Danne Montague-King gives talk in The Aesthetic Report, a podcast by Dermascope, hosted by CIDESCO Diplomat and New York state school owner, Michelle D’Allaird, about getting through the 2021, DMK concept of skin revision and educational programs for skin professionals.
M: Here we all are – at the beginning of 2021. Thank goodness we made it, right?
To be honest (and I know, this sounds a little bit braggadocious considering what suffering people, particularly in our industry, have gone through with lockdowns and everything else), we, actually, elevated everything – you know, our company. Because I have a lot of employees and I am responsible for their families, their kids. And we didn’t want to fire anybody. We actually were more progressive.
All of my entire life, even since I was a little kid I can remember, I knew who I was. Now I have to pay for that many times, because knowing who you are in early age also means a big mouth and saying things that kids are not supposed to say.
This was a huge challenge. So we had to become very proactive and we got on the internet immediately with the series of tutorial videos starring myself and my nephew and some of the top people around the world about how a dermatologist, a doctor can continue making money and helping people at the same time from home.
1. Pretend that you are in your office! Don’t sit there and call up clients or answer phone calls just in the sweatshirt lounging back with a pizza in your hand. Put your uniform on, sit right there.
2. Diagnose people properly over the phone. And then when you prescribe (which basically will be a retail) what they will be using at home, tell they can come back to your place of business again. And you keep emphasizing that throughout your diagnosis: “When you can come back”.
That kept us going through.
M: 50 years seem like a lifetime for many people! But at the same time, how quickly it goes by, yeah?
It looks like I’m 77. I’ve spent a lifetime practicing what I preach, I mean, who are you. If you’re talking about age-management or acne, or whatever else and you get up in front of the audience to teach and you look like hell… You have to look what you’re doing, like what you’re doing. Yet there’s so much left to do in my mind. I kind of wish I could be a vampire. That’s what many say to me: “Are you a vampire?”
M: I know your history of coming in this industry. You had some huge struggle with acne yourself. Danne, seriously, when you go back to that period, what was the trigger to think: “Listen I have some issue, no one is helping me. I’ve got the ability to do this by myself”?
It is called “curiosity” and being born with this art brain. My intellectual quotient, IQ. Maybe never tell the kids what their scores were, because if they were too high, they might be lazy and say: “Well, I’m a genius, I don’t have to do anything”.
Or if they were too low, they’d say: “Oh, I’m never going to be anything anyway, so why?” When I did found out through my dad’s friend, who was a school teacher, what my IQ was, I thought: “Well, OK, that’s there, let’s see how we can use it”. I’m always curious: “Why is that so? Why is that not so?” Basically, that’s where it all started.
The acne thing was true. I was the first of 6 kids. I heard: “What a pretty boy!” So I thought I was a pretty boy. In all of the sudden at 15 I was not a pretty boy anymore. And that really bothered me a lot! And my parents took me around to dermatologists. Nothing worked. Of course, I had no understanding of the hormonal cascades and all the other underlined things that contribute to P. acnes. I started feeling around on my own. I was always working with this chemistry sets – Gilbert chemistry sets for young people. I learnt how to do a base.
Enzymes always popped up! The power of enzymes. And we are “the body-enzyme”. I mean, at the most base level we are nothing more than a bag of fluid, a few chemicals, orchestrated by enzymes and held together with electromagnetic energy. That’s what we are. This time I was fiddling around things that I realized later why they were working. But it could be a mental thing too, because hormone overload is decreased and you start looking at yourself more favorably.
By the time I was 18 – pretty skin, arrogates, crazy – all of that penned up singular time of loneliness. And I went through all like “I’m so ugly, nobody wants me”. That’s the press. That’s the press all over the world for years – the acne thing. But what it proved to me was that anything can be changed. You don’t have to suffer through things at all.
The quest then was to deal with every aspect of age reversal, we say “age-management”, the scar tissue… Everything was kind of connected together. And that was what helped to build a concept.
We are not a brand. We are not a line (I hear it all the time and that’s fine, I understand why). We are a concept. Concept – is a philosophy of science. Products are just tools – best tools in the world, but never mind the concept is the most important thing to teach anybody, who’s dealing with skin revision.
The psychological aspect of acne is very close to me. We had a huge Acne Summit several years ago in London. And kids from all over the UK were packing the room. And testimonials break your heart. Some kids were snatched back from suicide. Some did commit the suicide. The importance of those formative years when you have to engage in the groups and find your place in adult life, are highly important. So we always pay a lot of attention to the acne kids and adults with acne as well, but that’s another story.
M: Now to have the concept to be able to turn to, to help that… If taken 50 years of amazing opportunities and put it in the hands of young people that are really struggling – that’s awesome!
That makes them carry on further on into life and define their place, their workplace, their personal relationship. All these things can go back to that extraordinary phenomenon they go through. Some rise above it. But a lot don’t.
