Skincare,  Skincare Ingredient Analysis,  Skincare Reviews

(II) Alex Steinherr’s new budget skincare line in Primark – £5 Makeup Primer and Plumping Lip gloss!? Ingredient analysis and review

Last week I wrote about some of the products released by Alex Steinherr in collaboration with Primark, and the final thoughts were interesting. Can a budget skincare line offer good quality?


The second part of the review focuses on makeup related items, such as the makeup primer and the plumping lip gloss. I subjectively investigated the ingredients and the science behind the products, then I objectively reviewed the products based on how they applied and performed on my skin.


Pollution Solution Line

Daily Skin Starter



Contains anti-pollution ingredients 

Reveals skin’s radiance 


Fine tunes the skin ×

Locks on makeup ×

Improves makeup application and wear ×



Comes in a tube and a box and does not look like a budget product at all in my opinion. It is £5/34 ml, which means £15/100 ml, which is very good value.



 It has the texture of a light gel, with no colour or smell, that applies really easily on the skin and has a cooling effect. It absorbs fast and leaves no residue.

       I have used this several times and I can’t say it makes any visible difference to my makeup longevity or to the texture of my skin. I kept applying it on one side of the face, to compare with the other side at the end of the day, but I could never see any differences, other than my highlighter always looked smoother on the side without the primer.

       It did not irritate my skin so far, and I noticed more new pimples on the side without the primer, but that could just be a coincidence since the product does not contain any acne-fighting ingredients (see below).



Yes, my very dry skin did not have a bad reaction to it as long as my skin was well hydrated. When used under a matte foundation it seemed to make my skin look drier, but when used under a dewy foundation it seemed just fine.




Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Propanediol, Phenoxyethanol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Marrubium Vulgare (Horehound) Extract, Lactic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexyglycerin, Propylene Glycol, Prunus Persica (Peach) Flower Extract, Litchi Chinensis Fruit Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid.



GlycerinNaturally found in the skin, it is skin-replenishing and skin-restoring, helping to maintain moisture levels.
PropanediolIncreases the absorbency of ingredients, and has hydrating properties to the skin, leaving it smooth and dewy.
Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl AcrylateTexture Enhancer
CrosspolymerTexture Enhancer
Marrubium Vulgare (Horehound) ExtractSupposedly conditions skin and is soothing.
Lactic AcidLactic Acid is an exfoliant and thus can cause skin sensitivity depending on its concentration, but it is an in-demand ingredient in skincare because it gets rid of dead skin cells, has hydrating properties and helps with an uneven skin tone (AHA).


You should always use an SPF cream after using this product as it increases sun sensitivity.

This ingredient has the potential to fulfill most of the claims of this product – smooths skin and will help improve the radiance of the skin by exfoliation.

Sodium HydroxideIn high doses, it can make skin sensitive. The more I researched about it, the more I got concerned. It potentially poses a high risk of irritation to the skin. It is the first ‘average’ product so far.


It maintains the pH of a product (neutralizing the acids present in this product – Lactic Acid, Citric Acid). However, it is a base that interacts with an acid and thus becomes a sodium salt, which is more soluble and easier to use. If the quantity of Sodium Hydroxide is not left in excess after these reactions, it shouldn’t be an irritant – it is all based on quantity.

It also appeared in the Daily Moisturiser but it is more of concern here as it is present in the first half of the ingredient list.

Disodium EDTAPreservative, chelator and stabilizer
EthylhexyglycerinA synthetic skin softening agent.
Propylene GlycolThis is a skin conditioning agent, antioxidant, and texture enhancer. Some sources evaluate it as being a potential irritant to the skin, especially when used regularly, other sources say it is safe to use and does not irritate, but its potential irritating qualities still remain a concern.


‘Data showed that the irritation potential of MPG is concentration-dependent and dependent on exposures under occlusive conditions, suggesting that irritation may be related to local dehydration of the skin.’ – Source

In conclusion, is safe for use, but it has a potential of causing skin irritation when used in different concentrations.

Prunus Persica (Peach) Flower ExtractSkin Conditioning, Antioxidant, and it attenuates UV damage to the skin.
Litchi Chinensis Fruit ExtractSkin conditioning with antioxidant effects.
Sodium BenzoatePreservative
Potassium SorbatePreservative
Citric AcidUsed to adjust the pH of products, is an AHA and so it can exfoliate skin if used in the right amount within a product, it can also whiten the skin, so it could help with uneven skin tones.


This product has fewer ingredients compared to some other products in this skincare line. It has some active ingredients and the minimum amount of additives and preservatives which ensure the texture and the longevity of the product after opening.

