Scarlett Johansson Let Me in on Her Secret to Treating Adult Acne — and I Can Confirm It Works Wonders

The Outset’s Caffeine Micro Polish earned a spot in my regular skincare routine.

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Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson. Photo:


You’d be forgiven if the thought of a face scrub conjures images of St. Ives and little blue beads causing microtears on your face. I, too, was put off by physical exfoliant face washes after living through the beauty products of the early 2000s. But there is a new class of products that are gentle and skin enhancing — and leading the pack is The Outset’s new Exfoliating Caffeine Micro Polish, which cofounder Scarlett Johansson credits for clearing up her adult acne. 

I was introduced to the Caffeine Micro Polish in August by The Outset’s cofounders, Scarlett Johannson and Kate Foster. My acne and oily skin regularly wreak havoc on my face, so I was all ears when Johansson shared her experience

“The last time that I had really crazy breakouts, I went through this cycle where I had adult acne for like years and it was crazy. It was like moving from one side to the other. I could not get rid of it,” Johansson told InStyle. She realized that she needed gentle exfoliation, not something that would cause those microtears in her skin. “Finally, using a really gentle polish followed by the Collagen Prep Serum and the Daily Moisturizer cleared all of my acne.” It’s a process and routine that is years in the making, Scarlett Johansson says. “This will take the guesswork out, I’ve done all the work for you.”


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Liking a product you’ve formulated is like thinking your child is the most talented person in the room — so I had to try it for myself. My skin is sensitive and prone to breakouts, hormonal fluctuations, and oiliness. To sum up my experience, it’s been nearly impossible for me to keep my mouth shut about this Outset product, because it’s my favorite yet. 

The mechanical, physical grit and exfoliant in this formula comes from sugar. Because sugar dissolves, it’s gentle and you can control how rough it feels by adjusting the pressure you apply. I was initially skeptical when Johansson and Foster told me The Outset Micro Polish was gentle enough to be used everyday, but they were ultimately right.

I keep my bottle in the shower and use it about every other day, sometimes more often when my skin feels rough and clogged. The combination of caffeine, chamomile, sugar, and Hyaluroset (the brand's botanical alternative to hyaluronic acid) is divine — there is immediately a noticeable difference in my skin’s texture and it feels less oily without feeling tight or dry. Because my skin is particularly sensitive, exfoliating masks are out of the question. The Micro Polish, however, feels like it revives my skin to a similar degree without the harshness or breakouts. 

For Johansson, the one-two punch of The Outset Antioxidant Cleanser, followed by the Caffeine Micro Polish, is enough to replace toner. “Because the Antioxidant Cleanser has micellar in it and the Polish removes dead skin cells, that should remove the step of toner in my opinion. It helps with brightening and firming, and strengthens the skin barrier rather than stripping it.” 

The Outset Caffeine Micro Polish is a face wash that wears many hats. You can use it for an occasional flash facial, as a daily face wash, or as a double-cleanse replacement for toner. Head to The Outset to try it for $34. 

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