Dr. Barbara Sturm Talks Beauty and Ballet With V

On the heels of her Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection launch, Sturm chats with us about kindness, anti-inflammation, and her latest marketing punch apace with the piqués and fouettés of The Royal Ballet.

As her foray on haircare went live and a film produced alongside The Royal Ballet turned beauty marketing on its head, V spoke with Dr. Barbara Sturm about the latest goings of her eponymous glow. From frosted pipettes of scalp serum and squat pots of repair mask to brisés and pliés at the direction of Marcelino Sambé, we get Dr. Sturm’s first-hand take on it all!

Carfrae Consulting/Dr. Barbara Sturm & The Royal Ballet

On “We Are Molecular”:

The film is stunning and speaks so loudly to the interconnectivity one body has with another. How did the idea for “We Are Molecular” come about?

The film is rooted in my belief in the power of human connection and how we amplify one another when we act with love, respect, and kindness at all times. We are stronger when we are united and connected.

Anti-inflammation is very clearly at the core of all STURM ventures, in what ways do ballet, touch, and respect – all pillars of the film – play a part in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle?

Aside from being one of the most beautiful art forms, ballet, like all dance, has many anti-inflammatory benefits for both the performer and the audience: movement releases inflammation-reducing hormones in the body and as a viewer, the joy of watching a performance can reduce stress-inducing cortisol levels and heighten serotonin levels which can control inflammation in the body.

The ethos of my brand is to respect and heal your skin, not attack it with harsh ingredients and temporary fixes. Through building the Sturm community I now realize that this philosophy extends to respecting not just ourselves but each other – I want to promote a message of love, respect, and healing. I have always been deeply inspired by Dr. Deepak Chopra and often repeat his affirmations, such as “today I look at the world through the eyes of kindness.” My mission is to encourage everyone to be kind to your skin, kind to yourself, and kind to others. I call it #SturmKind.

How integral is #SturmKind on the #SturmGlow? Does kindness for ourselves, our skin, and others play a role in our inflammatory levels?

Kindness is proven to have many anti-inflammatory benefits. Being kind helps to reduce stress and anxiety as it activates the part of your brain that makes you feel pleasure, boosting and releasing a hormone called Oxytocin that not only makes you feel happier but can aid in lowering blood pressure too. Performing acts of kindness have also been shown to reduce the production of our stress hormone, Cortisol.

You shouldered ‘Creative & Art Direction’ for the film, what was your inspiration, and how did you intend to translate it on screen? 

From the outset, I knew I wanted to create something purposely different from the archetypal beauty narrative. I don’t like to follow the industry marketing playbook, my sole objective was to express my ethos of kindness in an abstract way that would inspire, exhilarate, and connect with the audience. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to experience many Royal Ballet performances and each one left me feeling inspired, exhilarated, and in complete awe of the human body and its capabilities. So, my kindness ethos and my love for the ballet came together to create my vision for this short film. And I have an incredible art and creative team who completely shared this vision and brought together a crew of the most talented people to make it a reality.

It’s so beautiful to see such a broad spectrum of diversity represented in the film. How essential was it to not only be inclusive but to capture the cast on an individual level as well as a united, molecular level? 

As an aesthetics doctor focused on combating inflammation, I do not believe in one size fits all skincare; helping each customer have the best and healthiest skin possible is one of the driving principles of my work and inventions. 

For example, I created my Darker Skin Tones Line because I was aware of the scientific literature showing skin with more active melanocytes possesses a special sensitivity to the inflammation cascade, which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and other dysfunctions. I was surprised that there were so few options tailored and so I created my own Darker Skin Tones Collection. 

The film is extremely stripped back aesthetically to allow the skin, hair, and body to take center stage; there is such beauty in our uniqueness, and we wanted to celebrate that. 

Marcelino Sambé’s work as a choreographer and as a dancer in the film was exceptional. His choreography so eloquently translated the STURM ethos of kindness and unity. What was it like to see these concepts come to life in dance? 

