If you call Barbara Sturm on the landline at her Munich home and she isn’t in, expect to hear a familiar voice on her outgoing message. “Bibi’s not here. She’s out at a stag party, working the stripper pole. Oh, and this is her manager, Cher. Bye.”
Yes, that Cher.
But first, back to Sturm.
The German orthopedist-turned-skin guru has been trotting the globe including regular visits to my Studio, launching her eponymous, cult-fave brand. I follow her on Instagram. When I go to sleep, she’s in Singapore. And when I wake up, she’s in Positano.
Next up: Dallas in June, for two days of treatments developed by me that incorporate Sturm’s tightly edited collection of Molecular Cosmetics.
We’re both so passionate about skin, about supporting the lipid structure and blocking inflammation, And I’m in love with every product in her line. We are all excited about the launch of her baby line which we will carry for the children in our clients’ lives.
I recently caught up with the jet-lagged Sturm just as she was trying to coax her three-year-old daughter, Pepper, into bed for the night. Pepper wasn’t having any of this boring old going-to-sleep jazz.
Where are you based these days?
Düsseldorf and Munich. And I’m in California a lot – in LA – so I live there part-time, too. I’m probably in Düsseldorf and Munich one week each, every other month, seeing patients. More or less.
You trained as an orthopedist, but shifted gears to skin. That’s an unusual plot twist. How did it come about?
In orthopedics, I came across a group of scientists and surgeons who were pioneering a treatment for osteoarthritis by using the body’s own proteins. They were taking the patient’s blood and processing it a certain way and re-injecting it into the joints. Because it’s from your own body, your own cells, it’s highly anti-inflammatory.
At one point, one of my good friends said – this was like 15 years ago – “I’m going to learn how to inject lips” and I thought, Oh that’s so cool. I want to learn that too. So I learned all about injecting. And I loved it. But I wanted to do something different, on the cellular level, that would really make sense for regeneration and anti-inflammation. So I transferred the knowledge from orthopedics into skin.
That’s when I invented what’s known today as the ‘blood facials.’
Aka ‘vampire facials’?
Yes, but I came up with the blood facial probably seven years before vampire facials.
You were the pioneer! How were you able to convince someone to try it? Is it painful?
It’s not painful. Listen, there are a lot of people who want to be guinea pigs. And that’s still the case. When I let someone be my guinea pig, they love it.
Does it take a long time to recover?
Not at all! I do it with small needles. It’s just using the body’s own proteins, made from your own cells, with scalpel-injection techniques. It’s not as bloody as it sounds.
Do you consider the MC1 cream the ‘take-home version’ of the facial?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
How did you develop it, as well as your other products?
I was suffering with my own skin. I had blackheads, so I had to clean out my face every three weeks. At the same time, I was super dry. I tried every product on the market and nothing worked. I got so frustrated.
So then I thought: Okay, I have to do my own cream. And for me, a cream was enough. I didn’t even want other products. I didn’t use makeup, so I didn’t need a cleanser. For me, just the MCI was fine.
But my patients are very international, very Hollywood. The ones who came for the blood cream were asking: “Well, Dr. Sturm, what’s the full regimen?” And I said, “I don’t know. Use water!”
Basically, I came up with this line because people were asking me for products and I couldn’t recommend anything.
How did your friendship with Cher happen?
I met her in Germany, through friends, and she was interested in what I was doing medically, and we became friends.
Has she visited you in Germany?
What do you guys do together?
Just chatting, hanging. Girl stuff.
What do you like about her?
She’s very intelligent, and loving, and very cool. And she’s a great influence on my children – I also have another daughter, Charly, who’s 21. And Cher brought me together with my husband, so that’s pretty cool. We got married in her house!
Was it a small, intimate ceremony? Then again, Cher’s house is probably pretty big…
No, it wasn’t small. It was amazing. It was pretty big. One of the greatest weddings ever.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m traveling so much, there is no typical day. When I’m at the clinic, seeing patients. I stay there until 6 and then I come home and I have to do calls and emails. Because I’m dealing with America a lot, it gets pretty late.
How do you de-stress?
I don’t feel stressed at all. I’m seeing patients. I’m doing my work. I should be stressed, but I’m not. And I have a young kid. Right now, I’m sitting here, doing this interview with you, with my naked baby running all around me!
Well, you certainly do seem extremely focused and driven.
Oh yeah. I’m so ambitious. I’m very driven, very passionate. Sometimes I think maybe even a little bit too much. But I like to do things right. I’m a ‘100 percent’ person and my expectations are very high. But I’ve always been like that, even as a kid. I wanted to do every sport, wanted to be good at everything. I guess it’s just in me.