In the city centre of Düsseldorf is a grey concrete building. Within it is a clinic with sterile white walls and light oak floors. Women and men stream in for non-surgical skin care procedures to put a brake on ageing. It's reportedly a three-month long wait for an appointment with the founder, Dr. Barbara Sturm. But it's worth the wait. You walk out looking a few years younger. The Midas touch? Maybe. An injection stops the clock's effect on your skin.
Over a decade ago, this was unheard of. Sturm's technique was new and it revolutionised the skin care industry. "Nobody had ever done that before."
Sturm majored in Medicine and Sports and was a practising orthopaedic surgeon. "During that time I helped pioneer a treatment that is now known as the 'Kobe procedure', named after Kobe Bryant. The treatment uses the MCX, which consists of healing factors that are generated from the patients' own blood. I helped to develop that procedure in collaboration with scientists from Harvard and Pittsburgh."
When you get a cut on your finger, for instance, the blood produces healing factors to heal the wound. Kobe Bryant reportedly travels to Germany to receive this treatment for his arthritic knee. And it's worked for Bryant and other athletes. While it was formally "used to cure arthritis in joints," Sturm borrowed this orthopaedic approach for the face.
Dr Barbara Sturm
Orthopaedic surgeon turned cosmetic scientist, Dr Barbara Sturm.
"I translated the knowledge, injecting the proteins either directly into the skin or combining it with hyaluronic acid fillers."
This way, skin is encouraged to regenerate its cells. Hyaluronic acid too, is present in the skin tissues. Studies have shown that it retains moisture – when lost, it results in skin ageing.
This concept of using the body's natural components formed the bedrock of Sturm's renowned non-surgical procedures.
But there was a catch – clients had to walk into her clinic to receive the injections. Otherwise, Sturm jets around the globe to administer the regenerative doses to her clients. There wasn't a long-term aftercare product.
That's where Sturm's famous MC1 cream comes into the picture. Kim Kardashian West famously posted an Instagram image of a blood smeared face – that was Sturm's MC1 cream. "To me, this is the most effective skin cream available on the market today. The media often call this the "Vampire Facial"."
Every MC1 cream is 'personalised'. A vial of blood is extracted from the client. It is centrifuged, and the blood plasma fished out and made into a cream. Users bring it home and apply the cream on their face like a regular moisturiser. The blood plasma present "are small enough" to be absorbed into the skin. It then triggers "cascades of reactions that reach into deeper cell levels". The MC1 cream, therefore, boosts the same regenerative effects of an injection from Sturm.
A discovery set of Dr Barbara Sturm's molecular skin care range includes a cleanser, hyaluronic acid ampoule, eye cream, face cream, face scrub and body cream.
Are take-home products like the MC1 cream able to displace the non-surgical procedures that Sturm is renowned for? "I think they are," Sturm considers.
In a final push to shake up the skin care landscape once again, Sturm introduced a small collection of ready-to-buy products. "Not all my patients could come to my clinic in Dusseldorf to get the MC1 cream, I decided to come up with a line that would have a main ingredient which worked almost as good as body's own proteins," she explains.
Like the MC1 cream, they will potentially displace non-surgical procedures. It seems that Sturm's hands are reaching further. More faces will receive her Midas touch.
The comprehensive range of ready-to-buy products range from cleansers, ampoules, serums, creams, masks, sun drops, to body creams. But not all of them contains the hyaluronic acid that Sturm is renowned for. "Hyaluronic acid in a high concentration is very effective, but is better [used] in a watery solution, like in the serums we offer."
In majority of the products, Sturm has instead opted for a herb called Purslane. "It grows natively from Washington D.C. to Marrakesh, Iran the Seychelles to Siberia. It is well tolerated and well absorbed topically through the dermis."
More importantly, Sturm chose Purslane for its proven anti-ageing benefits. "It mediates and up-regulates the youth enzyme Telomerase." Every cell in our body contains a set of 23 chromosomes – our DNA. "At the ends of each chromosome is a protective cap called a telomere. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres are snipped shorter." This shortening of the telomere is associated with cells and skin ageing. The presence of enzyme telomerase protects the telomere caps. And yes, the ageing process is impeded.
Many drugstore products often market their anti-ageing products with dubious ingredients like gold and silver. These components are, however, unrelated to the ageing process of skin cells on many levels. These take-home products that Sturm introduced cuts through the cloud, right into the heart of the skin's ageing process.
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