When Kim Kardashian shocked the Internet a few years ago by posting a selfie of herself getting a 'vampire facial' (yes, it's exactly what you're imagining), Dr. Barbara Sturm was already creating a unique face cream which made use of blood. The infamous 'blood cream', or MC1 cream, is said to harness your body's healing ability and beauty editors in the US have been raving about it ever since. At US$1,400 a pop and with a shelf life of only three months, it's been regarded as a Holy Grail of beauty products.
But unless you plan to visit Dr. Barbara Sturm at her New York office, you probably won't be able to get your hands on the 'blood cream' in Singapore anytime soon. The good news though, is that her skincare range recently launched on Net-A-Porter.com, so you can now easily add her equally raved about Hyaluronic Ampoules and Serum to cart.
We caught up with the good doctor during her recent visit here.
How did you start off your career in beauty?
Dr. Barbara Sturm (DBS) I’m not the beauty junkie you might think I am. I got into beauty by coincidence. I started out as an orthopedic surgeon and I did this treatment where you could take proteins out of your own blood cells to create healing factors, and then inject them into the joints to stop the ongoing process of inflammation and ageing. I started injecting botox and fillers, but I thought that it was boring after a while. I wanted to do something on the molecular level, and I transferred my knowledge and started injecting fillers with blood into skin 15 years ago.
(Related: Why Was The Tatler Nose Sent Off To Japan?)
Is your skincare range inspired by your own routine?
DBS I had very dry skin and I would get breakouts, so I decided that I needed to create my own cream. I went to my pharmacist and made something with no preservatives, no mineral oil, and I put the blood in the cream and it healed my skin. It was always hydrated, not inflamed, no breakouts.
When I switched from orthopedics to concentrate on injectibles, my patients—who were fans of the blood cream—started to ask me for my beauty routine. So I started producing my little line because I didn’t like anything on the market. I put in prostate (which is a telomerase activator) and I’m very much for hydration. So these three key factors: anti-inflammation, telomerase activating and hydration, is my whole philosophy towards healing, keeping cells alive and giving skin what it needs. It’s non-greasy, it’s very refreshing, non-toxic. Everything we claim, we can support with clinical studies.
Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient found in skincare—what do you think makes your Hyaluronic Serum so special (and well-loved)?
DBS From the technological background, it has the highest possible concentration of hyaluronic acid possible. That’s number one. Number two, it has both short chain and long chain molecules. Short chains go into deeper into the skin to restore the levels of hyaluronic acid, even after six to eight weeks. The longer chains stick on the surface and give you an instant hydration and glow. It’s non-sticky and gives you all-round hydration.
What’s in your travel beauty bag?
DBS I always have the Hyaluronic Serum and Super Anti-Aging Serum with me, so I mix and match. I’ll also have the blood cream. When I come from the plane, I would use the mask and do like a super-hydrating, detoxing routine.
Botox and fillers were uncommon ten years ago, but it’s become mainstream now. What else do you think would become ‘acceptable’ in the future?
DBS I think more people will think it’s okay to spend money on beauty, health and looking young. It’ll also be more common for people to be open about it. When I started doing injections, I was treating older people, but now, I have young clients as well. They want to start preventing ageing—to keep their youth but in a natural way.
What’s the story behind your collaboration with makeup artist Monika Blunder?
DBS Monika is a friend of mine and she told me she loved using my Hyaluronic Acid Serum as a primer… and I said what’s a primer? When she explained what it was to me, I thought all the silicones and ingredients used was bad for the skin. I didn’t know much about what a primer needs to do, so I formulated it in a very healthy way and gave it to Monica to try.
I think what we produced is amazing. It’s good for the Asian market because it’s also a little mattifying; great for humidity. Also, it acts as a very light moisturizer so you can use it as a daily moisturizer even without makeup.
Asian vs. Caucasian skin—How vast are the differences?
DBS Well, Asian skin generally has a thicker epidermis, and a bigger amount of collagen, which is great because that means a lesser likelihood of wrinkles. But because it’s thicker, it’s also harder to transport ingredients through the skin. I’ve also noticed that scar tissues seem to get more severe. We have the same number of pyranosides (a chemical structure) in our bodies but pyranosides in Asian skin produce more melanin. That’s why you might tan more easily, or see spots and pigmentation developing.
Melanin is related to inflammation, so it’s important that you take care of it. The Super Anti-Aging serum is water-based, which transports the ingredients easier through the skin, through the dermis, and absorbs very quickly.
Let’s talk about style…
DBS My favourite brand is Galvan—it’ll be available on Net-a-Porter in November. It’s very classy, very chic. I basically wear plenty of jeans and t-shirts in the day, and throw on a jacket—I love basics.
What about favourite pieces in your wardrobe?
DBS The Hermes Kelly bag. You can dress up anything with it – it’s a good piece to have. I have a Galvan piece that is a long silk coat that extends to the floor. I also love jewellery. Jennifer Meyer did a few pieces for me with my children’s name on them. I also love Anita Ko.
What can you not leave home without?
DBS I always have a clutch with me. I buy so many—I just ordered one on Net-a-Porter just an hour ago!
What’s next for you?
DBS I have a kid’s line is coming up… and something for the teenagers. Oh, and my anti-pollution drops are launching soon. It also had a hyaluronic base and it works like a shield your skin. You can mix it with your products or you can use it as it is.
What’s your general philosophy towards life?
DBS If life isn’t fun, I wouldn’t be in there. It’s tough when I’m away from my baby and I must fly all the way across the world, but you meet all these interesting people which makes it fun again. Making friends, having nice dinners… you know, you make it about happiness. My whole outlook on life is to live in the moment and enjoy every second. Be happy with what we’ve got, because who knows how long we have?
Do you think it’s tough for women in business?
DBS I think we are so fortunate to be women in business. I think that women will take over because we’re multi-tasking, we can do everything! We can look sexy, cool, dressed-down; we take care of our kids, cook, clean, run a business, develop products. We don’t have to rely on guys anymore, right? [laughs] I don’t work with many guys; I’ve only seen women where I go!
Any advice for young entrepreneurs?
DBS I think it’s very important to always live your dreams and follow your passions; don’t follow rules, don’t be conventional. Really follow your gut and take risks. I have a 21 years-old daughter and I was just 23 when I had her—I was married and I got divorced for different reasons, but I wasn’t afraid because I was learning. I raised my first child alone; I worked and did everything. You can do anything.
From October 1 to 31, 2017, Net-A-Porter has teamed up with Dr. Barbara Sturm on a special afternoon tea set available at The Landing Point, Fullerton Bay Hotel. With every order of the tea set, guests will also receive a Dr. Barbara Sturm gift set.