Morning Routine: How Dr. Barbara Sturm Starts Her Day

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dr barbara sturm interview morning routine
Photo: Courtesy of @BBSturm

Successful people around the world have their morning routines down to a fine art. So just how does skincare guru and celebrity aesthetics doctor Barbara Sturm start her day? Savoir Flair gets a peek into her morning rituals, from her go-to beauty products to how she manages being a working mom.


What time I wake up really depends on when our little girl Pepper (she’s four years old) comes to our bed. Sometimes it’s early at like 6.30 a.m., so I really have to be cautious deciding when I go to bed, because the later I go to bed the less sleep I get – and I really need a certain amount of sleep!

When we are with Pepper, she wakes me up, but I’m still an early bird – I’ve always been one. I love the mornings; I like to wake up and see the sunrise and how it gets light in the winter. I’m also the most productive in the morning, but that’s the type I am. Some people are more productive at night. I couldn’t, I have to sleep!

dr barbara sturm interview pepper
Photo: Courtesy of @DrBarbaraSturm

These days I’m pretty much always on the go, and I wake up thinking, “What do I have to do, what’s on the schedule, where am I?!” I have to think about if it’s a day that Pepper goes to kindergarten. I need to check messages or emails. I don’t need much time to wake up – it’s just go, go, go!

The first thing I need to do is brush my teeth, get a water (I always need to drink water first thing), and then I’ll check my phone – but I only look at what I see first, without actually opening other apps. Then I have my coffee. I make myself a really yummy latte macchiato, which is basically espresso with foamed soya milk, which I always drink first thing in the morning.

Then I’m pretty much good until I have breakfast a couple of hours later. I always have cereals, and my favorite is Bircher muesli, which is oats with grains and raisins and nuts, soaked all together in milk, yogurt, and honey with shaved apples. It’s very yummy!

dr barbara sturm morning routine breakfast
Photo: Courtesy of @DrBarbaraSturm

I also make breakfast for my little one, but when I’m with her I have to be careful because she hates me having my phone in my hands. So when she looks, I always want to be off my phone. When she’s in her room, then I’ll check my emails and messages.

As we’re a global business, I get emails from the US and Asia, so I’ll check those as well as my WhatsApps, and by the time I’ve done that it’s taken me a while, so I then have to get my kid ready, so I don’t have much time for social media.

When we are on the road, we start our appointments really early. So tomorrow, for example, I have an appointment at 8.30 a.m., so I don’t have much time to be on social. But when I am, I like to check what’s on our brand page to make sure everything’s correct and to see how people are reacting to things and their comments. I get a real sense of what the public is thinking about what we put out on social.

When it comes to my personal account, I don’t post every day and I don’t look through Insta Stories. Sometimes, if I have a second and I’m somewhere and a little mellowed, I’ll scroll through my feed. I follow people I know, so I think “Oh, I have to touch base with this person” or “Oh, look what she’s doing!”. For me, it’s also to get ideas. It can be very creative sometimes!

dr barbara sturm morning routine products
Photo: Courtesy of @DrBarbaraSturm

Ideas come very organically. It could be on the road with Victoria — my personal assistant — with Adam, or with anyone I’m spending lots of time with, as we talk through stuff and think about what we need. Sometimes patients come with ideas, or I get inspired by certain ingredients. I do lots of research and I meet with scientists and professors. I’m always trying to come up with new stuff. It would be the worst thing for me to be stagnant, otherwise I wouldn’t want to do this anymore. It needs to be cutting edge, all the time.

It would be the worst thing for me to be stagnant, otherwise I wouldn’t want to do this anymore. It needs to be cutting edge, all the time.

I have so much stimulation in my life, so I need silence. Adam loves music, and music that’s a little more ‘interesting’, but to me – it’s a pain! It drives me crazy, because I’m already so crazed out. Our lives have become so intense, so I need silence so badly. It’s hard for me to go to concerts or movie theaters, or even to stores with lots of people in. That’s why I don’t switch on music, except classical music sometimes – because it helps mellow me out. Our child is very active and is always running around, but when she listens to classical music it really calms her down, and it does the same for me, too.

