Dr. Barbara Sturm Reveals Her Stance on Acid Treatments and Anti-aging Labels

Dr. Barbara Sturm Reveals Her Stance on Acid Treatments and Anti-aging Labels

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Dr. Barbara Sturm Reveals Her Stance on Acid Treatments and Anti-aging Labels

V sat down with Dr. Barbara Sturm, the woman synonymous to what we know as the "vampire facial" to talk everything skincare. From facials, products, acids, men, and product labels.

V sat down with Dr. Barbara Sturm, the woman synonymous to what we know as the "vampire facial" to talk everything skincare. From facials, products, acids, men, and product labels.

Text: Stella Pak

Remember when Kim Kardashian got what we now know as the "vampire facial" and it had us squirming deep into our couch a few years ago? Nowadays, anyone who’s anybody has a jar of their very own blood cream thanks to Dr. Barbara Sturm. For the holidays, she released an Advent Calendar – a discovery gift set of her best sellers from her product line. So when V had a chance to interview the skincare maven, we had to cover all grounds. Check out her pop-up in New York, going on until Jan.2019 to learn more about her skincare philosophy in person. Until then, get to know the doctor in our interview below.

You made your mark and gained entry into such a saturated market of beauty with your vampire facials through instagram. How did you come up with that name? 

With the whole Kim Kardashian picture, I have nothing to do with the name. It’s not created by me. The idea of injecting (your blood) back into your skin was created by me 15 years ago and they gave it a funny name.

The Kobe Procedure.

Yes. I started off as an orthopedic doctor and I worked with professors from Harvard and Pittsburgh who helped pioneer what is now known as the Kobe procedure. You take your own proteins, create anti-inflammatory proteins and reinject it into the joints. That’s where the idea comes from. I translate it to reinject it into the skin and put it in a cream.

How do you go from treating someone like Kobe Bryant and forge your way into skincare?

I’m a very visual person. When I was still working in orthopedics, a friend of mine was going to learn how to inject lips. I had never heard of that before. This was 2002 or something. I said, “I want to learn this too!” So I learned how to inject into the skin with botox and fillers in Canada and Brazil (to learn from the very best) and then I created my own technique.

So that’s how it evolved.

Yes. That’s how it started. And then I developed my MC1 Cream, which utilizes one’s own blood proteins.

So you also have a practice as a facialist.

I design the protocols for my team of trained facialists who perform the facial treatments. We have a great product range and there’s microdermabrasion, micro needling. We do a couple of things to the skin like the blood facial and mini blood facial. We thought, giving patients facials was a good way of teaching them how to take care of their skin and how to use their products. It’s a form of education I use in order to get a proper understanding of my philosophy on anti-inflammation. It’s the idea of hydrating your skin instead of overpowering the skin and stripping it down to raw skin layers. Not taking away healthy skin layers and keeping your skin in its proper condition performing skin barrier skin function.

Would you say you’re against anti-retinol?

I’m very anti-acids because acids lose conjunction between healthy skin cells. You take off healthy skin layers. Everybody should do what they want, but it makes your skin super vulnerable. It’s a very easy entry point for sun radiation. Even phone radiation, pollution and also for skincare products because everything gets transported through our skin and through our organs. It could be very dangerous and could cause cancers or premature aging, hyper pigmentation issues.

So the complete opposite effect can happen for what you’re using it for.

I’m all about making your cells super healthy, super strong. Keep the cells from dying. Keep the cells performing. Keep the quality of cells super high.

How often should someone see a facialist and yield great results? 

It depends on what your skin condition is. You can take care of your skin at home and have perfect functioning skin. Sometimes you want microdermabrasion or micro needling. If you want to be good about it, if you have healthy skin, go 6-8 weeks. You don’t have to over do it. For people who have acne for example, they should have their skin treated every 3-4 weeks. They should have a different idea of how often they should see a facialist. Personally, I never have time. I wish I could see my facialist more often. But when I was younger and I had problems with my skin, which is what got me to produce and develop these products. I had super dry skin with black heads everywhere. I had to go every 3 weeks to see a facialist to clean me out. Until I came out with my line, I had these problems. Now, since I have my products, I don’t need to get my skin cleaned out.

You have such a wide range of serums to choose from. Is it about choosing the serum that works for what you’d like to target? Would you recommend using multiple serums?

Just bring it on. Put it on your skin as much as you want. Nothing disturbs any other product. They all go great together. You can use them together. I recommend using the clear serum first, like the hyaluronic serum or the super anti-aging serum. Our anti pollution drops when you go into your day and then use the calming serum. Or the glow drops or the sun drops. Clear serum first because it brings active ingredients better and faster to deeper skin layers.

You also have a range for darker skin tones where you collaborated with Angela Bassett. What were some of the needs for darker skin tones discussed that inspired this skincare range?

