Contributing beauty director Alessandra Steinherr shares her daily skincare routine and favourite products to achieve healthy, radiant skin from morning to night.
I am truly passionate about skincare; I was taught by my grandmother at a very young age to look after my skin well and I think that as you get older, you get the skin you deserve. However, while the nature of my job means that I am always trying new products, my approach to skincare is very simple: it’s all about supporting the skin barrier, protection and preservation. Whether you have oily skin, breakouts, dry skin, or even eczema prone skin, the way that the skin barrier needs to be protected is the same. It really is the most important factor because the stronger your skin barrier is, the better equipped you are to deal with external aggressors, such as pollution, and internal factors, such as gut health and stress, that affect your skin.
With that in mind, I’m very conscious about not doing anything that would over-stimulate or irritate my skin. Actives and exfoliating are hot topics in the beauty industry at the moment but it is so important not to overdo it. Of course, I advocate exfoliation but I believe that a gentle approach is best in order to maintain a healthy skin barrier. I’m very careful with acids and retinols and I don’t use physical exfoliants as I think they can aggravate and inflame the skin. I believe that the most important thing that we can all do when it comes to achieving beautiful, healthy skin, regardless of what skin type you are, is to avoid anything that causes inflammation.
The masses of information and endless products on the market can make skincare confusing, but I really believe in keeping it simple, being intuitive and listening to what your skin needs. The best advice that I can give you is to become your own expert – take time to do the research and learn about what will work for your skin. My regime is tightly edited as I’ve figured out what works for me and I’m really consistent with it, which is the key to any good routine. Build a skincare wardrobe of products that you know suit your skin and then switch up what you use each day according to what feels right for you in that moment.
Read on to discover my favourite products and how I use them both day and night.
Step one: CLEANSE
I’ve recently really got into foaming cleansers, they’re so quick and easy to use as you just do one pump and it’s foamed up ready to go – it’s the lazy way of cleansing! I like Urban Protect Foaming Cleanser with Moringa by Dr Michael Prager, which has a lovely light texture and is designed to remove heavy metals and pollutants from the skin. I also like to use Medik8 Micellar Mousse, which is a gentle, hydrating cleanser with anti-pollution technology to help protect the skin from environmental damage, and iS Clinical Cleansing Complex which works for so many different skin types, especially blemished skins. Another wash-off cleanser I love is Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel, it’s my go-to as it’s really gentle and doesn’t dry out my dehydrated skin.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I need to cleanse with water in the morning so instead I will use a reusable cotton pad with the True Ionized Cleansing Water 1 by Officine Universelle Buly. It’s a lotion which contains ions, trace elements and colloidal, making it a very gentle way of cleansing, so it’s especially for good for sensitive, dry and eczema-prone skin. I alternate this with Collosol Eau de Lait which is a true wonder product. I soak a cotton pad with it and apply it all over my face – it literally brings my face to life and makes my skin so soft.
Step two: NOURISH
After cleansing I will apply a serum to help protect and nourish the skin. I’ve used Lancôme’s Advanced Génefique Serum for a while but they have just launched a new formula which specifically targets the microbiome of skin and it’s really good. I’m also a huge hyaluronic acid fan to add an extra dose of hydration and the Teoxane RHA Serum is one of the best hyaluronic serums out there, while the SkinCeuticals H.A Intensifier is another favourite of mine to help plump and firm the skin.
Step three: MOISTURISE
Although I have dehydrated skin, I tend to use a light moisturiser, such as the Alumier HydraLight (available upon consultation and in professional salons) during the day because I don’t want anything too heavy under my make-up. I also like to use Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream because, not only does it contain squalane to nourish and support the skin, but it also features glacial glycoprotein which leaves the complexion silky and plumped, making it another great option for wearing under make-up.
I always use an eye cream as part of my routine – I don’t have any lines as I keep the area really plump and hydrated. I use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex II day and night because it has a lovely gel texture, whereas heavier creams can sometimes make your eyes puffy. However, recently I’ve been suffering with allergies and not sleeping so well which makes my under eyes much darker, so I’ve been using the Alumier AluminEye Brightening Eye Cream (available upon consultation and in professional salons) which is a light, brightening cream that really works for me.
I tend to have a lot of water retention and sometimes my face can be quite puffy when I wake up, depending on how I’ve slept or what I’ve eaten the day before. On those mornings I use the Hayo’u gua sha tool after I apply my moisturiser – which gives it a bit of necessary slip – to do a gentle facial massage. I go along the jawline and the cheeks to get my lymphatic going and drain all the water out, and then I use it around my eyebrows and eyes to de-puff them.
Step four: PROTECT
I apply an SPF in the morning on top of the rest of my products. My all-time favourite is Tom Ford Face Protect Broad Spectrum SPF 50 which makes your skin so glowy and sits beautifully under make-up. When I’m not wearing foundation, I’ll use a tinted SPF such as Heliocare Gelcream Colour SPF 50 for a bronzed look, or Omorovicza Complexion Perfector SPF 20, to even out my skin tone.
