We talk to Beauty Director and skincare Alex Steinherr on her Insta-famous Sunday night rituals and her ingenious methods for product testing…
THE WIND DOWN
I tend to work on my website on Sundays but because I know I have my reward at the end of the day, I’m really focused and productive. Then around 5pm I’ll be like, ok, that’s it. Because I do the Sunday facial in my Instagram there is a structure to it, but I’ve always done it on a Sunday late afternoon since I was a teenager. Back then it was my way to feel like a grown up, nothing too involved but as I’ve got older it’s what I call my ‘me’ time. Most women probably can relate but we never put ourselves first, whether you have children, husband, job, family, whatever it is, it always comes before you. So the Sunday facial is for me personally, non-negotiable. Really the Sunday evening routine is much more than just skin, it’s about the soul and about taking time out for yourself and reconnecting with yourself. I do try and do it wherever I am, although I won’t lie, if I’m jet-lagged to hell, it will be a shorter version!
I’m a bit of a candle hoarder, I’ve been collecting Diptyque candles for years. It’s an expensive habit. I’m obsessed. For round the house I love Amber in winter, and in summer it’s Coriander but it changes depending on what room and what season I’m in. I love Byredo Lipstick Lover too. I think when you put that candle on it just takes everything down a notch I’m way too hyperactive to meditate but they put me in that calm space.
Skincare is such a confusing place for women, there is so much information that can leave you baffled and there’s so much contradicting information. I try and share my knowledge. It’s still very therapeutic for me even though I do it on Instagram, it’s still self-care. I still think the secret to great skin is consistency and routine, it’s that repetitive stuff. Having professional treatments is more like the fine-tuning but the routine I have at home is the mainstay. My Sunday night skincare routine is a just a more in depth version of what I do every day.
My Sunday skin routine is very prescriptive and it changes depending on what I feel my skin needs but it’s also about showing people new products and explaining products. I will always always use something with hyaluronic acid in it. It’s one of those things I find really works and gives you those instant results and that plump, glowy feeling. It’s bio-identical meaning that your body produces it itself. Then I always use some kind of mask. I love doing that because you have to leave it on for a little bit and you can’t jump around, so you really have to lie down for a little bit! I do love my sheet masks. I love the Sarah Chapman Skinesis 3D Moisture Infusion Masks, there’s a reason they’re so popular. Honestly, you put one on and you take it off and it actually looks like you’ve had a professional treatment, it’s out of control. And then usually I will use some sort of exfoliation going on. I’m not somebody who uses acid everyday. The thing with acid is, for some people it’s absolutely fine, for me it’s not. Even those acid toners they say you can use every day I don’t, my skin is too delicate but on a Sunday I will. I like Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peels, for me those are core. My philosophy is about protecting the skin barrier, I think there is such a thing as over cleansing, over acid-ing, as your skin barrier will be compromised. As soon as I see redness or feel products stinging; that’s not a good thing, that means your skin is irritated and inflamed. I know how to judge what my skin needs and doesn’t.
I don’t tend to wear make-up on the weekends so I skip my weekday double cleanse and eye make-up cleanse. At the weekends I will just use one cleanser. During the week it’s more SOS quick fixes according to my schedule. I’m not great at massaging my own face but I do get blocked sinuses quite a lot and especially round my eyes I can get quite puffy so I do try to push some pressure points. I’ll take it back to my ears as that’s where your lymph glands are. I’m not the best at it, but I do try to apply products in an upward motion, as that’s what I have learnt. People always ask me about eye creams and I recently discovered the Acyl Gluthathione Eye Lid Serum from MD Perricone. Most eye creams focus on underneath the eye and darkness, wrinkles, but because I have sinus issues, my issue is more my eyelids. There are very few products that address the eyelids, but it’s one of those areas that people don’t think about until it’s too late.
I like using the Nuface device. When I use it I like it because it gives you that temporary lift but it’s the consistency. I do it on a Sunday bit I’m a bit too lazy with it. So many facialists I respect say that it works but you have to keep it up. When I do use it it’s around my cheekbones and above my brow here to give myself a tiny lift.
