Sturm started her career as an orthopedic surgeon, which is where she discovered the healing abilities of blood. She worked with a doctor who drew patients’ blood, processed it and created “factors” that he would re-inject into the patients’ joints to calm inflammation. Sturm applied this practice to the skin, as skin cells and cartilage cells work in the very same way. She came up with a moisturizer infused with anti-inflammatory proteins derived from patient’s blood. Sturm also invented a syringe that features irregularly-shaped glass beads that mimic the surface of the wounded skin.
The white blood cells recognize these glass beads as an open skin wound and they start producing healing factors. This blood cocktail is highly anti-inflammatory in nature. It has abundant growth factors and regenerative proteins. Sturm draws a walnut-sized amount of blood using a patented syringe. The blood is incubated for six hours and heated to 98.6°F (body temperature). Blood is separated in a centrifuge and the white blood cells are stimulated to produce two healing proteins. They are Interleukin 1-antagonist, which reduces inflammation, and TGF-beta, which is responsible for strengthening the skin tissue and stimulating collagen growth to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. In one day, the blood ends up forming 40 times the number of healing factors in untreated blood. Plasma is put into a cream and delivered to the patient within one to two days following the blood draw.
Benefits in Blood
Dr. Sturm’s cream is the only one that makes plasma available for topical at-home use. The product is paraben-, fragrance- and mineral oil-free. One jar costs $1,400! According to Dr. Sturm, skin feels great, collagen production is stimulated and inflammation reduced; however, no independent trials have proven these claims.
Reputable studies do show, however, that platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can help tissue heal faster when injected. Many dermatologists also inject PRP into the scalp to stimulate follicles and grow hair. You need three to four monthly treatments initially, but only one every six months or even less after that.
“We offer facial PRP treatments to treat sun damage and acne scars. Patients have smoother, more even skin in as little as two weeks,” explained Neil Sadick, a New York City dermatologist. “We are just tapping into plasma’s possibilities particularly when we apply it topically right after fractional lasers and needling devices, which help deliver plasma to the lower layers of the skin more effectively.”
The odorless cream developed by Sturm is said to be bio-compatible with skin. It’s not red either; it looks like any other moisturizer. When Dr. Sturm tested her blood treatment on the face, she reported the treated skin immediately looked fresher and younger and the effects were long-lasting. Then, she developed the blood cream (MC1), a product custom made for individual clients. She named her company Molecular Cosmetics, because she believes her products work at the cellular level.
In addition to the blood proteins, purslane and scullcap are two other main ingredients in her skin care range. Both ingredients have topical effect on the skin, comparable to MC1 cream. Furthermore, in 2009, the Nobel Prize for medicine was given to the scientific research of purslane, which contains, according to Sturm, an enzyme that is able to activate the telomerase, the so-called “fountain-of-youth” enzyme in cells. This combination of actives makes Sturm’s skin care line something unique in the cosmetic sector. She cautions that the potency of these actives diminish over time; therefore, the cream should be used within 12 weeks. Her skin care range is available for purchase online at Space NK. Some of the product benefits include a reduction of pore size and acne breakouts. Sturm pairs the blood powered cream (MC1) with more traditionally-derived anti-aging ingredients like purslane and antioxidants to tackle fine lines and wrinkles, especially on the neck and chest. These upper body areas show signs of aging first because there are fewer oil glands in these skin areas. We know that dry skin sags more quickly; exacerbating the problem, generally speaking, there is less fatty tissue and collagen in that area of the face.
A Natural Ingredient!
With consumer interest in all things natural, it’s only natural that an “anti-aging blood cream” has become a favorite of celebrities and beauty editors because of its superior skin benefits. While I applaud this technology, I think its skin benefits may be only of temporary nature. To be effective, the growth factors derived from blood must reach deep in the dermis. Taking a topical route would be unsuccessful because of its high molecular weight. Longer lasting results are possible by way of injection.
My hypothesis is supported by Dr. Zoe Draelos, who agrees that growth factors are one of the most controversial cosmetic ingredient in terms of safety. In the past, it had been assumed that growth factors are safe, because they are large molecular weight proteins that cannot penetrate the stratum corneum. Thus, they have limited ability to contact the viable epidermis and dermis to impact living cells.
Navin M. Geria
Chief Scientific Officer
AyurDerm Technologies, LLC
Navin Geria, former Pfizer Research Fellow is a cosmetic and pharmaceutical product development chemist and the chief scientific officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation development and consulting services to the spa-wellness-dermatology industries. He has launched dozens of cosmeceutical and ayurvedic anti-aging products. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. He has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the “Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development” focus book published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and chairman at cosmetic industry events.