Purely Spring Magazine 2021:
with Dr. Barbara Sturm
Dr. Barbara Sturm, world-renowned aesthetics doctor, has built a cult-following of skincare devotees with her signature anti-inflammatory philosophy and approach to anti-aging skin treatments (hint: she’s all about non-surgical options!). In our Purely Spring Magazine, we chatted with Dr. Sturm about her very own skincare routine, including her top products, luxurious practices, and her skincare ‘musts’ that both she and her clients adhere to. Let’s get skin deep!
What prompted your foray into skincare?
Combating inflammation has been a 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 started injecting Hyaluronic Acid and Botox in the early 2000s – I was always fascinated with aesthetics and translated the science from orthopedics into the skin to create the first patient blood plasma facial in 2002. Soon after, I invented my first doctor-issued blood plasma-based cream, called MC1, and prescribed it to my patients. My patients asked me to create an entire skincare regime and my anti-inflammatory line was eventually born.
Top three all-time favorite products?
I honestly don’t have favorite products or ingredients, and my 2-3 best-selling products are constantly changing. There is one popular product that I call the “white t-shirt” of my skincare regimen because it is so fundamental to skin health, and that is the HYALURONIC SERUM. It applies viscous, like a light syrup, and within seconds absorbs entirely into your skin. The improvement in the quality of the skin matrix is instantaneous. It promotes skin barrier function and replenishes both superficial and deeper moisture reservoirs. I couldn’t live without my FACE MASK, which is a skin savior when skin is struggling and a skin perfecter when it’s not, and I love using my GLOW DROPS as a healthy makeup alternative or supplement. Yet if I had to pick one product to survive, it would be my ingredient science packed, anti-aging FACE CREAM. It moisturizes the skin and nourishes it with valuable oils like Grape Seed, balancing the complexion and protecting it from dehydration. It also contains Purslane, which calms the skin, promotes anti-aging, and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
What are your top skincare concerns and what are your favorite products/ingredients to combat those concerns?
I created various products that are tailored to suit different skin types and can be added into your basic regime to help target your skin’s specific needs.
DRY SKIN: Hyaluronic Acid is a powerful humectant for your skin. Look for a viscous, high concentration of blended low- and high-molecular weight hyaluronic molecules as in my HYALURONIC SERUM that deeply hydrate your skin both superficially and at deeper skin layers.
BLEMISH-PRONE SKIN: Zinc is a must for blemish-prone skin due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and sebum-suppressing effects. My CLARIFYING MASK pairs Zinc with Balloon Vine and Viper's Bugloss to help balance the skin's pH levels and improve its barrier function.
SENSITIVE SKIN: All my products are for sensitive skin, no exception. I use healing and biomimetic ingredients, not aggressive ones. Ideally, you need ingredients that calm irritation and help to rebalance the skin. I invented my CALMING SERUM to quell irritation using a plant-based complex of Cardiospermum; a vine studied for its anti-irritation properties, Echium; a flowering plant that helps soothe skin with a unique blend of fatty acids, and Sunflower Seed Oil that can help protect sensitive cell membranes against free radical attack.
OILY SKIN: Tea tree oil is an amazing ingredient for oily skin because it has potent, natural antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. It’s why you’ll often find it in spot treatments or added to products that cater to oily skin types such as my CLARIFYING COLLECTION.
DARKER SKIN: Skin with more active melanocytes has a greater susceptibility to the inflammation cascade and its consequences like Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Lumicol, which originates from micro-algae, lightens hyper-pigmentation and helps to even out the skin tone - it’s a key ingredient in my Darker Skin Tone collection, which includes a CLEANSER, ENZYME CLEANSER, FACE CREAM and FACE CREAM RICH and HYALURONIC SERUM.
Walk us through your AM and PM skincare routine.
I’m a busy, working mom so I need my skincare routine to be simple. I now use my FACE MASK every day for extra hydration and self-care. 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 (which is important to avoid osmosis/trans-epidermal water loss), 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 only 1-2 minutes. I rarely wear makeup but if I need an extra pop, I use my GLOW DROPS and LIP BALM as a finishing touch and in the evening, I usually put my NIGHT SERUM on before bed. I am also taking my supplements religiously – SKIN FOOD, ANTI-POLLUTION FOOD, and REPAIR FOOD. I wear my SUN DROPS SPF 50 when the environment demands it and apply my SCALP SERUM to promote scalp health and also as a styling product when filming.
Do you have any skincare practices that feel extra luxurious (i.e. facial massage, facial steaming, etc.)
Spending more time at home gives you time and space to take care of yourself. Facial massage and face masks are all worth incorporating into your regime. In my spas, we have the Instant Glow Facial, which incorporates cleansing, exfoliating, extraction, and lymphatic and firming massage to deliver hydration, boost skin barrier function and soothe signs of irritation, leaving your skin with our signature STURMGLOW. You can replicate it at home. Simply cleanse with my CLEANSER, exfoliate with the ENZYME CLEANSER, put the FACE MASK on and leave it for 15 minutes. Then either gently remove the residue with a warm washcloth or rub the little ‘worms’ of the residue off without water. This will already generate a super hydrating glow. I then apply my HYALURONIC SERUM, FACE CREAM, and finish with my GLOW DROPS. Your skin is left looking healthy, fresh, and radiant.
Tools that are actually worth the investment? (i.e. jade roller, guasha, nu face, steamer, etc.)
A BODY BRUSH is as easy and inexpensive as it is effective. You should body brush twice a week before an alternating warm and cold shower to stimulate your lymphatic system, blood circulation, fibroblasts, and to exfoliate your skin.
What should you avoid in a label?
I always recommend avoiding products that contain dehydrating ingredients, such as mineral oils, fragrance, and alcohol, and aggressive ingredients and approaches like acids and harsh lasers that kill healthy skin cells and impair your natural skin barrier function.
What are your top “musts” when choosing skincare products?
If I had to generalize, the best skincare regime should be quick and uncomplicated, effectively combat rather than contribute to inflammation, and hydrate and nourish your skin without any aggressive ingredients.