Dr. Barbara Sturm Scalp Serum Ingredients Explained

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Published on August 16, 2021. Submitted by bradley_gilbert.

Overview

What it is

Hair serum with 37 ingredients that contains AHA, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide

Cool Features

It is cruelty-free and reef safe

Suited For

It has ingredients that are good for fighting acne, dry skin, brightening skin, sensitive skin, reducing pores, scar healing and better texture

Free From

It doesn't contain any common allergens, fragrances, oils, parabens, silicones or sulfates

Fun facts

Dr. Barbara Sturm is from Germany.

We independently verify ingredients and our claims are backed by peer-reviewed research. Does this product need an update? Let us know.

You should know

Here's our breakdown of the notable ingredients, benefits, and concerns we determined from the ingredients in this product. Click any item to learn more.

Notable Ingredients

AHA (3)
Niacinamide
Hyaluronic Acid

Benefits

Hydrating (2)
Reduces Irritation
Skin Texture
Reduces Large Pores
Scar Healing
Acne Fighting
Brightening (5)

Concerns

Drying (2)
May Worsen Oily Skin (3)
Irritating (3)
Rosacea (6)
Eczema (4)

Ingredient Info

Click any item below to learn more and view relevant ingredients.
alcohol-free
silicon-free
fragrance-free
sulfate-free
paraben-free
oil-free
fungal-acne safe
reef-safe
eu-allergen-free
vegan
cruelty-free

Ingredients Overview

Here's our quick-to-read summary of the ingredients in this product. Keep scrolling if you'd like to learn more about what each ingredient does!
Ingredient
Features
1
Skin Conditioning, Solvent
2
Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconHelps brighten skin Icon
3
Antimicrobial, Astringent, Masking, Solvent
Alcohol IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
4
Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Antioxidant Icon
5
Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Helps reduce irritation Icon
6
Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Helps hydrate Dry Skin Icon
7
Masking, Skin Conditioning
Not safe for Fungal Acne Icon
8
Preservative
Preservative Icon
9
Buffering, Masking
10
Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming
1 / 0
11
Buffering, Humectant
12
Humectant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
13
Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming, Skin Conditioning
14
Buffering, Masking
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
15
Skin Conditioning
16
Skin Conditioning
17
Humectant, Skin Conditioning
0 / 0
Hyaluronic Acid Icon
18
19
Skin Conditioning
20
Masking
May worsen Oily Skin Icon
21
Skin Conditioning
22
Buffering
23
AHA IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
24
Antimicrobial, Astringent, Masking, Solvent
Alcohol IconCan worsen Dry Skin IconMay worsen Oily Skin IconMay cause irritation IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon
25
Skin Conditioning
26
Masking
27
Antimicrobial
28
Emollient, Skin Conditioning
29
Humectant, Skin Conditioning
30
Humectant
31
Masking, Preservative
Preservative Icon
32
Humectant
33
Buffering, Skin Conditioning
34
Humectant
35
Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
AHA IconMay cause irritation IconGood for Skin Texture IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconHelps with Anti-Aging IconGood for Dark Spots IconGood for Scar Healing IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea IconHelps brighten skin Icon
36
Smoothing
Niacinamide IconGood for Oily Skin IconHelps reduce Skin Redness IconGood for Minimizing Pores IconGood for Dark Spots IconHelps fight Acne IconHelps brighten skin Icon
37
Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Helps hydrate Dry Skin IconGood for Skin Texture IconMay worsen Eczema IconMay worsen Rosacea Icon

Ingredients Explained

This product contains 37 ingredients. Click on any ingredient to learn more about it
1
What it does: Skin Conditioning, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Water. It's the most common cosmetic ingredient of all. You'll usually see it at the top of ingredient lists, meaning that it makes up the largest part of the product.

So why is it so popular? Water most often acts as a solvent - this means that it helps dissolve other ingredients into the formulation.

You'll also recognize water as that liquid we all need to stay alive. Talk about multi-purpose! If you see this, drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated!

Learn more about Water
2
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning, Skin Protecting, Solvent
Community Rating: Loved

Glycerin is already naturally found in your skin. It helps moisturize and protect your skin.

A study from 2016 found glycerin to be more effective as a humectant than AHAs and hyaluronic acid.

