Skincare Scientist Dr. Barbara Sturm Is Taking The Beauty World By Storm
German skincare expert Barbara Sturm’s approach to beauty is simple—take what you know about skincare and forget it. Well, to an extent; a little less cleansing is better, exposure to the sun is good—necessary, in fact, in moderate doses—and the secret to a perfect complexion is already inside you. Literally.
Düsseldorf-based Sturm, who began her career in sports medicine and orthopaedics before creating her Dr Barbara Sturm range of skincare products, captured the world’s attention when her client, Kim Kardashian West, posted a photo on Instagram of her face smeared with her own blood plasma in what became known as the “vampire facial.”
But the procedure is more about science than shock factor, harnessing the anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties of the body’s own proteins, which are then amplified 140 times before being reinjected into the skin (hence the term vampire facial) or added to Sturm’s bespoke MC1 “blood cream.”
It all started with NBA star Kobe Bryant, who was a client of Sturm’s when she was an orthopaedic practitioner. “I pioneered 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,” Sturm explains.
“At the time, I was also unable to find an existing effective skincare 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 the 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.”
The doctor’s hunch paid off and it became clear skincare was her true calling. Sturm quickly became the expert everyone serious about skincare wanted to know.
While her MC1 “blood cream” is still available to private clients, it’s Sturm’s more mainstream Molecular Cosmetics range—which made its debut on Net-a-Porter in 2014—that has captivated the beauty and fashion worlds. Its legion of A-list fans includes Victoria Beckham, Emily Ratajkowski, Elsa Hosk and Bella Hadid, to name just a few of the flawless faces who swear by Sturm’s antiinflammatory philosophy and her non-surgical antiageing treatments.
“The name of my line, 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,” says Sturm. Like the doctor herself, the skincare line is focused and straightforward, with a single purpose: to help people achieve not just great looking but also healthy skin.
In 2018, Sturm undertook an extensive tour during which she opened 17 pop-up spas around the world, most geared towards serving her VIP clients during red-carpet events such as the Oscars, Paris Fashion Week, the Cannes Film Festival and the Met Gala.
After the world tour, which made Sturm a celebrity in her own right and generated overwhelming demand for her treatments, in May this year she opened her very first permanent space—Dr Barbara Sturm Boutique and Spa—at Zero Bond Street in New York’s NoHo neighbourhood.
Having conquered the West, Sturm set her sights on the East. She has extended her range—a concise suite of nontoxic serums and creams containing purslane, a nutrient-packed ingredient that calms the skin and reduces signs of age—to include formulations designed especially for Asian skin, including the recently introduced Brightening and Clarifying collections.
“There are three Dr Barbara Sturm products that I developed for the unique needs of Asian skin,” Sturm explains.
“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 contain 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 moisturiser that helps even out skin tone and minimises pigmentation.”
To the delight of her growing fan base in Asia, Sturm also announced an exclusive partnership with Wellness at The Murray, Hong Kong, in September, making the five-star hotel spa the only place in the region where clients can book her world-famous treatments.
The treatments available there include the Instant Glow Facial—the treatment that fuelled the #sturmglow movement on social media—Brightening Facial, Clarifying Facial and Super Anti-Ageing Facial, all of which exclusively use Dr Barbara Sturm products. The results are instant and impressive.
For first-timers, it’s a great way—and a gateway—to understanding the cult of Barbara Sturm. Though all treatments at The Murray are free of plasma injections, I can attest, from personal experience, that Sturm’s approach to skincare is bloody brilliant.
See also: 3 Hong Kong Facial Treatments For Clear Skin