Meet the Woman Behind Those Famous “Vampire Facials”

by Ashley Baker

Dr. Barbara Sturm began her career as an orthopedic surgeon, but these days, she’s become an international figure of intrigue, thanks to her innovative approach to skincare. Meet the globe-trotting skin savior behind those famous “vampire facials!”

All the models are raving about your “blood facials.” C’est quoi?
My blood facials use the strong anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and healing effect of the body’s own proteins, which are derived by processing the blood of the patient with a special technique. Once you have these proteins, you can either reinject them into the skin, mix them with hyaluronic fillers, or add them to a special cream. We know that inflammation is one of the main culprits of the aging process, as well as various dysfunctions and diseases, which is why it’s so important that we use products and treatments that provide anti-inflammatory support to our cells to stay healthy and vital. Therefore, you have to use ingredients with strong anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties, and our body’s own healing factors are perfectly suited to this task.

Dr. Barbara Sturm and daughters.

Where did you come up with this idea?
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 injectable treatment against osteoarthritis. This treatment uses the body’s own proteins to combat inflammation, which is the primary culprit in joint aging. Inflammation is more broadly a major cause of the aging process, particularly in the skin. As cartilage and skin cells are from the same tissue family, I got the idea to create a pure face cream using these proteins to heal, rejuvenate, and provide the cells with anti-inflammatory proteins. This is now the famous “Blood Cream” or, as it’s really called, the MC1 cream. At the same time, I became interested in aesthetic injections and I wanted to combine the fillers with something potent that would guarantee a better effect that lasted longer. I started mixing the fillers with the proteins and did some case studies with my patients, proving that results with the MC1 [fillers and proteins] lasted much longer than those with filler only, in addition to the benefits of a built-in, personally tailored anti-inflammatory compound.

Obviously, you aren’t afraid of needles…
I’m not afraid of needles when they are in my hands, but I am as afraid as everyone else when they are pointed at me! That’s why I understand the need to do it efficiently and in the least painful way. So before you realize something is happening, it’s already over!

What’s the story with your kids’ line?
I have a passion to invent products that fill spaces that are otherwise empty and to satisfy needs that I feel are unaddressed. When I became pregnant again, I was reminded that taking care of your skin starts the day you are born and that you can actually damage your skin from day one. For example, if you use harsh ingredients or overdo skin care treatments with babies, you can cause eczema and allergies that they can suffer from for life. I just wanted to make sure that my daughter Pepper’s skin would be touched by only the most natural and nourishing ingredients, and I wound up developing a group of skin care formulations for a single patient — Pepper. I didn’t think initially about creating a line; I just wanted something I could trust on her skin. When Pepper turned 3, I decided to do this super cute line. It’s a healthy, happy line for kids, and we keep getting wonderful feedback.

The Baby Bum Cream from Dr. Sturm’s new line.

Any plans to hit the Hamptons?
Yes! We will be in the Hamptons and doing a pop-up during the second half of August — stay tuned for details.

Where do you live these days?
We have a flat in Düsseldorf and a house in Washington, D.C.; my husband and I really don’t live anywhere. We’ve been on a business trip for the past five years!

What are the key components of your personal approach to wellness?
Personal approaches to wellness are aspirational, in that healthy living and modern living are often at odds. Generally, I try to minimize stress because the cortisol it stimulates is a destructive force in our bodies. I believe in this rule for work: It’s not stressful if it’s fun. I try to get a good night’s sleep, and I do this by going to bed early. I drink water and almost nothing else. I exercise as often as I can, even if it’s for 15 minutes. I adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet — high in blueberries, salmon, and leafy green vegetables — and avoid fried food, sugar, processed flour, and cured meats. I like a lychee martini or a nice glass of Chardonnay, but I don’t drink too much or too regularly. No matter what geography I’m in, I take my own supplements every day — one each of Skin Food, Anti-Pollution Food, and Repair Food.

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