They say that when Dr Barbara Sturm is present you immediately relax; with her calm, welcoming air and long list of celebrity clients it is no wonder that this statement was nothing short from the truth. UNBLOCK MAGAZINE talks to the rock and roll doctor about her edgy taste in fashion, the benefits of purslane, the beauty of chance, and the lifestyle that proceeds the creator of a cream that frequently graces the tabloids and wish lists of household names.
YOU INITIALLY WORKED AS A PHYSICIAN, WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO THEN PURSUE A CAREER IN CREATING ANTI-AGING PRODUCTS?
My mother was a lab doctor and I used to go with her to the hospital and see her patients, so I basically knew that this was a career that
I wanted to pursue when I was four years old. The idea to pursue research for anti-aging did not occur so early, but came by coincidence with my research alongside a group of scientists for medicine. I also started working with orthopaedics who were conducting research for a pioneering treatment for osteoarthritis, we drew blood and stimulated
it to create healing factors, and reinjected the healing factors into the joints. This in itself was an anti-aging treatment and at one point I got into the idea of injections, Botox and fillers, but I wanted to adopt this on a cellular level, so I transferred all of the knowledge as an orthopaedic surgeon to working with the skin and aesthetics.
DID YOU APPLY THIS KNOWLEDGE AS AN ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON TO WHAT HAS BEEN MOST POPULARLY NAMED AS THE ‘VAMPIRE FACIAL’?
Yes, the ‘Vampire facial’ is basically a spin- off, for that procedure you use mostly platelet rich plasma and place the blood into an empty syringe, it centrifuges right away and is reinjected into the skin. My technique involves drawing blood into a syringe that contains glass beads, this uneven surface tricks the cells into believing that a wound has occurred and it needs to be healed. The blood is then incubated for 46 hours so that the cells stay alive and continue to produce healing factors, growth factors and super anti-inflammatory proteins, this cocktail is one hundred and forty times more concentrated than the contents of your blood. If you imagine how fast a typical wound on your finger would heal then you can imagine how this cream would help to heal your skin.
DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE MC1 CREAM IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, WHAT AUTOMATICALLY COMES TO MIND FOR MOST PEOPLE IS THE NOTORIOUS IMAGE OF KIM KARDASHIAN WITH BLOOD SMEARED ALL OVER HER FACE, WAS IT INITIALLY QUITE CONTROVERSIAL?
Well, I mean the blood smeared all over her face was a slightly dramatic look and more sensationalist. The proteins are yellow like blood plasma and to be honest there is no reason as to why you would realistically have so much blood all over your face (Laughs).
WITH REGARD TO OTHER SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENTS, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE IN 2015 YOU SPOKE OF STEM CELLS POTENTIALLY BEING AN INGREDIENT IN THE CREAM OF THE FUTURE. STEM CELLS ARE OBVIOUSLY A VERY NEW CONCEPT FOR MEDICINE IN GENERAL, WHAT KIND OF PROPERTIES COULD IT HAVE FOR A CREAM?
I think if the process were to involve using your own stem cells and putting them into a cream, then considering the whole procedure it could be incredibly expensive, possibly close to £20,000. I think when it comes to looking after your skin it is more important to address inflammation, and using cream with your own blood would address this issue anyway at a much lower cost.
I ASSUME ALSO IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO STORE AND PRESERVE STEM CELLS ALSO?
Yes exactly, and that would make it costly.
RECENTLY YOU COLLABORATED WITH ANGELA BASSETT ON A SKINCARE RANGE FOR DARKER SKIN, HOW DID THIS PROJECT MANIFEST?
We met, and at the time she would use our normal range. She loved how her skin improved and was very excited about the products, we met again and created the blood cream afterwards. Upon realising that there was no luxury skincare range for darker skinned people, the idea came to the surface.
IT IS QUITE REMINISCENT OF RECENT PRODUCTS TOO, SUCH AS THE L’ORÉAL TRUE MATCH ADVERT, WHERE THEY HAVE CREATED FOUNDATIONS THAT ARE MORE SUITABLE FOR DARKER SKIN.