Step five: MIST
For a finishing touch, I lightly spritz a mist all over my face. I absolutely love facial mists and use them all day long, it’s almost like an addiction, but it’s important to use the right one as a purely water-based formulation might actually dehydrate your skin as it evaporates. Look for something with glycerin or other moisture-binders including glycogen, sucrose and trehalose. All good mists give that instant hit of hydration while also protecting the skin from environmental aggressors, so I also like to look for other skin-boosting ingredients such as antioxidants and peptides.
My most-used mist is Sarah Chapman’s Liquid Facial D-Stress. It’s very hydrating and creates an invisible shield of anti-pollution and antioxidant protectors, helping to fight damage from free radicals, carbon pollutants, UV and infrared rays. Omorovicza’s Magic Moisture is gorgeous, it’s packed with antioxidants to fight pollution, as well as light, nourishing oils. Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Hydro Mist is a super-fine mist that’s good for setting make-up or refreshing it on the go. For a sensory experience, I like to use May Lindstrom’s The Jasmine Garden which is a hydrating, aromatic botanical mist that’s designed to relax the mind while calming the skin.
Step one: CLEANSE
Cleansing isn’t the most exciting of topics, but it is so important to ensure that you are cleansing your skin properly because if you don’t, then no matter what else you put on, there’s simply no point as the products won’t be able to penetrate into your skin effectively. If I’m wearing make-up, I double cleanse, often starting with a micellar water such as Lancôme Eau Micellaire Douceur or Avène Micellar Lotion, but at the moment I’m really into using a balm, particularly the La Prairie Supreme Balm Cleanser . It dissolves all of my make-up in one go yet I don’t find it heavy. To take off my eye make-up I use La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Make-Up Remover. It’s the most gentle eye make-up remover I have ever used, yet it’s also the most thorough – it removes the most stubborn mascara, and even glitter!
I then do a second cleanse with one of my foaming cleansers, such as Dr Michael Prager’s Urban Protect Foaming Cleanser with Moringa and the Foreo Luna 3. I’m not the biggest fan of cleansing brushes generally but I love the Foreo because the silicone material dries quickly, preventing bacteria build up, so it’s much more hygienic than other models can be. Also, it’s really gentle but gets rid of dead skin cells, dirt, extra oil and debris, which means I don’t have to do much additional exfoliating.
Step two: TREAT
After cleansing, I use the Light Salon’s Boost, Cleanse and Recovery Spray as an anti-inflammatory. It’s such a cool product because it’s got sulphuric acid in it, which is a lesser known ingredient but is so hardworking and effective. It’s a gentle, non-stripping acid that boosts the skin barrier, balances oil, calms redness and sensitivity, soothes inflammation, and is antibacterial. No matter what issues you are dealing with, it supports the skin in getting back into a normal state. I must warn you that it smells like a swimming pool, but it’s worth putting up with because it is amazing!
Next, I like to use different serums depending on what my skin needs. I’m a big fan of the Bioeffect EGF Serum; it’s quite thick and tacky but I quite like that because my skin is dehydrated and I don’t mind using something a bit thicker overnight to give it some extra TLC. I also like Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intense Reset Concentrate, which soothes the skin with salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid. Esse’s Probiotic Serum and Lancôme’s Advanced Génifique Serum support the skin’s microbiome to make it more resilient against pollution and other skin stressors, so this is great if I’m in central London a lot. Decléor’s Antidote Serum is a barrier building blend containing peppermint essential oil to stimulate collagen production and hyaluronic acid to plump skin. Glossier Super Pure, which is loaded with niacinamide and zinc, is the one I turn to when I have breakouts and need to rebalance my skin.
Step three: MOISTURISE
While during the day I opt for a lighter moisturiser, I focus on using products that give intense hydration overnight to really bolster that skin barrier. I tend to use Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream or Sarah Chapman Comfort Cream D-stress. They’re both quite rich and nourishing, almost like soothing band-aids for the skin, which really works for my skin type. In the colder months, I’m a big fan of Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream, which I know a lot of people think is too heavy, but it works for me. For my eyes, I’m enjoying the La Prairie Skin Caviar Eye Lift at the moment – it’s a lifting and firming cream that helps with any puffiness and under-eye bags while also keeping fine lines at bay.
When I feel that I need it, I will finish by pressing a few drops of squalane oil into my skin. The Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil is fantastic. It’s derived from olives and is the most beautiful emollient – it sinks into the skin and prevents moisture loss. I’m not a huge fan of oils in general, but I like squalane oil because it’s not heavy or tacky and it doesn’t clog your pores.
Step four: OVERNIGHT GLOW
I always like to have a bit of colour on my face but I’ve struggled with facial tan as a lot of them can really dry your skin out. At the moment, I’m particularly obsessed with the Tan Luxe Super Glow, which is a hyaluronic self-tan that doesn’t dehydrate my skin. It’s great for all skin types, whether dry or oily, as it’s water-based. Vita Liberata Self Tanning Night Moisture Mask is another one that’s great for adding moisture as it’s a hydrating, anti-ageing overnight mask combined with self-tanner. And finally, you can’t go wrong with Sisley Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care which is full of active ingredients that boost the skin barrier, improve hydration and fight against free radicals.