Post by Emeline Nsingi Nkosi
Informed by her daily work as a German aesthetics doctor and her scientific research, Dr. Barbara Sturm has collaborated with Golden-Globe-winning actress Angela Bassett to develop a luxury skincare range. Angela had used Barbara’s skincare, and together they decided to do a spin-off especially formulated to tailor darker skin tones. It took two years of research to create a line of products that would address specific characteristics including inflammation, hyper-pigmentation and uneven skin tone.
When Thandie and Kay asked me to report from Dr Barbara Sturm and Angela Bassett’s brunch held at the Mandarin Hotel in Knightsbridge in London for the launch of their darker skin tone range, I was very curious to find out about this collaboration. I arrived to find Dr. Barbara Sturm and Angela Bassett radiating with energy and passion, both with complexions that were perfect advocates for their new skincare range.
Angela, what was you first experience with skincare?
Angela: My mother was a very simple woman who had grown up in the constant sun of Florida and saw her siblings suffer from skin issues so as a teenager starting to break out, she knew that taking me to the dermatologist was important. For a woman who only made $10,000/$12,000 a year and had no idea I would be this actress where just having good skin and a good face would be a part of my vocation, she would still-every six weeks- faithfully take me to a dermatologist.
He would meticulously prick and poke every little thing but it would keep me away from damaging my face. That was something as a young person she put in my mind – to keep your complexion clear, clean, attend to it.
How did you and Dr Sturm meet?
Angela: Barbara and I met a couple of years ago through a friend in common. I was trying many potions and lotions, it got to the point where I felt like a hoarder trying to find something that worked and promised to deliver. It would be fine for a while then I would get very irritated and I’d have to try and calm that down.
I was going to this place and that place trying this, that, just a slew of things and I became very overwhelmed. I even had to have a sheet of paper tacked up on the mirror, taking a picture – thank goodness for iPhones – of the order in which I should use the products and every other week on a Wednesday I’d have to switch to different products. It was becoming just overwhelming and too, too much.
Barbara: I think that’s when I helped you, right?
Angela: Yes, it really helped, it simplified my routine and it was effective. It was powerful and I saw the benefits immediately. I thought “well maybe it’s just me”. I gave it to a few friends of mine and they came back for more. I wasn’t saying too much about it, just that it was something that I was working on and they would come back and would really expound on the benefits of it and see it instantly in their own complexion – not just because they loved me.
How is this new range breaking boundaries?
Barbara: After two years of research and formulation, we have produced a collection of targeted products that combine state of the art scientific advances with nature to meet the specific needs of darker skin tones. The collection’s potent active ingredients nourish the skin, reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation, and even skin tone, while minimizing pores and helping to prevent breakouts.
Pretty early on, I discovered that the enzyme Telovitin is very, very powerful. In 2009 there were two Noble Prizes given on the idea of how it protects against premature degradation of the telomeres, (the caps at the end of each strand of DNA, an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age) thereby enabling cells to divide more often and for longer. It’s very important to keep the cells alive as cell death is a key factor in not only inflammation but also aging. This is a big part of our aging process. As cell division takes place around 43 times in our life time, although it varies from person to person the caps becomes shorter until the cell would eventually mutate or die.
Tell me more …
There’s no fragrance in our products and we’re amazed at companies who are out there, successful brands with ingredients in their products which is really bad for skin, we really believe that all these aggressive ingredients need to stay out of the product. That’s why our brand doesn’t cause any allergy. I’m seeing patients everyday at my clinic, not one patient has come in saying “oh gosh, I turned red and everything and my face is having an allergy.” It’s not happening.
What are the specific needs of darker skin tone?
Barbara: It’s shown that inflammation is a big part of issues with skin of color and this where we come in. There is quite a difference in ingredients which addresses just inflammation and prevents from past inflammatory hypopigmentation and all this stress from the skin afterwards. Inflammation can be everywhere. It’s even in areas unseen by the naked eye.
That’s a big issue and our mission with the skin care line, we started with five products for this new range as Angela and I thought it would be a nice simple regime. As our environment can also cause inflammation, we have an enzyme cleanser that we recommend to use twice a week. It’s still mild but it’s efficiently getting rid of dead cells and it’s great at preparing the skin for all the working ingredients of the serum and cream.
Angela: Some of the abrasives that I would find in other cleansers to rid the skin cells, the ones with the granules, began to break me out like never before but dead cell turnover is something that as to be considered as skin ages, I find that that the enzyme cleanser is very helpful for this.
Angela, how was it when you first started as an actress in regards to make-up, having the right foundations and the right products?
Angela: Yeah, that was a challenge, you’re a young actress, you sit in the make up seat and you’re there at the mercy of their ability and what they know. A lot of times it wasn’t someone who was familiar with our skin tone and what it needed. A lot of the products that they used then were very thick but it was what they used in Hollywood for many years. You always felt uncomfortable, they would just it lay it on. Refining things that work, not drying or just so clogging your pores were important and we had to educate them about it.
I remember once sitting in the seat and they assigned a make-up artist to me. It was for a TV movie and the woman put foundation on me and I literally looked like a ghost or you would sit down and they would pull the color out of their bag, you look and it might be too dark, too light and really it was about not being too orange, not too yellow, just balancing the color correctly. For example, you can’t have the powder the same as the foundation because now you’re looking red or yellow, lighter than you are. Really once you found what worked for you or someone who was really knowledgeable had given you something and they can’t come with you on the set. You would just bring it with you.
Do you find it’s better now?
Angela: Yes, it seems to be better now. Well on American Horror Story I let her do whatever. I did like last year’s American Horror. I never normally wear lashes on the top and bottom – it was Diana Ross inspired. I did like that chance to be glamourous but clean. I mean I would clean it there right after, just take it off immediately then I get home and clean my face again because I could take a white wash cloth, wipe my face, think it’s clean but you can see the color on the cloth.
Angela on Black Skin Aging in American Horror Story – Coven:
I said oh look at these writers, when Jessica Lange says to my character “what do you do? Well they don’t lie good when they say black don’t crack, right.” I said good black because that’s what we say, “good black don’t crack.”
You know we keep our look because of the melanin that’s in our skin and the oil and as a young person you’re like “ahh” but as we age it’s like thankfully, we’re thankful for it.”
N.B In addition to a good skincare routine, Dr. Sturm always advises regular outdoor exercise, a healthy
balanced diet and never forgetting your daily fluid intake, particularly water or herbal tea, for both healthy
skin and body.
The complete range includes a foam cleanser, an enzyme cleanser, a cream for normal/combination skin and another for dry/normal skin tones and a Hyaluronic Acid serum.
Available from Harrods, London and www.harrods.com from July 2016