ESG Case Study: Dr. Barbara Sturm

Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics is a doctor-led skincare brand based in Düsseldorf, Germany. Established in 2011, the company specialises in non-surgical rejuvenation of the skin and wrinkle treatments.

Keyhaven acquired a stake in the business in January 2019, and together with our co-investors, we have been working with management on the ESG initiatives, with a focus on building on an already strong ESG backbone and developing the company’s processes and practices to be best in class.

Responsible sourcing

The company has developed a thorough risk assessment and management approach within its supply chain. All new suppliers are vetted against an ethical checklist and are evaluated based on several risk factors including:

  • - Size
  • - Location
  • - Labour practices
  • - Code of conduct
  • - Compliance

Due diligence on suppliers is performed before engagement and once onboarded they are continuously monitored to ensure adherence to the required ISO standards. All products and ingredients are cruelty free and not tested on animals. Ingredients and components are locally sourced whenever possible to avoid unnecessary transport and all manufacturers have committed to CO2 neutral processes including the use of green electricity and eco-gas.


Sustainable backbone

Barbara Sturm Molecular Cosmetics is a pioneer of the ‘clean beauty’ innovations we see in the market today. Unlike much of the conventional medical community, the products do not contain toxic synthetic chemicals, are free from parabens and are safe for use during pregnancy. Innovative ingredient science is at the heart of the business, and the company’s products contain unique ingredients that have been clinically examined for their properties and efficacy.

The company continuously seeks to improve the way its products are produced and packaged. It has significantly reduced the amount of packaging used for its products. Recyclable paper from sustainable forestry is used for all product leaflets and boxes. Recyclable glass jars have replaced plastic jars as product containers and all other outer packaging, including bags, are made from recycled materials.

The company is working on reducing its carbon footprint by making changes to business travel policies and enhancing its work from home practices. The company has set up an employee led ‘Sustainability and Doing Good’ task force to drive these initiatives and promote employee awareness of these initiatives.

Societal Impact

Barbara Sturm’s products are suitable for all skin types and ethnicities. The company is moving away from social media influencer driven strategies, choosing to engage directly with the customer, while promoting individuality and a positive body image. An example of these efforts in action is the online skin tutorials and consultations, which allow for consumer engagement with the founder herself. Ticket sales from these tutorials are donated to charity. The business supports a variety of charities and has also set up an internal group to look at a more formal and structured method of charitable giving.

Local networks are used extensively to recruit throughout the business at all levels, from the therapists in the local spas to senior management, increasing employment in local areas across the US, Germany and the UK. Women account for 95% of the company's workforce and over 75% of senior positions are held by women. 

ESG at Keyhaven