We asked the celebrity skin specialist your most burning skincare questions, including how to deal with post-acne scars and what to eat for more balanced skin.
If you haven’t heard of Dr Barbara Sturm yet, you’ve definitely seen her popular skin treatment: The Vampire Facial. It went viral after Kim Kardashian shared an Instagram photo of the treatment that includes needling your own blood into your skin to brighten, tighten and heal. Since then, Dr Sturm created the cult-favourite MC1 blood cream, in which she separates your blood and plasma to spin the latter into a shea-based moisturiser that is bespoke and will work to solve your skincare issues best. But if you can’t make it to Düsseldorf (and you’re not Rosie Huntington Whitely, Gwyneth Paltrow or Kate Moss), you can order Dr Barbara Sturm’s Molecular Cosmetics via The Global Store on Nykaa’s app—starting tomorrow. We spoke to the aesthetics doctor and skincare line founder about clean beauty, treating acne and fighting pigmentation.
On clean beauty
“Clean beauty is an ethos that means I do not use toxic, harmful or aggressive ingredients in formulating my products. I use advanced ingredients that are healthy, healing, and safe and which nurture, rather than attack living skin,” says Dr Sturm. Her products contain innovative, high concentration active ingredients adhering to Germany’s rigorous skincare ingredient laws and her philosophy of skin healing also means there aren’t any substances and ingredients that are unnecessary for the skin and may promote inflammation, including artificial fragrance, colour, microplastics and aggressive preservatives. Plus, they’re cruelty-free too, so none of the products or raw materials are tested on animals at all through the process.
On skincare mistakes
According to Dr Sturm, when people self-curate their routine and zig-zag between products and brands, the ingredients can cause more harm than they can help. The same goes for mix-matching quick-fix anti-ageing products like acid peels and lasers, which can create inflammation rather than heal the skin. “The goal with skincare is to soothe and reduce inflammation, not cause it—skincare should never cause any discomfort. Healthy skin cells should be nurtured rather than destroyed. This is why I advise against an approach deploying aggressive acids and retinol, because they destroy rather than repair the skin matrix and promote inflammation, weakening your skin and making it vulnerable to pathogens and other environmental aggressors,” she confirms.
On fighting pigmentation in Indian skin
Find your skin feeling greasy, congested and more prone to pigmentation left over from zits or cuts? Dr Sturm says it could be due to an inflammation cascade. “From a dermatological point of view, skin with more active melanocytes presents a specific challenge—a special sensitivity and tendency to experience an “inflammation cascade” triggered by external and internal influences on the skin. This is the cause of a host of symptoms, including post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and more sebum production,” she says. To combat this, she created the Darker Skin Tones Line, which contains additional ingredients with skin evening benefits and a higher anti-inflammatory effect.
On treating acne
Breakouts are multi-factorial, caused by hormones, excess sebum, bacteria, blocked pores and inflammation. So inflammation-triggers like allergens, pollution, UVA/UVB, HEV rays from digital screens, stress and nutrition can all play a role. “The first step is to remove and address the various factors. If someone has acne-prone or blemished skin, I like them to get their blood checked for lactose intolerance, hormone levels, and allergies; they should also check all ingredients in their skincare routine and take out any products containing aggressive ingredients that are pro-inflammatory,” says Dr Sturm. Her favourite quick-fix if you have to soothe an angry zit? Smooth on the Molecular Cosmetics Clarifying Spot Treatment. It contains an active complex of macular bioflavonoids (plant-derived compounds that help reduce inflammation), tea tree oil (a potent anti-bacterial ingredient) and zinc oxides (compounds containing astringent and antiseptic properties that help to detoxify and diminish acne-triggering impurities). “It also contains Vitamin B3 and Vitamin E, which help hydrate the skin (it’s a myth that oily skin needs to be dried out) and support the skin’s renewal and healing properties,” she confirms.
On eating for healthy skin
While skincare products can really go far, what you eat can play a major role in clear, balanced skin. On Dr Sturm’s no-list are inflammatory substances like alcohol, sugar, flour, as well as salt, processed or fried foods. “Eat lots of anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, blueberries, blackberries, green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts, olive oil and tomatoes, as well as foods that are rich in glutathione, a potent antioxidant, like asparagus, peppers, carrots, broccoli, avocados, squash and spinach,” she confirms.