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VICTORIA PRINCIPAL: THE “DALLAS”LOOK

"A woman’s mental outlook is her most important beauty asset."
By Beth Rosenthal |

Pamela Ewing. Sleek, statuesque, strong-willed, and romantic. Victoria Principal, who plays Pamela Ewing, a larger-than-life Dallas woman on CBS’ prime-time soap opera “Dallas,” rarely gets on a scale, eats everything, exercises irregularly, avoids the sun, and goes to work with her hair wet. Her common sense approach to good looks has become an effortless ritual “as routine as brushing my teeth.”

Victoria was not always so nonchalant about beauty care. As a top fashion model and TV-commercial actress she was constantly concerned about her figure. (Hers was the freshest mouth in town for Dentyne.) Mornings started with a weighing on the bathroom scale and a careful charting of arms, thighs, and waist. “If my waist measurement topped 19 inches, I thought my life was going to end,” the 29-year-old actress recalls.

Not any more. Six days a week the alarm clock’s ring at 5 a.m. heralds the beginning of another 15-hour work day. Jealous of her rare free time, Victoria has instituted a more casual program of basic care. “As an actress I can’t afford to ignore my beauty routine,” she says. “But as a wife I can’t afford to spend every spare minute primping.”

Victoria’s predicament is common to all working women. So Victoria, in Dallas to shoot “Dallas,” agreed to share her beauty secrets.



DIET

Victoria “eats everything,” but strives for balanced meals, always including a fruit, a vegetable, and protein. She avoids beef (“I eat a total of three steaks a year”), has liver once a month, and depends on fresh fish and fowl as staples – purchasing her poultry direct from afarm that doesn’t add preservatives to itsfeed. And she drinks cartons of low fatmilk every day.

She eats heartily at breakfast and lunch, but brakes her appetite at dinner, a light meal – frequently just a chef’s salad – “so I don’t take all that bulk to bed with me,” she explains.

Every Saturday night, however, Victoria and her husband, actor Christopher Skinner, feast with abandon. Her eyes sparkle as she discusses last week’s hot fudge sundae smothered in whipped cream and loaded with calories. To keep her weight constant, Victoria tries to fast on Thursdays, taking in nothing but fruit juices.

“I believe in both self-indulgence and the reward system,” Victoria says. “Nothing is worse than feeling guilty about that chocolate mousse you just devoured, then forcing yourself to diet as psychological punishment. So I prepare myself up front. And when I begin to hunger for lunch at noon on Thursday, I nurse my juice and think, ’Just wait until Saturday, Saturday, Saturday.’ “



EXERCISE

“I gauge my exercise by the way I look and feel, not by how much I weigh. I don’t need to follow a regimented routine if I get enough exercise during the day,” she says.

Victoria bounds up flights of stairs instead of riding the elevator. Even before the gas crunch she walked everywhere, including up the steep hill to her home. (She shuns the stiletto heels she wears on the set, substituting sneakers. She brought one pair of dressy, medium-heel sandals and three pairs of tennis shoes when she came to Dallas for the filming.) And she swims every evening because the work-out breaks up the tiresome routine of removing her heavy TV make-up.

Victoria starts the day with calisthenics, but she performs only one exercise religiously. For abdominal strength she raises her legs and torso in a V, then balances in the air for the count of 10. She repeats the exercise 10 times. “If you can keep your stomach flat, then the beauty battle is almost won,” she says.

Sometimes Victoria adds dance stretches to the session. She does deep knee bends, forward and backward leg lifts, and circle exercises for her arms.



SKIN CARE

Victoria claims her looks are blessed by heredity: “I received my bone structure from my dad. I inherited my healthy skin from my mother.”

Victoria believes a clear complexion can be a woman’s most beautiful asset. “My husband tells me the first thing he noticed about me,” she laughs in mock disbelief, “was my complexion. Skin is very revealing; it broadcasts its message loudly. If you are happy and healthy, your skin will let everyone know it.”

Cleaning is crucial. The heat of TV lights bakes the actress’ make-up like pottery in a kiln. To remove all traces, Victoria starts with baby oil, followed by Shepherd’s soap for dry skin. Three times a week she uses a commercial mask, and every two weeks she has a professional facial.

Each morning she uses a lather of Nox-zema, which she claims is “better than coffee” as an eye-opener.

“Sun screens are essential for a woman if she’s to have good skin tone,” she says.

The day we spoke she looked radiant with only a hint of mascara and cream blusher.



HAIR CARE

She was born with jet black hair but believes she was destined to become a redhead. Victoria worked with her hairdresser, Jose Eber, the man who styled Farrah Fawcett-Majors’ hair, to select a new shade. “I’ve always loved the color of an Irish setter’s coat, but that turned out too red for me. So we let it fade. The color looks and feels so natural, I forget it’s not mine.” Eber cuts and colors her hair every three weeks.

Before work she shampoos with cream rinse, then goes to the set with her hair wet. The rinse leaves her hair clean and ready to be blown dry by the show’s hairstylist.

Victoria is convinced a woman’s mental outlook is her most important beauty asset. When she was modeling – at the same time working part-time as a car hop and sales girl – she was unhappy and “it showed” both in her face and outlook. “A beautiful woman has to have a sense of self – who she is and what she wants. If she is content, it shows. There’s not a skin care salon or hairdresser in the world who can make up for melancholy.” Today, Victoria Principal – and her alter ego Pamela Ewing – radiates beauty..