ESK skincare review
Quick verdict: ESK offers scientifically proven skincare products that are simple to use and effective.
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Scientifically proven skincare products that are simple to use and effective.
What we liked
- Contains active ingredients that are scientifically proven to work
- Free online skin quiz that identifies the products that are best for you
- Products are simple and quick to use
- Customer service support for any questions or issue
What we didn't like
- The text on packaging is faint and a bit hard to read. If you don't have great eyesight it can be tricky mid-cleanse to work out which product is which.
Skincare seems to be having a moment right now. The phrase "skintellectual" gets bandied about and skincare fans share their tips and tricks on wild sounding regimes like "slugging" or snail slime. Instagram and TikTok are filled with elaborate 15-step routines that look like they might take all night.
Then there's me. My reaction to complicated skincare regimens and products is generally complete avoidance along with a strong sense of guilt that I should be looking after my skin better. Occasionally I will feel like I should lift my game beyond chemist-bought makeup remover and a basic moisturiser, but whenever I step into a store or go online, I find that the walls of products and the sciency sounding names and ingredients (and don't get me started on the price tags) send me running without buying a thing.
But as I go down the path of life (okay, I'm on the wrong side of 40...), my skin really seems to need some extra love and care right now. But how do I know what is real, effective and worth my hard-earned cash?
Evidence-based products with a money back guarantee
Enter ESK – Evidence Skincare, the self-described "baby" of Sydney-based GP Dr Ginni Mansberg.
Dr Mansberg says she started ESK in 2012 after feeling frustrated at not being able to find skincare for herself that was easy to use and effective. As a GP, she was also sick of seeing pseudo-scientific claims on so many skincare products on the market that wouldn't do anything much at all. As a result, she created ESK, where the products are made with ingredients that are proven to work based on independent and evidence-based trials and scientific research, not just something a marketing executive dreamed up to stick on a label.
ESK is also made in Australia, it's cruelty free and it comes with a money-back guarantee. I had the chance to try ESK for myself and was keen to see if the promise of easy and effective skincare could hook in this time-poor and reluctant "skintellectual" and get her skin into better shape.
What does it do?
The first port of call before using ESK is a skincare quiz that pops up when you first go on the website. After answering a series of questions, the quick will recommend which products and active ingredients will be the most suitable for your skin.
After doing my quiz, it became clear that my major issues are fine lines, wrinkles and also some pigmentation issues thanks to sun damage and two pregnancies (thanks kids!).
After completing my quiz, I was sent a box containing 6 products and a printout with my name on it and a personalised regime. A QR code on the same printout sends me to the ESK website where there is more detailed information about each product, the active ingredients and how to use them.
Having the regime set up for me and the bottles helpfully labelled AM or PM really helped this time-poor working mother who some evenings barely has enough time to brush her teeth, let alone embark on a complicated skincare routine.
My AM routine was the ESK Calming Cleanse – a really gentle cleanser that washes off easily with water and doesn't leave my skin feeling tight. It's also gentle enough to use to get some of my eye makeup off too.
Next up was the Reverse C Serum, which contains L-ascorbic acid which is proven to brighten the skin and can help with the reduction of sun-related damage.
After that it's on to the Enlighten Cream, which is designed to nix age spots and pigmentation making it right up my alley.
To top it off I used the Zinc Shade, which is a physical sunscreen and moisturiser that blocks out UVA and UVB rays, which is key as it's the UVB that can really age the skin.
In the evenings, my skincare routine is almost as quick as brushing my teeth: the Calming Cleanse again, then the Smooth Serum, which is an alpha hydroxy acid exfoliating serum, and then the brand's flagship product, the Ultimate A. This is a serum and night cream with vitamins A and B3 to help promote collagen growth, increase skin elasticity and reduce hyperpigmentation effectively and without irritation. Vitamin B3 also improves the skin barrier function and promotes an even skin tone, reducing sun spots and uneven pigmentation.
Does it work?
The products are only going to work if you use them regularly and I found them and the regime super easy to use. Both morning and night only took about 10 minutes and the product labelling was super clear.
After using the products for a few days, my skin started feeling really dry and came up in little bumps or a kind of rash. I felt really disappointed as I assumed all the active ingredients in the products were too harsh for me. However, another feature of ESK is a customer service line, and after a quick chat, it seemed that my skin was having a bit of a vitamin C "moment", or as I call it, "tantrum". It turns out that a small percentage of us are unfortunate enough to find vitamin C products irritating and I am one of them. While this was disappointing at first, the team was able to explain to me that for my skin concerns, the other products in my collection would more than cover the primary issues without using vitamin C, which was really helpful.
After ditching the C serum, all was smooth sailing. And smooth really is the word. After using the products religiously, I found that after a week my skin felt very smooth and soft. It's winter right now and my skin had been feeling dry and a little rough before I started using the products.
After another 2 weeks of use, my skin not only still feels soft but it's also looking a lot plumper and more "glowy". I've added my own moisturiser into the mix in the evenings to give my dry skin an extra boost, but in the mornings the Zinc Shade works really well as a sunscreen and a simple moisturiser, and even a makeup primer.
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if: you want no fuss products that have a proven scientific track record.
- Don't buy it if: you love hopping between luxury brands that smell amazing and feel luxe (but may not be as effective).
Overall I really liked using the ESK range. After nerding out on the ESK website and reading more about the active ingredients in the products I'm using, I know that regular and long-term use will really be a game changer. While plenty of the results such as improving skin laxity and fine lines won't happen overnight, but they will happen and in the meantime my much smoother, better hydrated and healthier looking skin is a massive bonus.
I also love the simple packaging, the plan English explanations of what's what AND the fact the products are made in Australia. I also like the idea of using a range of products from the same "family" to keep things simple. To top it all off, while this isn't the cheapest range on the block, it's certainly not at the premium end of the market either, and I am happy to pay for products that are scientifically proven to work. That really is value for money in my books.
ESK has a range of products to suit many skin types from acne to sensitive to ageing and even skin suffering from trickier issues like Roscesea. The customer service team willing to chat skincare for your specific needs is just the cherry on top.
Pricing and availability
Where to buy
How did we test this product?
The members of our editorial team review hundreds of beauty products and reflect on their own personal experiences when testing each one.
To test the ESK range, our reviewer used the products for 6 weeks, noting how her skin looked and felt after using the products over this time.
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