Dr. Barbara Sturm Chats Her ‘Ultimate Skin Perfector’ With V

Our favorite aesthetics doctor answers a host of fresh questions and takes us inside the formulation of her latest Better B Niacinamide Serum.

On the heels of her 50th birthday, V chats with Dr. Barbara Sturm in celebration of the launch of her latest grail. The Better B Niacinamide Serum, lauded as the ‘ultimate skin perfecter,’ is the newest pillar of her ever-growing trove of skincare salves – a pipette’s length promises to deliver that endlessly-sought-after, hard-to-attain, sadly-ephemeral: ‘no-makeup-makeup’ flush.


All the while, as our world carries on in many different shades of crisis, Dr. Sturm shares with us her personal efforts to lessen the plight overseas, to spread an ethos of love, respect, and healing, and of course, relays a step-by-step how-to of her eponymous, runway-ready glow. 


Courtesy of Dr. Barbara Sturm


For your products, we know science is always at the fore of every formulation. Can you break down how and why The Better B Niacinamide Serum is so effective in achieving a clean and glowing complexion? 


I formulated THE BETTER B NIACINAMIDE SERUM with a potent ingredient complex that includes pure Vitamin B3 in a high-quality formulation that contains no residual Nicotinic Acid, which can cause redness, itchiness, and a burning sensation on the skin. Therefore, it’s formulated in the most effective concentration whilst being safe, gentle, and super kind to the skin. 


It also includes specially selected ingredients such as Ectoin, an Amino Acid which helps to protect against environmental hyperpigmentation and premature skin aging, Marine Exopolysaccharide (Plankton), which helps strengthen the skin barrier, boost hydration, and support the skin’s natural restorative processes, and Panthenol (Provitamin B5), an ultra-hydrating ingredient that also has soothing properties. For anyone looking for picture-perfect skin, the BETTER B is your solution.


What really makes Better B the ‘ultimate skincare perfector?’ Share with us a shortlist of the results we’ll see.


Its formulation is packed with ingredients containing powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can improve skin texture, moisture, and functionality.


For a start, it not only helps to control excess oil on the skin and helps visibly refine and reduce the look of enlarged pores, but it also helps smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves uneven skin tone, restores radiance, strengthens the natural skin barrier, renews the skin’s surface, and more. Niacinamide also prevents moisture loss and thus drying out of the skin as it helps to support the natural production of skin-strengthening ceramides. It’s a true multi-tasking skincare ingredient. 


How do you suggest building The Better B Serum into both your morning and evening regimens? What products should we use with it for optimal results?


My formulation of Niacinamide is compatible with all of my products and can be easily incorporated into any existing Dr. Barbara Sturm routine. It should be applied right after any of my Hyaluronic Acid-based serums (which are clear) and before applying any of my face creams. 


In addition to using Niacinamide, what else can we do to refine the look of our pores? 


If you have large or very visible pores, the first thing I suggest is thorough cleansing every day and exfoliation twice a week to remove dirt, oil, sebum, and dead skin cells. Then, hydration is extremely important – a lot of people think that if they have enlarged or blocked pores that moisturization is not good for the skin – this isn’t true; it is fundamental to boosting skin barrier function, and a healthy skin barrier means decreased pore size.


Had you always known you’d be adding a Niacinamide Serum to the line? Why was now the time to do so? 


I develop my skincare products according to the needs of my patients and listen to customer preferences. Niacinamide is an ingredient I am frequently asked about, especially during my Skin School sessions, so I wanted to create a formula that was suitable for every skin type and to show how it can be incorporated into any routine. 


I had the idea to develop a Niacinamide-focused serum a few years ago, however, in creating THE BETTER B, it took time to create the perfect formulation – a too high concentration of topical Vitamin B3 with significant amounts of residual Nicotinic Acid can have a negative effect and lead to irritation, sensitivity, and redness. THE BETTER B NIACINAMIDE SERUM follows on from my proprietary formulation of Vitamin C, THE GOOD C VITAMIN C SERUM, and similarly offers customers an effective yet safe ingredient-focused skincare solution.  

Courtesy of Dr. Barbara Sturm

We recently saw STURM have a presence at the Harris Reed, Nensi Dojaka, and Simone Rocha shows during London Fashion Week. What was the skincare regimen like for each show, and how essential is The Better B Serum in becoming runway ready? 