Yes, well there are lots of products that do exist such as make-up and hair products. But skin care for darker skin has not really been readily acknowledged, the only company that comes to mind is IMAN, but their skin care range is not extensive or luxury so I felt that this area could be addressed.
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE ALSO IN THE PROCESS
OF DEVELOPING A LUXURY SKINCARE RANGE FOR TEENAGERS, WHICH I SUSPECT IS ALSO QUITE A NEW AREA THAT NEEDS ADDRESSING?
Yes, for our range we are focussing on the idea of healing the skin, everything out there is very aggressive and drying for the skin, containing either alcohol or antiseptic elements. I think the approach for teenagers should be directed towards healing.
I THINK HAVING ALL BEEN TEENAGERS OURSELVES IT IS QUITE APPARENT TO ALL OF US THAT THEY HAVE DIFFERENT SKIN REQUIREMENTS TO ADULTS.
Exactly, I think the skincare can at times be very harsh, so there would be more success if we were to focus on healing instead.
OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE PROMOTING THE IDEA OF LOOKING AFTER YOUR SKIN AS A TEENAGER, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH BEAUTY AFFAIR IN 2012 YOU STATE THAT YOU FEEL IT IS BETTER TO START YOUNG WITH LOOKING AFTER YOUR SKIN, WOULD YOU RECOMMEND ANY YOUNGER?
I’ve not only been working on a range for teenagers but for babies also, so I feel it is best to start once you are born. With my youngest daughter, when we went skiing I created a cream for her since the climate can be quite cold and harsh on the skin. Soon after she was born I also gave her milk baths with almond oil for a year, I would recommend milk baths, milk is very good for your skin...so I think you should look after yourself as early as possible.
ALL OF THE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR LUXURY SKINCARE RANGE CONTAIN THE INGREDIENT PURSLANE, WHAT MAKES THE INGREDIENT SO EFFECTIVE?
Purslane is an incredibly powerful herb that promotes anti-aging and has anti-oxidant properties, what interests me the most about purslane is that it is a telomerase activator, it is in every one of our products. This means it keeps the telomeres sequence long, stopping the chromosomes from shortening and dying...research conducted for telomerase and telomeres resulted in two Nobel prizes in 2009, so it is very cutting- edge science.
WITH REGARD TO OTHER NATURAL INGREDIENTS, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND INCORPORATING INTO YOUR DIET ALONGSIDE YOUR SKINCARE RANGE?
Purslane purslane purslane...I am obsessed with it and in combination of course with drinking lots of water and eating clean I would also recommend it as a part of your diet. We are in the process of creating a supplement that you can use in salad and smoothies as part of a healthy diet, it is really good!
I SUPPOSE IN SOME CASES IT COULD BE QUITE SPORADIC, BUT DOES IT TAKE YOU A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TIME TO RESEARCH AND ESTABLISH A KEY INGREDIENT FOR YOUR SKINCARE RANGES?
It is all a coincidence, I never really planned to do a skincare line or anything in the first place, but during the process of its creation I knew that I didn’t want to be mainstream and that the cream should be special. By chance I came up with the idea of creating a cream that involved Telomerase activators, at the time I was in contact with a scientist in Miami who I was collaborating with on a supplement and I asked him how we could find an ingredient that had these properties. He had recently found a study which had established that purslane was a powerful telomerase activator so we decided to use that, our skincare range is the only one to contain purslane.
I SUPPOSE THAT SOMETIMES DISCOVERIES BY CHANCE DO YIELD THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY RESULTS?
With life you should go with the flow, as long as you are motivated and interested you will achieve the best results...that’s what I tell my older daughter. Just embrace the world and be open to every opportunity that comes your way, and take it all in so that it forms your path. That is the fun part about life!
AS DESCRIBED, A LOT OF YOUR SKIN CARE PRODUCTS ARE VERY NATURAL, I READ THAT YOU ALSO HAVE SURGICAL OPTIONS THAT ARE PRACTICALLY NATURAL IN BEING SO NON-INVASIVE?
Yes we have facelifts without surgery, where we basically lift the face without cutting into the skin, it is important to have volume in your face as opposed to pulling everything back.
DO YOU EVER FIND CERTAIN MEDIA TRENDS REFLECT UPON WHAT YOUR CLIENTS WANT SURGICALLY?
