Outside of actual cosmetic chemists, there are probably few people in the world as suited to be entering the skin care space as Scarlett Johansson. Johansson has logged more hours in the makeup chair, dermatologists' offices, and working with prestige beauty brands than the brain can quantify. While you’d think motherhood, marriage, and a day job as a generationally-celebrated actor would make her busy enough to fill three Google Cals, Johansson managed to dedicate five full years to her passion project: a new clean skin care line (which launched March 1). Scarlett Johansson's The Outset is designed to streamline routines with a well-researched approach to minimalism. The line promises to coax skin into its softest, smoothest, healthiest state thanks to a lineup of thoughtful ingredients. But even a half-decade into the project, she’s still kid-on-Christmas giddy come launch day — not least of all thanks to the celebratory doughnuts at The Outset office that morning.
Though Johansson is practically synonymous with radiant, luminous skin now, she’s all too familiar with some of the most frustrating issues — namely acne, starting around age 12 and lasting well into her 20s. “My makeup artist at the time was like, ‘and soon you'll get wrinkles, and then you'll have wrinkles and acne!’” she laughs over Zoom, wrapped in a gray cardigan with her blonde hair pulled back (showing off the skin, of course).
“I think when you have acne-prone skin, you spend a lot of time like trying to kind of wash it away and end up stripping it away and drying it out,” Johansson says. It wasn’t until she started putting moisture and nutrients back into her skin that things started to clear up. She says that in many ways, The Outset is almost a response to those years — a lesson in being gentle with yourself that extends far beyond skin care, one that she hopes to pass on to her kids. “I always tell my daughter to be kind to her body,” she explains — be it through patient self-talk, brushing her teeth to keep healthy, or their weekly mother-daughter nail sessions on Wednesday afternoons. “I get to give her a manicure and she gives me a pedicure and that's what we do after school on Wednesday,” she shares. “So that's part of my self-care, just spending time with my beautiful children.”
Self-care is a concept her entire family seems pretty familiar with, though. When Johansson first met her now-husband, Colin Jost, owner of more than just the wryest smile on TV. Johansson tells TZR that Jost was actually the first partner she’s ever had with a pre-existing skin care routine, and she put his expertise to good use as an eye-cream guinea pig. Johansson had her husband experiment with The Outset’s Fine Line cream, comparing it to his usual go-to brand — lo and behold, Johansson’s formula won him over. “So I have one repeat customer!” she laughs.
The Outset’s initial launch includes a five-piece lineup that makes up something of the ideal skin care starter pack — even if you’re not exactly new to the skin care game. One constant through each product is the brand’s proprietary Hyaluroset Complex, a plant-powered hyaluronic acid alternative that promises plenty of radiance-inducing hydration.
The rest of the product line from the brand comprises a Gentle Micellar Antioxidant Cleanser which features a 7 Amino Blend to strengthen and visibly reduce the signs of aging; a Firming Vegan Collagen Prep Serum with unusual ingredient black quinoa extract: a superfood rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals; a Nourishing Squalane Daily Moisturizer with hops, red rice, and Edelweiss; a Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream, and a Smoothing Vitamin C Eye + Expression Lines Cream.
This may be Johansson’s first solo beauty endeavor but she’s definitely something of an aficionado, meaning that among the things she never leaves the house without is a slew of skin care and makeup staples. Ticking off the list of her purse contents, she counts a total of three lip treatments (including one from The Outset, of course), a NARS pressed powder, a Laura Mercier lip gloss, a tube of classic A&D ointment probably for her and her new baby, and a bottle of Purell — necessary for exploring the slowly re-opening city with her girlfriends.
And while there are many skin care lines that boast being ‘clean’, The Outset team actually did work to eliminate 2,700 potentially harmful ingredients from the products in the formulation process. In fact, Johansson calls learning exactly how many iffy components are packed into skin care to be the most surprising (and illuminating) part of the brand’s development process. “I just didn't realize how many potentially harmful ingredients I was using, like daily,” she tells TZR. “I never thought about everything that went in it. I just kind of trusted the packaging. I was like, ‘Oh, now that I knew this, I can't I know it. That discovery was definitely a guiding light for the creation of this brand.”
The name of the brand was coined by co-founder and CEO Kate Foster who describes it as ultimately optimistic. Even the tagline “the start of you” is indicative of a journey rather than a destination — though considering Johansson’s track record with self-care and personal development, it sounds like the start of much, much more.
It’s near impossible to not be at least intrigued by Johansson’s latest endeavor — see below to discover The Outset skin care products, available now.
We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.