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Victoria Principal Launches Reclaim Botanical Skin Care

The line was developed over 10 years to tap into the antiaging powers of natural ingredients.

Whatever Victoria Principal’s secret is, it has certainly led to longevity.

Seven years after her last skin-care line, nearly 13 years after she left acting and 22 years after her first infomercial with Guthy-Renker aired, Principal is back at it again with an extension of her Principal Secret brand called Reclaim Botanical and a new infomercial that pairs her with actress Helen Hunt. Reclaim Botanical was developed over 10 years by Principal to tap into the antiaging powers of natural ingredients. 

“I wanted to use botanicals and combine them with safe science so I could deliver the kind of skin care and antiaging qualities I had envisioned without ever, ever creating a negative side effect for the individual,” said Principal. “I treat my line as a retail line in the sense that there is always new science and technology, and I want to use it. Other [direct-response] companies are afraid they will cannibalize an existing line. All of my lines coexist successfully.” Principal Secret’s lines include Reclaim Age Braker, Reclaim and Advanced.

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Reclaim Botanical’s products contain an exclusive form of an Hawaiian marine algae dubbed APT-GC-BP, myrtle plant extract Longevicell, Vitanol PS from alfalfa and a Brazilian botanical blend named Bioskinup Contour 3R. Those are combined with the advanced skin-care complexes Synant Peptide, Secretinol and the wrinkle combatant Argireline. Although Guthy-Renker will try out different possible offers, a kit with a 90-day supply of six Reclaim Botanical products — a cleanser, fluid eye cream, daily serum, day cream, night serum and night cream — can be purchased for $39.95 per month by regular shipment members.

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Greg Renker, cofounder and cochairman of Guthy-Renker, said Reclaim Botanical provides a topical alternative to invasive procedures. “Victoria felt that she could come up with ingredients that were natural but had plumping or wrinkle reduction effects. She genuinely believes that there are many women who don’t want to go to the needle and that is the fundamental premise of her pitch,” he explained.

Highlighting specific Reclaim Botanical items, Principal mentioned Reclaim Botanical Radiant Recovery Moisture, a product given to customers as a free trial size gift or available for purchase for $45. She said it delivers moisture up to 24 hours, and “that is pretty historical because, to date, most skin-care lines avoid telling you how long the moisture lasts.” Another breakthrough product in the Reclaim Botanical repertoire that Principal pointed to is Fluid Eye Cream, which is intended to target the under-eye area and the upper eyelid area, a trouble spot usually unaddressed by skin-care brands.

“Not even dermatologists want to approach that area. It is fragile and close to the eye, so lasers can’t be used on it and toxic ingredients can damage it,” said Principal of the upper eyelid. “Women, especially, as they age, the upper eyelid texture changes and the color changes. It becomes darker and freckled. It is distressing to most women, and this can help restore texture and brightness. We have clinical testing that supports those results.”

At 63, Principal is a living advertisement for her brand, which initially hit the airwaves in 1991, and much of the success of Reclaim Botanical will hinge upon whether infomercial viewers believe her assertions about the brand’s benefits and that her good looks are due to them. She has a partner in making that case in Hunt, an actress not known to endorse brands. Principal said she selected Hunt for the Reclaim Botanical infomercial because she “wanted someone to represent the brand who is superior, and I believe Helen is superior not only as an actress, but as a human being.”

Principal continued, “There was no agent involved. I managed to get her phone number and called her. At first, she was a little surprised then I think she was amused. I think she said she would try it to humor me, but after she began using it she was shocked at the results. They were the most extraordinary results that she had seen or experienced.”

Renker described Hunt as the “big surprise” of the Reclaim Botanical infomercial. “She just doesn’t seem like a pitch person, so when she says she is into something it authentically comes across,” he said.

With Principal and Hunt, 50, behind it, Reclaim Botanical aligns with Guthy-Renker’s strategy of focusing on Baby Boomers not as distracted by smartphones and tablets as their younger counterparts. “The people that are watching television now are in that demographic. We are not trying to hit the 20-year-olds. We are going after older people. They are the ones who are watching television, so Victoria has moved with the bell curve of who is buying [via television],” said Renker.

Principal Secret has generated more than $1.5 billion in sales since its debut, which marked Guthy-Renker’s entrance into the skin-care business and was for a long time the biggest brand in its portfolio. For its top skin-care brands, Guthy-Renker spends at least $1 million per week on television and online advertising.

Although it remains unclear if Principal is as resonant today as she was in the past, Renker said, “What we are hoping for is a winner. The customer tells us whether or not they are interested. If the tracking is as good as it has been historically, we ramp up fast.”

When Principal decided to do infomercials, she felt it was an obvious corollary to her acting career, but she encountered few people who thought it would be a lasting enterprise. “My agents at the time at William Morris said that if I proceeded with the show they would fire me. They did not want to be responsible for representing Victoria Principal when she sabotaged her career,” Principal remembered. “Now, they have one of the largest infomercial departments of any agency. They didn’t fire me, nor did I pay them a commission.”

Plenty of actresses today, including those presumably represented by the agency that has become William Morris Endeavor, come to Principal, who stopped acting in September of 2000 after filming finished on the NBC television series “Titans,” for advice about doing infomercials. “I left when I chose to leave, and it feels really good. I didn’t wait until I was pushed out or no one wanted me, so I was able to transition from one career to another with self-esteem, and I think more and more actresses are thinking about that,” she said. “I have had quite a few call me. I tell them don’t chose something just because you feel you have to. Choose what calls you.”