Debbie Matenopoulos Talks Skincare Line Ikaria Beauty, The View, & More - Exclusive Interview

Debbie Matenopoulos has accomplished so many things over the course of her career. Before she even graduated from college, she had already worked at MTV, and she quickly landed a gig on a then-new television show called "The View." Yet, her career was still only getting started. She's since covered major events on the red carpet, written a cookbook, and hosted "Home & Family" on the Hallmark Channel. Now, she's tackling something completely new — the skincare industry.

The secret to great skin had always been a family secret until now. After witnessing how her Greek relatives never seemed to age, the television host turned to her Greek roots as the perfect starting point, specifically an island called Ikaria, where people are known to live exceptionally long lives. After a bit of experimenting — even in her own kitchen — her brand Ikaria Beauty was born. 

We had the opportunity to sit down with the former host of "The View" to ask her all about her skincare line and everything else she's been working on. In an exclusive interview with The List, Matenopoulos revealed the most challenging parts of starting a skincare line, the best advice Barbara Walters gave her during her time on "The View," and the three new television shows she's working on now.

How Debbie Matenopoulos got started in the skincare industry

I want to thank you because I got a box of Ikaria Beauty products from your team.

Oh, my gosh. You're going to love it. You're going to love this stuff. Kelsie, when I tell you — Look, the world does not need another celebrity out there being, "Oh, my gosh! Buy my creams!" Because there's not enough of those.

I did this out of necessity completely because I have such allergic skin. When I tell you this stuff is so good, I am so proud of this. All my friends privately text me and they go, "Deb, this is really good." And I said, "I know. I'm not just sending it to you just to put on your skin and pretend it's good. It's really good!" You can even put it on your baby. I put it on my daughter for her eczema.

Have you always wanted to go into skincare?

No! That's what I'm telling you. This happened absolutely from necessity. The mother of all invention is necessity. I've always been very pro-Greek, pro my people. I'm the biggest Greek cheerleader. I'm so proud of my culture.

I moved back to Greece, and I wrote a cookbook ["It's All Greek to Me: Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with My Family's Century-Old Recipes"] years ago, right after my father passed away. It was my love letter to Greece and to my dad. I donated a lot of the proceeds to the ALS Association of America to help raise awareness and raise money, to find some cure, just anything, that could slow the progression of this. It's such a hateful disease.

Anyways, when I was in Greece collecting all these recipes from my family, because they're all 100% family recipes, traditional, so tried and true, and tested for centuries. I also realized that a lot of the same things that we put in our body, the Greek people were also putting on their skin. I was like, "Why do they look so much younger than we do in America? But they spend most of their time in the sun on the beaches. It doesn't make sense. What is going on?"

And my mom would be like, "Honey, olive oil, you know, all the things I tell you. Look at me. I'm so young." [Laughs] I'm like, "You're right, mom." Olive oil is a big thing that a lot of people had started talking about at that time. So things like olive oil, goat milk, believe it or not, yogurt, things that they've always said for all these years. And I just never really listened to it because if it costs $300 and I can buy it at Saks Fifth Avenue, it's better for me. Clearly a lie, clearly not true, but I'm as much a consumer as anyone else. I work in the business. In all these years, I know that the beauty business is a multi-billion dollar business because it preys on basically the insecurities of us.

And if you tell me, I use this cream, and I'm going to look like Gigi Hadid, then I'm going to believe you, even though I know in my brain, that is not possible. If I'm falling for it and I work in this business, then people who don't work in this business have no hope. Of course, they're going to shell out the money.

What went into creating Ikaria Beauty

That's the thing, too. You don't want to spend a ton of money if you're not sure it's going to work for you. I've had acne since I was a teenager, so I've tried things for years, and it's hard.

Yeah, and it doesn't work. I met these guys, these chemists, in L.A., and I said, "Could you do this?" I really just did it for me. I mean, I could show you some pictures, and you would go, "Oh, my gosh." The amount of makeup they kept putting on my skin over and over was really exacerbating the acne, or the breakouts, or the allergies, and nothing could fix it. Thousands of dollars of dermatologists.

