Alessandra Steinherr, Beauty Expert


She's backkkk! But instead of a Top Shelf, former Glamour UK beauty director Alessandra Steinherr is showing off her Top Shelf After Dark today.

“I’m no longer a magazine editor, but people still send me a lot of products. I love playing with and trying them out—even now, that’s just what I do.

In the UK, a lot of young girls like wearing really heavy foundation, but as we get older, we want less. I think glow is always in, because it’s got nothing to do with the catwalk. It’s people wanting to look in real life how they do when they take a photo with a filter. People have always asked me, ‘Oh, what’s that glow?’ I always use moisturizer as primer, because I don’t want highlight, I want dewy—I want my makeup to look like skin. I’m a bit matte now because I just came off a plane, and on days like this I love La Mer. Or normally it’s Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. I think if you really look after your skin, you can afford to wear less. If I have something really, really big, I’ll go for a facial. The Intraceuticals oxygen facial is just that instant boost—it’s not long-term, but it’ll give you that. Or I’ll do an iS Clinical Fire and Ice, which is an instant peel with no downtime. It tightens the pores and makes the skin look like glass. I do think those really work, because they are instant.

Having said all that, I have about 10 foundations. Foundation for me is an investment piece, and I buy it myself. I tend to use one that’s one or two shades darker during the day, but at night, that can backfire. You’re better off wearing something light, especially for undereyes. I think the perfect concealer is one of the toughest, most frustrating products to find. Once you get it right, it’s like winning the lottery. I love the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat High Cover for undereyes, and the Clé de Peau stick is great for blemishes. When I was 13, I had an almond-shaped mole next to my mouth removed, so now I need a heavy-duty concealer to cover the scar. Then I shade to create dimension—I’ll use the Milk Makeup Matte Bronzing Stick for that. I don’t use fixing spray, but I do use hydrating mist on top of my makeup to reactivate it.


I think being playful and wearing a lot of makeup works when you’re going out with your girlfriends, but not when you’re going out on a date. I’m not saying everyone has to be the most natural—I have girlfriends who are red lipstick aficionados, so red lipstick is natural for them—you just want to be the best version of yourself. The secret to looking good is being at ease. The moment you think too much about something, you’ll be looking in the mirror every five seconds instead of relaxing, and you’re not even going to have a good night. That’s why I don’t really wear Spanx. A lot of my girlfriends wear them but, oy! All that you think about that night is the Spanx! Is that fun?

For night, I amplify my day look. When I was in my early 20s and I had more time, I would take my makeup off and redo it to go out. If it’s a day where I haven’t been wearing makeup, OK, then I’ll really start from scratch. But because I tend to use more creamy textures during the day, it works. During the day, it’s always very glowy, bronzy—the eyes will be a little brown pencil, then at night the black liner will come out. In night light, when you go out to a restaurant or a bar, or whatever, you can get away with a bit more shading, and a bit more glow. But you know what? It’s that thing Coco Chanel used to say: before you head out, remove something. In my case, it’s not jewelry, it’s makeup. Also hair—if your hair is too done and your makeup is too done, it’s too much. Pick one. I think it’s more youthful to have loose hair. Shiny, clean, neat, but not too done.


My favorite black liner is the Troy Surratt one. It’s a felt-tip pen, and it seems to be the one that’s easiest for me. Otherwise I use a gel pot by Delilah—that’s the other way to do it. I do a cat eye on the top, and sometimes a cream liner on the bottom when I really want to go for it. Usually I just shade the bottom and the socket, right close to the bone of the nose, with Benefit Hoola. It’s a bronzer, but it’s matte—it sculpts the eye. It’s something they did in the 60s. I shade under my jawline as well. If I were to walk in here completely bare-faced, and you said, ‘Alex, you’ve got to get ready in five minutes,’ I would just do a red lip and black mascara. I really am obsessed with the Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes Volume 2, I love Superhero Mascara by IT Cosmetics, and I like Yves Saint Laurent Volume Faux Cils. I like a Max Factor 2000 Calorie Mascara as well. The one thing I would really love to get into is individual lashes. I’m not good at putting them in—they always end up falling into my food!

For lips, I always go pink-nude, not beige-nude. At the time of my Top Shelf I think I had my MAC lipstick [Ed note: discontinued], which is obviously still my favorite because it’s the exact color of my lips. I travel with about six or seven lipsticks, but then I open them and I’m like, ‘Why did I take all of these? They’re all the same.’ There’s a lot of Charlotte Tilbury in my collection—Pillow Talk and Super Sexy, which is new. For lip liner, Love Trap is beautiful. I also have a lot of Bobbi Brown Art Sticks because they’re so easy to use—there’s a color called Bare that I love.


I’m not sure I’m going to go back to longer hair—this is more versatile. I’m very, very bad at doing my own hair, and this is easier to put up or wear down. I’m definitely someone who goes to the salon—I go to Hershesons for blow-drys and cuts, and to Larry King in London for color. Luke Hersheson cuts my hair. I also get Kérastase treatments at Hershesons, and I love those. It’s like having a facial for your hair. I also use Kérastase shampoo and conditioner, the black one. It’s their most luxe one, but it’s regenerating, restoring, and I like the smell. I’m a big dry shampoo user, and I use the Klorane dry shampoo with the brown tint. The white ones can look like I have chalk in my hair. There’s this guy called Syd Hayes who’s a pretty big hairdresser, and he makes hair pins—that’s the one thing I will do. I think they’re great, and again, it’s easy.

I’m not a big clubber—I used to do that. The truth is, I like to go to bed early, and I’m quite a homebody. But when I do go out, I like to be a bit fancy. I live in Notting Hill, and there are a lot of cafes and bars around there. Or I like going to Annabelle’s in London—you kind of have to dress up for that. I do wear different perfumes in the evening. It puts you in the mood. There’s a new fragrance by Hermès—Un Jardin Sur la Lagune—which is beautiful for the day, but for night I like something richer. I love Coromandel by Chanel, which is quite patchouli and ambery. It’s beautiful. I do think a lot of nighttime glamour has to do with scent. You can wear jeans, a white t-shirt, a pair of heels and have a really cool perfume, and that’s glamorous. I tend to wear things that are quite masculine but then not, like trousers or a tuxedo.


I don’t ever sleep with makeup. Don’t tell me anyone actually enjoys washing their face at night—when you come back from a night out, you’re exhausted. You just want to get into bed. I’m launching a new product which is an oil to milk cleanser, and I’m really proud of that because it’s literally a one-step makeup remover that rinses clean. I love cleansers in general, and I’m very much into the whole idea of keeping the acid level in your skin even and not stripping it. I love this foam cleanser I just got in Japan by Koh Gen Do—it has a slightly low pH, which is the way to go. Then I cocktail serums—the ingredients I look for are niacinamide and copper peptides. I think Paula’s Choice boosters are really good skincare that’s decent, honest, and doesn’t break the bank. That’s good. In my range, everything is between five and seven dollars. We’re vegan friendly, completely cruelty-free certified, no fragrance, no essential oils, no phthalates, no sulfates. There’s a lot of good skincare out there, but a lot of the good stuff is quite pricey. I wanted to do something that’s affordable, but genuine and good. You know, the kind of skincare I’m into. Of course, I don’t have everything, but I think with skincare it’s not so much using 50,000 things, but keeping at it. The consistency—like going to the gym, isn’t it? If you go once a month like I do, it’s not going to shift as much. [Laughs]”

—as told to ITG

Alessandra Steinherr photographed by Tom Newton in Paris on March 12, 2019.