Skin care study: treating POD with natural cosmetics

Beauty | 4.1.2016 | Katja Kokko


One of last year´s most wanted posts was about  perioral dermatitis a facial rash that tends to occur around the mouth. I decided to look further into the topic once I would find a suitable person to take part in the skin care study. After thoroughly researching the South African Esse cosmetics brand and it´s amazing test results treating especially acne and POD I thought ´d like to do a skin care study on the topic.

The perfect candidate for the study dropped right in front of me before I had even thought it out loud. Minna is a devoted reader of my blog and a client of mine. Totally unexpectedly she broke out with POD last fall. First of all I´d like to say a heart felt thank you to Minna for lending her face and skin to the study and letting me use photos of her in my blog! This will surely be of great help to sisters battling with this mysterious skin condition.

If anything, POD is truly a mystery. The condition has not yet been thoroughly researched and thus the underlying factors remain still somewhat unknown. But then again, often this is the same with rosacea. POD and rosacea are ever increasing skin conditions and their treatment is very similar. Through my work I have found the challenge with treating POD to be that it has a fickle reaction to cosmetic products, even with those that would soothe rosacea symptoms.

The reactive factors behind POD may be too strong cosmetics products, which in particular means harsh detergents and synthetic chemicals used in skin, body and hair care, but not excluding even toothpaste and chemicals found in home cleaning products. The cause of POD can also be linked to hormonal imbalances, a disturbed gut and heavy stress.

The symptoms in POD are reddness around the mouth, dryness, itching and small bumps that can get infected and the rash may spread all the way to around the eyes.


In treating POD all products containing sulfates, including tooth paste would be advised to eliminate from use. The household cleaning agents would be recommended to swap for their natural alternatives. For internal use it is recommended to take a multi strain probiotic, enzymes, vitamin D3 and zinc. A good addition to you diet would be sourcrout which you can have with every meal. All processed sugar and cereal would be advised to leave out of your diet all together.

The skin care products should be as simple and minimal as possible. The key words are supporting and making the hydrolipidic film strong and sufficent moisturising. The best way to cleanse the skin is to use a water soluble cleansing milk which you use only in the evening.  The toner should be soothing and moisturising, as should the serum, which I highly recommend for adding moisture to the skin, unless you find that your skin doesn´t agree with it. The moisturiser should´t be too rich, but a very thin fluid will not be enough to bring the moisture into the skin, so finding the right moisturiser is a trip and a half itself. I would not recommend doing peels or masks at all if you have a lot of bumps on your skin. At most a cooling and soothing mask twice a month. When the rash begins to come down and the irritation eases, you can add a renewing and soothing facial oil into daily use.

We are treating Minna´s skin with Esse products, the probiotics in them heal the skins natural bacteria and the prebiotics feed the healthy bacteria.The products strengthen the skins own immune system and maintain the skin pH acidic, which healthy skin is. Anywhere from 3-5,5. All Esse products have been pH balanced to 4-5 so that the pH of the hydrolipidic film and the diverse microbe base of the skin will remain unharmed. While using the Esse product line it is important that all products, especially the toner, serum and moisturiser are of the same line for them to work in a balanced synergy together.

The cleansing milk we are using is Esse Cream Cleanser, it´s formula is very thin and rinses easily off the skin. The toner is  Toner Plus, which like other Esse products does not contain purified water at all, but is mainly complied of aloe vera, prebiotics (a-glucan oligosaccharide ja inulin) and probiotics (three different lactobacillus bacteria). The probiotics create an ideal growth base for useful microbes alongside lactic acid, yacon root and baobab extract. The probiotics stimulate the secretion of antimicrobial peptide, increase the saprophytic microbes and the skins natural immune response.


For the serum we are using Esse Plus Probiotic Serum, which is the only cosmetics product in the world that contains live probiotics. Transfering live probiotics into cosmetics is extremely challenging and in general not even possible because most products contain water and preservatives which kill the probiotics. Esse is dedicated in the study and technique of  manufacturing probiotics.

Probiotics can be divided into four groups where the first group is live probiotics and the fourth group would be a “broth of microbes”.   Esse does not regard the technology behind the group 4 as probiotics, unfortunately this is the technology that most cosmetic brands that call themselves probiotic use. Esse and some other brands do use the groups 3 and 2 level probiotics where the raw ingredients are actually probiotic in origin. The group 1 probiotics are live probiotics. The Esse Probiotic Serum contains three different Lactobacillus strands, a billion to one millilitre. The product is free of pathogens and the remaining microbes are able to grow for two years after the manufacturing of the product.

The formula of the Probiotic Serum is a very thin oil because the probiotics cannot stay alive in water. For them to activate on the skin they need moisture and hence you should use a moisturiser or a toner over the serum.

We chose the Deep Moisturiser, because of it´s fluid and very moisturising formula. A rich creme could worsen the infection. We are also using the Eye & Lip Cream . All products except the cleanser are used both morning and evening.

A word about the preservatives Esse uses. Mainly Esse uses a combination of two preservatives: Dehydroacetic Acid and Benzyl Alcohol. The former of these does not destroy the skins good microbes, but for it to work it needs Benzyl Alcohol, which evaporates from the skin.

Minna has had a chance to use the products for a couple of weeks and her experience has been positive as you can see from the pictures. The top two pictures are from the when we begun the study and third picture is just after a week of using the products. Three bottom pictures were taken yesterday.

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Minna talks about her experience with the products:

“I havn´t experienced a miracle cure in a week, but my POD has definitely begun to ease out. From the corners of my mouth down the rash has almost completely cleared. The sides of my nose are still a bit red. But then again, I´ve had a touch of flu so having to blow my nose a lot has irritated the skin a bit. I really enjoy using the products.

The first product I tried was the cleanser and it really does clean off all traces of make up with just one round of use. I also love the toner. 

The eye contour cream is love at first sight. Finally a dispenser that gives the exactly right amount with one pump. The serum is lovely, and the scent is wonderful! One pump of this is the right amount for the whole face.

I really enjoy the moisturiser as well, and it seems to give the perfect amount of moisture to my skin.Surely the winter has been exceptionally warm until now. I love that the package has it´s own spatula.”

We will continue the study for about six months so I will keep you updated on the progress.

Do you suffer from POD?


Text and product pictures Katja Kokko

Translation Mariko Pajalahti

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