Dr. Barbara Sturm is the skincare guru most A-list celebrities have on their speed-dial. She is famous for having introduced the so-called ‘Vampire Facial’ (a treatment which garnered an exclusive crowd of trusted skincare-devotees), and her mantra of maximum results, minimum amount of products has people across the globe flocking to try her sought-after skincare regimen.
Originally trained in sports medicine, Sturm was part of the team of doctors treating Kobe Bryant after a basketball-related incident, resolving in the development of what’s now referred to as the ‘Kobe procedure’, where a patient’s own blood is used as protein to kick-start the healing process. After making the switch to skincare, Sturm transferred the technique to her first patient-only cream – the MC1 cream, which became a sell-out success. In 2014 she finally launched her range of molecular skincare products, giving more people the possibility to achieve the signature Sturm glow from home.
Here, she shares her journey, swear-by beauty rituals, and what’s next for her brand.
You started with a career in sports medicine and orthopedics. How did you make the jump to aesthetic medicine and skincare?
Combating inflammation has been the central target of my entire medical career. I studied sports medicine and worked in the field of anti-inflammatory molecular orthopedics before shifting into anti-inflammatory aesthetics. Inflammation is the trigger for most of the dysfunction and disease in our bodies, and also in our skin. I was always fascinated with aesthetics and translated the science from orthopedics to the skin to create the first patient blood plasma facial in 2002.
You presented your namesake skincare line back in 2014 – how did it come about?
When my patients asked me to recommend a post-medical treatment skincare regimen, I surveyed the market and couldn’t find any. I originally set out to create a patients-only skincare regime built around anti-inflammatory ingredient science – it took me several years, but the result was my Dr. Barbara Sturm range; a high-performance skincare line that I formulated out of advanced ingredient science.
Before you launched your product line you created the MC1 cream, famously adding a portion of the patient’s own blood. Where do you see the future of bespoke skincare?
The skin has both overlapping and unique needs. I think we are leaving the era of one-size-fits-all, marketing-driven skincare and entering a period of more tailored, science and results-driven skincare. Darker skin tones, for example, have specific dermatological needs around inflammation. The skin is complex and interesting. It needs to be healthy and functioning, but at the same time look good and my goal is to help each individual customer get the best and healthiest skin possible.
What’s a beauty ritual you swear by?
Putting on my FACE MASK every morning. It contains purslane, an anti-aging powerhouse, that helps calm the skin and reduces visible signs of irritation. It also contains soothing aloe vera and chamomile which infuse your skin with moisture. And Kaolin clay, which detoxifies and leaves your complexion feeling silky soft. It’s a skin saviour.
Your approach to skincare is very holistic – what does the term entail to you?
Skincare is not just putting a topical cream on; there is a holistic approach to reducing inflammation and achieving wellness, which includes adopting a simple, anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Adequate sleep, getting daily exercise, avoiding excess alcohol, sugar, fried and processed foods, and flour while eating anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, salmon, olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, dark berries and green tea should be constants for daily self-care and have the ability to change your skin and overall health.
1. Get enough sleep, stay away from unhealthy food and cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.
2. Take care of your skin, using anti-inflammatory skincare treatments and products.
3. Less is more but it’s important to make sure you have the best products, an amazing face cream and hyaluronic serum and then you’ve done a lot for your skin without spending an hour in the bathroom.
Take us through your own skincare routine:
I’m a busy, working mom so I need my skincare routine to be simple. I use my FACE MASK every day. Twice a week, I’ll either use the FACIAL SCRUB or ENZYME CLEANSER in the shower on my face and body to remove dead skin cells, boost circulation and encourage skin renewal. The rest of the time I cleanse with my CLEANSER. Immediately after showering I apply my BALANCING TONER, then HYALURONIC SERUM and ANTI-POLLUTION DROPS, FACE CREAM and EYE CREAM. Not counting the FACE MASK, my entire skincare routine takes 1-2 minutes.
At the start of the year, you launched a new serum THE GOOD C. What is unique about this product? And why should you integrate vitamin C into your skincare routine?
I had been talking to a lot of my patients regarding Vitamin C and advising them of the importance of paying attention to the dosage and formulation, and I realised that this was the perfect opportunity to develop my own Vitamin C product with a skin-friendly formula. I formulated THE GOOD C VITAMIN C SERUM with a concentration of 5% Vitamin C that includes oil-soluble Vitamin C THD, stabilized, synthetic Vitamin C in glycosidic form and natural Vitamin C from the Kakadu Plum. It’s safe and gentle on the skin and essential in protecting it from the free radical damage that can cause fine lines and pigmentation as well as break down collagen. Regular use leaves your complexion youthful and healthy-looking.
What’s it been like being a founder with responsibility for both business and employees this past year?
For every business, the pandemic necessitated change and creativity in serving customers. For me, it caused an emergency acceleration of the things I intended to carry out anyway. We have introduced many new ways for customers to interact; we launched WhatsApp for business; FaceTime customer care services; live chat functionality on the site; virtual consultations with Team Sturm or directly with me; digital Masterclasses and Skin Schools for teenagers and we also started live streaming content via Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. As a doctor, I wanted to provide education and information, and talk with people about self-care. Of course, you have to work harder in difficult times but I am in a lucky industry. Online sales are strong, and demand for skincare remains, so I’ve tried to look at it as an opportunity instead of a challenge.
What can we expect next?
I’ve recently opened my London Boutique & Spa and I’m also opening a new Spa in Miami, which will offer all of my most-loved treatments. My Professional Line, a new, medically-advanced skincare collection – only offered in-spa after personal consultation – will soon be available at the Miami Boutique & Spa. I also have some exciting launches coming very soon – so stay tuned!