Scarlet Johannson has a long list of movies on her IMDb page, but in March of 2023, the green-eyed beauty added a different type of experience to her resume: a “consciously clean” skincare line.
Like many recent success stories, the idea came about during the pandemic in 2020. Johannson, along with friend and previous beauty/fashion executive Kate Foster, spent two years apart using every form of modern-day communication to develop The Outset, a clean beauty brand designed to simplify and elevate your daily routine.
“The Outset means ‘from the beginning,” explains Foster. “It’s an optimistic point of view that every day is a chance for a fresh start, whether you’re a beauty novice who doesn’t know where to begin or a pro looking to simplify and reset. No matter where you are in your skincare journey, there is a place for you here.”
Let’s take a closer look at the brand, including how the products are formulated, to see if they are as effective as they are clean.
Brand Ethos: Consciously Clean Skincare That Works
As there are no FDA regulations for clean skincare, The Outset holds itself accountable to ensure that all of its formulas are void of approximately 2,700 ingredients of concern.
Back to the Basics
“We believe that skin is best when you begin with the basics,” explains Scarlett Johannson on the brand’s website. “Our philosophy is grounded in nourishing and fortifying your skin, giving back to it without using harsh ingredients that might strip or irritate it. Our everyday essentials can be easily paired with products already in your routine.” All of the brand’s products are:
- Dermatologist tested
- Nut allergen-free
- Allergy tested
- Suitable for sensitive skin
People and the Planet
Helping people and the planet is another significant part of The Outset’s ethos. The brand supports organizations that help empower people and protect the environment. Currently, the company is aligned with Dress for Success, One Tree Planted, and 1% for the Planet.
It should be no surprise that a brand creating clean, efficacious formulas while supporting people and the planet through fundraising and volunteerism would also make strides in the sustainability department.
- All packaging is thoughtfully designed to minimize excess waste by using post-consumer recycled and recyclable materials as much as possible.
- Cartons and shippers are made with 100% recyclable and FSC-certified paper in a 100% wind-powered and carbon-neutral facility.
- Packing materials are made with sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable paper.
- The brand partnered with CarbonFund.org to offset CO2 emissions from its headquarters and every order shipped.
- Offers low-waste refills of its products.
Formulation Facts: Key Ingredients in The Outset Products
- Hyaluroset Complex: The brand’s signature ingredient is a botanic alternative to hyaluronic acid sourced from the seeds of the Cassia flower. Like Hyaluronic acid, it delivers immediate and lasting moisture to nourish, plump, and smooth the skin.
- White Tea: Helps protect against oxidative stress and is touted for having a higher antioxidant power than green and black teas.
- Caffeine: An antioxidant that may help reduce the signs of aging, improve circulation, and act as a source of antioxidants.
- Chamomile: Boasts anti-inflammatory properties to help calm sensitized skin.
- Niacinamide: Research suggests it may increase the skin’s antioxidant capacity, maintain the skin barrier and help reduce the appearance of signs of aging such as pigmentation, yellowing of the skin, and fine lines.
- Bakuchiol: A naturally-derived ingredient that has similar benefits to retinol. It is considered gentler and milder than retinol and, as it is derived from plant-based sources, is a vegan alternative.
- Evening Primrose Oil: When used topically may help to moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation, and support the treatment of acne.
- Licorice Extract: An excellent anti-inflammatory and calming ingredient that promotes a more even skin tone for a brighter appearance.
- Ascorbyl Glucoside: A highly stable form of vitamin C that may help to improve the appearance of dull or pigmented skin.
- Centella Asiatica Extract: Helps to support the skin’s natural barrier, provides antioxidants, and protects the skin from damage.
- Vegan Collagen: A clean alternative to traditional collagen that promotes firmer-looking skin.
- Pullulan: Provides a firming effect which gives the appearance of smoother skin.
- Squalane: Helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduces flakiness and dryness, and is non-comedogenic, making it great for congested or oily skin types. It mimics the skin’s natural oils to leave the skin feeling smooth and moisturized.
