Espa: the Best in Botanical Beauty?
I’ve been a fan of nature-inspired skincare since I was little, and when I first started buying my own products nearly 20 years ago one of the few brands really focusing on natural formulas in the UK was Espa.
A British brand founded in 1993 with an emphasis on well being and gentle ingredients, Espa has since gone international, selling in more than 70 countries and now owned by major beauty retailer The Hut Group (owners of Look Fantastic).
Their commitment to high quality, natural formulas hasn’t changed though, and a couple of their products still feature on my permanent re-buy list.
A brand that features some pretty ouch prices, there are a couple of favourites I think are worth the investment though for their abilities to improve my skin’s health (as well as offering a dewy glow).
Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser (£32 for 100 ml, Espa)
As a big advocate for starting any skincare routine with a really thorough but gentle clean, my cleanser collection is on the extensive side (slight understatement- I’m basically a hoarder).
While I do try a lot of different cleansing balms, gels and milks for work and enjoy switching between them according to what my skin is doing on a particular day, this is one that I really do come back to time and time again.
Designed as a cleanser, exfoliator and mask in one (depending on how you use it), I generally use this a few times a week as a cleanser, as well as setting aside at least one day where I take extra time to massage this gel-balm formula into skin until its little jojoba beads disappear, before leaving on for 10 minutes as a mask.
Containing pumpkin fruit extract (an antioxidant and rich source of Omega 6) and avocado oil, as well as a yummy-smelling blend of essential oils as jojoba beads to exfoliate, this cleanser is definitely on the moisturising side, so oilier types might like to use a gel cleanser afterwards.
For my slightly sensitive skin though, this leaves me glowing and moisturised each time I use it- plus I love that I can use it multiple different ways, cutting back on some expense.
Made without synthetic colours or fragrances, silicones, alcohols, mineral oils or parabens, this cleanse is also cruelty-free.
I’ve included the full list of ingredients of this and the Espa Tri-Active Resilience ProBiome Eye Cream at the bottom of this post.
Because of its jojoba exfoliating beads, though, I personally don’t use this to remove makeup from around the eyes.
Great for: Cleansing without drying skin out, as well as a little exfoliation.
Not-so-great for: Eye makeup removal, which would be better off done with another product.
Espa Tri-Active Resilience ProBiome Eye Cream (£65 for 15 ml, Espa)*
Part of the brand’s ProBiome range designed to support the skin’s natural flora and fauna in much the same way that a probiotic does in the stomach, the line claims to support skin’s resilience and in turn protect against environmental aggressors and ageing.
Espa says clinical trials showed the eye cream helps support the skin’s biodiversity while increasing hydration levels by up to 48%.
This is good news for me as my under eye skin gets pretty dry and I’m always on the look-out for something which offers the right amount of hydration while also working under makeup.
And actually this cream works really well for me, with its high content of oils (coconut, sunflower seed, cotton seed and linseed oils) combined with microalgae nourishing without being greasy.
In fact, this cream absorbs extremely quickly under my eyes, making it easy to apply before getting on with concealer etc.
As an added bonus this also has that ‘just walked into a day spa’ sort of scent which most Espa products do, and which I find makes it one of the most relaxing parts of my skincare routine.
I also really like the inclusion of the (surprisingly heavy) metal applicator, which is cooling and helps to drain puffiness as I apply the cream.
Expensive yes, but actually for my 33-year-old skin a really nourishing eye cream.
Younger under eyes could probably get away with a depuffing or brightening product, like The Inkey List’s excellent Brighten-I Eye Cream (£8.99 for 15 ml, Cult Beauty).
Great for: Moisturising under eyes.
Not-so-great for: Budget beauty, as this is a pricey product.
*Denotes PR sample
The full list of ingredients:
Optimal Skin ProCleanser: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Jojoba Esters, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Water (Aqua), Coconut Alkanes, Sucrose Laurate, Sucrose Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Linalool, Moringa Oleifera Seed Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Disodium Phosphate, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Citric Acid, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract.
Tri-Active Advance ProBiome Eye Cream: Water (Aqua), Coconut Alkanes, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Unsaponifiables, Propanediol, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Sea Water (Maris Aqua), Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Glycerin, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Xylitylglucoside, Cetyl Stearate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Extract), Glyceryl Stearate, Anhydroxylitol, Phenoxyethanol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Bentonite, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Isostearyl Isostearate, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Jojoba Esters, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Xylitol, Bidens Pilosa Extract, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Sclerotium Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Polianthes Tuberosa Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Benzoic Acid, Olive Oil Decyl Esters, Dehydroacetic Acid, Linalool, Citric Acid, Hydrated Silica, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Plankton Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Limonene, Paeonia Lactiflora Root Extract, Lactic Acid, Stearic Acid, Trehalose, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Hydrolyzed Rhodophycea Extract, Squalene, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbitol, Acetic Acid, Tocopherol, Geraniol, Lecithin, Chlorella Vulgaris Powder, Saccharide Isomerate, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Farnesol, Glucose, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sea Salt (Maris Sal), Glyceryl Linoleate, Glyceryl Linolenate, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Caprylate