Team VIOLET GREY transforms the doctor responsible for some of the most enviable skin in Hollywood from Chic-Off-The-Street to Elsa Peretti-inspired 70s siren (and HAILEY BIEBER poses 16 of her most pressing questions).
Interview By HAILEY BIEBER
Photography By MARCUS COOPER
Creative Direction By VICEN AKINA
Makeup By KIRA NASRAT
Hair By CLARISS RUBENSTEIN
Wardrobe ByJILL JACOBS
Nails By SOJIN OH
Produced By GIANNA SANTOS
FROM THE DESK OF CASSANDRA GREY:
I never wanted to live in LA. I moved here reluctantly for a studio head named Brad Grey who later became my husband and the father of our son, Jules Grey, and ultimately the inspiration behind the VIOLET GREY point of view.
As a woman that worshiped swipe from fashion and art books, I naively thought Hollywood was sort of gauche, but Brad introduced me to what I now believe were the last lost years of Hollywood glamour. I didn’t realize that so many of the fashion and art images I loved were the reinterpreted dreams from Hollywood and French Cinema.
While I wrote the business plan for VIOLET GREY when I was still living in NEW YORK, I didn’t become obsessed with building the dream world until I landed in Los Angeles. It was through my exposure to the art of filmmaking and red carpet transformations where my obsession began. I spent many long afternoons digging through Edith Head sketches and the Beauty Test archives at Paramount Pictures (imagery you will be able to check out on the walls of our store on Melrose Place when we reopen this summer). As I researched, I thought to myself, “The image makers of Hollywood invented most of the art and iconography that influences beauty practices all around the world,” the most iconic being Norma Jean who, with a bottle of bleach, a mole, and a tube of red lipstick, became Marilyn fuc&ing Monroe. And this is really where the idea behind our SCREEN TEST series was born.
In this series, we aim to celebrate the art and poetry of transformation. In this edition, we transform a skin wizard who is more known as the one doing the transforming. Introducing DR. BARBARA STURM, and our reinterpretation of Hollywood glamour.
DR. STURM arrived in Hollywood from Germany and quickly cemented her role in iconic image making by taking care of some of the most famous faces in Hollywood. I can’t reveal the names of the men and women she calls patients, but let’s just say when you see some of these faces, you likely think to yourself, “They look really good. Did they get work done?” Their lips are just the right kind of pillowy, the contours of their face perfect but natural to the point of pondering if they were just born that way. Well, in actuality, you’re likely looking at the result of a few BARBARA STURM house calls.
The reason DR. STURM is so sought after? She has the eye of an artist and an aesthetic philosophy that complements her education in medical science. Or to put it in TikTok terms: the bi$ch knows skin and how to make it fu&king glow or appear to be snatched or whatever the cool kids are saying.
She’s been quiet about her house call work, but she’s not so quiet in building her skin care empire. While it may prove difficult to get on her housecall route, you can get that #SturmGlow by navigating up to the search bar and typing in ‘BARBARA STURM’ and then adding it all in THE BAG.
HAILEY BIEBER POSES HER MOST PRESSING QUESTIONS
HAILEY BIEBER: WHAT WAS YOUR INTENTION BEHIND DOING “SKIN SCHOOL” AND WHAT HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN TO SKIN SCHOOL THUS FAR?
Dr. BARBARA STURM: I’m a medical doctor both by training, and in my heart. Starting Skin School at the beginning of the pandemic really allowed me to go back to my roots, educating and providing medical advice to young people who really need it. It has also been a great platform for clearing up skincare myths and misconceptions and highlighting marketing gimmicks about how to treat skin. I love to give this kind of insight and advice, and to connect with so many people around the world to help transform skin and avoid misinformation.
H.B.: YOU DIDN’T START OUT IN THE SKINCARE FIELD, HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START AND WHAT DROVE YOU INTO SKINCARE?
D.B.S.: I began my medical practice in anti-aging orthopedics with a focus on anti-inflammatory treatments. I later translated some of that science and those approaches to skin and eventually started my aesthetics practice. In 2002, I invented anti-inflammatory medical treatments using a patient’s own blood plasma which was later termed the “Vampire Facial” by the public. Soon after, I created a prescribed, blood plasma-based cream for my patients and when they then asked me to recommend a post-medical treatment skincare regime, I surveyed the market and couldn’t find anything. So, I originally set out to create a patients-only skincare regime built around anti-inflammatory ingredient science. It took me several years and the result was my advanced science Molecular Cosmetics collection.