- Edelweiss Extract: Known to provide twice the antioxidant power of Vitamin C, this extract helps to soothe and brighten skin.
The Outset Review: 6 Targeted Launch Products
Exfoliating Caffeine Micro Polish
This energizing facial exfoliant is fueled with caffeine to boost circulation, which promotes a more revitalized appearance. It only takes one minute to visibly smooth and brighten a lackluster complexion. Sweeping away dead skin cells also makes it easier for the rest of your skincare to absorb.
- The gentle exfoliating action is courtesy of fine perlite, a naturally spherical mineral that won’t cause micro-tears on the skin.
- Other featured ingredients include the brand’s proprietary hyaluroset complex to deliver immediate and long-lasting moisture and white tea to help protect the skin from oxidative stress.
- This micro polish was created for Scarlette’s sensitive skin, so it’s suitable for all skin types.
- Its texture allows you to control the level of exfoliation based on your skin type — the more water you add, the deeper the scrub.
Restorative Niacinamide Night Cream
This intensely nourishing night cream (Scarlett’s favorite product) resets, rejuvenates, and restores the skin while sleeping, so you wake up with a more healthy, radiant complexion. Niacinamide and licorice extract help brighten and improve skin texture, promoting a more youthful-looking appearance.
- Evening primrose oil softens and nourishes the skin while helping to protect the skin against environmental aggressors like sun exposure and pollution.
- Skin-plumping hyaluroset complex and bakuchiol, a retinol alternative, soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- This deeply moisturizing night cream is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, and suitable for all skin types.
Soothing Vitamin C Eye and Expression Lines Cream
More than just an eye cream, this vitamin C-rich formula can also be used to soften lines that appear around the mouth. Hyaluroset Complex, the brand’s signature botanical alternative to hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica extract help plump up and smooth the skin in these compromised areas. This expression lines cream helps strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and helps to nourish the microbiome with prebiotics.
- Ascorbyl glucoside, a stable form of Vitamin C, brightens and revitalizes the skin, while mineral-rich Irish moss provides nourishment and hydration.
- This expression lines cream strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier and nourishes the microbiome, thanks to prebiotics.
- It only takes a pea-sized amount day and night, but consistent use is the key to seeing optimal results.
ALTERNATIVES: If you are concerned about aging around the eyes , one product we recommend is Carrot & Stick The Eye Cream.
Gentle Micellar Antioxidant Cleanser
A cleanser is essential but can also make or break your skincare routine. This jelly-like formula is sulfate-free, so that it won’t strip the skin of its natural oils. Still, it can effectively remove makeup, excess oil, and impurities.
- Cleansing micelles attract and dissolve makeup and impurities without drying out the skin. The brand’s proprietary hyaluroset complex promotes a more hydrated, balanced complexion.
- A blend of seven different amino acids helps strengthen the skin barrier while visibly reducing the signs of aging.
- Antioxidant-rich lemon, orange, avocado, and grape extracts help minimize free radical damage caused by environmental aggressors.
Firming Vegan Collagen Prep Serum
Applied after cleansing and toning and before moisturizing, a serum is a step that should not be skipped or overlooked. It has a molecular size that’s significantly smaller than a moisturizer or other skincare product formulations, meaning potent, results-driven ingredients can penetrate on a more profound and practical level. In this case, we’re talking about vegan collagen, hyaluroset complex, and botanical actives that work together to improve elasticity, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and boost radiance.
- Mexican arnica flower extract soothes and hydrates, while brassica napus seedcake extract reduces the appearance of dark spots.
- Pullulan firms and smoothes, resulting in a more youthful-looking complexion.
- It’s an Allure Best of Beauty winner for 2023.
- This gel-serum absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving behind a sticky residue.
Alternatives: Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum. It contains 7 plant-based peptides to help promote smoother looking skin.
