Scarlett Johansson is joining the sea of celebrity skin care founders. Last June, the two-time Oscar nominee announced she would be entering the beauty market with her own line, and on Tuesday, the 37-year-old actress launched an Instagram account and a website offering a sneak peek of her brand, The Outset.
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“I’ve been the face of several luxury brands throughout my career, and all of those experiences were really wonderful,” Johansson wrote in one post, referencing her years with L’Oréal, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, and others. “But—how do I put this? I guess I always felt like I was playing a character in those campaigns, and as I evolved I wanted to create and represent a brand that was true to me.” Using the hashtag #TheStartOfYou, Johansson’s preview of The Outset suggests a product line centered on eco-friendly and plant-based ingredients.
Johansson will serve as the chairman of the new company, which launched on March 1. Cofounder Kate Foster will be the CEO. Foster was previously founder and CEO of SwearBy, a digital site focused on word-of-mouth product recommendations.
The Outset has funding from the Najafi Companies, a Phoenix-based private investment firm founded by Jahm Najafi, vice chair and partial owner of the Phoenix Suns and McLaren Formula One Race Team. In addition to backing the NBA team and other sports ventures such as StubHub, BodyBuilding.com and Mission Advancement Corp. with Colin Kaepernick, Najafi has a notable portfolio of celebrity-founded lifestyle brands, including Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern Beauty and Shay Mitchell’s bag company, Beis.
WWD reported last year that Najafi invested between $5 million to $10 million to fund The Outset launch. When Johansson announced that the beauty company was in the works, the mother of two said she took a step away from her existing endorsement deals to focus on her own venture.
Johansson is joining a long list of stars with cosmetics brands. Rihanna, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez already have their own beauty lines, all of which tend to boast an emphasis on clean ingredients, simplicity, accessibility and inclusiveness. But the crowded market isn’t deterring Johansson from entering the skin care space, which helped make Rihanna a billionaire last year.
The cluttered market did not deter Najafi from investing. “The Outset is a special opportunity; for us to partner with an artist, it comes down to core values, passion and commitment…” says Dean Schnider, partner at The Najafi Companies. “Scarlett has been perfecting her own skincare formulations for years and the amount of genuine passion and intentionality that has led to The Outset is a true differentiator in the marketplace.”
While The Outset is a serious business venture, Johansson’s husband, Saturday Night Live star Colin Jost, couldn’t resist making with the wisecracks in the comments of the new Instagram account: “Is this the best way to contact you?” Jost asked a Johansson portrait. “I’m starting a similar brand called ‘Part of a Face’ and would love to use this photo. Thanks.”
To get more comfortable during a presentation, people often suggest imagining the audience in their underwear or assuming a powerful stance. Ariana Grande, while swatching the new shades from her r.e.m. beauty brand, has a different method: she announces that she’s going to swatch while impersonating actress Jennifer Coolidge. “This one’s called Boca Mocha,” she says in a pitch-perfect Coolidge voice while running her finger with the chocolate-brown eye shadow over her arm, “because it’s got a nice warm shade.” Grande’s right—it does make everything more comfortable.
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The singer has a lot of nervous energy to expunge while launching her new brand. In fact, she was the first person to log onto the Zoom call to discuss r.e.m. “I was way too excited,” Grande explains. “Like obviously way too excited. I was the first person here that was talking to the wall. I am smiling so hard. My teeth hurt. I’m so proud and grateful, and this is such a special moment for team r.e.m and me.”
R.e.m. beauty is Grande’s baby: the project has been gestating for two years now and finally launched on Friday, Nov. 12. The brand’s first drop, called “chapter one,” includes highlighters, false lashes, eyeliner pencils and markers, a shadow palette, liquid eyeshadows, and lipsticks that are all vegan and cruelty-free. And for “chapter two,” Grande shared that a possible foundation and concealer may or may not be in the works.
Below, in Grande’s words, here is every detail you need to know about the launch of r.e.m. beauty.
Grande was nervous about stepping into the beauty world at first
“I was nervous about [starting r.e.m.] because I don’t ever want to just jump into something that is popular. It has to feel super intentional and super fueled by passion. It has to feel super authentic to me. So let’s experiment, let’s dig in, and let’s play with some products. There are so many different versions to tell this makeup story and these formulas are so inspiring. We can bring our own version of this into the beauty space and I’m so excited.”
All the products have been world tour-tested
“We were doing shows and finishing the tour and were able to test the highlight on stage and then make notes on the formula. It’s been such a long road… going into the labs and trying everything and coming up with names.”
