We're all familiar with the insta-image of Kim K post "vampire facial" - a gruesome-looking rejuvenating facial treatment where the client's own blood is extracted and then injected directly back into the skin resulting in a glowing complexion once the skin has recovered from the bloody vamp style treatment. The pioneer of this treatment is Dusseldorf-based Dr Barbara Sturm who along with introducing the world to the vampire facial, is the brains behind the revolutionary "blood" moisturiser, MC1, which harnesses a vial of the client's own blood to make a jar of custom, next-gen, turn-back-time face cream.
Although the concept of a moisturiser made with your own blood sounds like something out of an R-rated Grimm's fairy tale (cue creepy witch cackle) the science behind it makes sense. Dr Sturm's original career path after studying medicine and sports was in the orthopedics field working on a procedure using your body's own healing factors in the fight against osteoarthritis. With an interest in aesthetics, Dr Sturm transferred this knowledge to the skin, pioneering the vamp facial and now, MC1, the blood sample moisture cream.
Speaking from her renowned anti-aging clinic in Germany, Dr Sturm reveals the why and how behind this must-have moisturiser:
What's the background for your skincare range?
When starting to work as an aesthetic doctor, I always wanted my patients to look very natural. All around the world and especially in Hollywood I am known for my work, as it is very important for actors to maintain their looks and take good care of their skin. In 2011 the interest of my patients in a recommendation for a skincare regimen grew so strong, that I decided to create my own skincare line, because there was nothing on the market that I liked. The name Molecular Cosmetics is based on the way my products work on the cellular level. Purslane and Skullcap became the main ingredients because of their effect on the skin, (which is comparable to the way the MC1 cream works). In 2009 the Nobel Prize for medicine was given to the scientific research of Purslane, which contains an enzyme that is able to activate the Telomerase - the so-called 'Fountain of Youth Enzyme' in our cells. This power ingredient makes my skincare line something unique in the cosmetic sector.
So why a client's own blood in the MC1 cream?
I knew that the body's own healing factors have a miraculous effect on inflamed joints and that inflammation is one the main reasons for the ageing process. Because of that I was sure it would also be beneficial for the skin as cartilage and skin cells work just the same. In collaboration with a pharmacy, I created a very simple and pure base cream to which I then add the healing factors. I give it to patients that have dermatological issues and the effect is great. Using the patients own healing factors is not only the most effective ingredient you can use, but also it is a new generation of skincare, because it is custom made and really targets the main problems we usually have with our skin. And even if you don't suffer from impurities, it's the best anti-ageing cure you can possibly get for yourself.
Does it need to be the client's own blood?
It has to be the patient's own blood as we use special syringes to extract it - it wouldn't work with blood from the blood bank. Also the body's own healing factors naturally have the strongest effect on the body they come from, as they recognise it as their own.
How does it work?
The body's own healing factors have a strong, anti-inflammatory and regenerative effect. The body usually produces them when there is an injury, for example when you cut your finger. The healing is almost immediate: collagen fibres and fibroblasts grow and close the wound, inflammation is being healed. With the process we use, the patient's blood is stimulated to produce those exact healing factors. We then extract them from the blood and add them into the cream (or inject them into the skin, depending on the treatment).
And your clinic also offers the vampire facial, what's the science behind it?
In fact I developed the vampire facial 13 years ago. Nowadays the name is used for a variety of treatments, either using a simpler PRP technique or the MCX technique. With PRP you "only" take the blood in an empty syringe, take the plasma out and inject it into the skin. While it's not bad for your skin, the beneficial effects are not comparable to the way MCX works. In MCX the blood is withdrawn into a syringe that contains glass beads with an uneven surface - this surface triggers the mechanisms that lead the blood cells to producing healing factors. After about four-to-five hours, the concentration of those healing factors is 147 times higher than before. After extracting the healing factors from the blood cells, those get reinjected into the patient's skin. They help activate the skin's own repair mechanisms to rejuvenate, repair damages and keep the skin healthy. It's a wonderful anti-ageing therapy, and best tolerated because the substances used are derived from one's own body.
Your top six anti-ageing advice?
1. A good skincare regimen is something really important. Your skin needs moisture and protection against UV-rays, free radicals, dehydration etc.
2. You need a strong anti-oxidant, a high concentration of hyaluronic acid to refill the skin.
3. You need a good, strong sunscreen, ideally separate from the cream you use, as the chemicals that the sunscreen uses change the consistency and effect of the face cream.
4. Many skincare lines still use mineral oils or fragrances that unnecessarily irritate the skin - stay away from that if possible.
5. Injestibles: Purslane, Purslane, Purslane (so basically Purslane).
6. Treatments: A mesotherapy every three months, ideally using your own proteins in combination with a light hyaluronic filler. This is a great way to keep your skin vital and young. It can also help sun-damaged skin, a problem that a lot of women I see have.
Dr Barbara Sturm's MC skincare line isn't currently available in Australia, but you can find her range (not including the custom MC1 cream) on net-a-porter.com. Or hop a flight to Dusseldorf and go direct to the source, the Dr Barbara Sturm Clinic (Königsallee 53-55, 40212 Düsseldorf, Germany) for a jar of custom MC1 cream (squeamish beware: they will take a vial of your blood). dr-barbara-sturm.com