So I basically moved back to my roots. I went back to my roots. I started listening to what my mom said, and my aunt said, and all my cousins over there with great skin. I'm like, there's something to this, so I asked them. I said, "Could you use products that are indigenous to Greece that you find all over Greece?" Namely, this little island called Ikaria, which is one of the only blue zones in the world, and they're known for their really, really amazing honey and their pure honey.

So they did. They went into the lab, and they started putting these things together. I tried to do it at home, and it was a disaster. [Laughs] I mean, it was okay. But trust me, you don't want me making the creams. You want them, the professionals, to do it.

We combined Mountain Tea from Greece, which a lot of people don't know about Mountain Tea here in America. It's interesting. I started to ask people, they're like, "What's Mountain Tea?" It has really amazing healing properties for your skin. It's similar to chamomile.

So holy basil, olive oil, royal jelly, honey, something called blue cone flour. And it was just initially meant to actually, sort of, reduce inflammation and calm the skin. That's what I wanted. I just wanted something calming that wasn't going to dry it out, that wasn't going to then make, like — I'm going to get rid of the pimple, but then I'm going to dry it out so much that the pimples then are going to come back 10 times fold, you know? People don't realize that, that it gets worse.

In doing this, I mean I learned so much about this, by the way. It's such a cool process. In doing this, not only did it reduce inflammation and calm the skin and calm redness, it started plumping people's skin. It was reducing fine lines. It was so gentle, and it is so gentle that you can put it on kids. It was helping my daughter's eczema. I immediately started bringing these little pots to work and giving them to everybody, and being like, "Put this on your skin. Tell me what you think, and be completely brutally honest. I've got no skin in the game. I haven't started anything. These are just some people I met who have agreed to do this with me. Tell me, would you use this?"

I had all the girls on the show, every single makeup artist, everyone was coming in there, all the actors called me, saying, "Oh, my gosh. This is great. This is amazing. This is so good." I said, "Alright. We've got to do it." So then I said, "Let's do a little run and see if it works," and people really loved it.

I got to tell you, Kelsie, it's one of my, like, favorite things I have ever done, because I did this simply — As you see, my name's not even on it, you know? I didn't even put my name on it, and be like, "Hey, look at me! I'm the Greek girl hawking Greek products." [Laughs] I wanted to do it, because it's good. It's legit. It is a product that I can be very proud of and no hype or gimmick. This is a product that works, that will keep the integrity of your skin intact for years to come.

And I'm not going to rip you off, you know? I know how hard it is to make money, and the last thing I want to do, especially in this time, is ask somebody to shell out their hard-earned money for something that's not going to deliver. All I can say is [they're] super products, even my Greek family loves it, which makes me very happy.

Debbie Matenopoulos shares her skincare secrets

What are some of the things that you learned? Because I feel you would learn so much just about ingredients, about reactions on your skin, and everything.

Yeah, yeah. What I learned is too much olive oil can be a bad thing. [Laughs] Olive oil's really great for you, don't get me wrong. In Greece, they take shots of it in the morning, like, literally it's a medicine. Olive oil is like medicine, and it's also great for skin in moderation. You have to be very careful, because just like when you drink too much olive oil, it sort of becomes like a lubricant to everything in your body, and you will need to be in an eye shot of a bathroom.

But when you put it on your face, it can also have the adverse effect, if you don't have the exact right amount. If someone watching this says, "Oh, I'm going to go use some extra virgin olive oil, Greek olive oil, and put it on my skin," it'll maybe break you out because it's too thick.

That's what I was saying when I was saying earlier I decided I wanted to do it in my kitchen, and I said, "Let me see what I could do." I thought, this is not working. [Laughs] Because I was using too much olive oil, not enough of the royal jelly, not enough of the holy basil, not enough of the Mountain Tea, which then also calms it. I learned that recipes and formulas are super important. Recipes are important when it comes to skincare, as well as when it comes to actually cooking or baking. You must always follow a recipe. [Laughs] So that's one of the things I learned.