The Voice is another r.e.m. testing ground
“I’ve been wearing all of these products on The Voice. I wear them all the time to work. I wear them on TV. I’m always wearing the marker and the lip. And everyone asks, ‘What are you wearing?’ And I’m like, I don’t know, so this is exciting to finally be able to say [r.e.m. beauty]. It’s been really cool to secretly test and see them on TV.”
The brand is named after a favorite song she’s made
“I decided to name it r.e.m. because I feel like that song really encompasses a lot of my favorite parts of my sound sonically. And also REM rapid eye movement: focusing on dreams and focusing on the eyes and eyes being kind of like our best way to articulate–better than you can with words sometimes.”
Creating a beauty line and creating music have a lot of parallels for the singer
“The obvious answer is that music and makeup are incredibly different. They are so polarized, they’re so opposite, but the way that they sort of help bring each other to life is unspoken and right here in front of our faces. I feel like a lot of my music comes to life more when we shoot the video, which is accompanied by makeup. I am so appreciative of that because they’re both totally different outlets of storytelling, but they hold hands in a weird way. When you’re writing a song—spending time with the pre-chorus to make sure that the notes set up the hook in the proper way or that the harmonies aren’t fighting with the bells in the background or the strings and that everything is sort of complimentary of one another—is the same process as putting together these formulas and making sure that each note is perfect. Although they’re so wildly different, they feel so similar because it’s the same meticulous spending time with formula and formula is in music as well.”
Her love of makeup comes from her mom
“I was probably in my mom’s closet and I was using her black eyeliner. My mom loves black eyeliner. She only wears black. Her whole closet is, like, fields of black fabric and shoulder pads and you’re like, ‘Where am I? What is happening? Are you Cersei Lannister?’ I don’t get it. But I was using my mom’s black eyeliner and I wanted to look like a Spice Girl. And also my mom is super into Halloween and goth, and in the middle of July, she would paint me as a skeleton. That’s an early one. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, your family is super into Halloween.’ I’m like, ‘That was the summer. It was my third birthday. I’m just kidding. I’m not though.”
Meet the Products
THE BABYDOLL EYESHADOW PALETTE
On the packaging: “I wanted to make sure everything looked like a prop from Star Trek or Black Mirror. I wanted to treat it like Apple or Tesla and not treat it like makeup, because I’m obsessed with vintage sci-fi horror space stuff. I wanted to create my own world with the packaging.”
On the name: “My grandpa used to call me ‘baby doll’ and my nona calls me that and it’s on my finger. It’s the most personal name with warm and neutral yummy tones. The other palette is called ‘Principessa’ [princess in Italian] and ‘Midnight Snack.’”
On the packaging: “I’m obsessed with this packaging in a way I don’t even know how to articulate. It’s our little space human-alien pod. It’s kind of the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I love that you can peek through and see the colors. I love that it’s spacey and fun and it’s very soft and smooth.”
On the formula: “It’s super matte, but also super creamy and hydrating at the same time. This one comes in six shades, which is very exciting but there will be more. We’re starting with six and they’re all really strong and beautiful.”
COLLAR-PLUMPING LIP GLOSSES
“The glosses come in nine shades and the names are all kind of nostalgic like the ‘90s: away messages, jelly sandals, and scrunchies. It was just like pulling for things that make us feel warm and nostalgic because it makes me happy. This scent is like vanilla, minty, yummy, delicious scent and it’s super plumping. I have to say it’s one of my favorite glosses I’ve ever seen in my life. The plump was very important to me because I just remember being in middle school and having lip venom on.”
UTMOST IMPORTANCE PLUMPING GLOSS
On the product: “These are in my top-three favorite things in chapter one. It’s just the perfect clear top coat. It’s so ‘90s, like no color, no anything, perfectly there. And it has the yummiest warm vanilla scent and has the same pumping sensation, but it’s its own separate thing because that’s how imperative it is for the lip.”
How to wear it: “My favorite thing to do is pair this with my other favorites from chapter one. First, the practically permanent lip marker. It’s like a stain. I love stains. I’ve always loved stains more than lip liner or lipstick because I feel like it’s going to be there for you. You know, we gotta go, we gotta work, we gotta do things. Also, it doesn’t move. My favorite combination is the lip marker with the gloss. I love it and I’m wearing it right now.”
