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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • Espa: Is this Brand the Best in Botanical Beauty?

Espa: Is this Brand the Best in Botanical Beauty?

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Main image – Petrrgoskov/Adobe

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 wellbeing and gentle ingredients, Espa has since gone international, selling in more than 70 countries and is 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).


This is new, up-to-date information. We updated this article in March 2024 to add further ways to use the product complete with updated prices.


Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser

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 such 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.

Because of its jojoba exfoliating beads, though, I personally don’t use this to remove makeup from around the eyes.

And what are other people saying about the product? Well, with a 4.9-star rating on the reviews section of the Espa website, it’s pretty positive!

One customer swears by this cleanser, saying it’s an “Absolutely amazing product. This is my go too no matter what else I have tried. I use this in combination with the hydrating cleanser and it melts into such a lovely serum if you leave on whilst your in the bath relaxing.”

Another dubbed it as a “game changer” saying “I had this recommended after a spa treatment and it’s so worth it. It leaves my skin so soft and it’s very easy to use. Will buy again for sure”.

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’s Optimal Skin ProCleanser is £32 for 100 ml, Espa UK and $118.00 for 6 oz/ 200 ml, Espa US


Espa Tri-Active Resilience ProBiome Eye Cream

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 lookout for something which offers the right amount of hydration while also working under makeup.

Actually, this cream works really well for me, with its high content of oils (coconut, sunflower seed, cottonseed 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, it’s 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.

Customers on the Espa website are a bit on the fence with this product, with its rating at 3.4 stars. While one consumer wrote “Great application, makes my under eye area smooth and illuminated. Really takes away puffiness and dark circles, and brings more youth to my under eye area”, they added.

However, some are experiencing an adverse reaction to the cream, with one saying “I have been a huge fan of Espa products and saved up to buy this cream. On every application, I’ve experienced burning and swelling.

“It’s expensive but very harsh. I don’t usually have sensitive skin. Please try before you buy”, so this is definitely something to consider.

Great for: Moisturising under the eyes.

Not-so-great for: Budget beauty, as this is a pricey product.

Espa’s Tri-Active Resilience ProBiome Ecte Cream is £85 for 15 ml, Cult Beauty UK and $146 for 0.5 oz/ 15 ml, Espa US



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Sally Underwood is a journalist, *serious* beauty fan, and Editor-in-Chief of Live That Glow. Formerly Editorial Director of one of Europe's largest newspaper groups, Sally has been a beauty obsessive since her teen years spent dragging her long-suffering (but immaculately-groomed) friends around every beauty counter in London. She now leads Live That Glow's editorial operations.

Expertise: Skincare, Body care
Education: University College London
  • Tatjana CVEJIC


    What an amazing, analytical review!!! Products look so beautiful and effective! So would love to try Inkey also!!!

    7th December 2019

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