Founded by Princess Marcella Borghese nearly 60 years ago, the brand’s core values could not be more relevant: Italy, Rome, Borghese, Princess Marcella, Style, Italian Spa Culture and Mud. Borghese combines the tradition of classic Italian beauty and modern sensibility in its collection of skincare and color cosmetics. All products blend state-of-the-art science with the organic riches of the earth.
Where It All Began: Italy
From the Renaissance to the age of la dolce vita, Italy’s rich history and unique style have been the timeless inspiration for Borghese
Mariacarla Boscono brings Italian cachet to every catwalk, a supermodel for more than two decades who exudes the classic style for which her country is renowned. She embodies la dolce vita, the transformative movement which swept through Italy after World War II, re-energizing the country as a creative hotbed. This relentlessly inventive era remains a touchstone today, establishing a reputation for confidence, sophistication and a natural worldliness that Italy retains.
Take Roman movie studio Cinecittà, which was so star-studded and successful it earned the title of Hollywood on the Tiber. Cinecittà drew superstar beauties like Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner to work with directors such as Visconti, Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. Together, they aimed to reinvent cinema for a fresh audience, bringing a progressive energy to moviemaking that rapidly spread back to California and beyond, producing the new classics of the 1960s and 1970s.
In the wake of World War II, Italy’s fashion designers established themselves as mold-breaking talents who placed an emphasis on exquisite tailoring and wearability; ideology that remains definitive in modern women’s fashion. Talents like Emilio Pucci, synonymous with bold, geometric designs, continue as fashion touchstones (Pucci, a confidant of Princess Marcella, considered her among his most important muses).
Italy established itself as the home of style icons like Marella Agnelli, wife of the Fiat chairman, who earned the title of Best Dressed at Truman Capote’s legendary Black & White Ball in New York. Made in Italy not only indicated origins but the words also became a stamp of quality and panache on anything they were inscribed upon, from the leather on the soles of shoes to the exquisite packaging that housed designer goods, priming the world for the country’s dominance in design. Today, half of the world’s top fashion labels are from Italy, often modeled by chic Italians like Mariacarla Boscono.
It was this creative explosion after World War II that formed a backdrop for Princess Marcella pioneering efforts in skincare. A beautiful socialite whose elegance and poise were widely admired, the enterprising Princes Marcella wasn’t content to rest on her reputation. Instead, she set out to build Italy’s first true luxury beauty company. Equal parts charming and determined, she drew inspiration from the Borghese Gardens and the rich culture of art surrounding her homeland. Renowned for centuries in Rome, the Borghese name would mark Princess Marcella’s ventures in beauty as another timeless contribution, woven into the tapestry of Italy’s already rich creative history.
The Borghese Legacy and Storied Past
The Borghese name is synonymous with refinement and culture in every Italian’s mind.
The House of Borghese is among Italy’s most storied families. Its heritage can be traced back almost one thousand years, counting nobles, princes and even a Pope among its number. It is no relic, though — today, the Borghese remain among Rome’s most prominent families, their name still synonymous with refinement and culture in every Italian’s mind.
Borghese’s enduring reputation rests largely in the family’s erstwhile home, the Villa Borghese. This grand palace is not only one of Rome’s finest buildings but also houses a world-class collection of Old Master paintings and sculpture. The wealth that built this house, not to mention the family’s reputation as generous patrons of the arts, was founded on banking during the Renaissance.
At this time, the Borghese’s lived in Tuscany, surrounded by the likes of Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. They were also, of course, close to the thermal spas, which later served to provide Princess Marcella with inspiration that would ultimately create her eponymous beauty line. The family’s fame and renown reached international levels of prominence in the late Renaissance era, after making the move from Tuscany to Rome.
In the Eternal City, many of the Borghese’s continued to work in banking, while others chose to join the Renaissance-era church. It was in the church that one Borghese cleric rose to international fame, reigning over Rome and all of Christendom: Pope Paul V. When he was elected to this influential position, the man born Camillo Borghese remained fiercely loyal to his family. He showed particular favor to one nephew, Scipione, who he quickly appointed cardinal. Paul V also granted this favorite relative a royal title – the very same one Princess Marcella would hold four centuries later.
It was Prince Scipione, widely beloved as a refined and educated man, who created the Villa Borghese. He used his fortune to buy a vineyard on the Pincian Hill – an area where the stairway now known as the Spanish Steps would later also be constructed. Here, Scipione intended to create a magnificent weekend retreat for himself and the artists, writers and philosophers to whom he served as patron.
From the outset, Scipione intended to build a collection to rival any other in Italy, and it remains an astonishing archive, including masterpieces by Titian, Raphael and Rubens. Above all, Scipione displayed a notable favor towards the naturalistic painter Caravaggio. Though now seen as among the greatest talents of the Renaissance, the edgy Caravaggio was dismissed as a hack by many contemporaries – the cardinal disagreed and became one of his earliest champions. Scipione was also a generous patron to sculptor Bernini, funding many of his finest works; Bernini created his masterpiece, Apollo and Daphne expressly for his new country home.