As a principal dancer for the Royal Ballet Marcelino is one of the greatest dancers in the world, his talent and creativity is incredible. I have a deep admiration for him and for all of the dancers; the way they express themselves through movement and train as professional athletes with an incredible dedication to their art form is remarkable. Marcelino and I connected from the very first moment we met, and I knew he instinctively understood the narrative I wanted to create. His choreography brought a modernity and dynamism to the film – it’s powerful and passionate and expresses togetherness. I can’t thank him enough for realizing my philosophy so beautifully – it literally gives me goosebumps every time I watch it!

On the Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection:

So thrilled to see you expand into haircare! Why do you feel hair and scalp aren’t often advocated for by other beauty brands? 

I’ve always thought that the scalp is an extension of our face and skin, and it’s also skin that needs a lot of attention as it gets bombarded with the same stressors such as pollution, sun, hair dye, styling, blow drying, shampoos, conditioners, etc. It’s just as important to balance the microbiome and the skin barrier on the scalp as it is on our faces for healthier hair growth. 

Haircare is such a major, established market – what differentiates the Molecular line from all others? 

My Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection is a range of ingredient science-based formulations that positively influence the scalp’s ecosystem and support scalp and hair health. The Collection includes Shampoos, Scalp Serums, a Conditioner, and a Mask and all of the products utilize a set of key antioxidant, soothing, and hydrating ingredients that target both internal and external stressors and help restore balance, resistance, and protection to the hair and scalp. They’re also free from sulfates, silicones, PEGs, microplastics, fragrance and other irritants to eliminate potential causes of irritation.

Many people aren’t aware that inflammation can have an effect on our hair and our scalp. In what ways are we most vulnerable to this and in what ways can we combat it?

We often overlook our scalp and don’t give it the same attention as our faces and bodies. The scalp is an extension of our skin: its surface provides a distinct microenvironment for microbes called the ‘scalp microbiome,’ which is comprised of the epidermis, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, microorganisms, adipose tissues, and hair follicles. And this physiology extends into the dermis to deliver nutrients that are essential for healthy hair growth. We use haircare products that often contain harsh ingredients which can cause imbalances, inflammation, and hair follicle constriction, triggering itching, dandruff, sensitivity, redness, breakouts, and excessive oiliness. Lifestyle factors such as stress, nutrition deficiencies, and pollution can also contribute to hair fall and premature aging. It made sense to me to invent ingredient science-rich products that promote a clean, clear, and well-nourished scalp and in turn, encourage healthy, beautiful hair.

Aside from integrating Molecular Hair & Scalp into our beauty regimens, are there other ways to promote healthy hair and scalp day-to-day? 

Using products that are free from sulfates, silicones, PEGs, microplastics, fragrance and other irritants will result in healthier growth. Also, avoid using too many heat tools to style your hair and when you’re brushing, start at the ends and slowly work towards the top. Remember too that a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet plays an important role in hair health – Iron, Zinc, and essential fatty acids all contribute to stronger hair, and because hair follicles are largely made up of protein, making sure your diet contains protein-rich foods such as eggs, pulses, fish and yogurt is important too.

You’ve partnered with Bridgette Hill for the launch of the line – tell me more about this. How integral is it to work with a trichologist?

Trichology is the para-medical science of the hair, hair loss, and associated scalp problems and encompasses the study of the diseases of the human hair and scalp, as well as their diagnosis and treatment. I asked Bridgette to work with us on launching this Collection because she is an unparalleled expert in scalp and hair health, and she shares the same philosophy; that the scalp is the root connection between internal health and strong, glossy, and beautiful hair. 

It’s so exciting to see the STURM brand continue to grow and expand! Can you give us a hint as to what’s next on the horizon?  

We have many exciting new launches coming soon as well as a new Boutique & Spa which is opening in Dallas. Stay tuned!

Explore the entire MOLECULAR HAIR & SCALP Collection here.

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