Dr. Barbara Sturm's Hair and Scalp-Care Line Is Here — So We Put It to the Test

Celebrities and beauty editors alike have long sworn by the goodness of Dr. Barbara Sturm's eponymous line of skincare products. So expanding into hair and scalp formulas felt like a natural fit for the beauty expert.

"I've always thought that the scalp is an extension of our face and skin and it's also skin that needs a lot of attention as it gets bombarded with the same stressors, such as pollution, sun, hair dye, styling, blow drying, shampoos, conditioners, etc.," Dr. Sturm shares exclusively with InStyle. "It's just as important to balance the microbiome and the skin barrier on the scalp as it is on our faces."

And so the Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection was born.

After being in production for nearly two years, the set finally launched on Oct. 25 to address common concerns such as dryness, flaking, brittle hair, and hair loss. The line includes the Balancing Shampoo, Super Anti-Aging Shampoo, Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo, Anti-Hair Fall Serum, Super Anti-Aging Scalp Serum, Balancing Scalp Serum, Hydrating Conditioner, and Repair Hair Mask. So anyone can pick and choose between products to create a regimen that works for them and their needs.

"We wanted to have a line that offered high performance, but at the same time, we didn't want to lose any helpful ingredients, so it was quite a challenge to find the right production partner," Dr. Sturm shares. "It took us a lot of time to develop the Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection, but I really believe it's something which has not been seen anywhere before, and the products offer an incredibly effective way of treating the hair and scalp."

The line also addresses aging — but the goal isn't to get rid of your gray hairs.

Trichologist Bridgette Hill, who is a fan of Dr. Sturm's latest launch, explains that with hormone levels shifting as we age, hair loss becomes more common. However, with the proper scalp care, we can help to keep the skin, and follicles, balanced well into our later years.

"We often find that aging hair can lead to the hair shaft becoming dry, damaged, and lose shine," she explains. "The Dr. Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Collection has the key ingredient of cationic hyaluronic acid, which adheres to the hair shaft and provides long lasting moisturizing benefits. I especially recommend the collection for those with colored, chemically-treated, or just generally dry and damaged hair."

That said, we decided to put the line to the test. Read our honest review of each and every product included in Dr. Barbara Sturm's Molecular Hair & Scalp Collection, ahead.

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Super Anti-Aging Shampoo

What It Does:

This gentle shampoo tackles damaged, limp hair with a blend of plant-based ingredients and vitamin B5 that work harmoniously to repair the scalp and strengthen the hair shaft to prevent breakage and splitting. All-star skincare ingredient cationic hyaluronic acid, provides instant hydration to boost shine. On top of shielding the hair and scalp from UV rays, heat, and pollution, this shampoo is safe to use on chemically-treated hair. 

The Bottom Line: 

"The description of the Super Anti-Aging Shampoo reads like it was written about my own hair. On top of having naturally dry, slightly course hair, I deal with breakage and extra dehydration from routinely coloring my hair every two months. Like Sturm says, this shampoo is rich and creamy and produces an impressive lather, despite being free of sulfates. I don't feel the need to repeat with this shampoo, and after rinsing it out, my hair doesn't feel too clean, which is a tell-tale sign of a stripping formula. Once I dry my hair, it feels soft, smooth, and not weighed down. While I didn't notice any difference in shine, it had been over four months since I colored my hair when I was testing this shampoo, and at that point, my hair gets so dull and faded nothing beyond a color-depositing mask can help." — Erin Lukas, Beauty Editor

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Balancing Shampoo

What It Does:

Much like the Anti-Aging Shampoo, the Balancing formula leans on vitamin B5 to keep the hair shaft strong, while other ingredients such as Japanese camellia, brown and green algae, as well as lavender work to calm and soothe the scalp to curb redness, itching, and irritation. "Having a dry scalp can be a result of something as simple as an allergic reaction to a product, overuse of heating tools and overall body dehydration, to more complex scalp conditions ranging from dandruff to plaque psoriasis," explains Hill.

In addition to the previously listed benefits, sunflower sprouts and tara extract protect against heat, pollution, and UV.

The Bottom Line:

"Dry scalp is the bane of my existence, and this formula really worked to leave both my hair and scalp feeling clean without overdoing it. Immediately after rinsing it out, my scalp was free of flakes and my hair appeared shiny, albeit dry. However, unless I'm using a co-wash, that's typically par for the course no matter the cleanser for my type 4 curly hair. That aside, I liked the fact that a little bit of this product goes a long way — it really doesn't take much to create a super rich lather. The one thing I did think was missing was fragrance, but that's more of a personal preference. Considering that the line is made specifically to treat common scalp concerns, coupled with that fact that a lot of people are sensitive to perfumes, the line being fragrance-free makes complete sense." — Kayla Greaves, Senior Beauty Editor

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Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo

What It Does: 

Who doesn't want to shed less hair? This shampoo is specifically formulated to promote the growth of strong, healthy hair, including supporting the scalp so that the hair follicles have the optimal conditions required for growth. "Hair fall is when the systems that support a healthy hair follicle are deteriorating and cycle into miniaturization, which is the shrinking of the hair follicle," says Hill. "When left untreated the hair follicle loses blood supply and nutrients and dies off." However, generally speaking, light hair shedding is normal, and healthy.

