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Can Lightning Strike Twice? Cult Skin-Care Brand Vintner’s Daughter Goes for Round Two

The skin-care brand that skyrocketed to cult status with a single product in just five years is ready to launch its second.

Vintner’s Daughter, the skin-care brand that skyrocketed to cult status with just a single hero product five years ago, is about to make waves once again with its second product.

In February, the Napa Valley-based natural skin-care brand is set to launch Active Treatment Essence, its first new product since its launch in 2014.

For five years, Vintner’s Daughter has been somewhat of an anomaly in the beauty industry, existing with only a single hero product instead of launching new stockkeeping units multiple times a year. That first product, Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum, is known for giving skin a healthy-looking glow, and amongst the beauty junkie set has achieved a cult status akin to Biologique Recherche P50 or Crème de la Mer.

Vintner’s Daughter founder April Gargiulo wasn’t sure she ever wanted to launch a second product. She describes Active Botanical Serum as something of an all-in-one product— its 22 active plant-based ingredients work to strengthen, heal, nourish, brighten and tone the skin at the same time — hence the glow many online reviewers have reported the product imparts.

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“I’m so committed to making only category-game-changing products that have absolutely incredible effects on people’s skin,” Gargiulo said. “I would be happy to have one product, but I had this idea that was gnawing at me and I wanted to see if we could make it.”

Gargiulo, who moved to Napa Valley to work for her family’s vineyard after years in the New York design world, came up with the idea for Vintner’s Daughter because she was looking for natural skin care that worked and, like many brand founders, couldn’t find it. Her proprietary extraction process, Phyto Radiance Infusion, is designed to extract optimal ratios of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, phytoceramides, aminos and omega fatty acids for “360, skin-beautifying nutrition.” When formulating her first product, she used only oil-soluble ingredients, not wanting to use synthetic versions of water-soluble ingredients such as vitamin C or hyaluronic acid.

“We could have added vitamin C to the serum, but we didn’t feel that was how it was best served,” Gargiulo said. “We wanted to give it the very same nutrient building blocks it is made of and not synthetic variations of it. That was the thing that was keeping me up at night — how do I deliver that comparable set of water-soluble nutrients?”

Thus was born Active Treatment Essence, which took four years to develop. The product is designed as a complement to the Active Botanical Serum, and when used together create “two very simple, powerful steps that form a bedrock foundation to your healthiest skin.”

Active Treatment Essence, $225, consists of a water-soluble hydrating base formula that contains several ingredients not found in the serum, including vitamin C, micro and mini-hyaluronic acid, probiotics, plant stem cells, marine microalgae, and micro-exfoliating acids and enzymes.

“Your skin is doing what it needs to do all the time — repairing and replenishing itself,” Gargiulo said. “When your skin is deeply fed with the most optimal nutrition ratios, it is able to amplify those functions. Active Botanical Serum and Active Treatment Essence allow your skin to be its best self.”

The essence will launch on and in Goop retail stores in Los Angeles and New York on Feb. 25 — the product is exclusive to Goop and through the month of March — before rolling out to the brand’s other retail partners. Vintner’s Daughter is sold in about 100 doors, mostly small boutiques, across 10 international markets.

Gargiulo, who does not have any outside investment for Vintner’s Daughter, declined to discuss sales figures, insisting, “We’re not a revenue-driven brand, we’re a product-driven brand. It’s what’s in our bottle that’s important to us. It could be that these are the only two products we’re going to make. I feel like the essence was a missing link.”

Developing a cult item, she said, happened “organically,” and her limited distribution list is due more to retailers “not getting” the brand or “not being able to tell the story.” “If we were in a big department store with just one product — even with two — it wouldn’t work,” Gargiulo said. “The word ‘cult’ has never come up in any conversation about our strategy.”

Jean Godfrey-June, beauty editor at Goop, likened the appeal of Vintner’s Daughter to Crème de la Mer, “before it became a brand.”Godfrey-June was introduced to the product by a makeup artist, years before she started at Goop. “It was this one product that one person poured all their energy into and people were like, ‘This really does something.'”