Top 5: Dr. Brands

© Julia Zierer

Beautyexpert Julia Alfert chose her Top 5 Dr. Brands and explains everything you need to know about beauty created by physicians

Even early on I thought that pharmacy brands like Vichy, La Roche Posay, Avène and Caudalíe were the greatest when it came to cosmetics. On every trip to France, there was at least one required trip to the pharmacy on the schedule – thermal spray, shower gel that smelled like peach, and all sorts of other jars and tubes wandered into my suitcase. And even now that the products are also available in German pharmacies, the excitement has held on and many a shower gel and cream by these brands can still be found in my bathroom.

My predilection for such products is probably motivated by the fact that – like most things that comes from the pharmacy – they give you the feeling that you’ve purchased a piece of health.

And recently the same thing has been happening again with the so-called “doctor brands” that are so popular at the moment and are even eclipsing the pharmacy brands. Of course more and more doctors, primarily dermatologists and experts in the field of aesthetic medicine, are jumping on this trend and developing cosmetic lines that flaunt their name and title.

The serums, peels, and creams featured on the shelves (mostly with simple, medical-looking designs) give the impression of being highly-effective with their title alone, a beauty-enhancer created by the hands of doctors. Most of these products can’t really be pharmaceutically effective, however, otherwise they’d be counted as medicinal products and you’d need a prescription. Nevertheless, there are a few among them that have a much higher concentration of active ingredients than ordinary cosmetics. Used over a period of time, they can give you the feeling of a having a visibly improved complexion.

I tested a few doctor brands and picked out my five favorites:

1. Dr. Barbara Sturm


Dr. Barbara Sturm studied sports medicine and worked for six years in the field of molecular orthopedics before she specialized in the field of dermatology. Cartilage and skin are built very similarly and that makes a connection between orthopedics and dermatology. Alongside a research team, Barbara Sturm developed a cosmetic concept for medicinal skin support: “molecular cosmetics”, individually manufactured products enriched with endogenous proteins that support the self-healing process and regeneration of the skin.

For example, a cream with autologous blood – the MC1-Creme – reaches back into sports medicine where autologous blood injected into the affected area is used to treat injuries and support faster healing. Dr. Sturm thought it should work similarly for improving skin and applied the same principle to the cream. Donated and centrifuged blood is mixed into a basis cream, part of a complex process in which some growth factors are stimulated and can then work in the cream – and later on your skin. Recently I flew to Munich and got to know Barbara Sturm and this cream. I’m really impressed with both of them. She is a very nice woman and explained everything to me in a way that was easy to understand and after using the cream at home for over six weeks, I’ve seen my complexion refined.

In the meantime, Dr. Barbara Sturm Cosmetics has expanded to include other non-individualized care products.

The Face Mask, for example, is a light but effective moisturizing mask that actually sinks into the skin like a cream. Even while the mask is working, your skin feels like it’s being replenished. Rinsed off with tepid water, the mask leaves behind soft and firmed skin.

The Hyaluronic Ampoules are something I tried recently on a trip to Italy for a friend’s wedding. Two ampoules used over four days (one lasts me for two days) made sure my skin looked taut and fresh – and not dry and irritated even though it was 35°C in the shade. The highly-concentrated hyaluronic acid is an ideal base for makeup. You get the feeling after applying it that your skin is constantly being pumped up with moisture and continually refreshed.

2. Team Dr. Joseph


Team Dr. Joseph

Peeling, € 28,40 via Spatacular

Team Dr. Joseph is a natural cosmetics company from South Tyrol and they combine folk medicine with the most modern scientific findings. You’ll find Joseph Franz and his team behind these products, and it all started with an idea that the (then still) young Joseph Franz had to search out a natural alternative to surgery after a sports injury. If that was viable or not, we don’t know, but what he did find were ingredients for effective natural cosmetics. The brand has been around for more than 40 years and, alongside other combinations of high tech and nature, these products belong to the Dr. Joseph GmbH catalog.

One favorite is the Fruit Acid Peel. With highly concentrated bio-active fruit acids, the uppermost layers of skin are renewed and your whole complexion refined. It feels very natural and gentle when you apply it, and that’s maybe what sets it apart from others that work so aggressively on your skin’s surface.

But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t at least as effective. During the 4-8-minute application time, there’s a light tingling sensation that indicates those top layers of skin are being removed and renewed. At the same time, other soothing ingredients ensure that the skin won’t become too stressed. Your skin doesn’t feel irritated afterwards, just smoother and regenerated.

Team Dr. Joseph’s products are divided into five categories designed specifically for different skin types and problems. That makes it easier to find the right “program” of products. The peel can be found in the “05 Well Aging/Mature Skin” group, but it can also be used on younger skin as a refreshing change to gritty exfoliating products – and maybe alternating with this kind, since this one isn’t supposed to be used more often than once or twice a month.

3. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare


Dr. Dennis Gross

Peeling Pads, € 105 via Niche Beauty

Renowned American Dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross has been working from his practice on New York’s 5th Avenue for 25 years. New York Magazine has called him one of the best in his field and he’s unbeatable in the development of treatments and products that emphasize the natural beauty of the skin. Sound a little kitsch? But there’s something to it: his Alpha Beta Peel, which he’s patented, is a bestseller and rightly so. It’s always recommended to me, but initially because of my fear of face peels, I hadn’t really tried it.

Now I never want to be without the Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Daily Peel, my favorite Dr. Dennis Gross product. There are times that I use it, paradoxically, twice per day. Thankfully the application is easy: two sheets, two steps. First you massage your face with the step-1 sheet until this is basically dried out. This loosens skin cells, cleans the skin, and smooths it. After waiting for two minutes, the massage is followed by a second sheet with ingredients to care for and refine the skin. A peel that doesn’t burn, and is just optimized for daily cleansing that is gentle but effective.

4. Dr. Duve


Doctor Duve

Facial Oil, € 95 via Doctor Duve

Just the name Glowskin Active Vitamin C Oil sounds promising, I think. And it delivers what it says – this velvety oil is enriched with vitamin A, C, and E and well as stem cells and hyaluronic acid and is a fast and peppy wake-up call for your skin. Massaged into cleansed skin with a circular motion, I use it after a short night’s sleep and also for a freshness kick during the day. Your skin absorbs the oil immediately leaving behind nothing but a soft, natural glow. And the scent – like fresh citrus fruit – is still unbeatable.

The oil and the other care products were developed by the dermatologist and anti-aging expert at the Haut- und Laserzentrums at the opera in Munich, Dr. Stefan Duve. The care line is a combination of dermatology and cosmetology. From serums and sun care to anti-cellulite gel, the large selection of products offers agreeable, effective – and tested – skin care products.

5. Royal Fern by Dr. Timm Golueke


Royal Fern by Dr. Timm Golueke

Cleansing Balm, € 75 via Ludwigbeck

My absolute favorite out of the products developed by Dr. Timm Golueke is the Phytoactive Cleansing Balm. This creamy gel cleansing balm is a relief to your skin from the second you apply it. It smells like cucumber and green tea, both of which are contained in the product as well as hyaluronic acid and an active ingredient derived from ferns. What you won’t see on the ingredient list: soap, sulfates, mineral oil, or silicon. This cleanser is made without all of those things that are more harmful to the skin that caring. Still, it is a deep cleaner that even removes eye makeup easily and is antibacterial as well. Lightly massaged into the skin and rinsed with tepid water, it leaves your skin feeling refreshed, lightly cooled, and clean. It’s just the cleansing stage but already the first care-step is checked off.

It sounds uncomplicated – and it is. Alongside a few other ideas, it came to Dr. Timm Golueke when he decided to create his own skincare line. As a specialist in dermatology, he had seen all kinds of skin problems caused by different things as part of his normal day. And mostly, according to Dr. Golueke, “over care” with a lot of different products didn’t lead to better skin. Actually, the opposite held true. Patients were often overwhelmed by the large selection of products, and therefore his cosmetic line contains only four: a cream, an eye cream, a serum, and a cleanser.

What was also important to him was choosing the right ingredients, from the right sources. Golueke is specialized in the field of natural medicine, so most of the ingredients contained in his care line Royal Fern come from nature. The most prominent – and the one behind the name – being the fern. Alongside Voacanga (and evergreen tree from Africa) seeds, wild rose extract, seabuckthorn oil, and mineral oxides, it is the main component of the active complex that makes Royal Fern products so special.

Becoming aware of fern and its natural superpowers, Dr. Timm Golueke went to New York for a study at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center about fern as a food supplement. The study covered the protective effect of fern on cellular DNA, and therefore as an anti-aging complex.

Fern is the oldest plant that made it from the ocean to land, so it must know how to defy age quite well. It can be found on all continents, resilient and effective. So why not make facial care products from it? Said and done: Golueke developed the fern complex and patented it.

Julia Alfert

Originally from Hamburg, Julia Alfert moved to Berlin from Paris in 2010. After completing her studies in Art History and trying out different jobs, her path led her to Harper’s Bazaar, where she worked as Fashion & Beauty Assistant until mid 2015. While she’s harboured a love for all things beauty-related for as long as she can remember, her discovery of the written word is recent. When Julia isn’t busy trying out different creams, oils, and sprays she writes and styles for an assortment of magazines and websites.