Scarlett Johansson's Skincare Line is Here, and She Wants It to Transcend Her Celebrity
Scarlett Johansson has held many titles: actress, brand ambassador, producer, mother, wife. And now, she has added one more title to the list: founder.
Her newest project, a skincare line called The Outset, has been over five years in the making, and in conversation with InStyle, she says that despite the beauty industry being a crowded market, she believes there's space for a brand like hers.
"It's uncomplicated, clean, and mindful, and we're looking to effect positive change. We've partnered with Dress for Success to support women as they enter the labor force, we work with One Tree Planted, we've found all these paper-alternatives [for our packaging], and we're a member of 1% For The Planet. I think there is space for a brand like ours that looks to redirect the industry in a way," she says. "Yes, it is a very crowded space, but I think there's space for that."
The decision to start a skincare brand of her own came at the same time that Johansson decided to stop doing beauty endorsements, which she had been doing for years with brands such as L'Oréal Paris and Dolce & Gabbana. "It just no longer felt desirable to represent other people's beauty ideals," she said. "I had a better sense of self and confident in my point of view in this space. [The decision] mirrored my acting career in the sense that I wanted to take charge of my own career in a way."
And while many celebrity beauty brands seem like a play for extra cash and fame, Johansson's feels more purposeful. When she first considered launching a company, she says that many people encouraged her to license her name and work within a pre-existing infrastructure, which she didn't want to do. "It would have been easier!" she says, adding that it definitely would've taken less time. "But it's been an incredible journey having a startup — I feel like I got my MBA."
The idea stemmed from Johansson's experience with her own skin, which she describes as "problem skin," and wanting to find something clean, effective, and simple. She realized that there were so many products that were focused on resurfacing the skin, which led it to be raw and aggravated. She says it took a long time for her to realize that replenishing her skin's moisture levels was very healing.
Then came the question of skincare ingredients. "I realized that I was putting a lot of really harmful things on my face — [things that were] harmful for myself and the planet," she explains. As such, she decided that The Outset would be clean, which the brand describes as being free of fragrances, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and both gluten and nut allergens. "It's how we ended up with the hyaluroset complex that's in all our products," she says, explaining that it's a botanical alternative to hyaluronic acid.
The initial collection is quite small, including just five products: the Gentle Micellar Antioxidant Cleanser, Firming Vegan Collagen Prep Serum, Nourishing Squalane Daily Moisturizer, Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream, and Smoothing Vitamin C Eye Expression Lines Cream. The entire line retails for less than $55.
It's as streamlined and simple as Johansson envisioned it to be, and while it's hard to pick a favorite product after five years, she says she really loves the night cream. "I'm very proud of it. I wanted to create something that felt extremely luxurious and has a beautiful feel the morning after," she says of her star pick. In fact, she asked her co-founder, beauty entrepreneur and veteran Kate Foster, if they could make a body lotion or hand cream with the formula since she loves it that much. "It would be too expensive, though. But I love it — your skin is noticeably plump and juicy when you put it on."
And while Johansson's pick is the night cream, her husband, SNL comedian Colin Jost, is particularly fond of the eye cream. "He's the first partner I've ever had that uses an eye cream," she says, adding that it fills all his needs and jokes that it's why he looks so good on Saturday nights. However, as her partner, he helped her test a few formulas, and it wasn't always smooth sailing.
She explains that at one point, she had thought about adding a face mask to the skincare collection and was testing a formula. "I forgot to tell Colin it was self-warming, and he thought he was having a really crazy allergic reaction to it," she shares while laughing. "He was like, 'it's spread and it's melting off my face!' He was completely freaking out."
VIDEO: How Dead Sea Algae Can Revive Your Skin
Life at home is a lot of fun for her. She and Jost welcomed their first child, Cosmo, in August 2021, and her daughter, Rose, is seven-years-old, an age when kids are curious about everything. Johansson shares that it's funny because Rose questions everything she does. "'Why are you tweezing your eyebrows? Why are you curling your lashes? What's a tampon? What's it for?'" she laughs.
"She asked me why my underwear went up my butt crack, and I had to try to explain what a panty line was. I was like, "'cause you don't want a line in your pants," and she was like "Why?" And I was like, "'cause then you could see my underwear," and she was like "But you are wearing underwear." Like I know, it's weird."
With a newborn, Johansson is grateful she's always had a simple skincare routine. However, since it's winter and New York City (where she lives) is very dry, she says she tries to remind herself to moisturize head to toe. "I forget to use body lotion most of the time. It feels time-consuming, even though it only takes about 30 seconds," she shares. After Cosmo was born, she says it took her a long time to get her hair cut and colored, and that once she did, she felt fresh and like herself again.
Her hair has been something of hers she's always had fun with. "When I was 19, I cut my hair into a fashion mullet, which I wanted to have a Bowie-meets-Silkwood vibe. When I look back, it felt like it was beyond forward, it was probably extreme, but now it's back and I still think it was a really cute haircut," she says.
Another throwback beauty trend she brings up are the ultra-thin eyebrows that, like the mullet, are beginning to come back in style. "I definitely tweezed all my friends' eyebrows away, which they still give me shit about," she says. "Mine grew back, but I guess my friends' didn't and they're still pissed about it — whatever, it was popular back then!"