Pore Decisions

Scarlett Johansson Has Acne All Figured Out

The actor shares her extremely chill skin care routine.

Scarlett Johansson on skin care, treating acne, and being happy with her complexion.
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

In Bustle’s Pore Decisions, celebrities, influencers and Bustle’s own readers recount their personal skin journeys: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Here, Scarlett Johansson reminisces on the many different acne treatments she’s tried.

When I ask Scarlett Johansson about her first skin care memory, a very specific one immediately comes to mind. “I remember I started to get pre-teen acne [when I was filming The Horse Whisperer at age 12], and the makeup artist at the time was like, ‘Whoa, you’ve got Mount Vesuvius on your forehead,’” she tells Bustle. “It was so devastating and made me feel so bad about myself.” He proceeded to give her the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, which became the first thing she ever tried on her pimples. (“That actually works pretty well,” says Johansson.)

Twenty-five years later, the actor and entrepreneur has tried practically every so-called breakout-busting remedy under the sun in an attempt to keep her acneic skin under control. In that time, Johansson learned an all-important lesson: Contrary to popular belief, you can’t fight acne by dousing your skin with scrubs and acids. Instead, it’s all about gently nourishing your complexion back to its healthy, thriving state by using barrier-fortifying formulas.

That’s exactly how her skin care line The Outset came to be — Johansson wanted to create a range of edited skin care essentials meant to keep your face happy and moisturized. “It’s not meant to be transformative in the sense that you’re going to look like someone else, and there’s not a certain beauty ideal that we’re pushing,” she says. “It’s really so that you can have the best version of your skin.”

Ahead, Johansson chats exclusively with Bustle about her skin care routine, her thoughts on eye cream, and why she doesn’t like facials.

On Her Approach To Skin Care

“I definitely take a less-is-more approach. I think because I have acne-prone skin and have had acne for a very long time, I’ve learned to be kinder to my skin. I’ve definitely stopped looking in the magnifying mirror and looking at every pore. I used to be so critical of what was going on. Honestly, my skin improved just by not spending that much time staring at it and poking around my face, and also by feeling overall happier about what I’ve got.”

On The Best Beauty Advice She’s Ever Received

“Because I kept wearing so makeup for work, my mom was like, ‘Never go to sleep with your makeup on your face. Wash your skin before you go to bed.’ I know it’s a simple thing, but I still have friends that don’t do it. No matter how late it is or how late the party went or whatever, I’ve always washed my face — it’s just part of my daily maintenance.”

On Her Acne Journey

“When I was a teenager, I started taking care of my face with whatever was popular at that time. Clinique was really big — there was that purple toner that I used. I’d say the St. Ives Apricot Scrub was maybe the worst thing I ever did to deal with my acne.

“I’ve tried so many things. I once tried charcoal tablets, and then I tried putting pure tea tree oil directly onto my skin. That was a low point. It just burns your skin. Later on, unknowingly I was using a lot of harsh, stripping things all together, at the same time, for a long time. I’d layer on vitamin C then glycolic acid on top of that, followed by a retinol. I think having that overcomplicated skin care routine created a huge imbalance in my skin. I was also a pimple popper, of course — with other people’s pimples, my own, family members — I’m fantastic at doing extractions. Do you have a chair in the other room? [Laughs.]

“Now, if I ever get a breakout, I’ll usually exfoliate with the new Micro-Polish [by The Outset] and then just clean the area and put something with salicylic acid on it.”

On Eye Cream

“Enough people in my life were like, ‘You’ve got to use an eye cream,’ because I had never found an eye cream that I felt was worth it. I guess I kind of got FOMO from my husband [Colin Jost] and Kate [Foster, co-founder of The Outset] both using one. Then when we started doing the product development of the [Outset] eye cream, I felt this one was worth committing to. I love that Colin is now like, ‘Now I’m known as this eye cream guy.’ ”

On Beauty Treatments

“My skin care routine is so basic. I never did any of those high-tech tools, but I did have the Clarisonic for a while. I don’t get facials — I’m scared of them. I’m just afraid of something going terribly wrong.”

On Body Care

“I really similarly treat my body like my face in the sense that I use an exfoliating wash and I moisturize my skin after the shower. I probably do a big no-no by taking a boiling hot shower, which I get scolded for — not scalded. Colin is always like, ‘What is wrong with you? How can you feel anything?’

I love oil — I like to use coconut oil on my body. I keep a hand cream by my bed. I did get a dry brush, but I don’t think it’s doing anything. I suckered into buying it because it was one of those purchases where I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ It makes my skin look so dry, but I have one if you want it. The Outset will not be coming out with a dry brush.”

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