“I’m the Mother of customised skincare,” declares Dr Barbara Sturm, the German orthopaedic surgeon-turned anti-ageing skin expert.
Instead of sounding arrogant, she is actually just matter-of-fact.
The doctor is after all, the word-of-mouth go-to for some of the most beautiful and ageless in Hollywood, young and older: from Cher and Jennifer Aniston to Rosie Huntington-Whitley, Irina Shayk and Hailey Baldwin.
In 2003, she pioneered a method that uses one’s blood for a customised anti-ageing face cream, the MC1 or “Blood Cream”.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works: she puts a vial of your blood through a “mechanical stimulation” process to trick the cells into thinking that it needs to produce wound-healing proteins.
“The resulting concentration of anti interleukin-1 and transforming growth factor (TGF) beta is 140 times higher than what you would have in the body,” says Dr Sturm.
She adds the concentration into a tub of moisturiser, and there is the customised face cream.
(Primarily, the use of your own blood is for hygiene purposes.)
The doctor created the MC1 when she was frustrated with the lack of creams that worked for her own face, in the market. By then, she was already injecting processed blood to treat patients suffering from rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. And decided that she could try adding the proteins into a face cream.
It worked, and the rest is history with the blood-customised “Vampire facials”, skin serums and creams for her patients.
You can only get the thousand-dollar blood cream at her clinic, and you have to book at least a month in advance.
But fortunately, you can also get her line of off-the-shelf skincare launched in 2014, on Net-a-Porter.com.
The straight-talking doctor sits down with The Beauty Gazette over lunch; here are 6 things you need to know about her.
1. She started out in orthopaedics. “I had my first child when I was 23; I saw so many kids suffering when I brought my daughter to the clinic. I decided to go into orthopaedics so that I could take pain away and help people to walk again through acupuncture, and cell-rejuvenating injections. That was how I first worked with a group of doctors and scientists to pioneer treatments based on the blood’s healing factors.”
2. In her treatments and skincare line, keeping skin cells alive is a priority. “My approach to skincare is result-oriented, and based on clinical studies. I took two years to formulate my first off-the-shelf cream; and three years for my body cream. The formulas are all anti-inflammatory, telomerase-activating, and hydrating; the goal is to heal and keep existing mature cells alive.
In the West, many skin doctors use laser and aggressive ingredients such as glycolic acid, and retinol to destroy mature cells so that young ones grow; but that also leaves the skin thin and vulnerable. The ingredients that I like to use in my line are purslane, panthenol, urea, aloe vera, chestnut oil, shea butter and grape seed oil. The products are made for all skin types.”
3. Her formulas are uncomplicated. “Mineral oils take water away from the skin cells and clog pores. Perfumes render the formula ineffective. So my formulas do not contain either. I pay attention to formulas that work. That is why I created the Sun Drops. I don’t like sunscreens which are full of chemicals, sitting in skincare creams because they affect the active ingredients in the bottle. Sun Drops is a chemical SPF that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, which you can mix into other products when you need to.”
4. She is not a beauty junkie. “My own skincare regime is simple. I cleanse, then use the Hyaluronic Acid Serum in the day, Anti-Ageing Serum at night; and moisturiser. Eye Cream when I remember, and Sun Drops when I go in the sun. I exfoliate twice a week.
Over-treating the skin can be a problem. The more you treat it with too many products, the less it can do on its own. Just like how if you use face oils neat, you actually end up with drier skin because its sebum production mechanism shuts down. You want the cells to breathe and do their own thing. Otherwise, they can get overwhelmed, over-react, leading to larger pores, inflammation and irritation.
My mantra: less is more, and from the less the very best.
Good skin is a sign of good health. So I have a purslane-based supplement; and I’m currently working on a purslane tea and more supplements.”
5. She hates makeup. “I rarely wear make-up, and only at events. The colour pigments cannot be good for the skin or general health. Like, if you put concealer on the under eye area where there are alot of delicate lymph nodes everyday, it cannot be good for you.
I created an Anti-Aging Primer with my make-up artist friend Monika Blunder because she told me how she uses my Hyaluronic Serum as primer instead of silicone-based ones that clog pores and blocks the skin’s natural functions. So we created one that is made with good stuff like purslane and hyaluronic acid, as well as rice starch to mattify. It acts as a protective layer from make-up, for the skin.”
6. She is the sole owner of the brand. “Money is not my motivation. My brand is self-funded, I do not have investors to answer to, I do not have to be pushy. I just want to create effective skincare that works on the molecular level for the cells.”
Folllw her on Instagram: @drbarbarasturm
With 15 SKUs in the current range, Dr Sturm is currently working on a range for babies, and teenagers.
Read review of the products here.
Pictures and video: The Beauty Gazette