You may not know dermatologist Dr. Barbara Sturm by name, but if you’ve paid attention to skincare trends over the last few years, you definitely know her work. Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Dr. Sturm is the mastermind behind the concept known as the Vampire Facial, a process in which a customized facial is created using plasma from a person’s own blood. Praised for its anti-inflammatory capabilities, it took off in 2014 after Kim Kardashian West posted a selfie getting a similar treatment, and Dr. Sturm has been hard at work developing a line of products called Molecular Cosmetics ever since. The MC1, a topical own-blood cream that counts Hailey Baldwin as a fan, is Dr. Sturm’s pièce de résistance, and it’s groundbreaking both in how it’s created and what it means for the future of non-invasive skincare. Here, Dr. Sturm tells The Zoe Report about the science behind blood creams and the best way to care for aging skin using natural remedies.
The MC1 Lowdown
TZR: Can you explain the science behind MC1 and how it works?
Dr. Barbara Sturm: Described simply, I draw a relatively small amount of blood into a syringe. The syringe contains irregularly shaped, etched glass beads. The blood, when treated and incubated at the optimal temperature, mistakes the beads for a wound and begins to produce proteins such as interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) and growth factors. In one day, the blood forms 140 times the healing factor proteins contained in untreated blood. The blood is then processed in a high-speed centrifuge and the plasma with the proteins is separated from the red blood cells and used in treatment as well as the proprietary MC1 cream, which is handmade in our pharmacy.
TZR: What surprises people most about MC1?
BS: That the cream is white, not red! As mentioned, it is the plasma, not the red blood cells, that is separated and used after centrifuge.
TZR: Who is the ideal candidate for this product?
BS: The MC1 cream is highly anti-inflammatory and healing. So the ideal candidate is anyone who wants to keep the skin healthy and strong and in the best possible shape with defined pores and no signs of inflammation. And especially for anyone with damaged skin, whether from a skin disorder, sun, pollution exposure or inflammatory conditions like acne.
TZR: How long do results typically last and how often do your clients tend to return?
BS: Patients see an immediate result, and the long-term results are a total change in the quality of your skin matrix. The skin cream lasts on average one month. Fighting inflammation is a daily battle that requires some vigilance, so I think how quickly it works is a more apt question than how long results last. The inflammatory influences on our skin and bodies are everywhere, every day.
TZR: Around what age should people begin to pay serious attention to their skincare routine?
BS: Human beings need skincare from birth. Aging and inflammation begins when we are born, and some skin problems are cumulative. Certainly by toddler years, we are experiencing sun exposure. We should always be using anti-pollution protection.
TZR: What role does diet play in maintaining great skin without injectables?
BS: Diet plays a huge role in our skin health. Maintaining healthy skin requires an avoidance of inflammation triggers—they're the root cause of most skin disorders—including what we consume. Minimize fried foods, processed meats, alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates. Maximize anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, leafy green vegetables, bok choy, celery and fruits like blueberries, cherries, pineapple and strawberries.
TZR: Which skin concerns would people be surprised to know can be remedied naturally?
BS: The truth is most skin concerns can be remedied by avoiding and healing inflammation. Averting inflammation is the hard part, because it comes from every direction—pollution, sun exposure, diet, stress, harsh skincare ingredients and aggressive procedures like lasers and skin peels.