Celebrities like Kim Kardashian may have started the vampire facial trend, but you don’t have to be famous to partake in this unique beauty treatment — you just have to be willing to hand over a cool $950.
The creator of the vampire facial (in which the patient’s own plasma is injected into their face) has now engineered a way to bottle the treatment in the form of a face cream called MC1. Barbara Sturm, a German doctor who specializes in facial aesthetics, discovered that plasma injections can be used not only to promote healing for joint injuries, but can also be utilized in skincare to improve wrinkles and skin tone. This led to the vampire facial and, more recently, the MC1 cream. Sturm’s methods have been championed by celebrities such as Cher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jason Statham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Kim Kardashian West.
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Unfortunately there are a few drawbacks to the MC1 cream, the price point being the most obvious one (the $950 price tag does not include shipping). If you can withstand the sticker shock, however, you still have to figure out how to get your hands on your very own customized jar. Sturm’s clinics are based in Germany and she only visits the United States once a month. Your best bet might be to add your name to the waitlist this winter when, according to the New York Post, Sturm will partner with Shen Beauty in Brooklyn.
As for how it works, Sturm herself draws the patient’s blood in a syringe that is shaped in a unique way. The syringe has irregularly shaped glass beads that replicate the surface of the skin when there is a wound. This irregular surface causes the blood to read it as a wound, which is why it begins to produce healing and growth factors. The blood is then incubated for 4 to 6 hours before being spun in a centrifuge, and then finally the protein-rich plasma is added to a cream made of botanical ingredients.
In an interview given to The Coveteur, Sturm explains, “The MC1 cream uses a technique that harnesses the white blood cells in the patient’s own blood to produce healing factors including anti–Interleukin-1 (IL-1) and TGF-beta, which address the signs of skin aging. IL-1 naturally reduces inflammation, while TGF-beta strengthens the tissue and stimulates collagen growth.”
That leads us to the final drawback of the MC1 cream: once it's shipped to you, the clock starts ticking. The cream is only good for 12 weeks and loses efficacy over time, making this one expensive cream that needs to be slathered on religiously rather than portioned out carefully.
Is the cream worth the money? Not all doctors are sold on the topical technology. New York, NY oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Irene Gladstein, MD, said that while platelet-rich plasma is indeed effective in skincare, this cream may not be the most efficient delivery system for it. “There is little to no evidence that plasma could get absorbed deep enough and create any visible effects if applied directly to the intact skin,” Dr. Gladstein explained. "Most topical or skin applications involve creating of micro-channels in the upper layer of skin to allow for deeper absorption, such as through micro-needling.”
Dr. Gladstein also pointed out that fresh plasma usually has a shelf life of about 24 hours. "While PRP is “liquid gold” when used in an appropriate and timely fashion, benefits from extended storage and use in a cream version remain to be proven.” So although some people seem to have seen positive results from MC1, jury's still out if it's as effect as an in-office PRP treatment.