I used to work out a lot, mainly to save my back — which is my weak part — and I had a trainer come to our place twice a week. But ever since we started traveling so much, and, like I said, my appointments start so early in the morning, I’m basically not working out now, which I’m not proud of! We like to play tennis sometimes, and in the winter we go skiing. I’m lucky that even after a couple of workouts, I get my muscles back, which protect my back. I can grow muscles easily, but still — you need to have that balance as well! But when you have a child and my kind of job, it’s almost impossible.

dr barbara sturm assistant victoria
Photo: Courtesy of @BBSturm

Luckily, I produce a lot of the products I use myself — which makes it really easy! I take a shower in the morning, when I use my scrub and my enzyme cleanser. I get products sent to me quite a lot, so when it comes to shampoo there’s not one that I have to use. Right now, I’m using one from Kérastase. I also have the Olaplex shampoo, which my friend Tracey Cunningham gave me. I have ‘No. 4’, No.5’, and number ‘No.3’, which I have to put in my hair 45 mins before I shower, so sometimes I do that.

I also like to use my mask while I have my coffee. I love to do that in the morning and then rub it off and have a shower. I get the basics done in the shower, and then I’ll put my ‘Hyaluronic Serum’ on, often mixed with my ‘Anti-pollution Drops’, and then my moisturizer, and sometimes my eye cream – but not every day. I’m very minimalist!

I don’t blow-dry my hair, I’m fast! I don’t put makeup on, no mascara – nothing. I just have my face covered in my moisturizer and then I put my jewelry on, get dressed, and run out.

If I’m going to a big event, I have a makeup artist do my makeup, as it always looks so much better! When I do it, it’s okay – but it’s not great. Charlotte Tilbury gives me her products, and I find them really easy to use.

I normally never do much, just a little contouring with a powder. I have this great one from Kevyn Aucoin, I really like that brand. I love the ‘Lid Tints’ from Jillian Dempsey too, I love her stuff – so easy to use and the colors are great. I don’t go to stores and buy makeup, it’s really something I’m given, as I rarely use it.

Luckily, my assistant Victoria has installed a calendar that keeps me informed on what’s going on. We travel so much that it’s one thing after another. Lately we have more and more WhatsApp groups, and to be honest – it’s hard to keep up with everything. We meet so many people, and even meeting you today and things like that could fall through the cracks – which would be such a shame. So you have to keep on top of things, it’s crazy.

Adam is used to me not being the one who cooks every meal. I try to bring him coffee in the morning and make him breakfast, so I do try to be a good housewife sometimes! It’s also meditative; I find the simple things like stirring a porridge so meditating.

dr barbara sturm victorias secret angels
Photo: Courtesy of @DrBarbaraSturm

I don’t get much ‘me time’ right now, and I wish I had it more. I wish I had time to just walk around and think. Although I am thinking constantly, so I don’t need a certain space to do that. My mind is always working, and thoughts can come to me at any time.

My quiet time is when I go to bed, and I love going to bed. I love, love, love that time. Sometimes Adam will want to talk and I’m like, “I don’t want to talk!”. That’s when I want to relax and sleep, and that’s when my mind wants to shut down, but it’s when Adam likes to activate it with deep thoughts and philosophical conversations! His mind is very productive in a very deep way, and he thinks about certain issues, whereas I’m more business-minded. But it’s great and very much needed, as that part of my brain isn’t really being used much right now.

I can’t take care of the big picture and the world, but I learn so much from him about that. It uses up a lot of energy for me to think about those kinds of things.

dr barbara sturm husband adam
Photo: Courtesy of @BBSturm

I’ve become very good at getting dressed. I used to put so much thought into it and worry about what to wear and what goes together, but I just don’t care anymore. It’s now just bam, bam, bam, out. It’s no longer my main focus. It’s interesting as you grow up to see what stages you go through. I used to love shopping; I loved my collection of clothes and bags, but I don’t these days. Of course, you want to look cool or whatever, but it’s not so important anymore. My priorities have shifted.

You have to maintain a happy attitude. If you start complaining and pity yourself, you don’t get anywhere. Just get it done.

I learned a long time ago that there are no problems, there are only solutions. This is something I like to teach too. If someone says no, it doesn’t mean we can’t do it – it just means we do it in a different way. That’s something my whole team has to adjust to. I never want to hear a sentence that starts with “The problem is…”. I don’t care about the problem, just the solution. I’m a problem solver.

You have to maintain a happy attitude. If you start complaining and pity yourself, you don’t get anywhere. Just get it done. I’m lucky I have people around me who make it fun and I’m not alone, which makes it easier.

For example, in New York we always have the same driver, so now he’s part of the family and he is always taking care of stuff like getting my Starbucks order. It’s the little things. In Düsseldorf I have Uli – who’s been my friend since I was 19. She runs our Düsseldorf operations and is always there to help me and to have jokes. Sone funny stuff is always happening! Life needs to be fun.

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