H.B.: YOU JUST OPENED A STORE IN MIAMI–HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU SHOULD TREAT YOUR SKIN IN A PLACE LIKE MIAMI IN COMPARISON TO NEW YORK?
D.B.S.: Especially with humidity and heat, your skin tends to be a little oilier in a Miami climate, so you don’t want to use rich or oily products. You really want to go light and super hydrating. Our line is perfect for our customers in Miami because it gives freshness and hydration and at the same time, takes care of your skin barrier function. It’s also anti-aging. We have a great SPF–SUN DROPS SPF50 - which offers hybrid sun protection/skincare that feels lightweight on the skin and creates a broad-spectrum shield against UVA and UVB rays, while also providing it with healing moisture and anti-oxidative ingredients which give the skin a nice glow. New York, on the other hand, is very seasonal with cold winters and hot summers, so your skincare routine would be quite different.
H.B.: IF YOU HAD TO TAKE 3 OF YOUR PRODUCTS TO A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
D.B.S.: I love all my products and I created all of them for a reason so it’s difficult to choose favorites. If I had to pick three, they would be my SUPER ANTI-AGING FACE CREAM–an ingredient science-packed moisturizer that targets all of the signs of aging for fresher, radiant and youthful skin. It really is amazing. Closely followed by my HYALURONIC SERUM (which I call the “white t-shirt” of my regimen). It’s a high concentration of low and high-weight Hyaluronic molecules that supports skin barrier function, providing both surface hydration and replenishment of moisture reservoirs at deeper skin layers. Finally, I couldn’t live without my FACE MASK. It contains purslane, soothing aloe vera, and chamomile which infuse your skin with moisture, and kaolin clay, which detoxifies and leaves your complexion feeling silky soft and supple.
The reason Dr. Sturm is so sought after? She has the eye of an artist and an aesthetic philosophy that complements her education in medical science.
H.B.: WHAT’S THE BIGGEST THING YOU HAVE TAUGHT YOUR KIDS ABOUT SKIN?
D.B.S.: Pepper, my six-year-old daughter, has been learning to take care of her skin from day one and looks and learns from everything we do ourselves. She has her own line that I formulated especially for her without fragrance, mineral oils, or essential oils (DR. STURM’s BABY & KIDS Collection). She’ll also always use sunscreen, drinks a lot of water, and eats a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. With Charly, who is a little older, I always taught her to maintain healthy skin and avoid aggressive ingredients and hiding imperfections behind makeup. It’s exactly what I learned from my own mom–that healthy, hydrated skin doesn’t require makeup and is beautiful on its own, and that an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and skincare regime is all you need for healthy skin.
H.B.: WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST SKINCARE MISTAKE?
D.B.S.: One time in my life, when I was way younger, I was part of a jury for a spa award and they wanted me to test a glycolic facial and I couldn’t get out of it. I asked the facialist to use the smallest concentration of glycolic but as soon as it was applied to my face I asked her to take it off–it hurt so much. So this is one reason, not only from my own experience, why I advise against using aggressive ingredients and treatments!
H.B..: OUTSIDE OF SKINCARE, WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST WAYS YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF?
D.B.S.: My whole skin care philosophy is focused on combating inflammation and its consequences, and the anti-inflammatory lifestyle is the key for me. Adequate sleep, getting daily exercise, avoiding excess alcohol, sugar, fried and processed foods, and flour while eating anti-inflammatory foods like avocados, salmon, olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, dark berries, and green tea–those are my constants for daily self-care. I also try to have a Buddhist-like outlook to life. I like to keep a happy spirit and try not to worry about the past and the future–it’s important to live in the present.
H.B.: WHAT WAS YOUR QUARANTINE SKINCARE ROUTINE? AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM BEFORE?