We usually do an express version of our INSTANT GLOW FACIAL – with the addition of THE BETTER B NIACINAMIDE SERUM to smooth skin texture, refine pores and leave the skin flawless.


The Facial uses an interesting combination of my products, culminating in GLOW DROPS which give the skin my signature Sturm Glow. You can easily do it yourself at home, as I often do. You cleanse with the CLEANSER, exfoliate with the ENZYME CLEANSER, put the FACE MASK on and leave it for ten minutes. After ten minutes, rub it off (don’t use water) and this gives the skin an instantly refreshed, awake look. Then apply my HYALURONIC SERUM, THE BETTER B NIACINAMIDE SERUM, FACE CREAM, and as an optional extra, you can also apply the LIFTING SERUM – which gives the skin an instant ‘lifting’ effect. You can then apply the GLOW DROPS to add radiance – either all over or just where you need it to leave skin glowing.


Also – I recently saw February’s British Vogue Cover where Ammy Drammeh prepped each model with your Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum and Darker Skin Tones Face Cream. There’s such a subtle cross-over in the fashion and beauty worlds, do you feel there’s been a recent shift in valuing skincare and skin health over just looking to conceal with makeup?


For me personally, I always say that healthy, functioning skin doesn’t require makeup and is beautiful on its own. And that is a central premise of my skincare line and my personal approach as a doctor.  The “no-makeup-makeup look” is something that comes in and out of fashion on the runway, but I think, after the pandemic, when women were naturally wearing less makeup and focusing on their skin health, this is an approach to looking and feeling good that will stay. Additionally, we have always had such a great demand from makeup artists and manicurists for good quality, healthy skincare, because the better the skin the better the makeup. Whether you’re working on a cover shoot or a fashion show, it’s essential that the skin looks perfect.


With your presence at The Met Gala alongside Iván Pol and most recently at Fashion Week, how do you personally view the shared space of fashion and beauty? How has it impacted the brand and the products you choose to develop – if at all? 


I have always had an affiliation with the fashion industry – some of my earliest patients and supporters were models, designers, and stylists. I was the first skincare brand to have a presence during the fashion month calendar with pop-up spas and facial beds to rejuvenate my clients’ skin during this tight, exhausting schedule. And when I first launched my products over five years ago, I worked with fashion industry experts rather than beauty industry agencies as so many of my clients were in fashion. I knew my skincare had a space there and I didn’t like the tired marketing approach of the beauty industry.


Considering fashion has such a long history of concealing skin as opposed to healing it – how do you see Better B fitting into the fashion landscape? Its anti-inflammatory & antioxidant properties will surely make it a pillar of priming skin for catwalks, shoots, major events, etc. 


When I launched my GLOW DROPS as a makeup alternative, they quickly became used by makeup artists and throughout the fashion industry. I think THE BETTER B NIACINAMIDE SERUM absolutely fits into the fashion landscape – everyone who has tried it has fallen in love with it. With more and more pressure on brands and photographers to rely less on “distorting” filters and photoshop, there is an even greater need to create skin that is naturally refined and as flawless as possible in real life. 


Courtesy of Dr. Barbara Sturm


Earlier this month, you celebrated the launch of Better B by partnering with FLOWERBX and giving away bouquets of posies, serum samples, facial vouchers, and FLOWERBX subscriptions at your London, LA, and NYC boutiques. What is it like to spread an ethos of kindness and love not only through actions but through skincare specifically?  


The ethos of my brand is to respect and heal your skin, not attack it with harsh ingredients and temporary fixes, and this philosophy extends to respecting not just ourselves but each other. I want to promote a message of love, respect, and healing where I can, now more than ever. 


I recently turned 50 and, much like my 40th ten years ago, it is overshadowed by the catastrophe of the many wars that are active in the world. I chose to mark my half a century by donating to Doctors Without Borders, a heroic organization of doctors that volunteer at war zones and sites of natural disasters around the globe. My 50,000 pledge can help build an inflatable hospital, provides 20 cases of emergency medical supplies, and pay for the work of three doctors for 40 weeks. I encourage everyone to support their invaluable work – to me they are heroes who risk their lives for those in danger.  


What are you currently most looking forward to in your work? 

I have more exciting launches to come, which I know my customers will love. Personally, I am most excited about my education initiative. Through Skin School I give access to free, unbiased information about skincare and my customers’ skincare choices, as well as invite other healthcare experts to join my classes so that people are better informed to know what is right for their skin and how to lead an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

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