As a humectant, it helps the skin stay hydrated by pulling moisture to your skin. The low molecular weight of glycerin allows it to pull moisture into the deeper layers of your skin.

Hydrated skin improves your skin barrier; Your skin barrier helps protect against irritants and bacteria.

Glycerin has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Due to these properties, glycerin is often used in wound and burn treatments.

In cosmetics, glycerin is usually derived from plants such as soybean or palm. However, it can also be sourced from animals, such as tallow or animal fat.

This ingredient is organic, colorless, odorless, and non-toxic.

Glycerin is the name for this ingredient in American English. British English uses Glycerol/Glycerine.

Learn more about Glycerin
3
What it does: Antimicrobial, Astringent, Masking, Solvent
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Alcohol Denat. is an alcohol with a denaturant property. It is created by mixing ethanol and other additives. It has a low molecular weight and will evaporate quickly. This helps other ingredients become better absorbed and dry once applied.

Alcohol Denat. is volatile and may cause irritation. It helps draw out natural oils in skin and dry out your skin.

One study from 2005 found adding emollients to propanol-based sanitizer decreased irritation.

Alcohol is antibacterial by nature. This can help preserve products and increase their shelf life.

Other types of astringent alcohols include:

Learn more about Alcohol Denat.
4
What it does: Antioxidant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Lactobacillus/Portulaca Oleracea Ferment Extract is an antioxidant.

5
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Panthenol (also referred to as pro-vitamin B5) is a common ingredient that helps hydrate and soothe the skin.

lt is a humectant, meaning that it helps the skin attract and retain moisture.

Another benefit is the anti-inflammatory abilities. This means that it's great for sensitive, irritation-prone skin.

Once oxidized, panthenol converts to pantothenic acid. Panthothenic acid is found in all living cells.

Learn more about Panthenol
6
What it does: Humectant, Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol. It is a hydrating and moisturizing agent created from the reduction process of glucose.

Most sorbitol is usually made from potato starch. It is also found in fruits such as apples and pears.

As a humectant, Sorbitol helps draw water to the skin. This helps keep the skin hydrated. Sorbitol also helps create a thicker texture in products. You might find sorbitol in your toothpaste and other gels.

It is a non-irritating ingredient that is great for those with dry skin.

Sorbitol is a prebiotic. It helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria on your skin. The bacteria on your skin form a microbiome. This microbiome helps protect your skin from infection and harmful bacteria.

Learn more about Sorbitol
7
What it does: Masking, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Arginine is an amino acid that is important for human development. Your body uses is it to produce hair keratin and skin collagen.

As a cosmetic ingredient, Arginine has antioxidant properties and can also help repair damaged skin. This ingredient is derived either synthetically or from animals.

Arginine isn't fungal acne safe when used in the presence of other lipids (fats, fatty acids, oils, esters, etc). Oils and fats occur naturally within the skin, so take caution when using Arginine if you're prone to fungal acne.

Learn more about Arginine
8
What it does: Preservative
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that has germicide, antimicrobial, and aromatic properties. Studies show that phenoxyethanol can prevent germ and microbial growth. By itself, it has a scent that is similar to that of a rose.

It's often used in formulations along with Caprylyl Glycol to preserve the shelf life of products.

9
What it does: Buffering, Masking

We don't have a description for Disodium Phosphate.

10
What it does: Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming
Community Rating: Disliked

Carbomer is a polymer of acrylic acid. Its main role is to create gel consistency within products.

Carbomer is commonly found in many types of cosmetics products. It is found to be safe in concentrations up to 15%. However, a high amount of carbomer can cause pilling or balling up of products. Most products contain 1% of less of carbomer.

11
What it does: Buffering, Humectant
Community Rating: Liked

Sodium Lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid, an AHA. It is a humectant and used to adjust the pH of a product.

Sodium Lactate is part of our skin's NMF, or natural moisturizing factor. Our NMF is essential for the hydration of our top skin layers and plasticity of skin.

It also influences our skin's natural acid mantle and pH, which protects our skin from harmful bacteria.

Our NMF is formed from amino acids, lactic acid, sugars, minerals, peptides, and electrolytes. As we age, our NMF naturally depletes. Other sources of NMF depletion include harsh and drying ingredients such as denatured alcohol. Sodium lactate can help replenish our NMF, leading to more hydrated and plump skin.

