The Vampire’s Guide To Grooming
Illustrations by Mr Joe McKendry
Skincare specialist Dr Barbara Sturm has hit headlines in recent years, not just because she treats a number of prominent celebrities (though she herself is charmingly discreet on this front), but because of the somewhat intriguing way she does it – extracting a patient’s blood and making a face cream out of it.
Yes, you read that right. She’s also known as one of the main pioneers of the “vampire facial”, another blood-focused treatment, in which blood is drawn, thinned and incubated via a patented method and then injected back into the patient’s face. If it all sounds rather unusual and gruesome – as well as absolutely perfect tabloid fodder – it’s nonetheless based on real science. In fact, Dr Sturm discovered the technique while working in orthopaedics for sport.
“I came to work with a group of people who pioneered a treatment which uses your body’s own proteins, highly anti-inflammatory proteins," she says. "We took the blood and we made cells produce these healing factors. If you have osteoarthritis or your joints or muscles are inflamed, then you can inject this substance, made out of your own blood cells. And this helps you heal faster, or prevents your osteoarthritis from getting worse.”
When Dr Sturm decided to test this blood treatment on the face, she immediately saw considerable, long-lasting results on the treated skin, which looked immediately fresher and younger. Then came the blood cream – a product custom made for individual clients, enriched with the same supercharged proteins, created from drawn blood, that Dr Sturm uses in her facials. It was a hit, which led to more products. “I had this amazing cream,” says Dr Sturm. “It ran through Hollywood in, like, minutes… everybody wanted it. And then patients would ask me ‘What cleanser do I use, what this should I use, what that should I use?’ And I didn’t know what to tell them. I had no idea what to tell them. I didn’t like anything out there, so I had to come up with my own.”
The resulting products, which launch today on MR PORTER, offer a complete skincare routine for the man on the go, from an exfoliating facial scrub to the intensely moisturising hylaronic serum. Though they're incredibly light in application, they pack a potent combination of all-natural ingredients such as purslane, skullcap and taiga root (often called "korean ginseng"), all of which have been carefully sourced by Dr Sturm to reduce inflammation – something which she has discovered through her work is a key factor in ageing the skin. Scroll down for a guide on how the Dr Barbara Sturm range can address the common problems that affect the modern man.
Dr Sturm’s early work with blood was geared towards reducing inflammation in the joints of wounded athletes. But, she says, you don’t just get inflammation in sports injuries – it can happen to your skin. And probably will. “Men’s skin especially is very bothered by inflammation,” says Dr Sturm, “because, first of all, you have hair growth and you shave, so the skin is irritated there. There’s more sebum production and, of course, when you have more testosterone, your skin can also be a little drier than women’s.
Look for products with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as Dr Sturm’s favourite, purslane, which is the main active ingredient in her range and particularly potent in the Dr Barbara Sturm Face Cream, which can be applied after a shave. “It’s a super herb,” she says. “It’s super anti-oxidating and super anti-inflammatory.”
Most people who live in urban environments (and commute daily into the office) would probably agree that such conditions are not the most sterile, or serene. “You have all-day stress and pollution in the city,” says Dr Sturm. “When you’re sitting in the metro or on the Tube, there’s so much dirt around.”
Use a cleanser. Often. Of course you don’t want to go crazy with this, as too much cleansing can also dry out and irritate the skin (especially if fragranced), but it’s worth washing your face as soon as you get in from work. Dr Barbara Sturm Cleanser, which is dispensed as a super-light foam, is fragrance free and contains several anti-inflammatory ingredients, which is a particularly good option if you’re washing your face more than twice a day. In fact, she says, some of her clients use it by itself, without a cream. (Though she adds she finds this a bit “funny”.)
Spending hours thousands of miles above sea level in an air-conditioned cabin is a decidedly dehydrating experience for your skin, as the recirculated air is completely without moisture. Dry skin is far more susceptible to irritation, inflammation, scaliness and all-round unpleasantness.
If you don’t want to look like a corpse upon landing, the key is to moisturise regularly. Dr Sturm says that, personally, she will use a cream at least three times during a flight, but this of course is not for everyone. A simpler, and speedier remedy is to apply some of her Hyaluronic Serum, which delivers a concentrated shot of super-moisturising hyaluronic acid to your skin. It not only comes with a pipette for easy application (a few drops at a time will make a marked difference), the bottle is also small enough to take with you in your carry-on.