Life Coach is an advice column on how to be an even better version of yourself in every capacity. This week's special guest is Dr. Barbara Sturm, the German skincare guru to celebrities, athletes, and beyond. Find out how to fix your face with her scientific skincare glossary full of pro tips for novices.
Since 2003, Dr. Barbara Sturm has been paving the way for non-surgical rejuvenating skin treatments through Molecular Cosmetics. As explained in her bio on the company's website, Sturm's scientific skincare brand "focuses on the therapeutic use of the body’s own proteins in the field of skin regeneration and anti-aging." Out of all of Sturm's creations, she labels the Hyaluronic Serum as the "white T-shirt" of skincare products.
Even though Sturm has been in the business for over a decade, Kim Kardashian West spread the gospel of her miraculous services when images of the infamous "Vampire Facial" went viral in 2013. (Sturm isn't responsible for that specific version as her procedure does not draw blood, but she invented the concept behind it.) In 2016, Sturm partnered with Angela Bassett to launch “Darker Skin Tones," a line designed to address issues like hyper-pigmentation, uneven skin tones, inflammation, and pore minimization.
So, what exactly is the public being misinformed about in regards to actually taking care of our skin? Here, Dr. Sturm shares nine principles that everyone should implement into their routines if they haven't already been doing so. Consider this guide as your go-to spreadsheet packed with the most valuable skincare tips for novices.
"Inflammation is silent in our bodies. We can’t necessarily see it, but inflammation can be throughout your body and can cause serious health issues as well as skincare problems. I'm really focused on anti-inflammation from my orthopedic and science background.
It's most commonly produced by food as well as pollution, sun, and stress. However, the incorrect skincare products can also cause inflammation. It’s something we really need to pay attention to, especially in the skincare world. We need to bring down inflammation from within first, and then in turn, the inflammation that you see in the form of breakouts, redness, and irritation on the skin surface will follow. Even when you shave, you cause inflammation, so finding products that don’t irritate your skin further and adapting your lifestyle to control inflammation, including regulating your sleeping patterns, is vital."
"Anti-pollution is an important step in any skincare routine, but it is especially recommended for those living in a city or working at a computer all day, constantly looking at your smart phones and other electronic devices. This is because they produce HEV (High Energy Visible) Light which is able to penetrate the skin at a deeper level than UVA and UVB combined.
The Anti-Pollution Drops create a shield on the skin to block out environmental pollutants as well as HEV light. The Anti-Pollution Food, a supplement that I recommend you take daily in the morning, has five different adaptogens which help the skin and our body to adapt to stressful physiological, and chemical reactions. It has vitamin E and ginseng which boosts your immune system, so we love to use that."
"The first step [to moisturizing] always is a serum. For men who have a lot of irritation, dryness, and flakiness, they should use the Calming Serum because it soothes irritated skin. It gives a nice hydration and it calms your skin, taking away redness. An extract from the herb purslane is present in all our products, which is an antioxidant and anti-irritant, rich in beta-carotene and Omega three fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, E, C. It's a super powerful herb."
"Everything is designed to help your skin to get rid of irritation and hydrate. Toners are a cleansing product to even out the pH of the skin, but also hydrate and stabilize the skin barrier function. Some men love to use soap, but I tell everyone not to use it as it can mess with your skin’s pH level, making your skin more acidic. This is because soap has a very high pH level of 9 to 10 which is extra alkaline, compared to water which has a pH level of 8 and the skin which has a slight acidic pH of a little bit under five. I recommend using a cleanser, followed by a balancing toner."
"Our skin has a pH-value of 5.5 and is therefore slightly acidic. This protective acid layer is able to protects us to a certain degree against pathogens and environmental stressors. This pH-value can change due to influences such as age or how we take care of our skin. If we, for example, wash our face with water (which normally has a pH-value of 7-8), our skin becomes more alkaline and drier, therefore also less protective. Most soaps are even more alkaline with a pH-value of 9-10.
In order to protect and strengthen our skin it is beneficial and important to use pH-value friendly products, such as our Cleanser which does not put a strain on our skin. Cleansing products that use aggressive acids or acids in aggressive concentration only dehydrate the skin further. Wipes, for example, often fail to remove dirt and residue but rather move it around on our skin creating more irritation. While cleansing is an important step in removing dirt and residue to prepare skin for absorption of active ingredients, it is important to use a hydrating cleansing product like my Cleanser to avoid any aggression on the skin."
"Everything we do is in a very healing, holistic way, so when we developed the brightening line it had to be very natural. The Brightening Serum helps to lighten the accumulation of yellow and dark spots – perfect for fighting pigmentation. It can be used as a part of your daily skincare routine."
"Pores are small channels through which the body secretes sebum. Sebum has a protective function. The size of the pores is genetically determined. Those who are prone to oily skin tend to have larger pores and are more susceptible to spots and acne. Environmental influences also affect pore size, such as UV rays, nicotine, alcohol and unhealthy diets. Age can also alter the pores, through phases of hormonal conversion (menopause, puberty). It is best to regulate the sebum flow; this affects the pore size positively. Impurities or too much sebum expands the pores over time.
For example, our Glow Drops contain a special wild rose extract that has a pore-refining effect. The Clarifying Line also contains substances that regulate the flow of sebum, thereby reducing pore size, along with the Darker Skin Tones Line which also contains sebum-balancing substances, too."
"Blackheads and congestion develop when the sebaceous gland clogs and the sebum accumulates in it. If the blackhead gets infected, it will develop into a purulent pimple. Mineral oils can promote clogging. Also, if you use products that are too rich for your skin type or make-up, this can often trigger pore clogging as well."
Dehydrated vs. Dry skin
"Dry skin is a skin type. It feels rough and can appear flaky, and lacks oil and lipids at a deeper level in the skin. Dehydrated skin is a skin condition that anyone can experience. When skin is dehydrated it can be the result of sun exposure, inflammation and pollution. Dehydrated skin looks dull, feels tight and sensitive, and often shows fine lines and promotes and accelerates the aging process.
All skin needs moisture and oil. Oils help to retain moisture and all skin has a natural oil barrier. As the skin dries or gets older, this barrier begins to dissolve, and the skin loses moisture in its deeper layers. Sufficient water deposits in the skin fight dehydrated skin and oil locks in this moisture, creating a protective skin barrier sealing in the water beneath."