High percentages of Sodium Lactate can have an exfoliating effect.

Sodium Lactate is produced from fermented sugar.

Learn more about Sodium Lactate
12
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Sodium PCA is the sodium salt of pyroglutamic acid and is naturally occurring on human skin.

The PCA stands for pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, a natural amino acid derivative.

Sodium PCA is a has conditioning, anti-inflammatory, and humectant properties. Humectants help hydrate your skin by drawing moisture from the air. This helps keep your skin moisturized.

Learn more about Sodium PCA
13
What it does: Emulsifying, Emulsion Stabilising, Gel Forming, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Disliked

Xanthan gum is used as a stabilizer and thickener within cosmetic products. It helps give products a sticky, thick feeling - preventing them from being too runny.

On the technical side of things, xanthan gum is a polysaccharide - a combination consisting of multiple sugar molecules bonded together.

Xanthan gum is a pretty common and great ingredient. It is a natural, non-toxic, non-irritating ingredient that is also commonly used in food products.

Learn more about Xanthan Gum
14
What it does: Buffering, Masking
Community Rating: Disliked

Citric Acid is an AHA derived from citrus fruits (think oranges, lemons, and limes!).

If you spot Citric Acid near the end of an ingredient list, it's likely there as a pH adjuster rather than an active ingredient.

As an AHA, Citric Acid removes the top layer of skin cells from the newer layer of skin underneath. This helps skin to remove dark spots and look more even.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Citric Acid
15
What it does: Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Disodium Adenosine Triphosphate.

16
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Caffeine is most associated with coffee, tea, and cacao. In skincare, it helps with calming inflammation and anti-aging.

Caffeine is an antioxidants, which help with the signs of aging. This is because antioxidants help fight skin-damaging free radical molecules.

While caffeine is used to treat cellulite and and dark circles, further studies are needed to prove this. It has been believed to help with these skin conditions due to its ability to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Some studies are looking into caffeine's ability to protect against UV rays.

Learn more about Caffeine
17
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Sodium Hyaluronate is hyaluronic acid's salt form. It is commonly derived from the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid.

Like hyaluronic acid, it is great at holding water and acts as a humectant. This makes it a great skin hydrating ingredient.

Sodium Hyaluronate is naturally occurring in our bodies and is mostly found in eye fluid and joints.

These are some other common types of Hyaluronic Acid:

Learn more about Sodium Hyaluronate

We don't have a description for Pterocarpus Marsupium Bark Extract.

19
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Ethylhexylglycerin (we can't pronounce this either) is commonly used as a preservative and skin softener. It is derived from glyceryl.

You might see Ethylhexylglycerin often paired with other preservatives such as phenoxyethanol. Ethylhexylglycerin has been found to increase the effectiveness of these other preservatives.

20
What it does: Masking
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Algin is brown algae. Algae is an informal term for a group of aquatic organisms that can photosynthesize. It is estimated there are at least 30,000 types of Algae.

Algae contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules that may damage your skin cells, such as pollution.

21
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Carica Papaya Fruit Extract comes from the papaya fruit. Papayas were first domesticated in Mexico and Central America.

This fruit extract contains papain and chymopapain, two types of enzymes. These enzyme have exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties. One study shows papain may help reduce scarring.

Papaya is also a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your skin against damage from free-radical molecules. This may help protect against signs of aging. One antioxidant present in papayas is lycopene.

Papaya also contains Vitamin A, also known as retinol.

While papaya is used as an ingredient to help lighten skin, research is limited on this.

The seeds of papaya have been found to have anti-fungal activity.

Learn more about Carica Papaya Fruit Extract
22
What it does: Buffering
Community Rating: Mixed

Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye or caustic soda. It is used to adjust the pH of products; many ingredients require a specific pH to be effective.

In small amounts, sodium hydroxide is considered safe to use. However, large amounts may cause chemical burns due to its high alkaline.

Your skin has a natural pH and acid mantle. This acid mantle helps prevent harmful bacteria from breaking through. The acid mantle also helps keep your skin hydrated.

"Alkaline" refers to a high pH level. A low pH level would be considered acidic.