We are not a brand. We are not a line. We are a concept.
M: Looking at Vitamin C, enzymes and transepidermal delivery cream – it sounds like unheard-of!
We are constantly looking for pieces of a puzzle. We constantly research. Everything is logical. There’s no secret ingredient – it’s observed! I used to be quite outspoken about that. I still get angry with misinformation that is out there, that is guiding these therapists. The lack of education… It’s better now. I always hated misinformation, especially when you’re touching people. It’s a lot more than just slapping cream on and “exfoliance things”. We are actually guiding a portion of their life, if you are a true professional. I mean, you know, women will tell their therapist they really get on with the most personal things they might tell the preacher, a priest or even their husband or girlfriend.
Going back quickly to the Vitamin C, it wasn’t like “Eureka! Vitamin C!” I was just looking through one my old bibles “Grey’s Anatomy” and I saw the whole section on cytoplasm of collagen synthesis with ascorbic acid being important. It just seemed logical to me. I put it in different percentages almost in everything. I wanted that bath of the fibroblast, which is the factory that makes collagen and elastin, to be strong and run the factory right. I included that in my seminars and teachings and whatever.
I don’t like the idea of using buzzwords and trendy things like marketing devices. It’s very misleading. I’ve never said much about it, but then one company started hyping it up like it was reinvented. And sure every American company started counting the benefits of the Vitamin C in skin products. They didn’t explain why it was important. They just kept saying: “Oh, it increases collagen!” Guess what? Sometimes we don’t want to increase collagen – that’s what a scar is. So, I was a little bit mattered first, because I felt like I had a special thing. But then I said: “Come on, you’ve never talked about it, about what it does in the body, so just shut up”.
M: To you education is more important than anything else, because it’s about making you think. You said one of the most beautiful things before we came on air and it was: “My objective now is to make people think”.
I said many times at conferences and lectures, when therapists raise hands and ask questions: “Look, before you do that, think for a minute about what you’re going to ask”. And many times you answer yourself, because you’re going to stop and think.
If the person does that, and they start following through histology and chemistry and all of that they sum up and they want a formation – that’s a different thing. I’m very happy to be there, if they come up with something. That’s fine. But education is extremely important. The concept is important, because that is the pathway of thinking. It’s not just memorizing ingredients. You know, the American therapists and Australians too are just ingredient-crazed. They hear something on Google, Twitter or Facebook like “such ingredient is comedogenic” – and they stop using a whole… I’m so sick and tired of comedogenic. It almost doesn’t exist. I’m going to do an article about why this comedogenic scare is 98% bogus. And that’s a whole new direction.
M: Danne, to you what does it mean to be DMK certified? What is it that your estheticians have and that you’re confident that they have? They should make others want to seek such an education level.
For one thing, some of our tools could be misused and create negative reactions (if not properly used). We’ve always walked that grey line between “for medical” and “for esthetic” – as long as I can remember. And in fact, I think our people internationally with their different kinds of educational levels have been really responsible for some of the pioneerism and for some of the changes in aesthetics as we know it today. I’m absolutely confident of that. Not just me – we have fine educators. They are really passionate, but first of all, they are smart. So, when we certify someone, it means they have to take first “to start-up course”. We charge for every course, because if you don’t charge, give everything away – psychologically people don’t think it’s worth anything. That’s the human nature. I learnt that bitter lesson.
M: Some of our professionals are not really thinking, when you’re empowered with that knowledge and that education like “wow, the whole world opens up for you”.
First of all, other members of my company came up with a brilliant idea that I was against, because I don’t like “kits” and that kind of thing. But they came up with this fundamental kit, which was one treatment and 8 months of home prescriptives going on with that treatment. And I said: “This is so corny”. But it works.
In Program #1 they gather a lot of basic knowledge to the concept and the tools using. The second is more Advanced. And finally, there’s Paramedical. Paramedical merely means “adjunctive to”, because we have a lot of dermatologists and plastic surgeons in our network in Ukraine and Russia. In DMK they are all doctors, they are all serious – and you can’t fool these people, because they have all been given superior education.
Some people do the Program #1 and they still go back and they’re doing these kits. If you’re not very passionate, you just try to make nice living, help people out of here – you can do that. But nine times out of ten after they do after a while, they want to do more.
Then they go to the others two chairs. If they pass all the tests, both practical and written, then they are certified. If they don’t, we don’t say: “Well, honey, go ahead, make an order, it’s OK”. They cannot buy Alkaline Wash, they cannot buy certain things. And normally the ones that do that, are really, really good. And they do so well, and I’m always so proud of them.
