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11 Questions With Dr Barbara Sturm, Dermatologist to the Stars

The skincare specialist loved by celebrities is renowned for her innovative non-surgical anti-wrinkle and healing treatments and dynamo products.

Dr Barbara Sturm

While some celebrities flock to Dr Barbara Sturm’s Düsseldorf clinc for treatments, others, like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss, swear by her products. Plus, of course, there are those who do both. Kim Kardashian West is a fan of the Vampire Facial, which Sturm helped pioneer, while her favourite products include the beauty guru’s Sun Drops, Hyaluronic Serum and Super Anti-Aging Serum.

Although each of Sturm’s beauty-savvy clients has a distinctive look, one thing they all have in common is coming out with an extremely natural and impressive result, with skin looking rejuvenated, healthy and beautiful. And it’s the aesthetic medicine and molecular cosmetics specialist’s ability to create these results with minimally invasive therapies that has undoubtedly created her cult following. The fact she’s had heaps of experience, trained with internationally renowned aesthetic doctors, has an eagle vision for beauty and takes skin quality, skin structure, facial contours and skin firming into consideration, doesn’t harm her reputation either.

Sturm, who offers innovative anti-wrinkle treatments, molecular skin therapies and holistic anti-ageing, talks to AboutHer about the Vampire Facial, where patients' own blood cells are used to produce healing proteins to activate rejuvenation and anti-inflammatory processes. The German, initially an orthopaedic surgeon who co-developed the “Kobe Procedure,” has even created a much-coveted groundbreaking multi-beneficial custom blood plasma-infused moisturiser  as well.

The celebrity-approved skincare expert, who also has a clinic in Munich and was on a recent trip to Dubai, also goes into detail about her Molecular Cosmetics line, which hydrates, guards and regenerates the skin. Sturm explains all about the line’s cutting edge ingredients, including Purslane, which is often referred to as the ‘fountain of youth’.

Dr. Barbara Strum Anti-Aging Primer

You’re a pioneer of the Vampire Facial. Tell us about the advantages of the facial and the other blood plasma-based solutions, like the custom-blended cream, your patients benefit from?
The original Vampire Facial does not use PRP but a patented way of processing the blood, which leads to a 147 times higher concentration of the body’s own healing factors than what we usually have in our blood. The same factors in your blood that heal a cut on your finger are stimulated to 147 times their normal potency. We use these highly effective proteins by injecting them directly into the skin to activate rejuvenation and anti-inflammatory processes. Alternatively, you can also mix them with a light hyaluronic filler to combat small wrinkles and not only have an anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect, but also to deeply moisturise the skin.  

The MC1 blood cream uses those same healing factors that are generated from the patients’ own blood and added in a non-toxic base cream we make in our own pharmacy that does not contain mineral oils, fragrances, parabens or paraffins. The cream is only available in my clinics, so pretty soon after it went viral, especially in Hollywood which is cutting edge for skincare. I wanted to be able to offer a face cream that was available worldwide and not only to the patients that would come see me.

Thankfully, you have a potent range of products, perfect for those who can’t travel to Germany. Tell us about some of your favourites.
It is hard to decide on favourites, as I have put a lot of effort in creating all of them and wouldn’t have released them if I hadn’t been 100 percent convinced of how they feel, work and change the skin. I love my Face Mask, if you leave it on for about 20 minutes and then gently peel it off, it leaves your skin with an amazing glow. Afterwards I use my Hyaluronic Serum for a moisture boost, before applying my MC1 cream. I add multiple products of my range to change the routine, depending on what I need at that moment. Whenever I use my products I am happy about how they work and just fall in love all over again.

You visited Dubai to discuss your revolutionary Molecular Cosmetics skincare range. The star ingredient is the anti-ageing superfood Purslane. Tell us why it’s considered the ‘fountain of youth.’
Purslane is an ancient herb with overwhelming properties that appears in no other skin care line. The herb grows ubiquitously in mild climates, and it has been used as medicine and food worldwide for 2,000 years. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used Purslane as a wound salve and as an anti-inflammatory medicine. It has been used medicinally for two millennia. More recently, Purslane has been studied in medically and in clinical trials, where it was found to have dramatic anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative as well as wound healing properties.

Purslane has one additional and remarkable property. It mediates and up-regulates the youth enzyme Telomerase, which stops the length of the telomere cap at the end of our DNA from shortening. The shortening of our telomeres leads ultimately to cellular dysfunction and ultimately cell death. Most cells in the body contain 23 pairs of chromosomes, which carry our DNA. At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter, until eventually they stop working and the cell dies or goes into a suspended state
called "senescence." The process is behind much of the wear and tear associated with ageing.