INTERSTELLAR HIGHLIGHT TOPPER
“We did 10 shades and named them after most of the planets in the solar system. We wanted to create them to have range but also to create fun eye looks, but you can use them anywhere they’re not just highlights. I love the way this feels, and it’s super pigmented.”
THE VOLUMIZING MASCARA
“I wanted to launch with two [mascaras]. This was a big debate because mascara is so important and so personal. I wanted to launch with two—one that’s more like lengthening and clean that separates the lashes. But another one that’s more dramatic, which is this one. And I love it so much. And I hope you do too.”
“I’m happy to tell you these are faux mink. They come in two styles for now. They are named ‘Eternally Meowing’ and ‘Grow and Show.’”
AT THE BORDERLINE EYELINER MARKER
“I love this marker because it’s super precise and I like that you can make the perfect little simple cat eye with it, but also just create more graphic looks with it because it’s so pointy and precise and thin and flexible. I love this marker at the borderline, a little nod to my song ‘Borderline.’ We have three colors: ‘Midnight Black,’ ‘Teddy Bear’ (brown), and ‘So Mod,’ which is white. This is like super, super white because a lot of my inspiration is from ‘60s mod: Twiggy, Barbarella, stuff like that. You can create more graphic, vintage stuff or just use it on your waterline.”
MIDNIGHT LIQUID SHADOWS
“We have several matte shades and then several super metallic sparkly shades. The coverage on these is really, really insane. They’re super pigmented. I feel like sometimes I can just wear them without any base or anything because the coverage is so insane.”
There is a little-known right of passage for Angelenos that caught Jennifer Aniston off guard when she first started driving in Hollywood. “I got my first car, and someone said to me, ‘So, like, what’s the name of your car?’ And I was like, ‘What? You have to name your car in California?’” Nevertheless, Aniston obliged, dubbing her black Saab 900 Lola. “I always liked the song,” she says, referring to Sarah Vaughan’s version of “Whatever Lola Wants,” which has become something of a theme song for the Friends star. “Whenever I’d show up, my friends would say, ‘Lola’s here!’”
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Aniston has since leveraged the name in myriad ways, including in 2010 when she launched her debut fragrance, before quickly changing course and going with the more straightforward Jennifer Aniston for Women, which was eventually acquired by Elizabeth Arden. There were murmurs that copyright issues inspired the switch, but it’s also entirely possible that Aniston had bigger plans for LolaVie, which she loosely translates as “Lola’s life, my life”—an illustrious existence that has included superstardom, as well as some very smart business decisions, including this one: Today, LolaVie lives again, as the name of Aniston’s debut beauty brand.
Aniston has dabbled in beauty before, of course. She has transcended the more standard “brand ambassador” title to take on C-suite positions across a range of beauty and wellness categories (her newest role, as the chief creative officer of Vital Proteins, is the latest example of Aniston putting her considerable endorsement power behind a product she simply uses every day). But her own brand, which will be broad-ranging if trademark filings are any indication, will begin where her household fame left off: with her hair.
“This just felt pretty organic to me as my hair is something that has always been one of my struggles,” reveals the onetime owner of The Rachel, who refers to her own honey blond strands as “the Greek frappé on top of my head.” Years of washing and drying and curling and straightening and coloring, both in her personal and professional life, has left Aniston uniquely positioned to talk about damage—and reparative ingredients, of which she has tried many on a long road to hair health. While working with a different hair-care brand, Aniston got “the bug” for formulating, so when the opportunity to become a founder presented itself five years ago via Elizabeth Arden veterans and current LolaVie co-founders Joel Ronkin and Amy Sachs—to create hair products with natural, plant-based ingredients that still perform—Aniston needed little convincing.
LolaVie arrives this morning with a Glossing Detangler that swaps water, a filler ingredient that typically makes up 80 percent of hair-care products, with nourishing, sustainable bamboo essence. Lemon extract imparts “extraordinary shine,” per Aniston, and vegetable ceramides replace conditioning chemicals such as silicones, which can offer immediate gratification but often cause damage over time.
A detangler isn’t necessarily the first product you’d expect from a new hair-care brand, but one of LolaVie’s core principles is to launch products based on need—a hole in the market, or something that can be improved upon—rather than conform to predetermined retail schedules. And Aniston happens to need a good detangler. “I use detanglers all the time when I get out of the shower because of the condition of my hair; it’s hard to get through,” she reveals, adding that she wanted her detangler to be like “the Swiss Army knife of products: It’s a heat protector, it brings nutrients and health back to the hair follicle, it creates shine”—and it happens to be a great sign of what’s to come.