SA brand moves into probiotic colour cosmetics


Certified organic skincare brand, Esse

South African certified organic skincare brand, Esse, has launch a range of probiotic foundations.


A few years ago Esse went the probiotic skincare route by developing products that create an environment on the skin that favours the growth of beneficial microbes.


Esse founder and organic chemist, Trevor Steyn, was initially reluctant to branch out into colour cosmetics. He says: “As a brand, Esse has always been driven by anti-ageing skincare, so this step into colour cosmetics was outside our comfort zone. In a way, our clients pushed us in this new direction. We're very focused on the skin microbiome and we go to great lengths to protect it with our products. Our clients were rightly concerned that they would undo all the work that we’d done if they applied a foundation that was not pH balanced or laden with harsh preservatives and other synthetics.


“Your 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.”


Steyn believes that the Esse foundation range is one of the few probiotic foundations in the world, if not the first. “We have not heard of any make-up lines moving into the probiotic realm yet. Being Esse’s first make-up offering, it was essential that the foundations were microbiome friendly. We had the technology available, so it made sense to offer active probiotics in the foundations as well.”


Two years in development, the Esse foundation range is available in 10 shades. Steyn and his team worked closely with some passionate make-up artists based in the UK to guide the colour choices. “We learned fairly early in the process that there are endless permutations and in the end, it was actually quite a challenge to narrow it down to only 10 shades.

“To select the shades we did a fair amount of market research and a lot of in-house testing. By filtering down to 10 shades we were forced into making sure the spectrum of shades included different skin tones as well as undertones.”


The Esse foundations have an SPF of 30. Says Steyn: “The fact that a foundation forms a physical barrier on the skin already gives it some natural SPF properties. We are very picky about the size of the particles that we use in our foundations and we only use coated pigments, so we were expecting an SPF of around 15, but were happy to achieve an SPF of 30.”

(Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)

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