I learned, also, a lot about, like, packaging and about, you know, what temperatures certain things have to be. You know, a lot of our creams that we spend a lot of money on, when they say it goes bad in three months, not necessarily if you kept it in the refrigerator. I wonder if they also just say these things because they want you to go out and spend more money. As long as you keep a lot of the stuff out of heat, it's okay. And you don't contaminate it by sticking your fingers in too much. You always want to use, like, a little spoon or something, especially when it's natural.

That's what makes me nervous about all these DIYs online. They're like, "Do this. Do that." You don't know the balance of everything. It's scary!

I can tell you from experience, don't do it. [Laughs] I mean, I had honey in my hair. I wish I had some of that video. That was hysterical.

Looking back, it's hysterical.

Looking back, it's hysterical. [Laughs] Now that I've moved forward, and I actually have professionals helping me.

The best beauty advice Debbie Matenopoulos has heard in the entertainment industry

You've worked in entertainment for a long time. What's some of the best beauty advice that you've heard?

I can give you some beauty advice. The best beauty advice I can give you is: a smile is the best thing you can ever put on your face. 1,000%. That's coming from someone who has had to stand next to literally the most beautiful people in the world. I mean, my job is a job where I have to interview, like, supermodels and movie stars and people who have exceptional DNA [Laughs], where you're like, "Wow. Does it hurt to be that pretty?"

So when you stand next to them, and now let's talk about also, your skin not looking great because, for whatever reason, I'm having a breakout or an allergy and I have to be on a red carpet at the Oscars or the Golden Globes and talk to these people. And I'm thinking, there's nothing I can do. This is my job. I have to do it, so I have to take myself out of my skin, which is reacting, and just deliver what I need. I need to interview these people and get the best interview I can out of them.

Again, I just learned that smiling and being authentic is the best beauty tip I can give anyone. I mean, because I didn't have much of a choice. I'd have to show up and try to put my best face forward and have it be a mess. My makeup artist one time said to me, "Stop telling people. When they walk up, and you say to them, 'Hey! It's so good to see you. Oh, sorry. I'm having a breakout.' Just stop. Why are you calling attention to it?"

I said, "Because they're going to see it, and they're going to want to — they were like — She'd say to me, "I'm telling you, once you start talking, they're not looking at the breakout or the allergy. Just be confident, and have a smile." And, you know, that goes a long way. That's probably the best advice I could give you as far as beauty advice goes.

Stuff that is actually tangible that you could use? [Laughs] I would say there's so many hacks, and there's so many things you can do. But again, you know, in moderation, olive oil is great for your whole body. If you take olive oil and water, and you put it in a spritz bottle because if it can spritz out, it means that it's thin enough, and you spray it on your elbows, or on your knees, or on dry patches and spray it on your face. I have not done this research, but by looking at my aunts and my cousins and all my family in Greece, I can say from experience from looking at them, they've done this their whole lives. I promise you, they look 10 to 15 years younger than they really are. There's got to be something to that.

There's been a secret there all along.

There's a secret, and great skin is really at the core of all of this, because you can keep putting on tons of makeup, but it almost masks your beauty. Do you know what I mean? It dulls your skin as opposed to making it glow. If your skin is pretty and glowy and healthy, that's all you need. Put on some mascara, curl your lashes, throw on some lip gloss, and you're good to go.

And it helps with your confidence, too.

It's about the confidence at the end of the day.

The most important advice Barbara Walters gave her on The View

You joined "The View" when you were 21 years old. You were very young.

I was a baby.

You probably learned so much on that set. You've said that Barbara Walters was your mentor. What did you learn from her?

I learned so much from Barbara. It was the most incredible experience of my life. Really, it was so scary, Kelsie. Oh, my gosh. I was so young, and it was so scary. I just wanted to make her proud, and I just wanted to be good at my job. I would study ... I learned so much from her. I think being on "The View" at that young age, was — Every single day sitting next to Barbara was doing a class in television and in journalism. Just sitting next to her, I felt I was learning everything. Everything from how to do television, obviously, how to be a great journalist, how to ask a question, how to ask a follow-up question, how to listen. That's probably one of the biggest things she taught me, was how to listen.

