Principal Secret

Principal Secret At-A-Glance

Strengths: Some well-formulayed serums and eye-area moisturizers; most of the sunscreens are sunscreens; good selection of targeted moisturizers; buffing scrub; small but workable selection of makeup.

Weaknesses: Expensive; jar packaging; the enzyme mask and peel; some SPF-rated products either lack the right UVA-protecting ingredients or are below SPF 15; most of the "spa at home" products contains needless fragrant irritants.

Is there something about acting talent or being beautiful that is equal to knowledge? We guess there must be, because having celebrities endorse products is big business the world over. It is simply amazing to me that Victoria Principal can convince women that they can have great skin like she does by using her skin-care routine. In fact, Victoria Principal's infomercial is one of the most successful ever.

Victoria Principal's skin-care products were originally formulated and manufactured by Aida Thibiant, a Beverly Hills aesthetician who ran a successful skin-care boutique and cosmetics manufacturing business there for years. Because the Guthy Renker Corporation that markets and distributes the line felt they no longer needed Thibiant to establish Principal's credentials, they severed ties with her in 1995. That isn't good or bad, it just means it isn't Principal's own skin-care genius behind these products.

This is a line with deals, or at least that's what they appear to be on the surface. Look a little deeper and these are just expensive products, and the deals are smoke and mirrors. You can buy groups of products for what appears to be a much-reduced price, but if you really don't need all those products, or if some of them are poorly formulated (like many of the sunscreens, products for blemish-prone skin, and moisturizers) you would be wasting your money, and that's no bargain.

The big deal with this brand today is the Reclaim line. Almost all of the Principal Secret Reclaim products contain the ingredient acetyl hexapeptide-3 (Argireline), an ingredient in many of the products that claim to work like Botox. Indirectly, the same claim is used for these products, which promise to soften the appearance of lines and wrinkles that result from repeated facial expressions, which is what Botox injections accomplish brilliantly. As a brief review of what we have previously written about Argireline, this peptide is synthetically derived, and supposedly has the ability to relax muscles that would normally contract to form the facial expressions that lead to wrinkles. According to the ingredient manufacturer, it does this by modifying the release of catecholamines, which are compounds that occur naturally in the body and serve as neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. However, you would not want a cosmetic to affect any of those substances, because if it did, it could lead to a host of new problems.

Despite Principal Secret's enthusiasm for this ingredient, there is still no substantiated proof that it works as claimed. Further, we don't know the long-term adverse effects of applying acetyl hexapeptide-3 to skin. If it really worked to relax facial muscles, it would work all over the face (assuming you're using the products, and this line contains dozens of them, as directed) (Source: Cosmetic Dermatology, July 2005, pages 521–524). If all the muscles in your face were relaxed from topical application of acetyl hexapeptide-3, you'd have sagging, not youthful, skin. But then no cosmetics company would ever put such a claim on their products!

The makeup from Principal Secret isn't anything special. There are some good products, but nothing that cannot be found for less money at the drugstore. A strong point for color: it is well edited and designed to be simple, which many women will appreciate.

For more information on the products, feel free to visit their website www.principalsecret.com.

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