Omega 3-fatty acids, antioxidant-heavy beta-carotene and hyaluronic acid are other ingredients found in the range. What do they add to the mix?
There are two types of hyaluronic acid molecules, long- chained and short- chained. Short-chained hyaluronic acid with low molecular weight can penetrate the surface of the skin into the horny layers, and will be used by our skin to rebuild long-chained molecules from them and integrate them in our skin (this may take up to 30 days). Consequently, this type of hyaluronic acid is so important for long-term, lasting results. In contrast, long-chained hyaluronic molecules with high molecular weight remain on the surface of the skin, where they improve the skin by retaining water and protect against acute dryness. Accordingly, my ampoules provide both instant and long-term benefits, plumping the surface skin and smoothing superficial lines on the epidermis, while rebuilding the body’s reservoir of hyaluronic acid and moisture levels in the deeper skin layers. If these low-weight molecules are being enriched with strong anti-oxidants such as Purslane, Vitamin E or Skullcap, they can transport them much more deeply into the skin and provide the cells with those necessary ingredients. Beta-carotene is proven to be a strong anti-oxidant that also provides a beautiful glow and counteracts the negative effects of environmental influences such as cigarette smoke etc.

Dr. Barbara Strum Calming Serum and Anti-Pollution Drops

Which would you consider the most essential products in the range for Middle Eastern women, considering their skin tones and the kind of weather we get in the region?
I think due to the hot, dry weather in the Middle East, it is especially important to provide the skin with enough moisture. This does not only prevent small dryness related wrinkles from appearing, but also helps to keep the skin barrier balanced and healthy. Hyaluronic acid especially reduces transepidermal water loss, retains and distributes moisture within the epidermis, it maintains the skin’s integrity and strengthens the skin barrier. Therefore all hyaluronic acid based serums would be great (Hyaluronic Ampoules, Hyaluronic Serum, Super Anti-Aging Serum and Hyaluronic Serum of the "Darker Skin Tones" line). Additionally, the Face Mask is also great, as the aloe vera and the clay calm the skin down, tighten it and deeply moisturise it. For UV ray related problems such as hyperpigmentation, the "Darker Skin Tones" line products are great, as they contain ingredients such as lumicol, which outbalance the skin tone and provide it with a beautiful glow. And, of course, it is important to use sunscreen to protect the skin and prevent any discolourations or other side effects from UV rays to appear.

Why do you feel it’s important for skincare products to be free of fragrance, mineral oils and preservatives?
Our skin faces many challenges on a daily basis, for example environmental stressors such as pollution, UV rays and cigarette smoke, but also internal factors such as stress or a bad diet. The skin is our biggest organ and needs protection and care; this means, when we provide it with ingredients and active substances it needs, we should not only make sure these ingredients aren’t actually harmful (such as acids like glycol or retinol) but are also not occlusive, like mineral oils, which clog the pores and prevent any ingredient from being absorbed into the skin. Fragrances are often irritating the skin further and add an unnecessary strain, same with preservatives. Skincare products should support and strengthen it, not have the reversed effect.

Your aim is to achieve youthful, healthy, beautiful skin without surgical intervention. Tell us some easy steps we can add to our daily beauty regimens that help realise this too.
A dedicated skincare regimen is a good first step, don’t use products that use any of the above-mentioned irritants or aggressive ingredients. Start by cleansing your face with a mild cleanser morning and evening and exfoliate one-two times a week (depending on the skin type of course, if blemishes or hyperpigmentation are an issue, you can also use the scrub or enzyme cleanser one-three times a week) before providing your skin with a moisture boost in the form of a serum rich in hyaluronic acid and anti-oxidants. The last step can be a cream that provides your skin with nourishing and protecting ingredients. More products can be added, depending on what you need and want for your skin. Supplements such as the Repair or Skin Food complete this simple, yet very effective, approach and give the body what it needs to restore and repair from the inside out.

How about nutrition, how we feed our skin, and sleeping patterns?
Supplements such as the Skin Food and Repair Food make it easy to give your body all the ingredients it needs to repair and nurture the cells from the inside out. They contain active substances that are hard to implement into our daily diet for many, for example during travels or with a hectic life. Otherwise dark berries and green vegetables contain many anti-oxidants, which are great and rich in valuable nutrients our bodies need. Sleep is important as well, we know the regeneration phase of our skin starts around 11 at night, which is the time we should have taken off our make-up and provided it with everything it needs to restore and rejuvenate. Too little sleep often causes stress and unnecessary strain, it is important that we look out for ourselves and make sure to take care of our bodies and skin.

What are the most important things to consider during the region’s extremely hot summer?
Always wear sunscreen if you are in the sun for longer than 15 minutes and make sure to use enough, most people don’t use enough product, which doesn’t provide the full protection. Make sure the sunscreen also has broad-spectrum UV protection against UVB and UVA rays and re-apply it after every swim and drying off. After a day in the heat your skin will be thankful for a little extra moisture, so I would suggest frequent use of a serum with a high percentage of hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to make sure the skin is not dehydrated and has everything it needs to calm down.

The skin should always have enough…
Moisture, anti-inflammatory and nourishing ingredients!

What struck you the most about Arab women’s looks during your visit to Dubai?
I have always heard that make-up and coloured cosmetics were the most important beauty items for the women in the Middle East, but it was amazing to see how natural everyone’s beauty was and the fact that they are so interested in wellness, skincare and creating a natural glow.

What are your biggest beauty no-nos?
Don’t use products that contain aggressive or irritating ingredients, don’t skip washing your face after a night out, never forget sunscreen when outside for longer than 15 minutes and make sure to help your skin by trying to follow a healthy, nutrient and anti-oxidant rich diet.

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