Q&A With Skincare Scientist Dr. Barbara Sturm
Spend enough time looking at fashion and beauty Instagram accounts and you will undoubtedly come across Dr. Barbara Sturm. A trusted name among Hollywood celebrities including Kim Kardashian, the German skincare scientist began her career in sports medicine (she was part of a medical discovery that famously treated Kobe Bryant) and is now taking the world by storm with her Dusseldorf clinic and line of molecular cosmetic skin care.
We chatted with Dr. Barbara Sturm about her product line, vampire facials and the most visible signs of ageing:
How did the Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare line come to be?
After finishing my studies in Sports Medicine, I began my medical practice in orthopaedics with a focus on cutting-edge anti-inflammatory approaches. During that time, I helped pioneer a treatment against joint inflammation that is now known as the ‘Kobe procedure’, after it was used to successfully treat Kobe Bryant. The treatment deployed healing factor proteins generated from each patient’s own blood.
At the same time, I was unable to find an existing, effective skin care regime for myself and my patients that was free of mineral oils, fragrances or aggressive ingredients that would irritate the skin. Since cartilage and skin cells are of the same tissue family, and after seeing the effects the body’s own healing factors had on cartilage tissue of my patients, I had the idea of mixing the proteins into a cream and testing it first on myself, then on a clinical study group.
The outcome was so great that I started offering it to my patients. My line of “molecular cosmetics” refers to the products working on the cellular level, and my approach is three-pronged: anti-inflammation, nutrition/hydration, and telomerase activation to keep the cells alive.
You've become extremely well known for inventing ‘vampire facials’. Can you explain how they work?
I invented a treatment using patients’ own blood proteins 15 years ago. Although I did not name it, the treatment later became widely known as the “vampire facial.” This treatment harnesses the strong anti-inflammatory, regenerative and healing properties of the body’s own proteins.
These natural proteins are amplified 140 times using a special technique, and can then be reinjected into the skin (hence the name "vampire facial"), mixed with hyaluronic fillers, or added to my bespoke “MC1” face cream.
Tell us more about this “MC1” face cream...
I first created my first product the “MC1” face cream in 2002, which consists of healing factors that are generated from the patient’s own blood and added to a healing, non-toxic base cream we make in our own pharmacy that contains no mineral oil, fragrance, harsh preservatives or parabens.
My “MC1” face cream is the most bespoke cream in existence and is prepared, like a medicine, specifically for each patient. It is composed of a patient’s own blood proteins, which provides extremely potent anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is one of the main culprits for the ageing process and disease states.
Which products from your skincare line is best suited for Asian skin?
There are three Dr. Barbara Sturm products that I developed for the unique needs of Asian skin. In order of application, they are the Brightening Serum, a hyaluronic acid-based serum that gives the complexion a more even glow and reduces the signs of pigmentation, Anti-Pollution Drops, which contains Alteromonas Ferment Extract, a marine microbe that acts as an essential protector against the multitude of external stresses presented by environmental air pollution and digital pollution in the form of HEV (blue light) from computers and phones, and the Brightening Face Cream, a 24-hour moisturizer that helps even out skin tone and minimizes pigmentation.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is an important, naturally occurring compound in our skin and bodies, with remarkable properties. Its most extraordinary is binding 1,000 times its weight in water, so it provides a very intense moisture boost.
My hyaluronic acid-based products are formulated with balanced high and low molecular weight Hyaluronic to provide both superficial and deeper cellular hydration. Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid also serves as a penetrating agent to carry anti-ageing and other active ingredients into deeper skin layers.
What’s the best thing you can do for your skin?
Combatting inflammation and its many triggers is the single best thing you can do for your skin. Triggers include sun and pollution exposure, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, contact with aggressive skincare ingredients, acid-based peels and treatments using retinol and glycolic acid that attack the cells, high-stress levels, and consuming an inflammatory diet like sugar, fried foods and processed meats.
In addition, sleeping well and eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fatty fish, berries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, olive oil, and nuts like almonds and walnuts also helps.
What’s the number one sign of ageing on the face?
There is no one place that reveals age the most, and men and women have different problem spots (whether it is the neck, around the mouth, or loss of volume in the cheek and jaw). Try to avoid unprotected exposure to sun, environmental pollution and the still underappreciated threat of HEV (blue light) from computers, mobile phones and tablets that penetrates twice as deeply as UV rays.
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