Learn more about Sodium Hydroxide
23
What it does:
Community Rating: Liked

Phytic Acid is a gentle AHA and antioxidant. The chemical makeup makes it classified as an AHA, such as lactic acid.

AHAs are chemical exfoliants that help remove dead skin cells. Phytic Acid has a slight exfoliating effect. Phytic Acid has been shown to help calm irritation. In some cases, it is a chelating agent. Chelating agents help prevent metals from binding to water, helping to stabilize the ingredients in a product.

As an antioxidant, phytic acid may help with the signs of aging. Antioxidants help neutralize free-radical molecules. These molecules may damage your skin cells.

An interesting fact about phytic acid is that it is considered an antinutrient. People do not have the enzyme needed to properly breakdown and digest phytic acid. When ingested, phytic acid binds to minerals and prevents them from being absorbed.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Phytic Acid
24
What it does: Antimicrobial, Astringent, Masking, Solvent
Community Rating: Very Disliked

Alcohol comes in many different forms. Different types of alcohol will have different effects on skin. This ingredient is usually an astringent alcohol.

These alcohols are drying on the skin. They may strip away your skin's natural oils and even damage your skin barrier. Astringent alcohols may also irritate skin.

Other types of astringent alcohols include:

According to the National Rosacea Society based in the US, you should be mindful of products with these alcohols in the top half of ingredients.

Any type of sanitizing product will have high amounts of alcohol to help kill bacteria and viruses.

Fatty alcohols come from plant oils such as coconut oil. These can help hydrate the skin and are non-irritating. Some fatty alcohols include cetyl and stearyl alcohol.

Learn more about Alcohol
25
What it does: Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Biosaccharide Gum-1 is a sugar created from fermented sorbitol. Most sorbitol is made from potato starch.

This ingredient is a a skin conditioning ingredient and helps moisturize the skin.

It is also naturally found in fruits such as apples and pears.

Learn more about Biosaccharide Gum-1
26
What it does: Masking

We don't have a description for Disodium Succinate.

27
What it does: Antimicrobial
Community Rating: Liked

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate is a natural preservative. It comes from fermenting radish roots with a bacteria called leuconostoc. Leuconostoc comes from lactic acid. This bacteria is used to make the traditional Korean side-dish, kimchi. It is also used to make sourdough bread (both incredibly yummy foods).

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate has antimicrobial properties and helps prevent the growth of bacteria in a product.

It is believed the preservation property comes from salicylic acid and ammonium salt, neither of which are involved in the fermentation process.

Learn more about Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate
28
What it does: Emollient, Skin Conditioning

We don't have a description for Tristearyl Citrate.

29
What it does: Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Mixed

Pantolactone is a synthetically created humectant.

As a humectant, Pantolactone helps draw moisture to the skin. It can help add hydration to your skin.

30
What it does: Humectant
Community Rating: Loved

Glutamic Acid is an amino acid that is found in all living organisms. Humans use this glutamic acid to help nerve cells in the brain communicate with other cells.

As a humectant, glutamic acid helps moisturize the skin. Humectants draw moisture from the air to your skin.

31
What it does: Masking, Preservative
Community Rating: Disliked

Sodium Benzoate is a preservative. It's used in both cosmetic and food products to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. It is typically produced synthetically.

Both the US FDA and EU Health Committee have approved the use of sodium benzoate. In the US, levels of 0.1% (of the total product) are allowed.

Sodium benzoate works as a preservative by inhibiting the growth of bacteria inside of cells. It prevents the cell from fermenting a type of sugar using an enzyme called phosphofructokinase.

Sodium Benzoate is the salt of benzoic acid. Foods containing sodium benzoate include soda, salad dressings, condiments, fruit juices, wines, and snack foods.

Studies for using ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate in cosmetics are lacking, especially in skincare routines with multiple steps.

We always recommend speaking with a professional, such as a dermatologist, if you have any concerns.

Learn more about Sodium Benzoate
32
What it does: Humectant
Community Rating: Liked

Fructose is fruit/plant sugar. It can be found in apples, figs, and honey.

This ingredient is a humectant. Humectants help draw moisture from the air to your skin, keeping your skin hydrated.

33
What it does: Buffering, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Glycine is an amino acid that helps build proteins. It is already present in our skin as our bodies produce them naturally.