She, one day — Gosh, it was a very hard lesson to learn, but one day when we were about to walk out on set and we all had these cards, she came up, and, remember, it's a live show in front of a 200 person studio audience at that time. The studio audience is, like, 50 people now, but before then, it was 200 people. I was studying my cards and studying my cards. I need to be as smart as these people. I don't need to be as smart as these people. They were renowned journalists and prosecuting attorneys and had won multiple Emmys and comedians. Like, I was a kid. I just needed to show up and just be me, but you can't tell that to somebody unless they live it, and you just want to deliver. She came up to me, and I'm just reading. [She] takes my card, takes them out of my hand, and rips them up. I was freaked. Imagine Barbara Walters doing that to you. Rips them up and throws them and says, "You don't need your cards today, baby."

I'm like, "Oh, my God." [Laughs] I'm like, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God. How I'm I going to do this?" And the stage manager's going, "10, nine, eight," counting us down to walk out to a live audience and a live broadcast. My whole life flashed before my eyes. [Laughs] Because you want to study the people you're interviewing, what you're talking about. So I walk out there, I sit down, and I think, there's nothing I can do except just being me. I went out there. I did the show, and it was the best show I ever did, because do you want to know why? I listened. Instead of trying to remember what I was going to say next because that's what I wrote down, I got to say what I wrote on the card. She said to me, "See? That's the best show you ever did because you listened. You're much better when you just listen," and she's right.

And for somebody like you who interviews people all day, you know very well from experience that it's not always about the question on your card. It's about the follow-up question that someone may have said something and you go, "Oh, interesting. Let's go down that road for a minute because I bet there's more here." That's always the better interview.

It happens all the time. You don't know what the other person's going to say, so then you could just go down a completely different road.

I think what she was probably trying to also get across by explaining that to me is that when you're doing your research and when you're studying people, you're reading all the other interviews that they've already done. Why don't we learn something new?

She was tough, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. She was incredible. She also taught me never to be late. She used to say to me, "If you're not 10 minutes early, you're late." I like that one, too. And in live TV it's true, because if you're not 10 minutes early in live TV, you are late. [Laughs]

Debbie Matenopoulos describes what it's like being back on the set of The View

How does it feel when you go back to "The View" now? Because it's changed so much, and you've guest hosted quite a few times over the years.

Gosh, I've guest hosted a lot of times over the years, but it's different, and it's different every time. That's what's interesting. There have been so many different iterations of this show from when I was on.

Like, when I went back just recently, Sunny [Hostin] wasn't there. It was her birthday or something, and Whoopi [Goldberg] wasn't there. It was just me, Joy [Behar], Sara [Haines], and Ana Navarro. And of all of them, anyway, had Sunny been there or had Whoopi been there, the only O.G., the only original person still on that set that I had any connection to — I mean, I love all these women, and I know them, but that I had any really deep connection to — is Joy, because we were literally the last two on that set at that time. So it's really nostalgic, and it always feels really good.

I'll always have a really soft spot in my heart for that place because they took a chance on me and they launched my career. Bill Geddie and Barbara Walters took some kid out of obscurity who was working at MTV and going to NYU and said, "You know what? I think this is going to work," and it did, and people loved it. And Barbara used to say — She said, "If this show works, you won't be able to walk down the street without people screaming your name. We won't be able to have the show on the air without them imitating it and having tons of copycats." And that's exactly what happened. Look at "The Real," look at "The Talk." They even tried to do the male "View" ["The Other Half"]. Every single show after "The View," became a panel discussion show, and she was the one who launched it.

It feels really good to know — I mean, regardless of where all of us have gone since, with Joy being the last one there — there will only ever be one first time. And we were the first. There will only ever be one first. So many other people came after, but we were the first, so something's really special about that.

Will we ever see Debbie Matenopoulos permanently return to The View?

Would you ever want to permanently go back to "The View"?