Not really...since my practice is known for achieving a natural look we don’t really get people who want to completely transform their face, I guess I am not really for those kinds of people.
THE DESIRE TO LOOK GOOD IS ALSO LINKED LARGELY WITH FASHION, ARE THERE ANY BRANDS THAT YOU LIKE?
(Hesitates) I like a lot, I wear Galvan a lot, I think it is timeless, chic and sexy but I also love a lot of edgy fashion too. I think I am at an age where I am not so much into wearing short skirts anymore, perhaps with tights... it’s funny how you change! But I do still quite like the rock and roll look, I don’t want to look boring!
DO YOU LIKE ANY HIGH-STREET BRANDS?
I recently discovered Paige Denim jeans which I like, my daughter buys a lot of stuff from Zara and gets stuff for me too and I really love it! To be honest though I don’t really have a lot of time to go shopping, those boots (points to glittered boots), I asked a personal shopper to send me those, I do some online shopping too on sites like Net- a-Porter, but my life is a little too non-stop to spend time shopping.
I ASSUME THAT THE NUMEROUS EXCURSIONS YOU MAKE MUST BE THE REASON AS TO WHY YOUR LIFE IS PRETTY NON-STOP, IS THERE ANYWHERE THAT YOU HAVE VISITED WHICH IS PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE TO YOU?
I enjoy visiting Moscow, I love Moscow. I went there a while ago to conduct research on the herbs, I also went to Siberia which was amazing. It was unbelievable and the nature was stunning, we went on a helicopter for an hour to see the nature and landscape there and I loved it, there were so many beautiful plants and everything there was so pure. Otherwise I love travelling to the big cities like LA, New York and London which are all so great, but they can also be a little stressful too.
WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE MORE OF A NATURE PERSON THAN A CITY PERSON?
Yes 100% I’m more of a nature person; but I like the crisscross of both, when I spend too long in one place that may be quiet I begin to get a little bored so I set off again. (Laughs)
I GUESS IT IS A CASE OF TRYING TO GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?
Yeah, right now I wish I had a bit more time to relax, but in general I like both.
YOU ALSO ENCOURAGE SPA TREATMENTS WHICH PROPOSE THE IDEA OF LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF BOTH INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY. BETWEEN TENDING TO MULTIPLE CLIENTS, COMPOSING NEW RESEARCH, AND PROMOTING YOUR PRODUCTS AROUND THE WORLD, WHAT IS YOUR OWN PERSONAL FAVOURITE WAY TO RELAX AND COPE WITH SUCH A HECTIC LIFESTYLE?
(Laughs)...You tell me and I’ll go there! I was actually just looking for a massage place...They have a great spa in a hotel called Stanglwirt in Kitzbühel which I do like in particular. I think sometimes just walking in Hyde Park with my daughter is quite relaxing, my children are a blessing
to me. Whilst I admit that having a young child can at times be quite stressful, I think my youngest daughter can also bring out a lot of calmness in me. I guess health wise I do try and drink a lot of water and not a lot of alcohol also.
IS EVERY DAY DIFFERENT FOR YOU OR DO YOU HAVE A TYPICAL DAY?
Every day is different, there isn’t really such thing as a typical day for me; I suppose if there were typical days it would be more predictable and stable for my family.
YOU WORK WITH A LOT OF CLIENTS IN MUSIC, FILM, AND FASHION,
DO YOU HAVE ANY CURRENT INTERESTS IN THESE FIELDS SUCH AS A FAVOURITE SERIES OR ARTIST?
Everything...everything to me is interesting, but at the moment I am really interested in anything that is beautiful. I haven’t been so keen on the fashion from the past few years but recently it has interested me again.
SO DO YOU HAVE A BIG INTEREST IN VISUAL ART IN ITSELF?
I just love all things beautiful, my clinic is full of a lot of art... everything that touches my eye, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.
LASTLY, COULD YOU NAME A CERTAIN BEAUTY PRODUCT THAT YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
My MC1 cream, 100%! I couldn’t think of anything else, that would be it! (Laughs)
Photography Linda Cooper
Makeup Marcio Abraao
Words Libby Festorazzi