Nourishing Squalane Daily Moisturizer
Lightweight and clinically proven, this moisturizer provides immediate and long-lasting moisture that lasts for an impressive 24 hours. Hops and edelweiss extracts reduce redness and improve texture and tone, while red rice extract hydrates and protects.
- Squalane, sourced from olives (not to be confused with squalene, which is sourced from shark liver), mimics the skin’s natural oils, leaving skin hydrated and balanced.
- The formula is lightweight but buildable, so it’s suitable for all skin types.
- Nourishing Squalane Daily Moisturizer was developed for Johansson’s sensitive skin.
ALTERNATIVES: Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer. It’s overflowing with potent plant proteins, vitamins, peptides and amino-collagen.
Overall, The Outset is a clean skincare brand that uses evidence-based ingredients along with their proprietary Hyaluroset Complex, a botanical alternative to skin-plumping hyaluronic acid.
- We appreciate the brand’s sustainability efforts, including thoughtfully designed recyclable packaging, their partnership with CarbonFund.org, and refillable products.
- We also love that helping people and the planet is another significant part of The Outset’s ethos. The brand supports organizations like Dress for Success and One Tree Planted that help empowers people and protect the environment.
- Suppose we were to list one potential red flag. It would be that most of the brand’s key ingredients fall somewhere around the middle of the ingredient list. It’s not that this is necessarily bad. Still, understanding that ingredients on a cosmetic label are listed by concentration helps determine the concentrations of key ingredients in the product.
Ingredients on a cosmetic label can be listed in two ways: alphabetically or by decreasing order of concentration, with the latter being the most common method. When ingredients on a cosmetic label are listed by concentration, the higher up on the ingredient list something is, the higher the concentration. You may notice that water is often the first ingredient on a cosmetic label (and that’s the case with The Outnet’s products), meaning that water makes up most of the formula.
What are some alternatives to The Outset?
While we strive to provide accurate reviews, the reality is that only some products or brands are for everyone. The good news is that you have options.
The Derm Review is affiliated with Carrot & Stick and Formulyst. While we stand behind our brands, we’re not here to tell you what to put on your skin — that’s up to you. However, we still believe it’s worth sharing a few alternative top-rated brands.
- Carrot & Stick is another clean brand that harnesses the power of evidence-based ingredients backed by science. Like The Outset, the brand never formulates any of its products with ingredients from the “Nix List,” such as sulfates, parabens, formaldehydes, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, triclocarban, synthetic fragrances or animal-based ingredients.
- Another skincare line that’s aligned with The Outset’s vision is Formulyst. The brand’s philosophy is to create the right products that will help treat skin issues rather than cover them up. Formulyst believes in long-term solutions and prevention rather than quick fixes. The focus is on gold-standard ingredients that work, such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, rather than creating products that just feel good and smell good.
- Rhode Skincare by Hailey Bieber is another celebrity skincare brand with a similar ethos to The Outnet. The company is “dedicated to making products based in science and great formulation, simplifying many of the mysteries and complex narratives behind efficacious skincare.” Like The Outnet, the brand’s core values are simplicity, affordability, authenticity, transparency, and quality.
One element missing from The Outnet’s product lineup is an SPF, a vital component in any skincare routine. Cay Skin, model Winnie `Harlow’s sun protectants, uses many of the same clean ingredients as The Outset, including niacinamide and Irish sea moss. All of the brand’s products are vegan, cruelty-free, silicone-free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist-tested. CAY Skin also makes sustainable efforts, such as being Certified Carbon Neutral.
“International Journal of Toxicology, vol. 24, is. 5, pp. 1-31.2. Bissett, D, Oblong, J & Berge, C, 2006. ‘Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging in Facial Skin Appearance,’ International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol 31, is. 1”.
“Cerave National Studies Reveals up to 80% of Americans Wash Their Face Incorrectly” PR Newswire August 2017.
FDA.gov “Summary of Cosmetics Labeling Requirements,” FDA.gov “Cosmetic Ingredient Names,” CosmeticsEurope.eu “Understanding the Label”.