10 Gems of Beauty Wisdom from a Skincare Scientist
DR.BARBARA STURM ON INFLAMMATION, NUTRITION, THE PRODUCTS TO SKIP, AND THE HABITS TO EMBRACE
When German aesthetics doctor and anti-inflammatory skincare leader Barbara Sturm was researching and sourcing ingredients for her coveted products—a part of the process she takes very seriously—she had a realization. “I did all this research and we had all these scientific papers. And I was like, wait a minute; I can’t just do this for my skin. It’s for every cell of my body.” Therein lies an essential truth about the inextricable link between skincare and overall wellness. Beautiful skin is an indication that all is healthy and balanced within the body. And so it’s only logical, Sturm says, that the good-skin equation also includes lifestyle habits like what you eat, your exposure to environmental toxins, and how you regulate stress.
Sturm has acquired a wealth of wisdom about perfecting the complexion through her experience as an orthopedic doctor, a skincare expert, and an aesthetician to the stars. Read on for her guidance on the connection between inflammation and aging, the popular products you might want to toss, and the future of the beauty industry.
On the lightbulb moment that redirected her career: "After I studied sports medicine and became a doctor, I began my career in an orthopedics practice of scientists and doctors, within which I helped pioneer an injectable treatment against osteoarthritis, using the body’s own proteins to combat inflammation, which is primary culprit in joint aging (inflammation is a major cause of the aging process, particularly in the skin). At the time of developing this procedure, I became interested in aesthetic injections. I decided to follow the anti-inflammatory approach of my orthopedic work, mindful that cartilage cells and skin cells are from the same tissue family. I kept thinking that it would be a great additional anti-aging booster for the skin if we also started mixing it with the body’s own healing factors, like we did in the orthopedic field. I was right—the results lasted longer, and the skin benefited greatly from the additional healing power and anti-inflammatory proteins. My patients then began to ask me to recommend an overall skincare regime they could use after my medical treatments. After testing a lot of mainstream commercial skincare products but seeing no (or negative) effects after using them, I set out to create my own for them. The name of my line, Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics, reflects the ingredient science efficacy that underpins it."
On the forces dulling your glow: "Inflammatory triggers swirl around us our entire lives—pollution, sun exposure, smoking and drinking, stress, lack of sleep, and bad diet. Inflammation is the ultimate skin killer, and as you age the damage shows more profoundly."
On the nutrition-skin connection: "In general, there is a correlation between certain vitamins and other biologically active supplements and skin quality. If your Vitamin A is depleted, for example, your cell regeneration will be poor, and the result will be dry, flaky skin."
On ditching aggressive treatments in favor of a gentler approach: "Everybody is doing acid peels and lasers...my advice is to resist that urge! Glycolic acid and retinol are two commonly-used acids that loosen the conjunctions between all cells, taking off the layers of the skin. This leads to an uncontrolled peeling effect. I think since these products are over-the-counter, customers don’t really take the risk seriously—they want a short-term gain but what they end up with is medium and long-term harm. I think it is time for people to understand that a healing approach will provide them with exactly what they are looking for when they use aggressive acids: healthy, young, beautiful skin that has a natural glow to it and doesn’t need to be covered up by makeup."
On her devoted A-list following: "People say that Hollywood’s devotion to my brand is our differentiator, but I think it is just a symptom of the products’ efficacy that people whose faces are their business are on my skincare regimen."
On the plant that is “the single most perfect superfood for the skin:” "Purslane is packed with nutrients and anti-aging compounds that have been shown to have dramatic antioxidative properties. Vitamins E and C are both strong free-radical captors that strengthen the skin’s antioxidant system; combining them is essential and symbiotic since they are able to regenerate each other. Along with beta-carotene, vitamins C and E in purslane provide potent antioxidants that can help to brighten your complexion and prevent future signs of aging by reducing UV-induced damage. Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties—a crucial part of your skin’s lipid content."
On what’s next for the beauty industry: "I really believe we have entered a new era of effect-based rather than marketing-based skincare. Advanced science skincare and treatments are the present and future of skincare. New delivery methods for potent ingredients, advances in ingredient science, increasingly tailored products, and some advanced procedures are parts of the coming wave. The industry is still deploying hollow marketing rhetoric and non-ingredient science-based products that don’t really work, but I think the customer is smarter and more informed than the industry thinks. I think my line is reflective of the new era, one based entirely on clinically studied, cutting-edge ingredient science and results."
Advanced science skincare and treatments are the present and future of skincare... What [the industry] will no longer talk about is hollow marketing concepts and products that don’t work.
On reading labels and separating fact from fiction: "There’s a big movement around terms like clean beauty, non-toxic, organic, and natural. It’s really amazing that we’re all seeking to have super healthy skincare ingredients and we want to know what we’re putting on our skin. But it’s really important to know that these words don’t necessarily equate to good. These are marketing words without much meaning. I focus on efficacy, science, and safety."
On her personal daily routine: "A huge part of my daily philosophy is to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I am definitely a morning person! I like to exercise in the morning. After exercising, I always shower and apply my Facial Scrub to clear out any excess sebum from my pores. After showering, I apply my Balancing Toner, then Hyaluronic Serum and Anti- Pollution Drops, Face Cream, and Eye Cream. I eat healthily; I love salads and often I will add a piece of fish, like salmon, for its protein content and anti-inflammatory properties. I always try to go to bed early when I can, and I try not to look at my phone one hour before bedtime to allow my mind to switch off and avoid additional HEV light exposure. Before bed, I take one of my Sleep Food supplements, a natural herbal supplement to promote deep and undisturbed sleep and to rejuvenate your skin overnight."
On the one healthy habit (ok, two) you should never compromise on: "Sleep. I often go to bed [at the same time as] my five-year-old. That, and good face cream. Then you’re good to go!"
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