Dr Barbara Sturm talks about her new skin care range, consumer education and why some brands struggle with authenticity.
You were one of the pioneers in the field of skin care personalisation
Yes 100%. I think I'm the mother of customised skin care. I was really having problems with my skin and I couldn't find anything on the market that could help me. I tried everything. So I created the blood facial and then I added proteins also from my blood into a face cream. Until today that's what I'm using and that has really helped my skin.
Where did the inspiration Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics come from?
I have a scientific background. I've worked a lot with professors from Harvard and Pittsburgh. We tried a lot of things out and came up with new treatments. I think once you are in the scientific field you don't want to do mainstream, you want to do something new something more effective; something which is underpinned with clinical studies. That's my approach. Science is for me, the number one thing.
You have a massive social media following. Was that a marketing strategy or did it happen organically?
It's all organic. You know, if you do something with passion, with belief and you know that it works, then I think you want to spread the word. You want to get it out there so that every woman or man has access to your knowledge. And of course, if celebrities post about it, it gives a boost. You can't do it by yourself. It's not possible.
Why do you think some skin care brands struggle with authenticity when it comes to marketing?
It's because there's no one behind the brand who is authentic. The big brands don't have someone who is the spokesperson and sees the consumers every day and sees the effectiveness of their products. Just because there's a chemist in a lab mixing something it doesn't mean that it's good for us. I want to have products that work. The combination of someone authentic behind the brand who is also a scientist makes the messaging more effective.
Consumers are informing themselves but they may do more harm than good with certain ingredients or procedures without knowing what's best for their skin. Do you think it's the responsibility of brands to educate consumers?
I think this market an be really dangerous because it's all driven by money. More machines promising a quick fix at home. They want to bring the clinic to their home and it's dangerous because they basically destroyed their skin. I was in a store and a 16-year-old goes to a brand that sells acid peels and the cashier wanted to sell it to her. I said 'Wait! You cannot sell this to a 16-year-old. You'll destroy her skin for life.' Young kids are already tempted to do all these aggressive treatments and I think the skin care industry has to educate people. We have to educate the consumer and then they can decide themselves. But they need to have an education. I would really highly recommend not to have all these aggressive skin care treatments, especially at home. With acid peels, lasers, micro needling, they do it until their face is bleeding. You destroy your skin barrier function and accelerate aging and hyper pigmentation issues. Just love your skin.
What are three things that we in the Middle East can do to help protect our skin function?
Number one is hydration. So use our Hyaluronic Serum Cream which is hydrating and doesn't sit on your skin like greasy creams do. It is hydration for your skin because it's important to strengthen your skin barrier function. The second is anti-pollution drops. Our anti-pollution drops help protect against the pollutants which are inside from air conditioning and outside for the pollutants in the air but also blue light from our phones. It's really aggressive for our skin and the anti-pollution drops help to protect from the HEV light from digital aging. And the third one is our sun drops with SPF 50 for UVA and UVB protection.
You've just released a skin care line that is specifically for people with more melanin in their skin.
This line is designed around anti-inflammation, anti-bacterial and evening out the skin tone because women in the Middle East especially suffer from breakouts and hyper pigmentation. To target those problems, we created the darker skin tone line which is really nourishing for the skin. It's highly anti-aging and also helps to prevent more damage.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking of launching a skin care line?
Number one is you need to study it. You need to really have a medical background or you really need to know about the function of the skin, and you need to know about ingredient science. Have the scientific approach and take care of your skin in a very healthy way. Find an amazing ingredient which could be the one ingredient for your products. Finally, you should have your consumer in mind as your number one priority when you create your own skin care line. The consumer is who we need to look after.