Prince Scipione’s private home is now a museum, the Galleria Borghese. Its 148-acre grounds, meanwhile, have become public gardens. They are the largest single greenspace in the Eternal City, a Roman counterpart to Central or Hyde parks. It was an outcome Scipione intended from the beginning – the generous Prince deliberately configured the sprawling grounds of his home to act as an informal public park for the people of his beloved Rome. These gardens were an integral part of Princess Marcella’s inspiration and education on the powers of natural ingredients, leading her to harness their beneficial properties for her skincare line.
Borghese legacy isn’t limited to this one astonishing site in Rome. The family’s enduring influence on art and architecture is evident throughout the city. Take the façade of St. Peters, which was completed under Paul V’s guidance. Accordingly, the family’s heraldic crest, consisting of an eagle and a dragon, is chiseled there alongside its name. Inside the cathedral, more crests can be seen on the ceiling — a subtle reminder that the Borghese family helped bolster the papacy and its most important church.
That same crest, of course, is also found on every Borghese product, a tribute to the history and the family that lies behind the name.
The Princess Who Started It All
Marcella Borghese was the Italian princess who expanded the Borghese legacy to create Italy’s first luxury beauty brand.
Marcella Borghese was both a cosmetics mogul and a style icon — an Italian Princess with modern sensibilities and panache. She made women’s skincare her life’s mission. “A beautiful skin is not only God’s gift, but it depends on the care you take of it,” she said. Marcella’s namesake line, Borghese, remains as chic and effective today, as when it was first launched in Italy’s dolce vita heyday.
Marcella’s family was considered one of the most prominent in the whole of Italy. The gorgeous, intelligent princess was married to the Duke of Bomarzo and Prince of Sant’ Angelo of San Paolo, though he preferred his given name: Paolo Borghese. The couple took immense pride in that prestigious name, renowned in Rome since early Renaissance times. Noted connoisseurs and art collectors who built the Galleria Borghese and its surrounding gardens, the family could also claim a past pope, Paul V, among its ancestors.
It’s fitting, then, that Marcella turned to a modern-day pope, Pius XII, to help her realize her dream of creating a beauty company. In Italy after World War II, it was still a scandalous notion for a woman of her standing to consider owning or running a business. Mold-breaking Marcella, never easily discouraged, turned to an influential family friend for assistance. The Pope not only encouraged her ambitions, but gave her a blessing for the business which she referred to as an exoneration. “He used to come around and visit every Christmas – the Pope was proud of what I was doing,” Marcella recalled fondly of his support. Propelled forward by such encouragement, the Princess also found support in another Italian icon, designer Emilio Pucci. Nobleman Pucci, the Marchese di Barsento, considered Marcella a muse. She, in turn, relied on him for creative counsel, adopting the same love of modern geometry in her own original packaging.
A visionary, Marcella was a pioneer in championing the power of natural ingredients with an intuitive aptitude for skincare. With a lifelong passion for beauty, she had long made her own treatment masks using recipes passed down through her family for centuries, relying entirely on the therapeutic benefit of natural ingredients. In an era that advocated the manmade and artificial, Marcella’s insistence on the power of nature was boldly pioneering.
“Never forget to nourish and cure your skin,” she explained, “It is like the most delicate flower and always needs attention.” Six decades later, the products still use natural extracts in Marcella’s formulas.
While her contemporaries followed the sun-chasing habits of the time, sunbathing until deeply tanned, Marcella demurred. “The greatest enemy of facial skin is the sun. There is nothing which definitely ruins it as much as sun rays,” she’s said, “I know how highly attractive a suntan is, but it is just as destructive.” More than anything, though, the Princess refused to compromise, insisting on the finest ingredients for every spa-style product, particularly the mud that became the foundation of the line. After all, as the perfectionist Princess said herself, “If you’re going to do something about beauty care, do it very, very well.”
Italy’s Natural Resource, Used Since Ancient Roman Times, Refined For Modern Times
Borghese is the only luxury Italian skincare line. What’s more, the key ingredients that form the basis for its powerful products are drawn from the very core of Italy itself: the soil, clay and minerals of the earth. Princess Marcella’s commitment to these natural ingredients was pioneering and she was the first to make mud-based spa treatments an at-home experience.
Tuscany is well known for its clay-heavy terrain and this forms the basis of the mud treatments by which Tuscan spas earned their reputation. Indeed, the Tuscan earth has been renowned for its healing properties since Roman times. Drawing on her own experiences, the visionary princess decided to build her collection of skincare products on this centuries-old tradition, using Tuscan terra as a powerful treatment for our skin.
