Turns out that Madonna isn’t only a singing superstar, performer and businesswomen, she’s a scent buff too. “She has a nose for rose,” says Michelle Peck, the skincare expert working with Madonna on newly released beauty line MDNA. “I have a good nose and hers is a little better, but when it comes to rose, hers is like, 100 times better.”
And she’s as demanding with her skincare as she is of herself on tour, with not even a tiny detail overlooked. So when the superstar insisted on including a rose-scented facial toner in her new line, everyone involved was mining ideas. “It’s her favourite scent. She loves rose, but she wanted it to be warm and refreshing. That’s a dichotomy,” says Peck, raising an eyebrow.
Facialist Peck’s vast client roster does include actual royalty, but she has been treating the Queen of Pop’s skin for over a decade, accompanying her on tour, hauling along the oxygen machines, lotions and potions needed to keep the Madonna skin glowing. Both are from the American Midwest, and Peck says they share similar sensibilities, including a work-hard ethic and attention to detail. They just clicked.
Now ambassador of the MDNA brand, Peck acted as point-of-reference during the design and realisation process, linking the Japanese beauty innovators MTG, who proposed developing the idea of a skincare line, with the singing star. “I didn’t want them to give up before the miracle happened and I knew it would happen because we don’t stop until it does,” she says. “M,” as she calls Madonna, “doesn’t stop until it’s exactly how she wants it, and I love that about her,” says Peck.
Back and forth the toner went, from MTG in Japan, through Peck, to the star and back again. Now the Rose Mist is a core part of the MDNA product family, which is being released throughout 2016 and is available in Hong Kong at Harvey Nichols. The line, which has taken about six years to conceive and produce, also includes a facial wash, eye mask and face serum, plus a clay mask and magnetised electronic remover known as the Skin Rejuvenator. A slimming treatment and eye serum are planned to follow.
The line is high-tech yet sensual, and targets common skin con-cerns. MTG offered cutting-edge technology and clean aesthetics, evident in the contoured handheld device that magnetically removes the mask and pushes the serum into the skin. The Japanese beauty innovator also sourced rare clay from Italy’s Montecatini Terme. A place of healing since Roman times, the Tuscan area’s ancient volcanic foundations produce mineral-rich waters filtered through limestone, jasper and clay that have long attracted “those in the know” to cure woes that include poor intestinal health, digestive problems and liver disease, so Madonna insists that MDNA products use the area’s healing thermal waters.
Peck brought her years of experience as an aesthetician, and Madonna brought an intimate knowledge of skincare. “She’s an athlete – her body is what she uses and from a very young age she learned how to treat it well,” Peck explains. If you’re Madonna, that means examining what works inside and out. “I’ve never known anyone with such a detailed knowledge of skin ingredients,” says Peck.
Serum was deemed an essential product. The duo had already dabbled in creating a blend borrowed from their favourite serums for Madonna’s personal use. That recipe was engineered into the MDNA product. “We were using ‘serums’ before they were serums,” says Peck of the professional treatments she called on before the deep moisturising and repairing lotions were produced for home use.
“We could see instantly that these worked,” she says, “that they go beyond what a moisturiser can do. A moisturiser doesn’t actually moisturise. It can’t because its molecular structure is too large. A moisturiser creates a protective barrier, but serums can really do something.”
Theirs uses a new type of hyaluronic acid, an ultra-hydrating ingredient that retains moisture deep in the skin thanks to its three-tier molecular structure. The pulsing electronic applicator also borrows from Peck’s professional arsenal to push the lotion deep down, transforming the product from a daily part of a beauty routine into a one-minute quick fix that tightens and brightens under the brows and around the eyes, or as a 30-minute specialised session that treats the face and neck.
Each product faced the same scrutiny as the mist during development, says Peck. “There’s no cheating with M. She can tell if even one little thing has changed,” she says. Working in such close contact with the singer continually demands that boundaries are pushed.
“Oh yeah! I am a completely different person now from when I started working with her. I think 20 paces ahead, it’s unnatural!” Peck says with a giggle. “But it’s the challenges that bring you together and make the relationship deeper. I couldn’t work with her if she didn’t inspire and challenge me.”