The life and achievements of skin treatment pioneer Danné Montague-King, are not easy to summarize. Where to start, after more than 40 years of research and travel, pioneering a skin revision methodology that for the most part was decades ahead of its time, and then to only now have his achievements recognized in his native U.S.?
From Russia to Tibet, Europe to Australia and beyond, Danné Montague-King has sought out knowledge in pursuit of his dream to bring aesthetic medicine and beauty therapy together. Long before cosmeceutical and para-medical became marketing buzz words, and long before Heads of State and members of royalty became believers, Danné was committed to hands-on research and hard work – wherever it took him. When asked how he managed to sustain such an incredible journey, this enigmatic man with the Peter Pan grin simply shrugs. “I just got on with it – and I had a lot of help!”
Top surgeons from Beverly Hills endorse his concepts, and his London Harley Street headquarters cater to a growing elite, but none of this has changed his fundamental attitude of always striving to know more and continually improve the treatments that he provides. “The press tries to capitalize on the glamorous aspects of my success, which can be annoying,” says Danné. “But it’s the skin revision work that’s most important to me.”
As far back as the early 1960s, this visionary in the alternative methods of natural pharmacology became aware that something was missing in the way skin care was being approached during that decade. Inspired to self-treat his own severe bouts of acne, Danné soon realized that human cells will not accept that which is either non-essential to their natural make up, or is not recognized as workable fuel. It was his first major discovery. “It took a lot of stumbling in the dark, but then the research started to pay off. I quickly saw how other skin conditions such as aging and the specific problems of ethnic skin could also be treated.”
His first stint in education was teaching skin revision in beauty schools around Chicago. These often had a large black student enrollment and he would regularly take the elevated trains out into the snow bound suburbs to reach them. In the 1970s there was very little in the way of aesthetician courses on offer – his syllabus was totally from his own mind – and the pay was minimal. The students were grateful and would take up a collection for him at the end of class, so that he could continue to teach them.
Years later, when he became friends with American icons Joel Gerson and Carol Walderman – both of whom were dedicated educators – Danné felt embarrassed that his early classes were not structured in the classic way of beauty therapy training. Ironically, both of these top professionals became supporters of his work. Obviously, results speak for themselves.
The Danné Montague-King story began a new chapter when he left Chicago for California to host a television series called Skin Deep. Here he also had the opportunity to set up a lab for continuing research, and for the production of tools that he believed were necessary to make his concepts available to everyone.
Danné has always maintained that products are over emphasized in aesthetics, being at best merely tools. Concept is everything is his life mantra. He stressed the need to look at skin in terms of functionality, structure, and hormonal fluctuation (for example, acne starting in the hypothalamus gland and cortisol levels contributed to many skin problems). He was the first scientist in his field to recognize the power of enzymes in skin treatment – and not enzymes in the products, but the idea of stimulating the many enzymes already in the skin and body, that orchestrate everything. “It’s really very easy to understand,” says Danné. “The human body is a bag of fluids containing a few chemicals that are orchestrated by enzymes and held together with electromagnetic waves. Simple!”
He created the now renowned Remove Rebuild Protect Maintain system, which has revolutionized the way aesthetics is being approached all over Europe, and particularly in China, Russia, and the Ukraine, where most of his colleagues are surgeons and dermatologists. It was his Chicago Black Skin researches that lead him to South Africa in the 1980s, long before apartheid was over. He received a commendation from Zulu King Buthelezi at Parliament House in Cape Town for his work with black people in townships and cities all over the country.
But his real expertise lay with journalism, through which he could enact his firm belief that knowledge should be shared. He was the first journalist to alert Europe and Asia to the powers of alpha hydroxy acids back in the days of the “Acid Reign” for professional application, and yet was the only person to caution against the use of AHAs in home products. A fact which did not make him popular with a lot of manufacturers at the time. Such is the price of commitment to one’s ideals.
It was also during this time that he formulated a topical analgesic based on cryotherapy that he called BIOFREEZE™, which is now one of the most famous products in the world. Selling out his interest and formula for BIOFREEZE™ several years ago allowed Danné to be more selective regarding who would represent his concepts. He could now devote time and energy to ensuring that high-level commitment, comprehensive research, and expert qualifications were attributes that became associated with his skin care treatments.
Danné strongly believes that there should be a positive working relationship between the medical fields and aesthetics professions. To achieve this, he has worked intensively with some of the world’s leading physicians and surgeons in the effort to elevate the importance of proper pre- and post-operative skin revision protocol, surgical alternatives, scar revision, and skin health maintenance for long term results.
