Beauty’s most-asked questions: how to get great skin

To answer your most burning beauty questions, we ask the world’s experts to share their insights and knowledge. Here, DR. BARBARA STURM, one of the most sought-after cosmetic doctors, tells NEWBY HANDS why doing less (but with the right products) can deliver so much more when it comes to having healthy, glowing skin

Dr. Barbara Sturm

What should I be doing for my skin day to day?

“If you want good skin, don’t go crazy with your regime; keep it simple. There’s too much temptation to keep trying something different but, instead, make your focus prevention, rather than aggressively trying to fix something that may not even be there. If you don’t have any specific problem, just cleanse properly in the evening and, twice a week, use a scrub – a grainy, mechanical scrub rather than an acid peel. If you do use an acid peel, make sure you don’t feel any discomfort at all – absolutely no tingle or stinging, plus there should be no redness. You must keep the skin’s barrier and microbiome intact, so don’t use anything too aggressive. You also need to make sure you hydrate the skin and protect it with antioxidants, then you layer up your serums as and when you need to – whether it’s to give you more protection from pollution or to calm your skin with anti-inflammatories. Finally, you absolutely need a good cream. We talk about serums so much, a lot of women think they don’t need a cream anymore. But a serum is a super-concentrate that penetrates deeper and faster to do a specific job, and is totally different from a cream. Most serums are more water-based, but the skin needs lipids from a cream as well. So you need to hydrate with a serum first, then moisturize with a cream. Do these two steps, one after the other, and you will have great skin.”

What about masks?

“Although they are very popular, for me, sheet masks aren’t occlusive enough, and if there isn’t full contact with the skin, the serum in the mask won’t be absorbed properly. I like cream masks because they sit right on the skin – it’s good to use both a kaolin clay mask and a moisturizing mask to keep skin healthy.”

How important is lifestyle?

“Very important; you need to address how you eat and try to get a good amount of sleep. Even though lockdown was very stressful, because I haven’t been traveling and have been eating three healthy meals a day and getting plenty of sleep, I have really noticed the difference in my skin. An anti-inflammatory diet is great. I usually have Bircher muesli (soak the oats overnight in oat milk) with coconut yogurt, cinnamon and apples for breakfast; and, for lunch and dinner, steamed fish, vegetables or a vegetable curry, with lots of snacks of fruit and vegetables during the day. We know that drinking alcohol can leave skin puffy, but so can drinking too much water at night – you wake up with puffy eyes. So drink water more during the day than in the evening. Smoking certainly has a very negative effect on the skin; and too much dairy can give some people breakouts or acne.”

What about using more potent at-home treatments?

“I see too many women who get too ‘extreme’ with their skincare. They think you need to fight your skin type, or fight aging, as opposed to supporting your skin. It’s important to remember that the skin takes a minimum of 28 days for the new cells to come through, so anything that promises an instant miracle is only superficial – real change takes times. I see a lot of young women, even teenagers, who are obsessed with anti-aging, and they come to me with super-bad breakouts or red, damaged skin from too many peels. You need to look after your skin from an early age, but you need to use the right products, such as targeted serums that support your skin – not the wrong products that are too aggressive.”


The model featured in this story is not associated with NET-A-PORTER and does not endorse it or the products shown