Boss Ladies You Should Know: Dr. Barbara Sturm, Skincare Innovator

By Amanda Lauren··  3 min read
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dr barbara sturm

So many doctors have skincare lines that it can be a challenge to know what’s good. But Dr. Barbara Sturm has a brand that you can feel good about buying, not only because it’s incredibly effective, but also because she is a true trailblazer in the industry.

Not only are her products some of the most highly regarded, but when it comes to business, she’s a total badass! 

Humble Beginnings

Doctors creating skincare lines aren’t anything new. From the late Dr. Brandt to Perricone, we have a certain trust in these products because they were formulated by dermatologists.

But Dr. Barbara Sturm is different. Her medical career began in another field entirely. As an orthopedist, she specialized in joint inflammation diseases such as arthritis. 

But like most of us, she was challenged by her skin. She suffered from blackheads and dryness, going for facials every three weeks and trying every product under the sun. But nothing really worked. 


A Brilliant Idea

At the same time, Dr. Sturm was experiencing a great deal of success with patients suffering from inflammation by performing a procedure where she would inject protein derived from their blood into inflamed joints. This process not only reduced the inflammation but also stimulated healing. She wondered if she could apply the same concept to the skin. 

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because this procedure eventually became the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial, or “vampire facial,” that was so famously made popular by Kim Kardashian.

The First Product

When Dr. Sturm began to develop her first product way back in 2002, she reached out to academic institutions to gather studies on ingredients frequently found in moisturizers, cleansers, and serums. She wanted her line to be backed by science.

She also knew what she didn’t want to include in the formula of her products. Fragrances, mineral oils, phthalates, or anything else that could potentially cause inflammation were out.

She wanted her line to be backed by science.

Then she started to experiment on herself. “When I felt armed with enough information on how to create an effective line of products, I went to the lab and added proteins from my blood to a base that I had developed and tested it out on myself,” she told Time in 2018.

Dr. Sturm's intuition was right, essentially solving her skin issues overnight. MC1 cream was born!

A Different Approach to Business

While most people who are creating skincare lines would look to investors for business loans, Dr. Sturm wasn’t interested in working that way. She knew what she wanted the line to consist of, and while she didn’t have a true marketing plan at this point, she had in faith herself and in science. She knew that “We are exiting the era of marketing-based skincare and entering the era of performance-based skincare.”

She says she never officially “launched” her product, rather she just started to sell it on her website as well as on Net-a-Porter. When she initially met with representatives from the prestigious website, she was not only heavily pregnant but also wearing shorts. Nope, she wasn’t exactly a pantsuit person!

We are exiting the era of marketing-based skincare and entering the era of performance-based skincare.

But ten minutes into the meeting, they were ready to sign on the dotted line. Sturm’s own website and Net-a-Porter are still two of the company’s strongest sales channels. 

Killing the Skincare and Business Games

Dr. Sturm’s line is currently sold everywhere from Bloomingdale’s to Sephora and even Harrods. While she wasn’t initially a fan of marketing, in 2016, she decided to embrace a more traditional approach. The company grew over 400% as a result.

Closing Thoughts 

Dr. Sturm shows us how to succeed without following the pack. Trust your own instincts, and you’ll see results! 

  Day In The Life  Skincare
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