Is there a human obsession more enduring than the obsession with blood? Jesus couldn’t stop talking about the stuff (“this is my blood of the covenant,” as the scripture goes); monarchies grew and collapsed under blood’s divine implications; and Judy Blume anchored an entire book around it. Blood has always struck a note of fanatical obsession, yes, but harnessing its healing properties? Well, that’s fairly new.
Dr. Barbara Sturm, an orthopedic physician, is partially to blame for this. She pioneered what’s called the “Vampire Face-Lift,” where your blood is extracted and re-deposited onto your face. It claims to make skin more youthful in appearance, and thanks to Kim Kardashian’s endorsement of the procedure, it has reached untold fame in recent years. Sturm’s latest rendition of the Vampire Face-Lift is rooted in more attainable measures. She’s taken the essence of the treatment and bottled it in a cream.
MC1 is a bio-enhanced moisturizer bred on a diet of blood. It culls growth factors (rejuvenating proteins found in cells) and cytokines (proteins that stimulate immune responses) from your blood and inserts them into a moisturizing facial cream. Recent studies suggest that growth factors can reverse the telltale signs of aging. These studies specifically looked at the topical application of growth factors and found that when immersed within a cream or serum, the growth factors plumped skin and reduced the appearance of wrinkles. Cytokines, on the other hand, are known to reduce inflammation — something that is especially helpful for people prone to acneic skin.
To create my personal tub of MC1, Sturm drew a small amount of blood from my arm and sealed it in a bio-container. A week later, a nondescript jar of MC1 arrived. The cream is white (the proteins are separated from red blood cells), odorless, and carries a puny, three-month shelf life. It’s not particularly greasy (so it’s easy to wear during the day), and while it’s thick, its vigorous emollient nature renders the cream virtually weightless on skin.
The proteins are the cream’s star ingredients. What else is in the moisturizer (glycerin, oils, vitamins, you name it) remains a trade secret. On the surface, MC1 is a practical moisturizer. After a few weeks of use however, the cream becomes a skin-transforming powerhouse. My skin looked smoother, better-rested, and healthier. Sometimes makeup settles into the tiny lines under my eyes and around my mouth. With MC1, I noticed, my makeup settled less. Was my face smoother thanks to the collagen-stimulating growth factors? It certainly seemed like it.
What I know for sure is that MC1 is boldly expensive, to the tune of $1,400 for a three-month supply. Customers in New York can join the wait list at Shen Beauty to arrange an appointment with Sturm for the custom cream. For everyone else there’s the Angela Bassett–endorsed face cream by Sturm. It’s free of blood, though, and where’s the fun in that?