How to Summer-Proof Your Skin

With Dr Barbara Sturm

As summer takes hold, aesthetics expert and anti-inflammatory pioneer, Dr Barbara Sturm, shares her tips and tricks to optimising
skin health – from the inside-out…

Edited By Victoria Smart

What does being “well” mean to you?

An anti-inflammatory lifestyle is key – my whole skincare philosophy is focused on combatting inflammation and its consequences. If you practise an anti-inflammatory lifestyle most of the time – while occasionally allowing yourself some treats – you’re giving yourself the best chance to achieve optimal health both inside and out.

Tell us about your line of skincare: what was the original inspiration behind the products – what were you hoping to create?

I originally set out to create a patients-only skincare regimen built around anti-inflammatory ingredients. After beginning my medical practice in anti-inflammatory-focused orthopaedic medicine, and then translating some of this innovative clinical research from joints into skin in 2002, I launched my medical aesthetics clinic in Dusseldorf where my patients would ask me to prescribe a post-medical treatment skincare regimen. I surveyed the market and found nothing to recommend (it was all aggressive ingredients and marketing) so I decided to create my own.

What new innovations/ products do you have in the pipeline?

We have just launched some amazing new products for summer; Sun Drops SPF 30 which contains the same ingredients as my Sun Drops SPF 50 but in a lightweight, SPF 30 formulation, and the Sun Cream Body SPF 30, which is the best sun lotion and protects against UVA, UVB and the more unknown infrared rays. I have some interesting new inventions coming out – new delivery methods for potent ingredients and new compounds, increasingly tailored products, and advanced procedures. Watch this space!

What protocols do you recommend to protect skin during summer sun?

I recommend a very light moisturiser like my Face Cream Light which still nourishes the skin and I always wear my Sun Drops SPF 50 to protect against UVA and UVB rays. I also recommend taking my Sturm Inside Sun Skin supplements a few weeks before your holiday. They are a science-driven approach to preparing the skin for sun exposure, protecting it from UV rays and oxidative stress and fortifying it against sun allergies and prickly heat.

How do we best soothe the skin following increased sun exposure?

Post-sun, you need ingredients that calm irritation, combat the free radical, oxidative stress of sun and heat, and help to rebalance and hydrate the skin. I invented my Calming Serum to quell irritation using a plant-based complex of Cardiospermum; a vine studied for its anti-irritation properties, Echium; a flowering plant that helps soothe skin with a unique blend of fatty acids, and Sunflower Seed Oil that can help protect sensitive cell membranes against free radical attack. Otherwise, my Aloe Vera Gel to soothes and hydrates the skin after being in the sun, thanks to its potent concentration of Aloe leaf juice and Purslane. Finally, my family’s 15-minute sun saviour at the end of the day is my Face Mask with Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Sweet Almond Oil and Vitamin E – it works wonders to reduce redness, burn, and soothe irritation.

Purslane is a common ingredient throughout your skincare, can you explain its key benefits?

Purslane is herbal ingredient packed full of anti-inflammatory nutrients and antioxidants such as omega-3 fatty acids and skin-beneficial minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. Purslane is also known to be a telomerase activator – an enzyme capable of creating new protective ends on cellular chromosomes called telomeres. These have been studied by Harvard to not only slow the aging process but also reverse it. Purslane works both topically and orally which is why we use it in our skincare products and our supplements to get you the ultimate, inside-out and top-to-bottom anti-ageing result.

You have recently launched supplements – what are the benefits of an inside-out approach when it comes to skin health?

Great skin is not just about putting a cream on – it takes a holistic approach to reduce inflammation and achieve greater wellness. Diet is just one example is diet. It is important to eat nutritious, anti-inflammatory foods and avoid empty, inflammatory ones – however, it’s not always easy to follow a healthy diet and we all encounter deficiencies. This reality prompted me to invent my oral supplements, Sturm Inside, which boost wellness while shoring up likely deficiencies. I worked with academic ingredient scientists for years to create my six supplements: Skin Super Anti-Aging, Skin Protection, Skin Recovery, Skin Anti-Pigmentation, Good Night and Sun Skin.

What was the motivation behind your range of hair and scalp products?

The scalp is an extension of our skin, and its care requires the same strategy and delivery as the skin on the rest of our bodies. I want to provide skincare solutions for every part of our skin – not just the skin on our faces – and it’s just as important to treat it with the same care and ingredient science-rich formulations. My Molecular Hair & Scalp uses ingredients inspired by skincare such as Cationic Hyaluronic Acid and Pro-Vitamin B5. Like my skincare products, the whole Hair & Scalp Collection is also 100% clean; each product is free from sulphates, silicones, PEGs, microplastics, fragrance and other irritants, which is not only good for the environment, but also eliminates these potential causes of inflammation for healthier hair and more robust growth.

What skincare advice would you provide for individuals suffering with acne?

A common misconception is that acne-prone skin needs to be attacked and dried out, when in fact, it should be nourished with gentle hydrating ingredients. My Clarifying Line caters to acne-prone skin, strengthens skin barrier function, soothes irritations, reduces sebum production and is anti-ageing too. A simple routine would be to start with my Darker Skin Tones Cleanser to gently cleanse and hydrate the skin, followed by my Clarifying Serum and Clarifying Face Cream. My Clarifying Spot Treatment and Clarifying Mask are also helpful tools in getting breakouts under control and diminish impurities without attacking the skin.

What are the three beauty products that you cannot be without?

I’m a big believer in dry body brushing, which mechanically boosts your circulation and lymphatic system, detoxifies, discourages fluid retention, reduces cellulite and smooths skin. And it feels amazing! (It’s also great for boosting your energy if you’re feeling sluggish.)

I occasionally light a candle to relax. Byredo has some beautiful scents.

I have always been a tomboy and prefer not to wear make-up – just my skincare – but when I’m going to an event, I’ll often wear Jillian Dempsey’s Lid Tint’s because I can apply those with just with my fingertips.

What do you do to feel grounded?

I love listening to Deepak Chopra meditations for ten to 20 minutes to help me unwind or when I’m in need of a mental break or recentring. And I love to go for a walk, or I’ll play catch with my daughter, Pepper, or something fun.

What’s your idea of the perfect morning?

I love the mornings, I’m an early bird so I always get up early. If I get up before my kids, I try to watch the sunrise or be mindful and then fit in a quick workout, usually while I am on calls. And I strive to keep active – movement is essential for releasing inflammation-reducing hormones in the body. I’ll then cuddle my kids, put my Face Mask on, have a coffee, go through my emails, and get the day started.

You’re an advocate for anti-inflammation – what rituals are you practicing right now to prevent/mitigate inflammation?

I make sure I get enough sleep, take daily exercise, avoid stress, protect against urban and digital pollution, and avoid excess alcohol, sugar, fried and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, salmon, olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, dark berries, and green tea are my constants for daily self-care. I’ll very occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner – and my daughter, Charly, makes the most amazing cakes and cookies that I can’t help indulging in every now and again. But it doesn’t need to be a ‘bad habit,’ it’s all about balance.

If there was one thing we could all do to live a more anti-inflammatory lifestyle, every day, what would that be?

To combat inflammation and promote overall wellness, it’s essential to prioritise a good night’s sleep (I’m in bed by 9pm most evenings). And try to turn off your phone; or even better, don’t take it into your bedroom at all – I always leave mine outside.

Edited By Victoria Smart