Glycine helps keep skin hydrated and reduce signs of aging. Amino acids help transport moisture throughout our skin; glycine already plays a role in helping keep our skin moisturized.

As collagen is made up of glycine and other amino acids, it is believed Glycine may help our skin produce more collagen. Collagen helps keep skin plump and firm.

Learn more about Glycine
34
What it does: Humectant
Community Rating: Liked

Inositol is a sugar alcohol naturally found in the human body. Our bodies use this ingredient in the process of growing new cells.

Studies show inositol to be a key component for keratinocyte growth.

Keratinocytes make up the majority of the outermost layer of skin. These cells protect our skin from UV exposure, infection, and help keep skin hydrated.

This ingredient is also considered a humectant. Humectants help hydrate the skin by drawing moisture to it.

Learn more about Inositol
35
What it does: Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Loved

Lactic Acid is an AHA that is derived from fermenting lactose, a carbohydrate from milk. It removes the top layer of old and dead skin cells and helps increase cell turnover.

Benefits of Lactic Acid are that it can help to reduce large pores and reduce the effects of aging. Some potential downsides are that it can be bad for dry skin, cause irritation, worsen eczema, and worsen rosacea.

Not only does it help exfoliate the skin, it helps strengthen the skin's barrier. When applied, lactic acid helps the skin create ceramides.

Lactic acid is an over-the-counter chemical exfoliant that comes from the fermentation of lactose β€” a carbohydrate found in milk.

Legend has it that Cleopatra used to bathe in sour milk to help reduce wrinkles.

Read more about some other popular AHA's here:

Learn more about Lactic Acid
36
What it does: Smoothing
Community Rating: Loved

Niacinamide has emerged as an all-star ingredient due to its many benefits.

It is known to treat acne by reducing inflammation. It also helps fade dark-spots and strengthen the skin by promoting the growth of the ceramide barrier.

Other benefits include smoothing wrinkles and minimizing redness.

The cherry on top? Niacinamide can also help build keratin, a protein that keeps skin firm.

When incorporating niacinamide into your routine, look out for concentration amounts. Typically, 5% niacinamide provides benefits such as fading dark spots. However, if you have sensitive skin, it is better to begin with a smaller concentration.

Niacinamide can be mixed with other ingredients to boost benefits. For instance, it has shown to be effective when used with copper, folic acid, and zinc to treat acne.

Learn more about Niacinamide
37
What it does: Buffering, Humectant, Skin Conditioning
Community Rating: Liked

Urea is also called carbamide and is the diamide of carbonic acid. In cosmetics, urea is used to hydrate the skin. It also provides exfoliation in higher concentrations.

As a humectant, urea helps draw moisture from the air and from deep within the skin. This helps hydrate your skin. Studies show urea is an effective moisturizer for dry skin conditions. 40% urea is typical in medications for treating eczema and other skin conditions.

Urea has the strongest exfoliation effect in concentrations higher than 10%. It is a keratolytic agent, meaning it breaks down the keratin protein in the top layer of skin. This helps remove dead skin cells and flaking skin.

In medicine, urea has been shown to help increase the potency of other ingredients, such as fungal treatments.

Humans and animals use urea to metabolize nitrogen-containing compounds. Urea is highly soluble in water. Once dissolved, it is neither acidic nor alkaline.

Learn more about Urea
Embed Ingredients

Here's what our community thinks of the 37 ingredients in this product ✨

51% are loved or liked
14% have mixed ratings
22% are disliked or very disliked
14% have no rating yet

When to use

Here's some more info on how this product is used by our community.

Directions

Using the pipette, trickle the formula directly onto your scalp (on dry or wet hair) and massage in gently. Allow time for the serum to absorb. For best results we recommend using the SCALP SERUM in the evening to optimize scalp health. The SCALP SERUM contains caffeine. For...

Using the pipette, trickle the formula directly onto your scalp (on dry or wet hair) and massage in gently. Allow time for the serum to absorb. For best results we recommend using the SCALP SERUM in the evening to optimize scalp health. The SCALP SERUM contains caffeine. For use during pregnancy, please consult your doctor.

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The data we've presented on this page has been verified by a member of the SkinSort Team.

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