Like she is about most things, Madonna is famously a perfectionist about her skin. She rarely spends time in the sun, and when she does, she is covered head to toe in scarves and hats, as many a paparazzi have found out. She reportedly not only travels with her own facialist when on tour—she happens to be the most successful touring solo artist of all time, so she can afford it—but she is an early adopter of beauty fads, like the obsession with oxygen facials. Back in the aughts, she was one of the first celebrities to buy into the trend, going as far as buying one of the machines for her personal use, or so it's been reported. The result is that Madonna is one of those very famous women who seem to be aging backwards. So, it's not at all a surprise that she would launch her own skincare line. Called MDNA Skin—a play on her 2012 album—the launch includes a face wash, a chrome clay mask with its removal device—a product she demonstrated on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday night—as well as a serum and a rose mist, an item she has spoofed in a series of promotional videos with the Fat Jewish. (The nine units, ranging in price from $50 to $600, will be available on the line's site as well as Barneys New York counters.) Madonna boldly stepped into the beauty world with a trusted partner at her side, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, the New York dermatologist whose Upper East Side office is hallowed ground for anti-aging obsessives. Here, Frank, who consulted on MDNA after working with Madonna on her personal skincare for some years, shares the pop star's rules for better skin, the importance of consistency and discipline, and reveals the anti-aging product everyone should try.
How did you start working on the line?
I met Madonna almost three years ago when I started consulting her on skincare as her dermatologist. I didn’t know it, but at the time she was working on her skincare line with [a company called] MTG that would launch in Asia. As a cosmetic dermatologist, I’ve had many years of formulation, product development, and marketing experience working with the Estée Lauder Companies. Understandably, we had quite a bit to talk about. Madonna is an extremely meticulous consumer who is eagerly interested in not only beauty, but science. Whatever I suggested led to extensive conversations about all aspects of skincare and beauty. So, after many months of picking my brain and working together, she asked me to work as a consultant and sort of middleman between her vision and MTG.
The products have been around for a few years in Asia—why is she bringing them to the U.S. now?
It started in Asia mostly because MTG is a Japanese company. They make other products in the wellness and technology realm, but this type of line was relatively new to them. I think the ultimate goal for them and for Madonna was always to bring MDNA Skin to North America.
We all know that Madonna takes amazing care of her skin. What are her personal beauty rules?
Madonna is dedicated to skincare and her routine of sun avoidance, her own products, regular oxygen and LED light facials, and, most importantly, staying positive and happy. All of these things have a dramatic effect on the aging process. What we agreed about most when discussing MDNA Skin was routine and dedication—consistency, simplicity, and discipline. It’s not about chasing fads and changing products constantly, but choosing high-end formulations and being diligent with them.
Beyond routine, what were her biggest priorities for the line?
It had to work for her and her busy life. It wasn't just about ingredients and results, but the textures, the smells, the packaging—what was involved in the application. Everything that makes you feel comfortable with a product.
How involved was she in formulating the products? What we really want to know is: Does Madonna geek out over skincare technology?
She was intricately involved. Not a single aspect of formulation was without her approval. She experimented on herself tirelessly—sending sample after sample back and forth until she felt is was perfect. Her suggestions and needs dramatically helped shape the line. The best example is the eye mask: It [covers more of your face] and has the most unique feel. It’s unlike any other on the market. That’s because it had to cover the area she needed and it needed to stay on her face for a long period of time. This isn’t the first celebrity skincare line—what do you think sets MDNA Skin apart?
Well, it’s the same thing that sets anything Madonna does apart. Once she associates her name with something, she throws herself in 100 percent. The products represent the most thorough, meticulous, advanced and different skincare experience—luxurious formulations that leave your skin feeling and smelling great, and cutting edge technologies to help deliver the ingredients.
About the products—is there one you’re particularly excited about?
As a cosmetic dermatologist, I am obviously a tech guy. I love lasers and devices that can be used in anti-aging. So the Skin Rejuvenator ($180), [a magnet-like tool], which is used to remove the Chrome Clay Mask ($120) and infuse The Serum ($240) into your skin is my favorite. Get it and use it—you’ll see the difference. We also developed a handful of signature MDNA professional treatments associated with the products.
The Chrome Clay Mask, and the process of removing it with the Skin Rejuvenator, is very sci-fi. How does the technology work and what are the benefits?
It is the perfect combination of formulation and technology. Until now, it’s something I have only seen professionally (in offices like mine) with drugs and lasers. The chrome clay formulation allows the mask to be removed magnetically without any residue other than the dewy remains of an active serum, while electric vibrations deliver the active ingredients into skin using what is called dermal infusion. The rejuvenator acquires feedback from the skin in regards to its variable thicknesses to help deliver the product effectively. It is actually quite amazing.
The key ingredient comes from thermal waters in Tuscany. What are the benefits?
Montecatini Terme and its waters have been visited for generations for its healing properties. They are studied by university physicians and have an established place in therapeutic care. "M.T. PARCA" is a formulation of minerals from the thermal waters that MTG laboratories developed and harnessed for the MDNA line [exclusively], and it has anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects on the skin.
That’s serious! We’ve heard a more affordable line will be launching next fall. Any teasers you can share?
We are well into it. The only thing I can share is it will all be very different from what we’ve seen in the skin care market to date.