There’s no denying it: Gwyneth Paltrow looks good.

And she celebrated that fact on her 48th birthday by sharing an image of herself with her seven million Instagram followers wearing nothing but her “birthday suit.” Approaching 50, the mother of two looks better than most of us ever will. Covering herself just enough to skirt Instagram’s community standards, Paltrow shows off every inch of her toned, glowing skin. But what is her secret?

How does a woman juggling an acting career, two teenage children, and her own health and beauty company handle the stress of life without succumbing to the ravages of time like the rest of us? What miracle serum or elixir is preserving her youth well into middle age, and where can the rest of us bathe in it’s potent splendor?

If you’re willing to believe Paltrow’s explanation, the answer is “GOOP’s insanely amazing brand new body butter,” which sells for $55 for a 6 ounce jar—$50 with a monthly subscription. But if the answer was really that simple—if all it took to maintain taut, youthful skin was some fancy moisturizer with caviar lime and jojoba—then soon the world would be nothing but Helen Mirrens and Keanu Reeveses.

Humanity as we know it would be replaced by a race of eternally youthful beings who would die of heart attacks mid-bikini-shoot at the age of 107. So is that really the future we face? Has GOOP perfected the fountain of youth?

In a sense it has, but not in the way Gwyneth Paltrow is pretending in order to sell you plastic tubs of overpriced nut fat. No, there is not a single product in GOOP’s line that keeps her so fit and vibrant. Rather, it’s all of GOOP’s products, from the yoni eggs to the crotch steamers to the v*gina-scented candle—and probably some products that are not designed to mystify/damage genitals.

Because right now GOOP—which Paltrow started as a standard commodity-fetish newsletter back in 2008—is a business valued at $250 million. Every sale of GOOP products puts a little more money into Gwyneth Paltrow’s bank account—gives her a little more freedom to hire nutritionists, personal trainers, skin rejuvenators, and masseuses for each of her limbs.

Is it a fact that she’s spending ungodly amounts of money any one of those things? No. But if she’s half as smart as she seems, she knows that pampering herself is the best way she can possibly spend her money. It’s an investment.

Because Gwyneth Paltrow is not a standard CEO. More than any of the bogus scientific claims that recently got the company hit with fines, what sells GOOP products is Paltrow’s image. Her real job at the company is to serve as a tastemaker and as “living proof” of the benefits. In other words, she just has to keep looking young and beautiful.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘The Goop Lab’: Fact-checking the health claims

And it turns out that the biggest causes of visible aging—other than sunlight—is stress. So as long as Paltrow invests in some sunscreen and a wide-brim hat, she’s free to spend the rest of her estimated $150 million net worth keeping herself as relaxed and calm as it’s physically possible to be. And if she does that, she will keep getting all that money back from people who are convinced to buy $55 body butter because Gwyneth Paltrow still looks hot at 48.

So yes, GOOP can provide eternal youth—as long as your name is Gwyneth Paltrow. The fountain of youth is the same as it has been since royalty stopped smearing lead on their faces—money. If you never have to worry about paying your rent, or medical bills, or funding your kid’s education, or finding time to go to the dentist without missing work, it’s not that hard to keep looking young.

But if you do have student debt, or a habit of paying off one credit card bill with another credit card, or if you worry that you won’t be able to afford one of the “good” nursing homes when your parents are older, or that your daughter isn’t going to get into the competitive school because you can’t afford a private tutor…

If that’s your life, you can fill a bathtub with body butter every night, and the only effect will be making Gwyneth Paltrow a little bit richer.

Posted in: Pop