mineral sunscreen.”

Goldman saidhe can’t support her claims of a “clean sunscreen,” explaining he’s “not aware of a medical definition of a clean sunscreen.”

“There’s no real standard definition of ‘clean’ and no real standard definition of ‘natural,’ ” he added. “I wouldn’t want somebody who’s such a major influencer to be telling people not to use sunscreen because it’s maybe not the right sunscreen – the right sunscreen is the one you use.”

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Hirons wrote, “‘Non-toxic’ doesn’t mean anything… ENOUGH of pandering to this utter bollocks as if it’s true or based on science. Shame on you @voguemagazine. Selling through fear gives me real, genuine rage.”

USA TODAY has reached out to Vogue and Paltrow’s rep for comment.

How should you apply sunscreen?

Dr. Samer Jaber, also a dermatologist, tells his patients at Washington Square Dermatology to use sunscreen every day on the entire face.

“We know regular use of sunscreen on the face both prevents against skin cancer and is great for anti-aging, preventing wrinkles and discoloration on the face,” he said, adding that it’s also important to wear SPF on non-sunny days since UVA rays can penetrate clouds and windows.

Robinson added that it should be applied to any other uncovered areas as well, including the neck, ears and hands.

“The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying 1 shot glass of sunscreen to cover the entire body, approximately 1/2 teaspoon of which will cover the face and neck. Your sunscreen should be at least an SPF 30, broad spectrum protecting against both UVA and UVB rays and water resistant,” she added. “It should be worn daily regardless of whether you are indoors or outdoors and reapplied during the day especially if outdoors.”

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