Dr. Barbara Sturm on reducing inflammation and achieving wellness

dr barbara sturm wellness interview
Self-care rituals with… Dr. Barbara SturmCourtesy Dr. Barbara Sturm

In this series, Bazaar’s multiplatform beauty director speaks to inspirers in the wellness world about the rituals and routines that work for them. Here Bridget March meets Dr. Barbara Sturm, the force behind her eponymous beauty brand. Below, the entrepreneur – and anti-inflammatory pioneer ­– shares the self-care systems that work for her.

Dr. Barbara Sturm’s unique perspective drove her to become the founder and CEO of her brand, Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics. With a passion for healing, the German doctor expanded her specialism from orthopaedics to aesthetics, intent on finding a way to utilise the body’s own anti-inflammatory healing factors within beauty treatments.

It began in 2002 with Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections, her signature treatment, which became widely recognised as the ‘vampire facial’ and led to her first topical formulation, MC1 – or the ‘blood cream’. This bespoke, plasma-based moisturiser harnessed patients’ own white blood cells to produce healing factors in skincare form, but they wanted more – and she obliged. Over the following 10 years and beyond, Dr. Sturm curated a full collection of products (of which there are now more than 300), all with the same principle at heart.

“My whole skincare philosophy has always been based on a very holistic approach to reducing inflammation and achieving wellness – it's not just about putting a topical cream on – and includes adopting a simple, anti-inflammatory lifestyle,” she tells me. “This means I get enough sleep, take daily exercise, avoid stress, protect against urban and digital pollution and enjoy a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as avocados, salmon, olive oil, nuts, berries and green tea. I also love sports because it's important to move every day, and I try to fit in time for yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises.”

Here, the anti-inflammatory pioneer explains what self-care – from looking after her skin to her spirit – means to her.

dr barbara sturm wellness interview
Courtesy Dr. Barbara Sturm

On her morning routine…

“I’m naturally an early bird. If I get up before my kids, I try to watch the sunrise or be mindful and then I’ll fit in a quick workout; I love to keep active – movement is essential for releasing inflammation-reducing hormones in the body. I'll maybe play tennis, do a Pilates class, or go skiing.

“I’ll then shower and either use my Facial Scrub or Enzyme Cleanser on my face and body to remove dead skin cells, boost circulation and encourage skin renewal.

“I apply my toner immediately after showering, then Hyaluronic Serum and The Better B Niacinamide Serum, followed by my Super Anti-Aging Face Cream and Neck and Décolleté Cream.

“Often, I’ll pop on my Face Mask for a boost of rich hydration while drinking my oat milk latte and going through my emails before getting the day started. For a quick morning pick-me-up I also love to apply my Everything Eye Patches. You can pop them on for just 15 minutes and they act as an all-in-one treatment for dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and eye bags – they also feel incredibly soothing if you’ve woken up with tired eyes.

“I don’t wear much make-up but I like to have good brows so I use the Anastasia Beverley Hills Brow Wiz, and I like to mix the Fara Homidi Lip Compact in Nude1 with my lip balm for a little colour.”

On her anti-inflammatory diet…

“Anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, salmon, olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, dark berries and green tea are my constants for daily self-care. I have my own bircher muesli recipe that I make the night before and I’ll have that with some fresh fruit.

“For lunch, I usually make a big salad with greens, pomegranate, veggies, sometimes feta cheese, and my homemade dressing. And for dinner, we mix it up, but I love cooking a Thai vegetable curry or teriyaki salmon with roasted vegetables.

“I’ll very occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner and my eldest daughter, Charly, makes the most amazing cakes and cookies that I can’t help indulging in every now and again. But it doesn’t need to be a ‘bad habit’ – it’s all about balance.”

dr barbara sturm wellness interview
Dr. Barbara Sturm with daughter Charly SturmCourtesy Dr. Barbara Sturm

On self-care tools and technology…

“The sauna is a tremendous tool for skin and overall health and wellbeing that also feels great. Sauna sessions have been clinically shown to improve skin-barrier function, regulate sebum flow, and improve cardiovascular and muscular health. I built one in my bathroom in Dusseldorf and I love it.

“I also love red-light therapy; it’s a non-invasive treatment which helps to diminish the appearance of age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, and boosts skin elasticity and healing in skin and muscle tissue. I injured my knee recently and I’ve been using red light every day to help accelerate its repair – I swear by it.

“I use my Body Brush twice a week before showering to exfoliate, stimulate circulation and help to remove toxins and then alternate with warm and cold water in the shower to stimulate my lymphatic system, blood circulation and fibroblasts. Body brushing can improve skin tone and elasticity, while firming the skin’s surface, to help reduce the appearance of cellulite and reveal brighter, smoother skin. And it’s great for boosting your energy if you're feeling sluggish.

“I’ll also do light facial massages whenever I have time – it can really help enhance and support collagen production in your skin while engaging with dermal fibroblasts. The Jillian Dempsey Gold Bar is a great skin-sculpting tool.”

On meditation, movement and mindset…

“I do a little Pilates or yoga – it’s such a relaxing way to keep fit and flexible. Charly introduced me to Bryony Deery [Pilates by Bryony] and now I love her. I follow her classes online.

“I have always been inspired by Dr. Deepak Chopra and often listen to his meditations for 10-to-20 minutes to help me unwind, or when I’m in need of re-centring.

“And of course, family time is so important for mental health – we try and spend as much time together as we can; walking through nature, playing board games, or doing some self-care like a face mask in the evenings.

“I try to have a Buddhist-like outlook to life. I like to keep a happy spirit and not worry about the past and the future – it’s important to live in the present.”

On her evening routine…

“In the evening, I like to go to bed before 10pm and I always make sure my room is dark, quiet and device-free – digital devices can trigger the ‘fight or flight’ hormone cortisol that keeps you awake at bedtime or during the night. I’ll also take my Good Night supplements which are packed with active ingredients that help promote a more restful night’s sleep.

“I'll cleanse my skin and apply my serum, night cream and eye cream. If you want additional anti-aging support, the Exoso-Metic Serum is a must – it's super scientific and works by re-introducing growth factors and exosomes into the skin, repairing it on a cellular level and supporting the skin’s own natural rejuvenation mechanisms to leave it feeling baby soft.

“Sometimes my youngest daughter Pepper and I like to pop on the KNC Lip Mask. I love Kristen, the founder of KNC Beauty, and her lip masks are so fun to use.”

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