Esse Clarifying


Most dermatology textbooks will tell you that there are four main factors that drive acne.

  1. High oil production
  2. Hyperkeratinisation at the exit of the pilosebaceous unit (PSU)
  3. Bacterial overgrowth
  4. Inflammation

The relative importance assigned to each of these factors has changed over the years. These days, acne is increasingly viewed as an inflammatory skin disease.

Inflammation can be thought of as the major underlying force that drives acne, and is present at all stages of lesion development. For example, chronic low-level inflammation seems to be the root cause of hyperkeratinisation. Breakdown of the barrier function in the PSU is a result of inflammation, and seems to be the cause of bacterial overgrowth.

Hunter gatherers experience hyperkeratinisation but don’t get acne. They also go through the same hormonal shifts during puberty, resulting in increased sebum production – but still no acne. Propionibacterium acnes (now called Cutibacterium acnes) is a part of their skin microbiomes, but doesn’t cause the problems seen in acneic skin. So why is the westernised world struggling with this affliction?

We believe it is because modern skin is inflamed. Microbes help to maintain skin’s barrier function, and they work with our immune systems to maintain a healthy balance. Because we have lost much of this important microbial interaction, our barrier function is failing and our skins’ immune systems are hyperreactive. Immune responses are triggered too often, and chronic inflammation is the result.

What can we do about this?


Acne is a modern skin affliction. Your great grandmother probably didn’t get breakouts as a teen or as an adult. People living traditional lifestyles either have very low acne rates or the disease is completely unknown to them. Now more than 80% of teens have inflamed pustules on the most visible parts of their skin.
This is not natural.
This is what happens when you remove an animal from its habitat and put it in a zoo.
We have voluntarily distanced ourselves from the natural world and the result has been an explosion of non-communicable disease.
How do we rewild ourselves?

We can’t go back to living in the wild. If we’re going to be happy and healthy, we must mimic the conditions for which we have evolved.

Esse can’t exercise for you or gift you the willpower to avoid processed foods. What we can do is create a clean product that uses biotechnology to offer a sustainable solution:

  • We’ve incorporated more than 1 billion live probiotic bacteria per ml to help restore the constant microbial chatter that your skin’s immune system expects.
  • We’ve used Provitamin D to try to compensate for the fact that you’re probably indoors almost all day.
  • Instead of synthetic retinoids, we’ve used bakuchiol, a natural compound that delivers the same results without the nasty side effects.
  • We’ve used prebiotics to reshape your skin microbiome.
  • We’ve avoided the synthetic ingredients that might pollute your skin’s ecosystem.
  • We have formulated a very mild cleanser that will remove makeup with minimal disruption to the skin.