Alex Steinherr On Why Access To Skincare Shouldn't Be A Luxury In 2019

Have you ever wanted to look inside the bathroom cabinet of a beauty editor? It would be a the best way to work out what beauty products are actually worth investing in, wouldn't it? Well, Alex Steinherr's new collaboration with Primark gives you an opportunity to do just that — kind of. Steinherr has spent the last decade working as the beauty director of Glamour magazine, and has served as a consultant for major brands covering all things skin-, hair- and makeup-related. Now she's put all that knowledge into creating an extensive, and, more importantly, affordable skincare range available exclusively through Primark.

Steinherr has that type of goddess glow that I would pay most of a monthly salary to achieve. More high-end lotions and potions must have crossed this beauty director's desk than almost any other person in the industry, but Steinherr decided to take her own line in a different direction.

“I think when I first created the products people were kind of surprised because I perhaps have more of a luxury image and a lot of the brands I have worked with have been. I think the idea that I would be in the affordable arena was maybe a surprise. But that was part of the appeal to me,” she explains. “What I wanted to do was affordable, accessible but also at the top of what is happening. I wanted it to have all of the ingredients that as a beauty editor and expert I love. And I wanted to make that accessible to more people.”

In collaboration with Primark — a store generally associated with lower price points — Steinherr has developed 20 easy-to-use products, covering everything from cleansers to face masks, and eye creams to serums. Want to hear the best thing of all? Every single product in the Steinherr x Primark line is £5 or less. Speaking about her reasoning behind this, Steinherr says: "I feel there are so many amazing products out there in the more expensive, luxury arena, but when it comes to affordable quality products, while of course there are some, I didn’t feel that there was enough and definitely not at this level."

Primark felt like a very natural partnership for Steinherr. "I worked with Primark as a consultant for quite a few years. So I knew them," she says. "I had worked with them mainly on makeup so I knew how they operated, I knew how stringent and exact they are. I knew how by the book they are, how everything is so ethical. For me that was a big deal." Every product in Steinherr’s range is cruelty-free certified, something that was crucial for the beauty director.

There has been a buzz in the beauty community since Steinherr announced the launch of her skincare line in Sept. 2018. So, how did she spot a gap in the over-saturated beauty market? "I do this thing called Sunday facial [on Instagram], and I get comments from people saying they would love recommendations but they can’t afford £60 for a serum. They want an alternative," she explains. "I thought: OK. And I looked into it. I'm not saying there aren’t other good affordable brands. There are some, but there aren’t many."

However, Steinherr is keen to point out she doesn't believe in "dupes." She explains: "I can’t say to someone this serum is as good as this serum if it’s not, that doesn’t exist to me. I struggled to find the right quality product. And I’m a professional, I can’t recommend something unless I believe in it."

The 20 products in Steinherr's range are split into five categories: Maximum Moisture, Pore Balance, Pollution Solution, Plump & Glow, and Sleep Spa. "My job is to edit, that’s what I do. So I wanted to take all those ingredients that I love — the niacinamide, squalene, salicylic acid, lactic acid, polyhydroxy acid — you know, all these ingredients that we as experts love and see in so many high-end products. I wanted to bring that to the market," she tells me.

From moisturisers and serums to more advanced products such as eye pads and masks, this really is a full range. Speaking about the methodology behind the collection, Steinherr says: "It was kind of like building the foundation of a house. Before you build the first floor, second floor, and beautiful windows you need to get the foundations right. So we have cleansers, moisturisers, masks, and now we are introducing more advanced products like a peel pads and the city mask."

While it's hard to pick a standalone product, I (as a girl constantly chasing that dewy glow) couldn't write about the Steinherr x Primark range without mentioning the Plump & Glow facial stick. Combining the super hydrating quality of a balm cleanser, but in stick form, it's a product that has totally revolutionised my skincare routine. Steinherr explains: "It’s that glowy, dewy skin and I have now noticed other high end brands have done these sticks which are basically just moisturisers but used as a highlighter. You can use it on your brows, you can use it on your cuticles. It is just deeply, deeply nourishing. But I wouldn’t recommend it for oily skin. It is more for dehydrated, dry skin."

While Steinherr created her range with all skin types in mind, she has also created some of products that target certain issues, too. For example, the "low-pH, sulphate-free cleanser" in the Pore Balance range is "for more oily, blemish-prone skin," Steinherr explains, before continuing: "Salicylic acid is in all of the Pore Balance products in different concentrations, mixed in with charcoal and other ingredients. The reason this cleanser is so great is because its oil soluble and it's the only oil-soluble acid. So it really clears the pores.”

Speaking about other products in the line, Steinherr says: "The peel pads (which are new) are lactic acid polyhydroxy, and that's one of the gentlest exfoliators, but hydrates your skin at the same time. Plus lycnomide, which is one of my hero ingredients and is pretty much in everything that I have done, because I love it."

One other notable thing about Steinherr's range is her simple yet effective packaging. The chic, self-explanatory design makes it clear for the consumer exactly what they're buying, and what benefits their chosen product will have. "I did this for the Primark customer, and you don’t have someone in the shop helping you and guiding you, so you need to make your own choices," Steinherr says. "It’s self-service. I wanted to create something where people would feel empowered to make their own decisions. That’s why, on the packaging, we have tried to be as clear and as detailed as possible in terms of what the product does, who it is for, and the fact you can mix and match everything."

And, of course, it has to be pretty. "The product is what matters, but if you don’t like the look of it, you might not be attracted to it," Steinherr explains. "I don’t want this to be a product that people hide under the sink. I want it to be something people have on their bathroom shelf and it’s really cool."

Steinherr continues:

"You know what? If your friend comes over and points it out and says what is it I want you to point it out and say oh it’s Primark and people to go what? I want that reaction."

Chic in design, full and flawless in formula, and super affordable, this is the range of skincare you should (and can!) invest in. Steinherr’s passion for beauty and skincare is infectious, and her work to make it more for everyone is inspired. While she can only speak for her skin type, here are Steinherr’s top three products from her range:

  1. "The peel pads without a shadow of a doubt are at the fore front of what is going on in skincare right now, in my opinion. I think it's the most elegant acid you can use that is effective but not irritating. Those I swear by."
  2. "The Sleep Spa overnight eye mask is like a jelly cream texture that you put on the eyes, and I am obsessed with that because I never get enough sleep."
  3. "Hydration On-The-Go is a serum that is a medium weight hyaluronic acid with pro vitamin B5 panthenol which is ultra-hydrating. What’s clever about it is I’ve done it in a proper tube and, in the winter, I blend it in with my concealer and foundation. You know how in the winter your concealer can start creasing by the afternoon because of the dryness? If you just drop a little bit of that into your concealer it makes it more hydrating without being greasy. It’s phenomenal."

The Alex Steinerr x Primark skincare range is available at your local Primark store while stocks last.