Woo, girl! That's asking a lot.

Yeah, it is a daily show.

Aside from the daily show, it's also I'd have to pick up and move back to New York, you know? It's, like, uprooting my family and really — Never say never. Never say never. But the show has changed so dramatically since I've been there.

And again, you needed – I needed life experience to be on that show. To be on that show, you have to have some sort of — You know, you had to have lived. And at 21 years old and 22 years old, what did I really know? Not much, so I now am far better suited for that show, and I'm far better — I'm a better debater. I'm a better communicator. I am more comfortable in my skin. I am more confident, so I'm better suited for that platform.

But, you know, it comes along with a lot of — How can I say this? It comes with a lot of baggage. Because I often say [Laughs], "If you breathe wrong, you've offended someone in America on that show." If you say, "Oh, the sky's blue," and they say, "No, it's not. It is simply a reflection of the ocean." You're like, "Wait, what?" You get attacked. If you say, "My name's Debbie." "Is it? Is it Debbie?" You get attacked for everything. I think that's part of the whole — that's part of the beauty and also the unfortunate part of that show. The show in itself is all about debate. Even if it's not the women debating, it's about America debating what the women have said. You have to have a Teflon skin, and you have to say, "I know this is what it is. I know this is what I'm signing up for." Because even if they can't attack you for what you've said, they'll attack you for what you're wearing and what your hair is. I mean, have you seen some of those boards? Oh, Lord. I mean, woah. They are tough.

The truth is I'm about being nice. I always have been. I'm not about — I don't want to fight. I'm a lover. I don't want to argue with you. It is okay for you to have a different view than mine. That's why it's called "The View." It's not supposed to be just one. It's okay for you to have a different opinion. It doesn't mean I don't love you and respect you. And somehow along the way, things have gotten blurred where people feel if you don't agree with me, if you don't stand strong with me, then I can't like you. That's not how it has to be. It gives me a headache, just even thinking about it. [Laughs]

Even back then because it was so different then. We'd have so much fun. We used to do the most crazy things. I was jumping out of a plane. We had the best time. The show was a reality sort of lifestyle, just an insane, fun show. But even then, towards the end is when it started to get really political, because that's when the whole Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal was happening. So when that started to happen, because Barbara was in the journalism world and interviewing all these people, and it was news and hot topics, we'd have to talk about it at the top of the show, because if we didn't, it would be bizarre that Barbara being this world-renowned journalist is not discussing these things. Meanwhile, she's interviewed all of them, you know what I mean? So even then, when things started to get heated, I would just shut up. I was like, you know what? I'm going to bow out of this one and just sit back and let you ladies argue. I'm not getting in it. [Laughs]

I'm sure that would be hard, and you also have all these people watching. That would just be a lot.

Yeah. I mean, especially when you're a kid, that's what I'm saying. Then, it was too scary. It was way too scary. Now, I'd probably say some things that would offend people, for sure. And I wouldn't care really if I offended them to be completely honest with you, but also I don't want to fight. I just, I'd probably say that. I'd say, "You know what, ladies? I don't want to fight." I don't have to be right. I just want to be happy.

Will we see Debbie Matenopoulos in a GAC Family Christmas movie one day?

You've been working with GAC Family recently. Would you ever want to act in one of their Christmas movies?

That is so funny you asked me that. They've asked me a few times like, "Oh, would you do this?" I said — I was like, "I'm not an actress." However, you know, there were some bit parts that I could have done because they really did not entail too much acting.

One of them, as a matter of fact, which they didn't ask me about, and I was like, "I can't believe you guys didn't ask me to be in [it]! That's the one I would've done!" Where Cameron [Mathison] was just in a movie ["A Kindhearted Christmas"] where he played a television talk show host. He actually played a talk show host, and he had a co-host. And we did the special for GAC right after we shot that. I'm at the special with him, and I said, "You've got to be kidding me. I mean, I obviously can play a talk show host. Maybe I can't, but really? This is the one time you don't say, 'Hey, would you like to do this?'" [Laughs] It's really funny. They go, "Oh, my gosh. We're so sorry."