We don’t ask anybody to use just DMK, although I don’t know why they wouldn’t. My final dream which probably will never happen – I’d love to have a company in franchise – the DMK skin revision clinics, the same colors – just a franchise. And the people that come there, would know what they’re going to get. Many products, which are not bad products particularly, neutralize the hard work doing by the DMK system and so we can’t guarantee the results at all.
Some people actually try to copy us. I never can believe in that, because if they only knew what goes into creating these products! Sometimes it takes me three years!
We’ve always walked that grey line between “for medical” and “for esthetic”
M: Danne, 50 years you’ve been doing this and you are still like a rock star. What keeps you going?
The main thing that keeps me going now is obligation to all those people around the world. Some of them are second and third generation DMK people. And it, of course, makes me feel ancient. My nephew Drew Coleman will carry on. He’s good and even better.
I’ve never attached the money first. It’s always: “What can we do for this problem in addition to what we’ve already done? Faster, better, whatever”. Sometimes it costs company a lot of money. I always say this: “If you have a really good tool (product), that’s a part of a treatment protocol, that really delivers ongoing results – that is the main focus. The money will come. And if nothing is selling despite of these good news, it means that it’s not being presented. And that’s how I think.
M: In all of your experiences and all the different things you’ve done, and people that you’ve touched, and thoughts that you had, what is the one thing you regret?
If something doesn’t work – that means, there’s a component missing, that you haven’t addressed. That’s why I say, sometimes it takes three years. I could say, I have a lot of regrets, but looking back – no. It’s been a miraculous ride. A beautiful, beautiful ride. There were bad times and tragedies. I will never forget Randy Larsen, my longtime partner, without whom I would not be a value man today, who was guiding the management of this company for a long-long time. And during that brief recession, right after Donald became a President, it was hard as we didn’t really address the American market at that time. I was overseas, travelling constantly. I will never forget him coming into my office with tremulous voice, closing the door, when he says: “What are we going to do?” And I just jump down, slapped my hand and on the table and said: “We are going to progress, examine everything and see what we do wrong and what can be done instead”. So, I can’t really save regrets. I could have been kinder in certain points of my life.
M: Given the technological advance in our industry, with ingredients, just with everything around us what would you say to a young Danne right now that want to make their mark in this profession, in the concept and making the difference? What would you say to that person?
There is one of those persons right now. He is making his own products in his garage. It’s very smart. And I don’t really know what to do, because he asks me more and more questions. I ‘m going to invite him to sit down one-on-one and say in person what the agenda is. If he has a true passion to agenda, certainly, I’ll help him. But if he has just to make a lot of money – no, I won’t. But what I’d tell by number one is: “Know who you are”. Believe in yourself at all costs. No matter what happens, if you strongly feel what you’re doing or thinking about has value and will do something and somebody else stick to that, you might slap down a few times, have the alternate leap to be tenacious. Know who you are. Tenacious, keep going, keep going and eventually you’ll start to succeed. And always be curious! Don’t take anything of Google or Wikipedia. I used a reference library before Google came and I still use it. Just keep going, no matter what, if you strongly feel that this is something you can do and it should be done. And you’ll succeed. I’ve never seen a fail. Just persistence, persistence, persistence. And don’t become annoying to people in the industry. Don’t be arrogant. Hold yourself up, hold your head high. If you have something good, make use of it.
It is a rock star, the fame, but it’s not a real me, it’s a presentation. And a presentation is hard to do, because you have to be a combination of certain amount of arrogance (not mean arrogance), a little bit of distance, hold yourself well, but be kind and humble at the same time. This works beautifully with people. And basically it is taking time to listen to people. Look at them and make them feel that they are the part of whatever is going on. When I’m looking in the audience I always pick about 5 spots, 5 faces, and I look at them in turn as I’m talking. And the result is that anybody in the room feels you are talking directly to them. Bill Clinton had that ability – to make everybody there feel like he personally sees them. And you’ll be successful. You’ll be real.
M: Would you rather always sleep in your make-up or never wear make-up again?
My make-up is silicon-based. It never moves until you wash it off. And it has no oil and whatsoever. So, mine – yes, oil-based make-up – no.
M: Would you rather only treat clients who keep their eyes opened in the service or only treat clients who always talk throughout the service?
Rather shut up. No, I’m serious about that, because this is distracting. And the way to get away with that is to go through educational tutorial with them in their own language while you’re working. Tell them everything you’re doing and why. You give them education, just give them knowledge. That shuts them up and they will go home learning something they have never heard before.
M: Would you rather forever give up Vitamin C or forever give up retinol?
Oh, retinol. Because the secret of retinol is Beta-Carotene. Too much retinol, too much Vitamin A taken orally or whatever will compromise your system and becomes toxic. Beta-Carotene doesn’t become retinol in the skin or in the body. It converts by enzymatic conversion to retinol or Retin-A and cells take just the amount that they need. The rest is discarded and it comes off.