D.B.S.: My routine didn’t change during quarantine. I use my FACE MASK every day. Twice a week, I’ll either use the ENZYME CLEANSER in the shower on my face and body. The rest of the time I cleanse with my CLEANSER after showering, then follow with HYALURONIC SERUM, SUPER ANTI-AGING FACE CREAM, and EYE CREAM. Not counting the FACE MASK, my entire skincare routine takes only 1-2 minutes. Healthy skin is always the goal and COVID did not change that. In fact, it makes it even more essential during a pandemic which has created new aggressions to the skin.
H.B.: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU LEARNED AS A DOCTOR THAT YOU BROUGHT INTO SKIN CARE?
D.B.S.: I was brought to skincare very organically out of the needs of my patients, not because I wanted to create a business. I worked as an orthopedic doctor and I was part of a team who introduced a new treatment which is now known as the “Kobe Bryant Procedure”. It uses the patients’ body’s own proteins and healing factors to stop the inflammatory process and even help heal the joint tissue. At the same time, I started working in the field of aesthetics, which had always been an interest of mine and I kept thinking that it would be a great additional anti-aging booster for the skin if we also started mixing it with the body’s own healing factors, like we did in the orthopedic field. A treatment like that would activate the rejuvenating, anti-inflammatory, and healing processes in the skin, which would lead to great anti-aging benefits. I was right–the results were amazing! This was the birth of the “Vampire Facial” and then later, my prescription-only MC1 Cream. It basically brought attention to inflammation and how it affects not just our skin, but our entire system. As a doctor you’re constantly looking for efficacy, results, and success–you want your patients to be happy and healthy so my focus isn’t just on skincare but also education: the way we eat, how we sleep, daily movement, and self-care which are all essential to leading a healthy lifestyle and achieving great skin. I also really understand patients, science, new treatments, and new techniques which are all essential in this field.
H.B.: BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING A BUSINESS?
D.B.S.: Focus on your own belief and your passion and never on money.
H.B.: IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BIGGEST SKINCARE MYTH?
D.B.S.: The idea that you should “feel the burn”, aggressively attacking your skin to get results–that is a dangerous myth in the beauty and skincare community. If your skin feels protected, taken care of, hydrated, glow-y, and dewy, that is a hallmark of effective skincare.
H.B.: WHAT SHOULD YOU ALWAYS LOOK FOR WHEN READING LABELS?
D.B.S.: If a product says “don’t use when pregnant,” just stay away from it, pregnant or not.
H.B.: WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-HAVE MAKEUP ITEMS?
D.B.S.: Other than at events, I don’t wear makeup much and I never wear foundation. Instead, I prep my skin with my FACE MASK, HYALURONIC SERUM, SUPER ANTI-AGING FACE CREAM, and GLOW DROPS and then I use a little concealer to even out imperfections. Sometimes I’ll also wear a smokey eye and fill in my eyebrows.
I do always like to have good eyebrows and good eye makeup to make my eyes pop. For brows, I like Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow products and for eyes, I like Jillian Dempsey’s Lid Tint in Peach, which goes really well with blue eyes. I also love a nice lip liner and always my own LIP BALM for a sheer glow.
H.B.: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST METHOD FOR ANTI-AGING?
D.B.S.: The best anti-aging methods are: anti-inflammation, hydration, strengthening the skin barrier and microbiome, and keeping your skin tight and functioning. The best way to achieve these anti-aging benefits is by using ingredient science to provide nutrition, cell health, and strength. Also, it is important to protect your skin from inflammatory stressors such as UV rays and HEV light, and for that I recommend my SUN DROPS SPF50. My Anti-Aging Routine, which includes the CLEANSER, FACE MASK, SUPER ANTI-AGING SERUM, EYE CREAM, and SUPER ANTI-AGING FACE CREAM are the essentials you need for healthy, young skin.
H.B.: IF THERE’S ONE THING YOU COULD EAT EVERYDAY TO HELP YOUR SKIN, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
D.B.S.: I take my SKIN FOOD supplement every day. It combines all of my skincare science and philosophies into an oral supplement and is made for every cell in the body. I eat a very healthy diet. When I was 16-years old, I converted to a vegetarian diet, and I avoid meat, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and any processed or fried food.
SHOP HER BAG
Dr. BARBARA STURM
In this VIOLET FILE, DR. STURM takes us through her namesake skin care line (and why you should be using it!) and her other all-time-favorite products she has added to THE BAG.