      To understand this product’s list of ingredients and why would you use it, it’s important to understand what pollution is. Air pollution is characterised by the particles released by humans onto the environment – exhaust fumes from cars, cigarette smoke, dust, aerosols etc. These can age the skin and make it blotchy, irritated and dull-looking. Air pollution causes free radicals that damage the skin.

          Pollution has become a concern for the skin lately, especially in the bigger cities like London, Hong Kong etc., and more and more people become interested in protecting their skin from pollutants. A product that contains antioxidants should in theory protect the skin from these pollutants, while a daily exfoliant will help remove the fine dust from your pores.



 In this product, the exfoliant, mainly the Lactic Acid but also the Citric Acid is removing dead skin cells and thus preventing the build-up of air pollutants on your skin. Meanwhile, antioxidants such as Prunus Persica (Peach) Flower Extract and Litchi Chinensis Fruit Extract neutralise free radicals and are beneficial to the skin in this matter.

          However, for a ‘pollution solution’ type of product I would have expected to contain SPF as well. Exfoliation and antioxidants are a good package to be applied each morning as a ‘daily starter’ but you still need SPF each morning, especially since the Lactic Acid in this product can make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Despite this though, SPF can be a hit or miss in skincare, as not everyone’s skin reacts positively to SPF, especially when speaking about oily, acne-prone skin types. Not adding an SPF in this product was a safe choice, however, I think it would have been good, as it would prevent you from applying another layer of cream which would contain UV protection. It has been proven that Prunus Persica (Peach) Flower Extract attenuates damage to skin from UV radiations, but I do not think that is enough.




Yes, it could. If used every day for the whole day it could become too much for the skin, but it’s very dependent on the proportions of the overall ingredients and how well they work together. This is also relative depending on different skin types. However, people with sensitive skin should be careful when using this, just in case.




Unfortunately, this product does not seem to do much for me concerning locking my makeup in or prolonging it. It does not visibly make my skin smoother and brighter either, although with prolonged use of the exfoliant (Lactic Acid) the result could be achieved.

     Regarding the ‘anti-pollution’ claim, I’d check if the rest of my creams contain antioxidants and use Lactic Acid in a cleansing product or a mask once a week, to avoid irritation of the skin.

       I do not think it is a bad product, but I do find it annoying that I have to apply another SPF cream on top of it. Sometimes SPF creams contain antioxidants as well and are a good makeup primer and hydrating cream, which is what I would choose to use instead, since all these are incorporated within one product.


Plump & Glow Line

Plumping Lip Gloss





Enhances and smooths lips 

High Shine 





Looks like a generic lip gloss. Comes in a box, contains 4.3g and costs £5. I love the tip of the applicator as it is slightly angled, which makes the application on the lips really easy and quick. 


 It is quick to apply and leaves lips very shiny and plumped. However, it does not hydrate my lips a lot, the texture it’s quite weird, it feels plasticky and does not penetrate the lips. However, I am taking a medicine called Isotretinoin which severely dries lips, so it could be hydrating enough for other people.

How the product looks on the lips

It gives a slightly tingling feeling but nothing too bad. It feels minty on the lips and tastes of mint. The minty taste and feeling is not my favourite, as it feels slightly irritating on the lips.

Can be used on top of lipstick, which I often did – applied a coloured, hydrating lipstick and then this film forming lip gloss than adds just shine and not colour.

It is really difficult to remove, due to its plasticky texture.



 Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Ethylene/Propylene Copolymer, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Menthyl Lactate,  Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Propylmethylmethoxy-Benzofuran, Isohexadecane,  Ethylene/Ptopylene/Styrene Copolymer, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer Styrene Copolymer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Tripeptide-1, Pentylene Glycol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Flower Extract, Mica, Tin Oxide, Hylocereus Undatus (Dragon) Fruit Extract, Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexyglycerin, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491/CI 77492 (Iron Oxides).




Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed OilIt is an emollient. When it dries it creates a solid film on the lips that has water binding properties. Has a sticky feeling on the skin – as this is the first ingredient it would explain why the consistency of the lip-gloss is like a thick film that makes the lips feel sticky.
Hydrogenated PolydeceneNon-stick emollient, creates a smooth and soft feeling to the skin.
Ethylene/Propylene CopolymerIt is film forming and bulking. Also helps with the viscosity of the product.
Silica Dimethyl SilylateIt is a silicone. Bulking and controls the viscosity. Also an emollient.
Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) ButterAnother quality ingredient in skincare, it has powerful antioxidant properties and can make the skin smoother.
Menthyl LactateThis ingredient is considered as a high irritant to the skin and as a poor ingredient in cosmetics. It is used as a cooling and flavouring agent, being a derivate of menthol.