I often tan for the week on a Sunday and I generally up my exfoliation in the summer. I like a good salt based scrub in the shower or I use the Ameliorate Smoothing Body Exfoliant, which is great and especially good for people who have flaky skin issues as it contains lactic acid. I like something that softens the skin and I like neutral scents. I’m love the smell of Byredo Gypsy Water Shower Gel.
I always tan at night because I don’t want to be sticky. I use Vita Liberata 2-3 Week Phenomenal Mousse in Medium but I don’t put that on my face, instead I use Sisley Self Tanning Hydrating Skincare. I’m an all-over tanner, I’ve tried doing just the bits that are out, but genuinely tanning is about how I feel, when I have a tan I just feel more confident. Nobody sees my butt or tummy in London but it’s about my own confidence. Anyway I do it three nights in a row and I love it.
On the Sundays when I don’t tan I love a good moisturiser. I am so religious about it. For years I think I’ve neglected my body a bit, you know, you spend all that time and money on your face and then you forget about your body. Now I’m really good and I will use different moisturisers, I like Sisley Restorative Body Cream. I don’t like oils though, plus they take tan off. I never take a bath, never ever. It’s a time thing, I like to be in and out, and I get bored in a bath. I do have a bathtub and have candles all around it but I never go in! the only times I do is after I exercise or when my body aches. To me that’s therapeutic as opposed to luxury. Other than that I’m 100% a shower girl, always have been. As soon as I get out the shower I put my robe on, I like a big towelling robe and I potter around while I’m drying and make a herbal tea. In the evening I like rooibos and like this German detox tea that my friend makes called Wander Tea, the Detox Blend is amazing. As a treat it’s Tea Pigs Liquorice and Mint.
I’m not so regimented with my hair. I had really long hair and then I cut it short about a year and a half ago. Having short hair is the biggest pain when you have wavy hair because you can’t just wash and go. I’d love to wash and go. For work I need it to be blow dried, because it just looks better, but on the weekends I love to just wash my hair, condition it, put a leave-in product through the ends, cob it through and let it air dry. On a Sunday I will do a mask and because I have colour in my hair, I have balyage and I use a lot of heat on it, I need something super nourishing. During the week. Dry shampoo is also my best friend because it keeps me going between blow dries. I love the Ouai Dry Shampoo.
I’m a really good sleeper but I think it’s because I really wind down before bedtime. I try to get to bed before 11pm and it’s usually even earlier on a Sunday. When my routine is done I peel away the covers – I have a rose linen spray which makes me just feel so happy – and then I use the By Terry Hand Cream and some cuticle oil before bed too. I’m really not good with my nails but that’s the one time I’m good with them. I also love the This Works Deep Pillow Spray, I don’t think there’s anything better. It’s insurance against getting a good night’s sleep. What I also do, if I have to test retinol products or acids that are a bit too strong for my face, I use them on the backs of my hands. It’s also great for anti-ageing my hands, which is something we definitely neglect.
I don’t have any stimulating scents in my bedroom so the candles in there are usually something relaxing like This Works Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle or Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Candle, nothing too herby but very comforting. I sleep on my back and I use silk pillows. I use copper ones too sometimes for my hair so that my blow dries stay.
Every night before I turn my lights out I go through the day in my head and focus on the good things that have happened. I don’t meditate but I do think about what I’m grateful for and think about the next day and why it’s going to be a good day. It helps me go to bed without any resentment and think about what was great rather than what went wrong. I don’t use an eye mask because I wake up with the light and also it leaves marks on my face which annoys me.
I’m an early riser, getting up early is my happy place. I don’t use an alarm, I don’t need to, I just wake up. I generally need about seven hours sleep, more is worse than less for me. If I sleep too much I’m puffy and slow and sluggish. seven is good. My phone gets charged in the kitchen and I put the alarm on my phone on full but I always get up before it goes off, it’s an inbuilt thing. I jump out of bed, if I don’t get up as soon as I wake up I’m done for. The first thing I do I drink two glasses of water, that’s non-negotiable. I add apple cider vinegar in it, just one spoon, which was something my granny used to do. When I do work out it’s first thing. I live next to a park and I get up at 6am and I go out for a walk. That’s my meditation, I try and walk for between 30-40 minutes.