Because GAC was launched, and so quickly, all these movies got thrown up, and they're doing such a great job, and they're going to have 25 new original movies literally by the end of the year. So for them to put a network up so quickly and do all these movies so quickly, you know, things were just moving so fast. I think they thought, "Oh, my gosh," and I was just teasing them. I said, "Of course, I'm not offended at all. However, if there is a sequel, I know who you can call." That's kind of the joke right now, so if he does a sequel, I said to him, "I better be in that movie." He goes, "I promise! I promise!" [Laughs]

Her must-watch Christmas movies

What's your favorite Christmas movie that you like to watch this time of the year?

Well, we have a Christmas tradition in my family where Thanksgiving night — Oh, this is so funny. Thanksgiving night, they start playing the Christmas movies. So this began with me and my sister and my brother. Now that they have families, really big families, now we all gather around, and it's 20 of us watching this. We always watch "Christmas Vacation" every Thanksgiving night after we've had Thanksgiving dinner, after the football game. I can recite pretty much every single line. It is one of the — It still stands the test of time. The writing is so funny. It's still so clever, and Chevy Chase [is] at his best. I mean, really, really good. I think all the other vacation movies were okay, but "Christmas Vacation" was just priceless.

And then I also love — Oh, gosh. Recently, I've loved the new one ["The Christmas Chronicles"] with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. I mean, it's not new. It's like two years old or three years old. It's so sweet, and it's just really good.

I also love "It's a Wonderful Life." I love "Home Alone," because, you know, those are the movies we grew up on, and I'm just now introducing them to Alexandra. My daughter's 7, and she's obsessed. "These are the funnest!" I'm like, "I know, honey. They're so much fun." She goes, "Why did they leave him at home? You wouldn't! They're bad parents." [Laughs] They had so many kids, they couldn't keep track. That wouldn't happen today; they would go to jail. [Laughs]

This is where we'll see Debbie Matenopoulos next

I read recently that you may be working on two new food shows and a lifestyle show. What's coming up next for you?

Well, stay tuned. I don't want to give away too much because I don't want to — knock on wood somewhere — I want it to actually happen before I talk about it. But we are very far along right now with a new lifestyle show, which will be — It's a new show that is very reminiscent of all the awesome stuff we did with "Home & Family," just newer, more improved, more modern, but it still has all the same heart. And it's going to be cooking, and it's going to be, you know, health and wellness and mindfulness, and interviews, and workouts, and all the fun stuff you saw and more. So that is very close to being done. That's the best Christmas present ever.

And then, I'm producing a television show that is pretty much based on my Greek cookbook. And it would be going back to Greece and going all around Greece and showing all the different regions of Greece and the different food, and cooking with the locals, and going to amazing, like, feta, where they make feta, to sheep farms to see them make the feta. And going to really great restaurants, or going fishing with the fishermen and seeing them bring the fresh fish out of the sea. That's something that is very time specific, so I have to wait until summer. We'll go there and do that then.

And then another one I'm working on — Gosh, I got a lot of stuff happening. Hopefully it doesn't all happen at one time because I'll go crazy. Then I won't be able to do any of it. [Laughs] But that's how it always happens, you know? And then suddenly, everything at once.

The other one is a show that celebrates and showcases all of the food and the really gourmet food that has recently popped up around all the stadiums and all the ballparks and arenas in America because that's never been done before. And when I was doing this with these producers, I'm like, "Why hasn't this been done before?" And they were like, "Because the food at the stadiums used to be horrible." And now all these big restaurants, like Nobu is in some of the restaurants, Craig's, a fancy restaurant here, is in SoFi. All these big, fancy chefs want to be inside of the stadiums. So it's showing, like, anything from the fancy part to even just still the regular, like what's famous at such and such stadium, like their chili cheese dog with onions and whatever the heck it is, you know what I mean? So we'll go across America eating a lot of food and probably having to drink a lot of Alka-Seltzer as well. [Laughs]

For more information on Debbie Matenopoulos' skincare line, visit