Dr. Barbara Sturm Snake Oil

Last year, I noticed nearly every beauty writer, top-tier influencer and celebrity raving about the Glow Drops by Dr. Barbara Sturm. Beauty brands depend on individuals with a strong social media presence to help sell products to the masses. One fashion writer in particular, whose style I adore, even posted about them. Why not! I thought and splurged on a bottle. They were $145, nearly half of what Dr. BS products generally sell for. I used the entire bottle and didn’t notice a difference. At all. It was a pink, watery lotion that didn’t always dispense easily out of the pipette.

It’s not unusual for a product with a lot of hype to be lackluster. I have tried many products that are expensive and disappointing. In fact, my days of buying overpriced crap will probably never be over. There are also many pricey products I keep buying because they work, despite not being so favorable for my bank account. I decided to write this post when I noticed the recent campaign amongst the beauty elite on social media touting the Hyaluronic Serum. I took one look at the ingredients and was flabbergasted. There is nothing in this product that justifies the $300 price tag.

Let’s take a look:

image via Space NK

The FDA requires ingredients in cosmetics to be labeled, “generally in descending order of predominance“. This means the first ingredient listed has the highest concentration. This is why ‘water’ is almost always first on any given skincare product. The only way to know the specific concentration of an ingredient is to take the product to a lab for testing. Although I was struck when I saw that phenoxyethanol was listed before sodium hyaluronate. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative commonly used in cosmetics. It tends to be a controversial ingredient. The maximum concentration of phenoxyethanol allowed for global use in cosmetics is 1%. As a result, anything listed after it has a concentration <1%. I immediately question the efficacy of sodium hyaluronate in this product with a concentration this low.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) and sodium hyaluronate (SH) certainly provide beneficial functions. HA is naturally present in mammals and is predominantly found in our joints and eyes. However, sodium hyaluronate is not hyaluronic acid. These terms are used interchangeably in the beauty industry, but they have many differences. The description about this serum with its “long and short chain hyaluronic molecules” is somewhat misleading. It is sneaky to refer to this as a ‘hyaluronic serum’ rather than a ‘hyaluronate serum’. Hyaluronic acid is not absorbed into the skin when applied topically because its molecular weight is too high. It is nothing more than a nice moisturizer serving as a barrier with short-term benefits when used externally. Hyaluronic acid is most beneficial when it is injected and is commonly used in facial fillers as well as for those with osteoarthritis. Sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular weight which allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin. Sodium hyaluronate is the salt form of HA. Simply put, it is a salt rock and is a powerful humectant. Although due to its composition, if a solution was to contain more than 4% of sodium hyaluronate, that product could actually dry your skin out and potentially cause inflammation. The industry standard for use of SH is generally 2% and below.

The Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum is basically overpriced butylene glycol. The purslane ferment in this appears to be worthwhile, Dr. BS certainly can’t stop talking about it, but you can buy this serum for much less if you’re interested in trying this specific ingredient. If you want to try a product with sodium hyaluronate, I suggest trying this. I have not personally tried either of these but they are certainly at a better price point.

If you have any questions feel free to send me a DM on IG @reinesoleillesoin

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