Trevor Steyn, Chemist and #FatherofProbioticSkincare is a bit of an enigma. If you are looking for a corporate pharmacist in a white coat and thick glasses, you've come to the wrong place. When I started working at Esse in 2014, I asked Trevor if there was a dress code (I come from the corporate working world). He looked at me blankly and said 'work naked if you want to, as long as you work'. He wasn't joking either ' I've seen him working in boardshorts and slops, but man, does he work. DID YOU KNOW? Research is showing mounting evidence that probiotics may help to build collagen in the skin acting as a great anti-aging support. Dr. Whitney Bowe, Clinical Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Trevor went to varsity at the University of KwaZulu (UKZN) in Pietermaritzburg. He recently had us giggling at a training session, saying that his choice of subjects was completely random, after he had to send a friend to registration due to an 'unfortunate headache' ' we won't ask if there were beverages involved. It would have been stretching it to ask the friend to stand in two queues, so Trevor got signed up for: Chemistry, Physics and Genetics. After another hair raising night out with friends, Trevor managed to drag himself to his first organic chemistry lecture. The German professor looked around the room, drew 3 chemical structures on the board and casually explained that the first was for Strychnine, the second for LSD and the third, the structure of Nitro-glycerine. The not-so-interested student started listening, and that was the beginning of a passionate career in organic chemistry.
This led to the creation of Esse Organic Skincare in 2002 ' Esse means 'to be' in Latin. The original moisturisers were in a special aluminium cylinder and needed to be refrigerated due to the high omega content. Trevor remembers sitting anxiously staring at the very quiet telephone, hoping someone would call. A very dear old lady did eventually call and complimented him on his beautiful packaging, but then had to ask 'how on earth do you open it?'
When everyone else was talking chemicals, Trevor was already talking organic and sustainability. When everyone else started talking organic, Trevor had already had his brands certified Organic by EcoCert in France. Where others said you need to test on animals, Trevor said 'We're designing skincare for humans, not rabbits'. The brand always was and always will be certified organic, Vegan, cruelty-free and fair trade. As Trevor says, 'as close to perfectly sustainable as we can get'
When the findings of the Human Microbiome project started being released in 2010, (with weird statistics like 'there are 10 microbial cells for every human cell'), Trevor was doubtful and then became increasingly interested as the facts started making sense. This new research led him to produce the World's First Live Probiotic Serum. Where other brands are talking about probiotic, they are generally referring to fermented versions of probiotics. Please do pop onto our website if you'd like to learn more about the different types of probiotic levels ' it's a fascinating topic. Trevor has managed to take 3 species of probiotic bacteria, and bottled them in an oil suspension, so that when applied to the skin, the microbes make contact with water, wake up and can start colonising.
In simple terms, conditions like acne, eczema, dermatitis etc are caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria ' similar to an overgrowth of candida in the gut when good microbes have had their numbers obliterated by antibiotics and bad diet. When the good bacteria are applied, they can colonise and multiply and outnumber the bad bacteria, allowing the existing good bacteria on the skin to also multiply and reapply balance. Everything in nature requires balance.
So, while Esse Organic Skincare has had a name update to Esse Probiotic Skincare, our customers can always remain confident that the man behind the scenes is not only staying up to date with the research, but leading the pack on how to improve skin with his continuing research. Interestingly, the White House released a statement this week saying that the US government will be allocating half a billion dollars to microbiome research in the next few years, with extra funds coming from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and some respected US universities. And a little bird told me that one of the biggest market research companies in the world contacted Trevor to find out more about what probiotics really are doing in skincare. It is a pleasure working for such a ground-breaking company, as well as a truly inspiring scientist.
Esse Probiotic Skincare is based in the rolling green hills of Richmond. Trevor lives there with his lovely wife Dee and their 7, extremely individual, kids. He finds time for surfing, playing Ultimate Frisbee, yoga, a lot of squash and plenty of family time. He has promised us that this year will be dedicated to his laboratory, so keep your eyes peeled for what the #FOPS will be releasing next.
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