Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Mask

Dr. Barbara Sturm

Face Mask

1.69 fl. oz. for $ 120.00
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Brand Overview

The claims behind Dr. Sturm’s Face Mask depict it as a deeply hydrating formula that provides an instant boost of moisture… yet one of the main ingredients in this fragrance-free mask is an absorbent that has the opposite effect. In the end, the poorly packaged, contradictory blend leaves us wondering, why bother?

The absorbent clay kaolin is traditionally used in masks meant to reduce oiliness in skin. Used in very high amounts such as it is here, kaolin can be excessively drying—which is counterintuitive for a mask that is meant to hydrate skin. The beneficial plant oils present help offset this effect, so skin isn’t left feeling totally parched or dehydrated, but therein lies the rub… Essentially the moisturizing ingredients in this formula are fighting against the kaolin’s absorbent impact. The result is skin that’s left feeling blasé rather than deeply hydrated as promised.

That’s not to say the formula is a total fail—there are some good antioxidants including Dr. Sturm’s signature use of a plant known as purslane, plus soothing aloe and chamomile. However, this mask’s jar packaging does a disservice to those ingredients by rendering them less effective over time, due to air and light exposure that causes them to break down. That’s never good news, but when you’re paying this much, it feels especially wasteful. (See More Info for a deeper dive into the research-backed explanation of why jar packaging isn’t ideal.)

The bottom line: There are much more effective masks out there for hydrating skin. If you still want to give this one a try, the cream formula is easy to spread on and rinses cleanly. The brand also says you can skip rinsing altogether and rub the mask off with your fingertips for a more “intensive treatment”—we don’t recommend doing that, as pulling and tugging at skin causes elastin fibers to break down, which ultimately leads to sagging and wrinkles.

  • Contains some good antioxidants and beneficial plant oils.
  • Rinses cleanly and easily.
  • Fragrance free.
  • High concentration of absorbent kaolin holds this formula back from deeply hydrating skin as promised.
  • Jar packaging compromises the efficacy of some of the good ingredients.

More Info: Beneficial anti-aging ingredients, which include all plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients, are unstable, which means they begin to break down in the presence of air. Once a jar is opened and lets air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective. Routine exposure to daylight is also problematic for these ingredients.

Jar packaging is also unsanitary because you dip your fingers into the jar with each use, contaminating the product. This stresses the preservative system, especially in water-based formulas, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.

Remember: The ingredients that provide the most benefit in addressing visible signs of aging must be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging to remain effective throughout usage. Buying products in this type of packaging means that the ingredients have the best chance of remaining effective—to the benefit of your skin.

References for this information:
Molecules, July 2018, ePublication
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, pages 97–106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, pages 252–259
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, pages 640–660
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, pages 4676–4683
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82–88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1–10


Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: No

This deeply hydrating FACE MASK is perfect when travelling, after exposure to sun or the elements, or whenever your skin needs an instant moisture boost. Purslane, an anti-aging powerhouse, helps calm the skin and reduces visible signs of irritation. Soothing Aloe Vera and Chamomile infuse your skin with moisture while Kaolin, also known as ‘China Clay,’ leaves your complexion feeling silky soft and supple.

Water (Aqua), Kaolin, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Lactobacillus/Portulaca Oleracea Ferment Extract, Decyl Oleate, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

As the founder behind her namesake line, Dr. Barbara Sturm has a long history as a physician specializing in aesthetics. As the story goes, Dr. Sturm translated the science from her clinical research on inflammation into what has now evolved into her line of “molecular” skin care products.

The brand is self-described as being “formulated for those who yearn for an uncomplicated, yet highly effective skincare regime that provides hydration, nutrition and regeneration glow.” So, do the products live up to the hype? Yes… and no.

As with most skin care brands, some of Dr. Sturm’s products are well-formulated while others fall short. While many of the formulas are beneficial, we have to point out that they’re not quite as robust in terms of a well-rounded mix of ingredients when compared to the top formulas that we review. That doesn’t make them bad, it’s just less state-of-the-art than we’d anticipate, especially at such a high price point.

One thing that stands out as a positive is that the formulas tend to steer clear of irritating fragrance and other known skin sensitizing ingredients. Dr. Sturm is also known for using beneficial antioxidants, including super antioxidant purslane.

On the downside, a handful of the products come in jar packaging, which compromises their efficacy. As for the cost, we’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s within your budget.

To learn more about the brand in their own words, visit drsturm.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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