Upon the terraces of chic, centuries-old spas, women would sit with their faces daubed with pastes made from the local clay. Princess Marcella believed so strongly in the power of this soil that she named her essential product in its honor — Fango, or mud, in Italian. Princess Marcella would even promote her products accompanied by models sporting mud masks, the Fango covering every inch of their skin from head to toe.
The active ingredient in every Borghese product is also based on Tuscan soil. Acqua di Vita is an exclusive complex blend of minerals extracted directly from the ground and then combined with mud-based masks. These minerals are extracted from Tuscany’s alkaline, clay soil, which has a dense content of salts like potassium and sodium chloride. This combination bestows an unparalleled ability to retain moisture, a distinct quality to the Tuscan soil that can also benefit our own skin in much the same way.
Our Miracle Ingredient Comes From Italy’s Core
Italy is the birthplace of spas, we’ve had over 2,000 years to perfect spa culture
There’s a simple reason Italians enjoy a reputation for flawless skin today. “It was one of the first things I remember my mama told me,” says supermodel Mariacarla Boscono, “Take care of your skin.” For many Italians, skincare is a centuries-old passion, with a foundation in the restorative power of spa treatments, dating back as far as Roman times. In English, we even owe the word “spa” to those early Italians — it is derived from either the Latin verb spagere, to moisten, or as an acronym from sanitas per aquas, “health through water.”
2,000 years ago, Romans considered public baths an amenity for all citizens of their empire. Those baths became de facto spas, as their waters were considered particularly healing and invigorating far beyond the local region.
What makes Italy the epicenter of spas is the volcanic terrains, which bestow astonishing healing properties to the waters, warmed naturally by geothermal currents to a balmy 90 degrees. The properties of its water rely on it bubbling up from extraordinary depths — in most cases, more than 200 feet below the surface. As it does so, that pristine water passes through mineral-rich, clay-based soil, soaking up intense doses of natural salts, which form the foundation of Borghese’s Acqua di Vita.
In Marcella’s era, the heyday of la dolce vita, the international jetset arrived en masse in Italy, becoming mainstays of the historic spa towns. So renowned were the rejuvenating effects of these spas, that prominent figures in international royalty as well as movie stars like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Clark Gable all came to take the waters and receive treatments based on the powerful local clay.
Today, spa culture remains central to the Italian way of life. Italians believe so fervently in the power of such treatments that doctors can even prescribe a week-long stay at a spa. The government’s health insurance system will underwrite such a curative visit for any Italian whose doctor deems it necessary. For the rest of us, of course, there’s an alternative: at-home spa-style treatment with some Tuscan Fango from Borghese.
The Italian beauty regimen according to Princess Marcella demands that one who wishes to do something about beauty, must do it very, very well. True beauty lives in spirit but to cultivate it outwards, the skin is first priority. With respect to the legacy of Italian spa culture and a modern approach to luxury skincare, the Italian skincare regimen can be followed by anyone wishing to indulge in simple elegance as they take care of their skin.
The most important first step morning and evening. Freshly cleansed skin creates a bare canvas for your following repairing and protective treatments. Begin with Crema Saponetta to gently dissolve impurities and excess oils without over-drying your face. Form a rich lather and gently massage areas with excess impurities as well as facial muscles to promote circulation and a rosy glowing appearance.
A couple times a week, exfoliating further purifies and polishes skin, gently buffing away dead skin cells to reveal smoother and brighter skin. The Intensive Age Defying Exfoliator perfects skin texture and tone with gentle natural exfoliants as well as powerful antioxidants and humectants, leaving your face ready for the next step.
The heart of the Borghese skincare regime, our Fango mud masks combine the healing waters of Tuscany with the purifying powers of volcanic clay to clarify and nourish skin. Princess Marcella considered this mineral-rich mud to be the signature beauty ingredient of the Tuscan region. Choose one or more Fango mud masks according to skin type or concerns and take time at least twice a week to mask. Our original Fango Active Mud Mask is recommended for most skin types but multi-masking with other Fangos is the key to a perfectly customized masking experience.
Once your skin has been thoroughly prepped, it can best absorb targeted treatments. Borghese’s proprietary Acqua di Vita Complex contains the healing waters of Tuscany and can be found in many of our targeted treatments like the Acqua Ristorativo Hydrating Concentrate, which provides nutrients, antioxidants and hydration to plump and condition skin. Over time, the skin barrier will heal and strengthen itself while dullness and fine lines are diminished. Additionally, the Occhi Ristorativo Eye Creme pampers and addresses the concerns of the delicate eye area to restore a brighter and well-rested appearance over time.
A good skincare routine deserves a moisturizer to seal in treatments as well as keep the skin hydrated for an energized, dewy appearance. Crema Ristorativo-24 Continuous Hydration Moisturizer is a gel formula that works all day to enrich the skin with moisture and peptides with our Acqua di Vita Complex and barrier-strengthening marine extracts. It restores as well as protects.