Determined to banish wrinkles and hyperpigmentation once and for all? Try smearing blood on your face.
German orthopedic surgeon Barbara Sturm — known as the mother of the “vampire facial,” a treatment favored by boldfacers such as Kim Kardashian that involves spreading a layer of the patient’s plasma on the face, then using needles to inject it deeper into the skin — has created a $950 face cream called MC1, infused with proteins from each user’s blood.
The cream has won over celebrities and beauty editors alike. On beauty bible IntoTheGloss.com, editor Emily Ferber called the cream “the best thing I’ve ever put on my face.” Cher, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jason Statham have all sung Sturm’s praises.
But getting MC1 takes more than a trip to Sephora. Right now, you have to fly to Germany, to one of Sturm’s spas in Düsseldorf or Munich — or, if she’s visiting your city and you’re on her list, meet her at a hotel room — where she’ll draw your blood, then whip it into a personalized cream.
Come winter, she’ll set up a partnership with Shen Beauty in Cobble Hill, where clients can add their names to a wait list, and Sturm will draw their blood on her trips to the States; she visits roughly once a month. She’s still working out the details, including setting up a lab to make the potion, which is currently done in her hotel room when she travels.
The cream has a host of purported benefits. Chief among them is the promise of younger-looking skin, thanks to the lotion’s anti-inflammatory properties. MC1 contains what are called growth factors — proteins that occur naturally in your body’s cells and are shown to trigger collagen growth, healing and other skin improvements. Sturm says her particular method of drawing blood creates even more of these growth factors than would normally be found in blood by stimulating a wound-healing response.
“We have a syringe with [tiny] glass beads with an uneven surface,” Sturm tells The Post of the process. Blood being pulled into the syringe passes over the glass, she says, and gets “tricked into thinking there’s a wound to heal, so [it] begins the healing process.”
After incubating the blood for four to six hours, Sturm spins it in a centrifuge to create protein-rich plasma. She then injects the plasma into a botanical-rich base cream, marking each lotion with the user’s name and the date it was made — it’s good for 12 weeks, although it loses efficacy over time. One 50-milliliter jar costs $950, including blood work; subsequent jars, FedExed to the user, will set you back $450. (Sturm keeps blood vials in the freezer for future shipments.) MC1 is best used at night, when your skin heals itself and the sticky cream has time to be absorbed.
Sturm began honing the process 15 years ago as an orthopedic surgeon involved in researching platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, in which plasma is injected into a joint injury to promote healing. PRP has since become a niche treatment for joint ailments — Kobe Bryant went to Germany for the treatment in 2012 — and Sturm transferred a version of the method from orthopedics to skin care after finding that using plasma in a face cream led to benefits such as wrinkle reduction and a more even tone.
Several products used in PRP have received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, but they’re typically not covered by insurance. And sketchy as it may sound to draw blood on the go, it’s not illegal in New York: “Blood may be drawn outside of a clinical setting, for example, in the home-care setting,” the New York State Department of Health tells The Post.
While a handful of products in the $200 range, including SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum and AQ Skin Solutions’ Active Serum, include growth factors as their active ingredient, Sturm’s is the most well-known of the bunch thanks to her celebrity following and cult status among beauty editors.
“At first, I thought [MC1] was a crock of s - - t,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist who helps develop skin-care products for brands. But after trying a similar cream, she says she’s more likely to believe Sturm’s is effective.
“I’m a big believer in products with growth factors,” adds Wilson, who’s based in New Jersey. “You’re getting ingredients that are going to … encourage the stimulation of collagen and elastin, decrease inflammation, and promote cell turnover.”
Still, Wilson says, she’s unsure how the cream could stay active for more than a few days, since the proteins have a short shelf life.
Some doctors are also skeptical of the cream’s promises.