The past couple of years have seen an unprecedented number of celeb-founded beauty brands. But when it comes to one that has as much efficacy in its products as much as it has star power, nobody is doing it like The Outset. The clean skincare brand co-founded by Scarlett Johansson and Kate Foster is innovative and approachable and uses gentle, skin-nourishing ingredients powered by plants. (The brand's cornerstone ingredient is the Hyaluroset Complex, a botanical alternative to hyaluronic acid that's made from cassia seeds.)
Photo:Courtesy of The Outset
We caught up with Johansson and Foster to talk about their journey as founders over the past year, skin changes after 40, thoughts on Botox and fillers, and more. Keep scrolling!
It's been a little over a year since The Outset launched in March of 2022. What are some of the biggest things that you've learned since becoming a skincare founder?
Scarlett Johansson: It's been a great first year since launch. I've been the face of campaigns in the past, but now, I feel like I'm truly part of this beauty community, and the feedback and support we're getting—from our social followers to the beauty influencers all the way to the consumers—is so validating. We really feel like we're on to something here with our gentle skin movement. I'm learning how truly powerful this concept of "community" can be.
Kate Foster: The development process is arduous, especially when you have very defined, clean standards like we do. Around our launch, we were going to have a lip product that was very cool and very innovative, but we scrapped it days before. Scarlett is known for her lips, and there is a lot of equity there. But we wanted every single product to perform like a hero, where we can confidently stand by it and say, "We put our all into this." So we've been working on a new product, and I think this version is even better than the original one. It's just one of those things where you have to let the journey guide you, and you're going to end up in the right place.
Also, SPF development is a beast, and that piece is really important for us. But in order to make a mineral SPF that's clean, that's going to work on all skin tones, that isn't going to pill underneath your makeup, and is fragrance-free and not smelling like garbage—we have very high standards, so it takes time. That's something that's in the works as well.
Scarlett, you're approaching 40, and Kate, you're in your 40s like me. Have you noticed your skin change in the past few years like I have?
SJ: My skin has definitely changed over the years! As time has gone on, I realized that the more I tried to "correct" my skincare issues, the worse it made my skin, so my routine has really become all about consistency and using products that are gentle and super hydrating. I truly believe that hydration is key when it comes to good skin, and honestly, my skin has never felt better.
KF: When I started to have kids, I was feeling tired and older and did a lot of retinol creams and harsh actives, but my face was really red like a tomato. So I connected with Scarlett on that, and as we started to work on The Outset and began eliminating those harsh ingredients and focusing on nourishment, my skin has never been better. I think I probably didn't appreciate the power of moisture enough before and didn't realize that what I was doing was really unkind to my skin.
Scarlett, the last time you spoke with Who What Wear, you said that you never get facials. Has that changed? Or have you tried any other skincare treatments since?
SJ: I'm loving our new Purifying Blue Clay Mask as an at-home treatment that I do two to three times a week when my skin needs a detox. And while facials aren't a regular part of my skincare routine, I do think it's a great addition to your skincare routine. We just introduced our Clay Mask with a limited-edition facial at Heyday Skincare, so I'm planning a trip over there to do a little detox and get some skin tips!
KF: I fully appreciate Scarlett's opinion because, you know, people are poking at her face all day long. And for me, I'm just like, "Oh, rub my face. Put your hands on me." I really like facials, and I think there's just so much innovation that's happening with them, like microcurrent and a lot of lymphatic-drainage elements that help you to really see a difference. It’s just a nice ritual. I have large pores, so I don't love the extractions, but I can tolerate them for a few minutes. Heyday is right across the street from us here in New York, so I'm a frequent visitor.
Botox, fillers, and other similar aesthetic treatments are so much more popular and accepted today than they were years ago. What are your thoughts on them?
SJ: I'm a big believer of doing whatever makes you feel happy and confident. Some of my friends that use aesthetic treatments like Botox feel like they look their best when they are wrinkle-free, and that makes them feel more confident. I have other friends who love their natural skin and embrace aging with all of its changes. I think everyone looks their best when we are judgment-free of one another.
KF: I think the stigma behind it is rightfully diminishing. Our approach to skincare is that it doesn't need to be complicated, but it should be consistent. And our overall point of view is having this everyday foundation for your skincare: cleansing, prepping, moisturizing. … When you have this really healthy, hydrated base, then you can do whatever you want to do, like get your laser treatment or massage or use that really active retinol. Just having that foundation is important. Everybody should do what makes them feel happy and makes them feel good about themselves.
Who do you consider your ultimate beauty icons?
SJ: My mother has incredible skin, and she's always advocated for self-care for as long as I can remember. She has been using the same products for decades! She taught me the importance of clean skin, consistency of skincare routine, and hydration.
KF: I'd say Prince. Prince was a gorgeous human. I like a lot of people who are so uniquely themselves. I think it's also because my approach [to beauty] is just so simple and so basic that I do appreciate people who are creative and clever.
That kind of goes with my next question: How has becoming a skincare founder affected your approach to makeup?
SJ: I'm in the makeup chair a lot for work, so on the days I'm off, I try to keep it simple and easy. After my skincare routine with our Daily Essentials Regimen, it's a little concealer, mascara, lip gloss, and I'm out the door.
KF: I'm still very minimal. I think the thing I prize more than anything is convenience and being able to get out the door. I cleanse, prep, moisturize. I have maybe five products that I put on, like my tinted foundation, blush, mascara, a little bit of a swipe of the eyebrow pencil, and a lip, and I'm out the door. I love experimenting with products and seeing what other brands are doing, but at the end of the day, I'm still looking for a convenient, no-fuss, no-stress approach to beauty because that's what makes me feel empowered to take on the day.
What kind of beauty products do you use frequently—aside from The Outset, of course?
SJ: The Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation and Concealer Stick—I love the brand's clean formulas and the coverage this stick gives. Tower 28 Beauty's ShineOn Lip Jelly in Wild—this shade is amazing, and the texture is so great. It's not sticky at all. The Yves Durif Vented Hairbrush, this is a must for my hair.
KF: I love the Tower 28 Beauty SunnyDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation, and I'll either use a Tower 28 blush, like BeachPlease, or Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick. Just a quick little swipe. The Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pencil is still my go-to for brows. And then mascara—I'm always on the hunt for the best mascara and have five different ones that I rotate, from the Benefit Cosmetics BadGal Bang! Volumizing Mascara to the old standby, L'Oréal Voluminous Mascara, and I've been messing around with the Pat McGrath one.
Is there a beauty product from your childhood or teen years that you still use to this day?
SJ: I have a bottle of Ananya perfume from The Body Shop that I still covet! I will keep it in my cabinet till the last drop evaporates!
KF: I still stand by Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. I was also very big into the Maybelline Kissing Potions. Scarlett and I talked about them, and I was like, "How can we do this?" Maybe someday we will. We also talked about having a moment with three-step skincare like Clinique. Mine started with Proactiv—it was the first time I started incorporating moisture into my routine. I think to some extent we were inspired by it, like "How do we create the modern three-step [routine]?" The philosophy is good, but we wanted to make that second step be more about feeding skin rather than stripping away. That's really what set us down this path of the Daily Essentials Regimen, our cleanse, prep, moisturize. So it's still there in our philosophy. It's just evolved.
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