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If you are A: obsessed with skincare, or B: reside in Sydney or Melbourne, you have likely heard of Rationale. The skincare brand was founded by Richard Parker who, after living with his own skin issues of sun damage and acne, set out to create products that married cosmetic qualities with medical science (and, quite simply, worked). Fast forward a few years of scientific research and working with dermatologists, and the Rationale brand was born.
Enticed by stories of incredible skin transformations, I decided I needed to give the buzz-worthy brand a go. One week later, I found myself booked in for a consult at the Mosman Clinic. And now, after four months of diligent use, I've documented my entire experience (along with some insights from Richard himself). Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about Australia's most talked-about skincare brand.
What Is Rationale?
Rationale is an Australian skincare brand rooted in repairing the damaging effects of solar and free radical exposure as it appears on the skin. The brand is most famous for its "Essential Six"—a line of six products designed to be used daily in numerical order (three in the morning, and three at night). The morning half consists of two antioxidant serums and a day cream, while the evening portion features a ceramide-enriched cleanser, an AHA serum, and vitamin A night cream.
Six products may not seem like much in the world of 10-step skincare routines and endless serum launches, however, this simple, half-dozen regimen will ring in around $1,000 given the products range between $96 and $192 apiece.
Benefits of Using Rationale Skincare's Essential Six
- Unclogs pores
- Strengthens skin barrier
- Calms inflammation
- Boosts brightness
- Regulates oil production
- Fades hyperpigmentation
- Refines texture
- Firms skin
- Promotes collagen production
Some are quick to pass off Rationale as simply a line for mature skin, but this isn't true. Richard so eloquently explained to me that because acne is an inflammatory disorder, the Essential Six products are bound to give results. "Because the products work so hard to reduce inflammation in the skin and support healthy skin function, those suffering from acne [and other inflammatory conditions] will see huge improvements," he explained.
Rationale Skincare vs. Other Skincare
Given I was already using products with similar hero ingredients to Rationale, I was curious as to how this brand could be so much better than run-of-the-mill products. "Traditional skincare companies don’t work from the skin," Parker says. "They’ll discover some extract or wonder ingredient, and figure out how this can be incorporated into a product. At Rationale, we do things a little differently. We prefer to look at processes the skin carries out normally, and then the ingredients naturally used in these processes, if that makes sense.
"For example, one of the processes we focus on is the skin’s natural immunity, and how it protects itself. There’s also the process of barrier function and repair (from all of the environmental assaults we all experience during the day), so our evening products are all designed to assist with this process. Generally, we use a broad range of ingredients like vitamin A, enzymes that work synergistically with the skin, ceramides, alpha hydroxy acids, and B-group vitamins, but it is never as simple as that. I see skincare brands pounce on a buzzy ingredient like vitamin A for example, but in isolation, it’s never enough. If it doesn’t support the skin’s natural processes, it will never yield results. That is where we are different."
How to Prepare for Rationale Skincare
If you're toying with the idea of hopping aboard the Rationale skincare train, understand that the best way to do so is to first book an appointment with a trained therapist from one of the clinics that stock the products. That way, they can sit you down, assess your skin, and tell you how to safely (and effectively) transition to the Essential Six.
In my case, I saw Ellie at the Mosman Clinic in Sydney, who was an absolute angel, and extremely thorough when it came to explaining what was going on with my skin (which, to provide a little context, has been plagued with sore, cystic acne and incessant teeny whiteheads, and how specific ingredients were going to work to fix it (also, her facial massage skills are top-notch).
What to Expect During a Rationale Consultation
During the Rationale consultation, you fill out a very detailed form and have an in-depth conversation with the therapist to establish what you're currently using and what you hope to achieve. For me, I wanted skin that was clearer, calmer, and more refined—not to mention less oily. Oh, and an assault on the early signs of aging was another area of focus (can't forget that).
After significant image testing (which showed us everything from individually blocked pores and inflammation, to over-production of oil, to fine lines and wrinkles), Ellie concluded that my skin was by no means "bad," but that I had high levels of inflammation, and impaired barrier function—meaning that my skin wasn't able to protect itself or heal, resulting in acne, horrible pockmarks, and uneven skin tone. Then there was the sad-but-true reality of irreversible sun damage (I almost cried, but apparently everyone living in Australia has it), as well as early signs of rosacea.
At-Home vs. In Office/By a Professional
Once we were through with the heavy consulting, Ellie concluded that I was already using a lot of great ingredients like hyaluronic acid, AHAs, and niacinamide (a B group vitamin), but perhaps in the wrong concentrations, or they weren't arriving where they were needed within my skin—in short, products with a poor delivery system. She then cleansed my skin and examined it under fluorescent light, noticing that I also had minor dehydration around my eyes and forehead. One lush facial and LED session later, it was time for my at-home prescription—the Essential Six minus the day cream. Instead, Ellie recommended the Immunologist Ultracream ($168), as the lighter texture was better for my oily skin. Additionally, she suggested the B3-T Superfluid Sunscreen ($70) and Immunologist Mask ($188).
Had it not been for my in-office consultation, I wouldn't have known nearly as much about my skin or what to layer onto it.
Since many of the Rationale products feature formulas packed with active ingredients, it's best to ease into the routine. Ellie explained that she might start them on the morning routine and the cleanser, before slowly introducing the evening products in weeks to come (as was the case for me).
Once you're acclimated to the ingredients, Parker says that if you want to see the full effects, you need to use the entire regimen since it works as a whole system.
Additionally, he notes that once you've been introduced to (and devoted yourself to) the system, it's essential to use only Rationale products. If a customer is using half Rationale, half other brands, he says that there's no telling of the damaging effects the other brands may inflict, thus hindering results.
Before and After
To provide a little context on my skin concerns, after hopping off the pill, I developed sore, cystic pimples, as well as smaller whiteheads that wouldn't heal for weeks (and once they did, the scarring was bad). I tried a bunch of methods, but nothing worked. I eventually went back on the pill, but even months after, my skin texture and clarity just wasn't the same. I had scarring, and at least two blemishes constantly. It knocked my self-confidence, and I was praying for a cure.
Rationale completely transformed my skin. The clarity and texture is like nothing I've ever experienced, and the routine is surprisingly simple. I haven't used a single other product since I started, except for face masks, and I don't think I will. Within about a month, I had zero pimples—something that hadn't occurred in months. Also, my skin was so much more refined. It was smooth, even, and I woke up stoked every single morning that my face looked the way it did. The compliments rolled in—it was bliss.
One of the other greatest things I noticed was just how much less reactive my skin was. Before Rationale, if I would (ahem) pick at a blackhead or congested pore even the tiniest bit, it would turn into a huge red wound that took weeks to heal, only then to be left with horrific post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Was this proof I had dramatically reduced the inflammation levels in my skin? I think so!
The Final Takeaway
Rationale is definitely an investment worth looking into. If you have perfect skin, you probably don't need to worry, but if you're suffering from pigmentation, acne, irritation, or signs of aging that are bothering you, it might just be the best money you'll ever spend. I, for one, believe it's worth every single penny. And, coming from someone who has used brands that cost triple the amount without seeing half the results I've seen while using Rationale, that's saying something.
Up next: Learn seven ways to make your beauty routine more sustainable.