Tova Borgnine was making cactus-based skin-care products for her family and friends until a small mention of her products--in a newspaper interview with her husband, actor Ernest Borgnine--resulted in $56,000 worth of orders for the products. She decided to go into business, selling by mail order only. She launched the Tova collection eight years ago and says her business grossed about $9 million last year. This year, she will expand it to include cosmetics and a skin-care salon in her Beverly Hills offices.
Question: What is so special about cactus?
Answer: The formulas I use, based on four kinds of cacti, are documented all the way back to the Aztec Indians, who used cactus plants 4,000 years ago. The cactus has a high count of protein, which assists in plumping the skin and helping it to maintain its moisture balance. In many ways, I believe the cactus is more potent in helping skin tissue than the aloe vera plant, which was a hybrid of the lily and the cactus developed by the Phoenicians and used by Cleopatra.
Q: If moisture balance is so important, how should women cleanse their faces so as not to disturb that balance?
A: I am totally against the use of cleansing creams. They only move the makeup around on your face. I think younger women should use only beauty bars (special soaps) on their bodies and faces and afterward, a moisturizer. Older women who want to use a cleansing milk should do so, but they should also use a beauty bar to slough off dead skin and soil. And follow with moisturizer, of course.
Q: Of what real benefit is moisturizer?
A: It helps keep your skin's natural moisture balance, which is actually a solution of secretions from the oil glands and sweat glands. Unfortunately, this natural balance is often lost because people wash it away with the wrong kind of soap. Many deodorant soaps, for example, have a cutting agent that literally strips the natural moisture balance. The right kind of soap will do no damage and will, with a moisturizer, help keep the balance.
Q: What do you recommend for women who have little time to spend on beauty routines?
A: Every woman should cleanse, tone or freshen, then stimulate and moisturize. That is not a heavy-duty kind of routine. Fifteen minutes at night and you've done it.
Q: Can you be specific?
A: Cleanse with a beauty bar (or cleansing milk and the bar). Freshen or tone, depending on your skin type. (Fresheners have no alcohol. Toners have alcohol. People with sensitive or dry skins should not use products with alcohol in them.) Two or three times a week, use a mask to stimulate the skin. And always finish up with a moisturizer.
Q: Are there any extra skin-care tips you might recommend for women willing to spend more time at it?
A: Not really. Any woman needs only three things to be beautiful: great skin, a well-toned body and a way of dealing effectively with stress. The rest of it is all optional decoration.
The way to get your skin as good as it can be is to follow the routine I explained above. The only thing in the plan that takes time is the mask twice a week.
A well-toned body is something every woman knows about by now. She knows what she needs to do to stay in shape and only has to give herself the gift of doing it. She should also eat the right foods and refrain from smoking.
Dealing with stress is a more difficult problem.
Q: What do you recommend for that?
A: It's very individual. For myself, I come home and sink into a warm bath (never hot or cold) with lots of bubbles. I put on my cactus mask and submerge until all the stress is gone. I can almost hear it taking leave of me.