Q&A With Alex Steinherr

We spoke to the always glowing Alex Steinherr about her fantastic skincare range for Penneys and her rules for perfect skin

Beauty expert Alex Steinherr has teamed up with Penneys to create a comprehensive, affordable and effective skincare range. She talked to us about making amazing products, her skincare essentials and listening to her readers. Check out the hero products from the range here.

How did this range come about?

This has been two years in the making. I was working with Primark more on a colour level. I said to them what about your skincare line and they said it is doing well but colour cosmetics is our focus. Obviously that is doing incredibly well. But then they said they wanted to focus more on skincare and they wanted it to be my range! The idea honestly came from my Instagram readers (I don’t call them followers, I come from print magazines and they are always going to be my readers. I’m not Jesus!). I have been doing Instagram for six years and I do #Sundayfacial on a Sunday for the past five years. I always recommend what I genuinely like, but I had a few people over the years more and more frequently saying they couldn’t afford some of the products and they wanted a dupe or an alternative. Now dupes are not something I believe in in skincare, makeup is different, even though the quality won’t be the same the colour payoff is the colour payoff. But I don’t believe in skincare dupes. I just don’t think that exists.

Why was it important to you to make an affordable range?

I struggle to recommend cheap alternatives because I don’t want to recommend something just because it is cheap. If you are paying five or six euros, if it’s a crap product that five or six euros is still wasted. I think as a serious journalist and a skincare obsessive, it would be disingenuous of me to recommend a product just because it is cheap if it is not good. Of course there were products like The Ordinary that I was able to recommend but very few.

What was essential to you when making the range?

None of this is just my name on a product. All the formulas are original formulas I worked on with scientists in the lab. No one told me what to do this is all me. It was literally a white sheet of paper of what I wanted to do. For me it had to cruelty-free, so this isn’t tested on animals it is tested on Alex! There is no jar packaging, everything is in pumps to prevent cross-contamination. If it is not in a jar I can minimise the amount of preservatives. You need to have some so products don’t grow bacteria and mould, but by being in airless pumps you can minimise that. The only product that is in a jar is an acid pad, so it doesn’t matter about air because it is not an emulsion. Fragrance-free was important to me. Anyone who reads what I write knows that I want everything to be fragrance free. I wanted it to be gender neutral. I am mainly talking to women but I want men to feel happy to use it. Fragrance is a potential irritant too. Fragrance-free is common to medical ranges, like the Dr brands, Avene, the La Roche Posay, but it is not common to have fragrance-free in this arena. Why is that? Because you can hide a lot of nasty stuff under fragrance. People have so much irritants these days. There are no essential oils in these products for that reason too. If you like essential oils that is fine but that is not what this brand is about. There are of course no sulphates of any kind and no alcohols.

What are the key ingredients in this range?

The ingredients are incredible. I tried to do things like the anti-blackhead stick, the spot stickers, the facial in a stick, because you want to give people innovations as well. The great thing about this range, even though there is five different ranges within it and 20 products, it is a flexible routine, you can mix and match and nothing will go wrong. I do have an acid, I don’t hate acids, people think I do but I just hate aggressive ones. My acid is a lactic and a PHA. Polyhydroxy acid has low potential irritation. We know anyone can have a reaction to anything but the risk is totally minimised. In this range in any product where there is an active I buffer it with an anti-inflammatory and a soothing ingredient like chamomile. In the pore minimiser product the active ingredient is salicylic acid, that is a proven ingredient I am not reinventing the wheel, but it is balanced out. The mousse mask has charcoal, kaolin and salicylic acid but it is buffered by niacinamide. All of the products I just wanted it to be about skin barrier protection and promoting healthy skin and I think we have achieved that. I am so proud of it.

Obviously you have access to the most amazing skincare products in the world. Can someone still get great results with such affordable products?

I am super excited about this range because I know how good this is and I am super proud of it. But of course I did this for my readers and the Primark customers. I am not comparing it to other products. The idea of dupes is nonsensical to me. I am not trying to convert anybody. If you like your €300 face cream, use it. This is just offering an alternative. I am not only using this I am mixing and matching as well. But that is how we live our lives now. It is just now there is an opportunity and an accessibility to good skin care. I hope the response is going to be positive. I really want to make a difference. There are a lot of people out there, who as we know will barely even use face wash or a moisturiser so if I can introduce people like that to good skincare then that will be amazing. I want to get people into looking after themselves. For me you don’t have to be someone who has 20 steps, it is about basic hygiene. Hopefully everyone finds something in there. I listened. I did it for my readers. They informed this. Is this the best possible skincare that you can get at this price level with this quality? It is actually point blank amazing skincare. The question is not, why is this so cheap, the question is why is everything else so expensive?

What other tips do you have for keeping skin healthy?

The first thing I do in the morning is I drink water with apple cider vinegar in it. My granny taught me that and I have done it for years. It is really good for your gut health. I have kefir every morning. It is coconut kefir because I am not good with dairy but it is all about feeding the gut good bacteria. A lot of problems people have are related to the gut. It is really true because I was on antibiotics recently I was quite ill last year and my skin went mental. I do drink coffee it is my big weakness, and I try to minimise sugar but I am human. My rule is simple, eat clean at home and then when I am out I can be a bit chill. Then when I am out I can have fries and chocolate.

I ask the experts if coffee is bad for my skin all the time. I choose to see coffee as an antioxidant. Where I come from in Austria we always get served water with our coffee. So that is why when I get up I drink two glasses of water. I hydrate before I caffeinate. I try to drink double the amount of water I have for every cup of coffee I have. The main issue with coffee is dehydration. I think from a caffeine perspective as long as you stick to two cups a day the antioxidant benefits are there.

You are a big advocate of selfcare, how did that factor into making the range?

If price was a barrier it really shouldn’t be. The tagline is everybody deserves beautiful skin and I genuinely mean that from my heart, I do believe that everyone should have the chance to look after themselves and should do that. It is like on an airplane, in an emergency give yourself oxygen first before you look after yourself. Skin isn’t life or death, but selfcare means that if you look after yourself you are going to be a better person for other people.

The Alex Steinherr range will be available in Penneys stores nationwide. Check out our favourite products from the range here.