Probiotic: A live microbe that has the ability to restore and rewild the skin to a balanced microbiome.

The number of live microbes is measured in Colony Forming Units per gram (cfu/g).

Lactobacillus is a genus that includes many probiotic species. It is a bacterium and there are 180 different species in the Lactobacillus genus. Other probiotic genera are Bifidobacterium and Bacillus.

So why would you want to use probiotics on your skin?

  • They protect you from pathogens (like armour for your face)
  • They manufacture moisturising factors
  • They maintain skin pH (very important, don’t mess with pH)
  • They maintain calm and reduce sensitivity
  • They slow ageing (healthy skin ages slower)

Don’t fall short on probiotic support!

Skin armour

Probiotics protect your skin from pathogens. They can form a layer and use all the available nutrients so that opportunistic pathogens can’t colonise. They also produce anti-microbial peptides that make life really tough for incoming bad guys.

Watch the video below to learn more.

Probiotic moisturises

Probiotic bacteria produce Hyaluronic Acid which is an intensely moisturising active that naturally holds moisture in your skin. They have also been shown to decrease transepidermal water loss and improve skin hydration by improving barrier function in skin.

Watch the video below to learn more.


As we age, our skin pH drifts higher and higher. Many probiotics produce Lactic Acid and other acids that keep your skin’s pH in the optimal range … 4,5 to 5. A little help to keep the pH down will be welcomed by your skin.

Probiotics for sensitivity

Probiotic bacteria on the skin can communicate with your skin’s immune system to keep it in check so that it doesn’t overreact. The improvement of barrier function also prevents many toxins from penetrating the skin in the first place.

Graceful ageing

We can’t stop the clock … but we can’t deny that if we treat skin badly, it will age faster. Probiotics help slow the signs of ageing by protecting your skin and by keeping your own immune response at bay. They have also been shown to reduce wrinkles and improve skin firmness and elasticity. Healthy skin ages slower.

It is very difficult to keep probiotics alive. Products must be preservative-free and great care must be taken in manufacture.

Esse uses Lactobacillus in many forms – sometimes whole and alive, sometimes whole but killed and sometimes the contents of the broken cells are used.  When you see the INCI listing “Lactobacillus”, it means that the probiotic bacteria are whole with the cell membrane intact – either alive or dead (Level 3 or 4 in the video).

In the Probiotic Serum, Sensitive Serum, Clarifying Oil and Probiotic Ampoule, these bacteria are whole and alive (able to grow to form a colony). In the other products that list Lactobacillus (Sensitive Toner and Toner Plus for example), the bacteria are whole, but have been killed.

In Esse products, when you see “Lactobacillus Ferment”, it means that the cells have been broken (lysed) and the cell contents have been used (Level 2 in the video).

In some products, Esse will use both whole bacteria and lysed bacteria, so you will see both Lactobacillus and Lactobacillus Ferment in the INCI list.

In products from some other brands Lactobacillus Ferment can mean that the product contains an extract from the growing medium and not the cells (Level 1 in the video).

All the extraction techniques can yield useful ingredients for skincare.

The only technique that fits the definition of a true probiotic is level 4 … the live probiotic bacteria. Esse currently uses live probiotics in three retail products and one professional product.

In the Probiotic Serum, Esse uses a consortium of three species of Lactobacillus. These species were selected for their synergistic effect. They work well together to establish a Lactobacillus community on the skin. The target of the product is to have a firming effect on skin and to improve skin elasticity. It is an anti-ageing product and it has been shown in independent studies to statistically improve skin firmness in 100% of the subjects tested. The average improvement in 28 days was 16%. Skin elasticity also improved by an average of 9% in 28 days.

In the Sensitive Serum, Esse has used a single species of Lactobacillus. This is a hardy species that has been linked to improved barrier function. When barrier function is intact, the skin’s immune system is not constantly challenged and it can switch back to a normal resting state instead of being on high alert. This means that the skin will be less likely to show an inappropriate inflammatory response to potential allergens.

In the Clarifying Oil, Esse uses a synergy of 4 Lactobacillus species to shift the microbiome, restore barrier function, address subclinical inflammation and prevent the overgrowth of pathogens

Product Category Retail Professional
  • Clarifying Oil
  • Probiotic Serum
  • Sensitive Serum
  • Probiotic Ampoule