By being an irritant, especially to the delicate skin on the lips, the lips swell a little and create that plumping effect. This is where the tingling effect comes from as well.

Hydroxymethoxyphenyl Propylmethylmethoxy-BenzofuranCould not find anything about it. It is an excipient – a filler in the product. Could be a viscosity agent or a texture enhancer.
IsohexadecaneTexture Enhancer
Ethylene/Ptopylene/Styrene CopolymerViscosity Agent
Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene CopolymerViscosity Agent
Sodium HyaluronateAnother skincare ingredient perceived as excellent that is considered to be a more efficient form of hyaluronic acid with skin restoring and replenishing properties.
Xanthan GumUsed to stabilise emulsions (oil and water), thickening agent and texture enhancer.
Tripeptide-1Another very good skincare ingredient, as it is known for its skin-restoring properties. It has the potential to help with rough texture and damaged-skin.
Pentylene GlycolSkin-replenishing agent and a texture enhancer.
Polymethyl MethacrylatePlastic filler used in cosmetics. It is a texture enhancer.
Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Flower ExtractHas antioxidant properties and is a skin conditioning. Prevents moisture loss from the skin surface. Not much data could be found about this one.
MicaGives shine and sparkle to the product. It is also a colorant and gives some opacity to the product.
Tin OxideControls the viscosity and is an opacifying agent.
Hylocereus Undatus (Dragon) Fruit ExtractAnother ingredient about which not much popped up online. It is said to have anti-aging properties and to protect the skin from pollution, but I could not find studies about it.
GlycerinNaturally found in the skin, it is skin-replenishing and skin-restoring,
Sodium BenzoatePreservative
Potassium SorbatePreservative
EthylhexyglycerinA synthetic skin softening agent.
CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)Can be used as sunscreen but here it is mostly a colouring agent as it appears as the last ingredient in the list. It is also an emulsifier.
CI 77491/CI 77492 (Iron Oxides)Colouring Agent


It contains a multitude of film-forming and bulking ingredients, which will build up on the lips and create a plumping effect. They do not have a medical purpose, they are needed for creating the texture of the lip gloss, its spreadability, and the gel-feeling of it.

        Irritants are often used in plumping lip products because they swell the lips. Menthyl Lactate is one of them. While this creates a temporary plumping effects by irritating the delicate skin of the lips, it can also damage the fine skin. It is not recommended to be used repetitively. However, this product works, so if you can endure the irritation you can use it from time to time.




Yes, because you have a variety of properties that work together and create this effect. First of all, you have the irritant ingredient which swells the lips, the Menthyl Lactate, which is a derivate of menthol. Then there is the Sodium Hyaluronate which hydrates, and the film forming ingredients that fill in the lines of the lips and bulk the lips, making them look thicker. Mica gives shine and sparkle, and the Titanium Dioxide rejects light (having SPF qualities), which further enhance the illusion of fuller lips.




I generally do not use plumping lip products because I do not like the tingling sensation and the menthol taste and smell. I did feel this irritated my lips and did not understand why until I have read more about what actually plumps the lips in these products – irritants.

        I might use this again for pictures, very rarely, but I would stay away from it, as I noticed that it can irritate the skin around my lips. I would prefer a hydrating lip gloss with lots of shine, which also gives the optical illusion of fuller lips, but without the irritation.





Skincare ingredients should be analysed subjectively, however, each skin is different and reacts differently to the same product, so keep in mind the science behind it and the active ingredients but also test it out on your skin and see how well it works for you. I do not see why someone would not give this budget line a try, as it is so affordable and lacks the main irritants (excluding the ones in the lip gloss!).

      I think my best advice with this skincare line is not to replace your usual skincare routine with it, but rather to complete it – maybe you miss some pore cleaning products, like the clay mask, or a skin treatment that can be used overnight, or even acne patches! Depending on your skin type and skin needs you will find something to suit you and your skin, and it is worth a try, especially since the range is so varied! I did not get to try all the products available as they are not sold at my local Primark and when I visited Edinburgh and purchased them, most of the products were sold out. I believe the Sleep Spa range could provide some really good products for such a good price but from what I’ve heard these are sold out in most cities.

      I think the products that I did get the chance to review are a proof that Alex Steinherr’s collaboration with Primark provides some excellent value for money and overall good quality ingredients!

    One of the revolutionary budget friendly skincare line with quality ingredients was The Ordinary, which became insanely popular, now Alex Steinherr’s collaboration with no one else than Primark proves yet again that good quality can be achieved at a fraction of the price. These times are truly interesting – I wonder what is going to happen next in the skincare world!


This blogpost is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. This article is for informational purposes only.

Cream Smear Icon source.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.