Cindy Crawford, Eva Mendez and Blake Lively have all famously flaunted a natural mole, also known as a ‘beauty spot’. Other stars, meanwhile, have created artificial beauty spots with makeup or even tattoos. But Madonna’s mole, which appears to come and go in different phases of her life, has always been shrouded in mystery.

Madonna herself claims her mole simply faded as she grew older, and eventually she stopped accentuating it with makeup. We’re taking a look at how the star’s iconic facial feature has transformed her look over the decades.

Madonna’s fans have always had pressing questions about her beauty spot. Once the world wide web became more widely accessible, people took to the internet to ask about Madonna’s mole; as early as 1998, Ask Jeeves was tackling the question, “Is Madonna’s mole real?”

Like many fair-skinned people, Madonna has always had moles and freckles. As a baby, she had a larger mole on her cheek which appears to have been removed during early childhood.

As a child, she also had one “small mole under her right nostril,” noted one biographer: “[It was] sometimes disguised, sometimes emphasized in later photographs.”

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The Chicago Tribune described Madonna’s mole as a “small natural beauty spot on the right side above her upper lip”, adding that it had “become somewhat of a signature.”

But the star has also exaggerated her natural mole by coloring it in with dark eyeliner pencils.

Photographer Richard Corman completed a photoshoot with Madonna in 1983, and he noticed that the mole’s color was often unnatural. “In all of these pictures, you see her beauty,” he has reflected. “You also see her eyes. It was only recently, since I’ve been looking at these pictures closely, I noticed she matched the color of her mole with her eyeliner. It was like a purple tinge. It was wild.”

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In Madonna’s early music videos, including Everybody, Burning Up, Holiday, Borderline, Lucky Star, Material Girl (in which she pays homage to Marilyn Monroe, owner of another famous mole), the singer’s mole is emphasized.

In Papa Don’t Preach, Like a Prayer, Express Yourself and Vogue, she likewise has a clearly visible mole. But in Deeper and Deeper, Madonna’s upper-lip mole has vanished – replaced by a different freckle to the left of her mouth.

The Madonna beauty spot was also absent or covered up in her videos for What It Feels Like for a Girl and Hung Up, both released in the early 2000s.

Madonna’s mole disappeared and returned at various points in her career, including in her Erotica era, where she may have covered it up with makeup. Airbrushing, too, may have erased her mole from photoshoots.

The BBC even speculated that Madonna’s mole had been surgically removed, noting: “[Her] upper lip mole has long vanished from sight.”

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In reality, Madonna’s mole simply became less visible, as part of a natural aging process. (It is not uncommon for moles to fade or change over time, although certain changes may be a sign of skin cancer.)

At a Truth or Dare Fragrance launch event in 2012, one audience member asked: “Why did you take off your beauty mark?” The star replied: “I didn’t, it just faded over time. Sorry! I made it darker with a black pencil, in case you didn’t know.”

“I can make it come back!” she added, to which the audience cheered. But the star appears to have moved on from her mole permanently, as she has never returned to her pencil-emphasised beauty mark.

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Instead, Madonna’s plastic surgery choices have come under scrutiny in recent years. In February 2023, her changed appearance at the Grammy Awards attracted a barrage of media speculation and criticism, to which she responded gracefully.

“Once again I am caught in the glare of ageism and misogyny that permeates the world we live in,” she said. “A world that refuses to celebrate women past the age of 45 and feels the need to punish her if she continues to be strong-willed, hard-working and adventurous.”

“[I have] never apologised for any of the creative choices I have made nor the way that I look or dress and I’m not going to start,” she added.