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 creates an environment on the skin that favours the growth of beneficial microbes. 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. Esse does not believe in damaging skin in pursuit of short-term results, it optimises skin health to slow ageing in the long-term.

    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.


    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.

    More information about Ecocert


    Esse is committed to the Fair Trade of natural products and we are an accredited partner of PhytoTrade Africa. PhytoTrade Africa is dedicated to the development of Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable natural products. PhytoTrade oversees the sustainable harvest of plants from the wild by rural communities in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa. The equitable trade in natural products has raised the standard of living of tens of thousands of people.


  • Vegan

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


    For a full listing of the availability of Vegan products in South African visit the Vegan SA website www.vegansa.com

    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.

  • Cruelty Free

    Esse is accredited by Beauty Without Cruelty. 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. These results have shown that Esse products are less irritating to skin than distilled water.

    Esse has also joined PeTA’s cruelty-free company program and we’re accredited as a cruelty-free company on PeTA.org. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to establishing and defending the rights of all animals. They are an international nonprofit charitable organisation based in Norfolk, Virginia, with affiliates worldwide. PeTA is the world’s largest animal rights organisation.


    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.