Blood may have made Dr. Barbara Sturm the most sought-after skin therapist in Hollywood, but it’s her science-based results-driven formulas that have made her skincare line is so popular among celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Angela Bassett, and Roise Huntington-Whiteley, as well as beauty editors, and makeup artists alike.
Dr. Sturm first gained notoriety in the skincare world when she created the MC1 Cream, a bespoke cream made with each patient’s blood, and pioneering the vampire facial. (Yes, the one where Kim Kardashian had her own blood smeared all over her face.) Now, she’s known for the “Sturm Glow,” a healthy, glowing complexion that’s achieved by keeping your skin hydrated and free from inflammation that can be caused by harsh ingredients.
Here, Dr. Sturm chats with us about why she doesn’t believe in skincare trends, how to deal with quarantine-related dryness and breakouts, plus why you only need a maximum of five products in your everyday skincare routine.
What sets you apart from other skincare experts?
I never intended to start a skincare line. I started my career as an orthopedic surgeon and then did injectables. When I created the blood facial I was also having problems with my own skin. I was seeing a facialist every three weeks to treat my severe dryness and blackheads. I also tried every single product on the market and couldn’t find anything that would fix my skin, so I created my own cream with a pharmacist using the proteins from my blood. My patients then started using the cream that I would mix with their own blood and soon, they were asking for more products and a complete routine. Since I couldn’t recommend anything on the market to my patients, I created my own line.
Now, creating products is my greatest passion and since we’re at home right now, I’m in a creative phase where I’m talking to the scientists I work with every day. There is a lot of new stuff coming out that’s scientifically groundbreaking and that’s what drives me. My background is in science and inflammation. To me, skincare is all about hydration and I don’t think other brands understand how to hydrate the skin the way I do with my products.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about skincare today?
First of all, it’s all about trends. The skincare industry is big, so there’s a lot of marketing going on and people contemplating how to sell things. It’s a money-driven market and not always necessarily about what’s good for the skin. There’s also the social media aspect. When we first started our pop-up spas, I remember seeing Rosie Huntington-Whiteley describe her spa treatment online and suddenly it became chic to show off your skincare routine. Having an elaborate skincare routine at home is becoming a status symbol, so I think that’s why people like to show off their shelfies with colorful bottles and the brands they use. Using all of these products isn’t necessarily good for the skin because every brand has their own philosophy and regime they recommend. I think studying up and reading ingredients is important. Also, don’t overdo it with active ingredients because you can damage your skin. Ruining your skin barrier with aggressive at-home treatments can lead to dryness and inflammation, which can result in other issues like acne.
In your opinion, what products should you use in your everyday skincare routine?
I think a decent skincare routine shouldn’t have more than four or five steps. The first big step is cleansing because you need to keep your skin clean. It’s important to use a cleanser that isn’t soap or contain alcohol so that it doesn’t dry out your skin. Next, a mild exfoliant that only takes your dead skin cells off. I recommend using an enzyme exfoliator or a facial scrub twice a week. Then, you need to hydrate your skin, ideally with a hyaluronic acid serum, followed by moisturizing your skin with a moisturizer. Sunscreen is also important, especially depending where you are and what treatments you do. If you have super oily skin, you can add in a balancing toner if you want.
People have been experiencing dryness and acne during quarantine. What are your tips for dealing with these two skin issues?
We’re spending so much time in front of our phone and computer screens, which can cause inflammation and dryness. We’re also experiencing so much stress right now because of all of the uncertainty in the world. Stress releases a hormone in our blood called cortisol, which can lead to inflammation and breakouts. When people have acne they think they have to dry out their skin and a lot of acne products on the market are drying. This can cause more problems for your skin. No matter what, your skin needs to be hydrated. Use a hyaluronic acid serum, a hydrating face mask, and moisturize throughout the day. You can also use the Anti-Pollution Drops from my line to block out the blue light that’s emitted from screens while simultaneously hydrating your skin. I also keep my Hydrating Face Mist next to the computer and spritz it on all the time. Also, minimize your phone time and turn down the light on your phone so it’s on night mode.
You’re known for “The Sturm Glow.” What are your summer tips for dewy skin?
I figured out how to get hydrated, dewy, glowy skin with my formulations. If you use my products today and get a facial or do an at-home facial, you’ll get dewy, glowy skin. As for a routine for the summer, a lot of people sweat more and skin tends to become more oily, so go for the light version of my moisturizer. Keep exfoliating twice a week, keep using a hyaluronic acid serum, moisturizer, and you can add in the Sun Drops or Anti-Pollution Drops and a mist. It’s important to protect the function of your skin barrier, but you also need superficial and deep hydration.
Shop Our 5 Favorite Dr. Barbara Sturm Skincare Products
Darker Skin Tones Face Cream
Dr. Sturm created a line of products specifically for darker skin tones in collaboration with her client Angela Bassett. The Face Cream hydrates and calms inflammation, plus works to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, a common skincare concern for Black women.
While all of Dr. Sturm’s products are formulated to give you hydrated, dewy skin, finishing your routine off with a few drops of this serum will instantly make you glow. It’s also designed to give your skin long-term moisturizing and anti-aging benefits, too.
To keep your skin moisturized throughout the day, Dr. Sturm recommends a quick spritz of her hydrating mist. On top of hyaluronic acid, it also contains antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals and other environmental aggressors.
What makes Dr. Sturm’s Clarifying Mask unique from all of the other clay-based formulas out there, is that it clears skin of excess oil without completely drying you out. Zinc works to bring pimples and redness down.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum
People don’t stop raving about Dr. Sturm’s hyaluronic acid serum because it hydrates the skin and completely dries down without any stickiness or greasy residue. The serum contains long- and short-form HA molecules to provide both superficial and deep hydration.