Dr. Sturm began her medical career in orthopedics as part of the team that developed cutting-edge treatments for inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis. Termed the "Kobe Procedure" after the late NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant, the treatment utilizes the patient's own blood cells to produce proteins that reduce inflammation and stimulate the healing process. Dr. Sturm then translated science from her clinical research and orthopedic practice into the field of aesthetics and opened her own medical clinic in Düsseldorf. As she continued to innovate and revolutionize the field, she became one of the most sought-after beauty doctors in the world. Dr. Barbara Sturm's unique, science-based products have achieved cult status with skincare devotees worldwide. Her philosophy on healing the skin has challenged both aggressive approaches and conventional wisdom.
You began your career in orthopedics. What inspired you to explore skincare?
I started because I had problems with my own skin. It was super dry, I saw a facialist every three weeks and I couldn't find any product on the market to help me. I thought, how hard could it be to create a cream. So I looked into it and ended up creating a face cream using proteins from blood. I fixed my skin, and the vampire facial was born.
I then created the skincare line because other people were asking me for help. Now I create products that are anti-inflammatory, extremely hydrating, telomerase activating and take an anti-aging approach. It’s helped a lot of people.
What is happening to our bodies as we age?
We are made up of cells that duplicate their chromosomes before dividing into two identical cells. They do this 40-60 times. With each cell division, the caps of those chromosomes, called telomeres, get shorter and shorter until the cell mutates or dies. That process is called programmed cell death, also known as aging.
There are lots of aging theories out there. They say it's our genetics or our hormones, and really it's a little bit of everything. Our bodies need things like proper nourishment, hydration, sleep, and managed stress. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, telomeres activation is a key component in stopping or even reversing the aging process.
Can signs of aging be countered by adopting better habits?
Adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, meaning consuming the right diet, exercising, detaching from stressors, and getting enough sleep is key.
Sleep is significant and to get more of it, we need to be on our screens less. Screens mess with your biorhythm and your circadian rhythms so putting them away earlier as we prepare for bedtime will help create a healthier rhythm. We always talk about sun damage, but the HTV light from the phone radiation is quite aggressive on our skin. It's proven to cause inflammation (which causes aging) as well as hyperpigmentation. If you are often in front of phones and computers, try our anti-pollution drops.
Sleep is significant and to get more of it, we need to be on our screens less. Screens mess with your biorhythm and your circadian rhythms
You have a range specifically for darker skin tones. What went into creating them?
As I studied melanin-rich skin I noticed that the one thing mainly responsible for pigmentation or breakouts was inflammation. The inflammation cascade is so much higher when there are more melanocytes and more melanin in the skin. That's why I made this line with extra anti-inflammatory ingredients to even out the skin tone. We all have hyperpigmentation issues sooner or later, which is why those products are for everyone - not just for melanin-rich skin.
What are the most effective forms of self-care?
Facial massages promote your fibroblasts, and help your skin cells promote collagen.
Intermittent fasting is great way to allow your system focus on other things like repairing and rejuvenating. Exfoliation is so good for circulation in our arms and legs and is effective with cellulite, sagginess, and firmness of the skin. Try dry skin brushing which is easily done at home.
Everything is fine in moderation. If you want to drink some wine or have dessert go for it. We want to avoid extremes on either side.
What’s your advice on creating balanced and healthy diets?
Our diets should be anti-inflammatory, meaning mostly plant-based, avoiding processed meat, dairy, and sugars. Good foods to incorporate are olives, green leafy vegetables, salmon, almonds, walnuts, oranges, cherries, and berries. Everything else is fine in moderation. If you want to drink some wine or have dessert go for it. We want to avoid extremes on either side.
How do excessive workouts impact our bodies?
An example would be playing tennis twice a day unless you are a professional tennis player, that is not a good idea. If you overtrain your muscle, it causes inflammation in your system. Pay attention to your body to gauge if you need to make adjustments. It gives us signs in the form of tiredness, weakness, and exhaustion. It's good to work out. It releases endorphins, helps with mental health, and releases stress. However, everything in moderation is best.
What are the core products needed for a low-maintenance skincare routine?
A hyaluronic serum like the Super Anti-Aging Serum and Super Anti-Aging Cream are staples. If you do those two steps plus a cleanser and sunscreen, then you're good. Exfoliate a couple of times a week, and you'll be even better. We don't have the time for a six or seven step skincare routine. I really believe less is more.
Does it matter if you use different products from different lines?
Really good question. It's a trend to think we need to have this big bathroom cabinet with all these different colored bottles on it. It is not a good idea just because each brand has its own philosophy, and they created their system to work together. If you mix and match products, you don't know which ingredients work together, and it might undermine your goals.
Say I give you the hyaluronic serum, and then you use retinol from another brand. You defeat the purpose of hydration and the purpose of anti-inflammation because you cause sensitivity. You cause inflammation, irritation, and dehydration by using the other brand. I believe strongly that if you want to have the best outcome to your routine, stick to one brand.