Esse Skincare

Rewild Your Skin

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Vegan Skincare

Optimal skin condition depends on the probiotic microbes living on and in it. Without microbes, your skin can’t perform its basic functions and the rate of skin ageing increases sharply.


Esse does not believe in damaging skin in pursuit of short-term results, it optimises skin health to slow ageing in the longterm.

It uses prebiotics to selectively feed good microbes and includes LIVE probiotic microbes in two of the serums to make functional changes to the skin’s microbiome.

Since our inception, we have remained true to our core principles: We’re certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. We support fair trade and are a carbon neutral company.


Trevor Steyn studied organic chemistry and completed a Masters degree in 1996. His mentor, Prof Siegfried Drewes, inspired a passion for the chemistry of Africa’s plants. After discovering the potential of some of these plants in skin care, Trevor formulated and founded Esse. Work on Esse began in 2000 with research into Kigelia africana, the African Sausage tree. After two years of formulating, Esse was born in 2002.

Trevor is passionate about the skin microbiome, sustainable living and preserving Africa’s biodiversity. He surfs, plays squash and practices yoga. He lives on a farm in Richmond, South Africa with his wife and children.

“I would like to play a part in creating a beautiful, indefinitely sustainable future,” he says “Esse will continue on its path to build more effective and more sustainable products”


Esse means ‘to be’ in Latin.

The brand initially established itself in the nascent organic skincare market in South Africa.

In 2009, the company began its move into probiotic skincare. Early findings from the Human Microbiome Project started to shift the conventional view of skin and Esse began to see skin as an ecology of human and microbial cells and the process of incorporating this new view into the formulation of its products began. The company actively researches the application of new probiotic species and delivery methods to combat ageing and optimise skin health.



Esse has subscribed to the Ecocert organic standards since its inception. Ecocert enforce minimum organic percentages and ban ingredients that they deem to be unsafe or unsustainable. They also audit our production facility and ensure full traceability of all raw materials.

Ecocert regulates the packaging that we use. They make sure that the materials that we use are safe for the consumer and don’t leach into the product over time. They also oversee the recyclability of the packaging materials.


Esse fights every year to minimise its carbon emissions. We audit our energy consumption yearly to ensure that we are as efficient as we can be and that we continue to improve.

Nobody’s perfect though, so Esse purchases carbon credits to offset the company’s carbon emissions. You can find out more about our chosen carbon offset program here.


We’ve partnered with Cleanhub to collect plastic waste in developing countries before it can reach the ocean. Millions of tons of plastic end up in our ocean every year with deeply damaging results to marine ecosystems. Today, 91% of global plastic does not get recycled and single-use plastics end up in water courses destined for the ocean.

Esse has stepped up to help protect the ocean by going plastic neutral. We calculate our plastic usage and ensure that an equivalent amount is collected and recycled. This also empowers local communities in developing countries to set up collection businesses. At the moment, Cleanhub has the capacity to treat 15 million tonnes of plastic waste from more than 70 countries. Esse is committed to protecting our ocean – with every product we sell.


We do not test our products on animals and will not source ingredients from suppliers who do. There are many alternatives to the use of animals in research. Our products are tested on human volunteers.

Esse belongs to PeTA’s cruelty-free company program and is accredited as a cruelty-free company on

Esse is also accredited through Beauty Without Cruelty, an animal rights organisation with a primary objective to educate and inform the public about the exploitation, abuse and suffering of animals.


Esse is accredited by The Vegan Society. This means that no animal products are used in our range.

With the emergence of marketing catch lines such as “humane farming” and “caring for animals” appearing more and more on animal produce, the killing of animals for human benefit is being sugar-coated. We don’t believe in using ANY animal products in our skincare line … not even beeswax.

Why Organic

Over the course of the last century, we have seen the impact of synthetic chemicals on the world around us.

We now know that complex ecosystems don’t respond to single chemicals in predictable ways.

For example … when we spray DDT into an ecosystem to kill mosquitos, we succeed, but then we will then start to see unintended consequences. Decades after the ban on DDT, 99% of Americans still test positive for DDT residues in their blood. Girls exposed to DDT before puberty are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer as adults.

Although we achieve our short-term goals, the long-term effects are not easy to live with.

We feel that something similar is happening in conventional skincare. A single chemical is applied to skin for a short-term result without a full understanding of the long-term consequences.

Esse stays as close to nature as possible and the Ecocert organic standards keep us on track. They don’t allow synthetic chemicals, genetic modification or hormone mimics. In our view, we don’t feel that the standards have been a restriction on our ability to offer sustainable anti-ageing results.

Organic farmers don’t use synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, so water courses and soil are not polluted by poisons. This also means that you aren’t polluted by the residues of these chemicals in your products.

In short, organic farming is sustainable and does less harm to the planet. It isn’t perfect, but it is far better than the status quo.

A person’s skin often has greater microbial diversity than their gut. Skin is now viewed by scientists as an ecosystem. Human cells and microbes co-exist with both contributing to optimum skin health.

In 2015, a 3D molecular map of human skin chemistry was made for the first time. The subjects were asked to stop using all personal care products for three days to avoid contamination of the results. The prediction was that the majority of the skin chemistry would be from microbial origin and that the rest would be of human origin, with environmental chemicals making up a small but measurable portion.

The results didn’t follow that pattern.

Products of microbial cells did indeed contribute twice what human cells did to the chemistry on skin. The surprise finding was that residues from personal care products contributed 8% of the measured chemistry.