As a shift in attitudes slowly took root overseas, Danné was there at the forefront. Whilst lecturing, at Cambridge in the UK, on the true meaning of para-medical, his candid scoffing at the term “cosmecuetical” – as being no more than a marketing device designed to influence the public into believing that products sold under this banner were medically or pharmaceutically enhanced – earned him an invitation to lecture at The Royal Academy of Medicine in London, a stiff upper lip institute that had previously looked down on beauty therapy as playing around. Then in 2009, Danné’s long time educator in the UK, Susan Williams, was invited by the Academy to be a member, a rare first for an aesthetician who was not a doctor of medicine. This was in recognition of her efforts in bridging the gap between aesthetics and medicine in hospitals, clinics, and surgeries throughout Great Britain. “I am extremely proud of her,” says Danné.
Danné is a tireless educator. He annually travels around the world, conducting lectures to professionals and consumers alike. An invited guest speaker at many exhibitions, Danné has become a well-known figure within CIDESCO and BABTEC. Several years ago, Baljeet Suri, owner of The Ray Cochran School of Beauty in London, and a CIDESCO board member, asked Danné to participate in the upgrading and revision of the CIDESCO syllabus – which was nearly 200 years old! “I was flattered,” says Danné, “but I realized such a body of work would require a full time commitment, so I had to decline. My grandmother’s credo of anything worth doing is worth doing well, was ringing in my head.”
As one of the most published aesthetic journalists in the world, Danné Montague-King is a regular contributor to many of the world’s most important professional magazines, including Professional Beauty in four countries, Les Nouvelles Esthetiques, Health and Beauty, Skjonnet og Helse, Australian Beauty Therapy, Beauty New Zealand, Medi Spa Canada, and Irish Beauty. Although his articles can be heavily scientific, his inspirational use of analogies, combined with wit and humor, has created a loyal fan base. At a recent magazine gala on the Thames, he was approached by an enthusiastic therapist from Iceland who hugged him and said, “I never buy anything until I first see what you have to say about it!”
Anyone who has met Danné or listened to one of his lectures will understand why he has become such a popular figure in the media. Some say he epitomizes male vanity, but few will ever say he looks bad. His strong personality is balanced by his knowledge of the industry and his controversial willingness to contradict many of the ways people think within it, which defines him as a truly committed and unique individual.
Over the years, he has been interviewed by many of the top television and radio personalities – including stateside with Geraldo Rivera – and by journalists for magazines such as Marie Claire, Cosmo, Elle, Vogue, and Tattler. European Vogue once ran an article entitled “Derm War Fares,” which listed Danné Montague-King as one of the top five skin specialists in the world – an accolade he has laughed off. “Pure hype! I am only a wild ham cavorting on a field of corn with a message to get out to professionals.” Even with all his successes, Danné does not like to take credit for his vision. “I have never created anything,” he often says. “Nature sets up the rules. A true scientist must first think abstractly, without tunnel vision. All of the premier scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries that gave us telephones and air flight, indeed, pioneers of nearly everything we enjoy today, were ordinary men. Most were without formal educations or degrees, researching simply because they were curious, had imagination, listened to their own hearts, and followed the dictates of nature and the far off music of the universe.” He lays the accolades of success for his skin revision concepts at the feet of the many “giants of science and medicine” who have contributed to his message. But in the end, Danné Montague-King somehow had the loudest voice!
Danné turns 67 this month, but feels no trepidation about getting older. Just like the ancient Chinese, he believes that, “We are born and then we die. What happens in-between is up to us!” And there is certainly no letting up on the in-between, either. Currently, he has assembled a team of experts to bring to the world the finest makeup foundation ever created. It is a dream that Danné has always wanted to turn into reality. “This has been on my mind for a long time,” he says. “For many years, patients at our clinics would ask me about what kind of makeup they should use after their acne or rosacea treatments. I would simply recommend what I knew to be the least harmful. But I always had other ideas in mind. I wanted to formulate a base that covers everything, even scars and tattoos, and that has no heavy oils, lasts all day long, doesn’t rub off on clothing, and yet looks like natural skin in the broadest daylight. A makeup foundation that is not detrimental to the health of skin.”
And this dream has nearly come to fruition, with the makeup range slated for launch in early 2010. Danné never intended to be in the cosmetics business, but he feels that to be able to look someone in the eye and say, “We have the world’s best,” and mean it, may be the beginning of a whole new chapter in a long and fulfilled life. As grandma said to the bright eyed, mischievous child, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
So what next for the irrepressible Montague-King? “More work, of course!” he says. And no small projects, either. He’s got the next 20 years mapped out already. “I want to form an international coalition of educators and scientists to help take skin care to the next level, both in the U.S. and all over the globe.” We might like to wish him luck… but no doubt he will not need it!