This product includes camellia extract and larch to nourish the hair follicle, which in turn can strengthen the hair and reduce shedding, pro-vitamin B5 to prevent breakage, sunflower sprout and tara extracts to repair chemically-treated hair and protect from pollution, heat, and UV damage. Finally, cationic hyaluronic acid amps up hydration. 

The Bottom Line: 

"While I don't have allover hair thinning, I do shed a ton. It comes with the territory of having thick, dark hair, but I often wonder how I still have hair on my head as I Swiffer my apartment for the fourth time this week. (Seriously I clean my floor every other day and the Swiffer cloths are full). Cleaning this often isn't my idea of a good time, so I'm always up to try a haircare product that promises to make me shed less. While I've only tried this shampoo a couple times, so I can't speak just yet as to whether it's minimized hair fall, I do like that it doesn't make my hair feel stripped or weighed down. So I'll continue to use it in hopes it'll cut down my Swiffering sessions in the future." — Erin 

VIDEO: How to Choose the Best Shampoo for Super Oily and Greasy Hair

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Anti-Hair Fall Serum

What It Does:

Meant to be used in conjunction with the Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo, this serum can be applied both to the hair and scalp — wet or dry — to help promote growth of strong, healthy hair and reduce hair fall. Using a blend of the same powerful ingredients as its shampoo sibling, the serum also boasts purslane extract to prevent itching.

The Bottom Line:

"It's going to take a few months before I can say whether or not the formula helped to prevent shedding, but I did enjoy the sensorial experience of this serum. I used it mainly around my hairline, and while it certainly didn't make my scalp feel like it was on fire (trust me, other products have before), it gave me a gentle tingling sensation that made me feel like it was getting to work. My scalp felt nourished and hydrated after use. It also played nice with the oil and leave-in conditioner I layered on my type 4 hair afterwards." — Kayla

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Super Anti-Aging Scalp Serum

What It Does:

This lightweight serum is designed to be used in tandem with the Super Anti-Aging Shampoo, offering similar benefits, including scalp repair and hydration. The beauty of Sturm's serums is that they can be used on damp, freshly washed hair or on dry hair in between wash days. Apply the serum directly to the scalp from the pipette and massage it in with your fingertips. You can also work some into the ends of your hair to repair and strengthen dry and split ends. 

The Bottom Line: 

"Despite having dry, thick hair, I find many oils and serums to be too greasy. However, I'm pleasantly surprised by Dr. Barbara Sturm's Super Anti-Aging Serum. I used an entire single-serving sample packet on my damp, clean hair post-shower (I washed my hair with the Super Anti-Aging Shampoo and Hydrating Conditioner), worked it into my scalp, then blow-dried my hair as usual. I was expecting the serum to make my hair look like I haven't showered in a week, but I didn't have any filmy residue on my roots. Considering it was easy to incorporate the serum into my hair wash routine, and it didn't compromise my style, I'll continue using the treatment once a week to hopefully reap its promised benefits." — Erin 

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Balancing Scalp Serum

What It Does:

Meant to use in tandem with the Balancing Shampoo, this rich serum gives your hair an extra boost of powerful ingredients, including vitamin B5, Japanese camellia, brown and green algae as well as lavender to reduce irritation, flaking, and strengthen the hair shaft.

The Bottom Line:

"I used this serum on the rest of my scalp and it really kept it feeling hydrated with zero irritation or itchiness. Much like the Anti-Hair Fall Serum, it played nicely with the rest of my products as I styled my hair into two-strand twists and finger coils. Once I took my hair out, it was light, fluffy, and didn't feel weighed down like other scalp products have done in the past." — Kayla

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Hydrating Conditioner

What It Does: 

Packed with skincare ingredients like cationic hyaluronic acid and shea butter, this nourishing conditioner is formulated to provide deep hydration for stressed and damaged hair. Pro-vitamin B5, sunflower sprouts extract, and tara extract round out the formula, offering frizz control, shine, volume, and protection from UV damage, pollution, and color fading. 

The Bottom Line: 

"With this conditioner, I had to use a bit more than I normally would to fully coat my hair. While my hair had slip before I got out of the shower, once I blow-dried it, I had a smooth finish but it didn't feel as soft as I expected based on what my wet hair felt like. That being said, I've tried this conditioner four times and total, and while it gets the job done, I think I would recommend it to someone who has fine to medium hair." — Erin

"Erin and I have totally different hair textures, but we were pretty much left with the same result after using the Hydrating Conditioner. I went through the entire bottle of conditioner in one round (which is normal for me, I have a lot of hair and it's thick) and it just didn't give me the slip I was looking for when it came to detangling. Once the product was rinsed out, my hair unfortunately didn't feel particularly hydrated. I would say that this conditioner is best suited for someone who has much finer hair than mine and only needs light moisture replenishing on wash day." — Kayla

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Repair Hair Mask

What It Does:

Formulated for intense repair, this mask uses cationic hyaluronic acid, as well as organic shea butter to nourish dry and damaged hair. Plant-based ingredient hemi-squalane replaces silicones in the formula, and helps to coat hair in moisture so it's prepped and ready for styling, while an algae complex and lavender extra help to rebalance the scalp.

The Bottom Line:

"In all honestly, the package didn't hold enough product to fully coat my abundance of hair, however, my curls were defined and relatively soft after use. But since I was only able to cover about a quarter of my hair with product, I had to mix the mask with another deep conditioner to get the job done. It's difficult for me to say whether or not this mask was fully effective, but it certainly didn't dry my hair out or leave it feeling limp." — Kayla

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