The two main reasons people with darker skin tones go to a dermatologist is acne and hyper-pigmentation. The problem is that the existence of so many melanocytes creates more inflammation. So the inflammation level in skin of color goes up.

Can you simplify?

Melanocytes are skin cells that produce melanin, and it makes the skin darker. Because there’s so many of them, it causes more inflammation. That’s how it goes together. Because of the inflammation, if there’s a breakout, it becomes a hyper-pigmentation issue after. That’s why so many people suffer from hyper-pigmentation. It’s a big problem. So our skincare for darker skin tones is extra anti-inflammatory, extra anti-bacterial and good for evening out the skin tone.

You’ve also expanded your line to the men’s with a face cream.

Our product is unisex and he (my husband) uses my face cream. It’s anti-inflammatory so it’s great for aftershave. Calming serum is also great for aftershave, for example. It’s a product that brings irritation down. For us (women), it’s good after waxing or when you have a sunburn. It’s a beautiful product. Men love the enzyme cleanser or the facial scrub. It works for everybody.

What are your take on the anti-aging label? There’s been some talk about the anti-anti-aging. But it’s really the idea of the term, because we all want to look young. We’re always seeking those treatments.

First of all, I like aging because it gives you so much experience, and you become wiser. At the same time, I want to look in the mirror in the morning and love myself. Signs of aging are caused by loss of collagen and loss of hyaluronic acids. It’s a loss of elasticity and it’s all falling down and then you’re not happy with yourself anymore. Not everybody suffers from it. But I want to look in the mirror and like myself. I want to do anything I can within my power to help in a very natural way. Anti-aging is a term that’s existed for so, so, many years. When I started, I was a member of "European anti-aging blah blah blah." And it’s just something they called it at the time. And now, it’s an established word.

For example, our anti aging serum, just suggests that there’s more. This product is designed to even help further with peptides, anti-oxidants. It’s a more powerful impact for a younger appearance. Again, it’s just a word. We’re not militant. I like a natural look. I don’t like these monster faces. It’s all in moderation! And in our days, you eat healthy foods. You watch what you eat. You do your sports. You do everything to not become sick. You go to the doctor. Everybody is trying prevention. It’s the same. You cannot find a better term for this. It’s established. Why would you?

Look at the root causes of aging. Hyaluronic Acid is something that you lose in your skin as you get older. This is a symptom of aging that we have to supplement to maintain moisture and elasticity. Call it anti-aging, which is a broad term. It’s about hydrating, and this comes from a health perspective–a healthy skin perspective rather than an aging perspective.

You never hear me talk about wrinkles. It’s not our claim and I’m not interested because I don’t even mind wrinkles. It’s about doing healthy things to your skin so your skin can keep performing, feeling and looking the best it can.

Our generation is used to instant gratification and they want the quick fix. Whether it’s getting botox or fillers. I’m starting to notice that people in their 20s are starting to get that as well. Is it healthy to get it when you’re young? What is your take?

I think it’s a little crazy. I could talk for hours on this and it’s a matter of society these days but on the other hand, kids are also interested in education. So whatever the education says, they are interested and they have to jump on it early. When I was in Australia, I was doing a customer event with a young girl in a store and a young girl comes in and grabs glycolic acid. She goes to the checkout and she pays. And I stepped in and said, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” She was 16, 17 years old. I told the checkout, you can’t sell it to her yet. It’s not the product for her and you should suggest something else. It’s just not right for her at this age. It’s the same with botox. I’ve been doing botox ever since I was 30 because I was in the business. I would wait. Don’t do it just to do it, because your muscles become so weak. Now when I don’t do botox, my eyebrows are actually really low. You disturb your good features. Don’t do botox. Don’t do fillers. Wait, wait, wait. Sometimes, people feel rushed that they need to go to a dermatologist, “I need to have that.” Even for the crazy skin tools. Just back off.

What do you think of the at home micro needling?

Don’t bleed yourself to death. Do it once a month with our hyaluronic serum. Don’t over do it. Don’t over do it, be good to your skin and stop the aggressions.

Any other skin tips?

Don’t use too much makeup because it disturbs the natural balance of your skin. And sometimes your skin looks so nice when it doesn’t have any makeup.  People look younger when they don’t wear makeup. And I think it’s a trend.

Another tip is to protect yourself from HEV rays. The light from the phone is very aggressive and penetrates your skin stronger than UVA and UVB combined. It causes lots of damage on your skin so you want to use the anti-pollution drops. It has an ingredient, which also helps to neutralize the light. So the Anti-Pollution drops aren’t just for outdoors environmental. It’s also based on the things that you do everyday.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Advent Calendar

Main image: Photo by Anthony Deeying


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