Chances are you’ve already heard of RATIONALE: the insanely popular Australian skincare line with a cult-like following, which includes experts, editors and pretty much anyone ‘in-the-know’.
And well, if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve almost definitely seen it. So went my first encounter with the most buzzed-about beauty brand on the internet. Each time I lusted over someone’s ‘glow’, I was met with the same one-word answer: “RATIONALE.”
Feeling like the last one to a dewy-faced, clear-skinned party – I desperately wanted in on that trademark luminosity. And so, armed with this end goal, I marched into my first appointment.
So much so, I think those were my exact words when I first met Ellie, a skin consultant at the company’s Rosebery clinic in Sydney, when she asked what changes I wanted to see in my skin: “I want The RATIONALE Glow!” I bellowed, enthusiastically. The dream was to be able to go foundation-less, save special occasions, I explained.
While I’ve always had relatively problem-free skin, I am definitely no stranger to break-outs, especially when it comes to stress, sugar and that time of the month. But my skin’s Achilles Heel has always been sensitivity, meaning before RATIONALE, my skincare regime was a bit of a mixed bag. The result of a self-prescribed trial-and-error system.
At my initial consultation, Ellie took some images of my face using a high tech machine, which revealed red areas, pores, UV areas and wrinkles. From these, she then concluded that while my skin wasn’t “bad”, but there was dehydration throughout my forehead and under my eyes, inflammation present around the nose and cheeks and “minor sun damage” through the centre.
As is the RATIONALE way, she was keen to target these problem areas by focusing first and foremost on my skin’s health, namely repairing the skin’s barrier. Given that 80% of facial ageing is caused by the sun, this also meant protecting it from further damage.
Ellie then also ran a DNA Analysis on my skin. Amazingly, simply by taking a swab from the inside of my mouth, this revealed my genetic predispositions, which – quelle surprise – showed a proneness to inflammation and pigmentation.
The Essential Six
In other words, Ellie had her work cut out for her.
Enter: The Essential Six. This simple six-step regime is what the brand is most well-known for. The result of world-leading solar skincare research, these six products are intended to prevent further damage (with two serums and an SPF day cream in the morning) and then repair existing skin damage (with a cleanser, serum and night cream in the evening) in the hopes of ultimately restoring the skin’s radiance.
The alchemy of the Essential Six lies in the exact sequencing, timing and combinations in which the regime is introduced, which is different for everyone based on a person’s individual genetic skin needs.
This is where the lovely Ellie comes in – like a personal trainer for your skin, a RATIONALE skin consultant uses the genetic testing to create a personalised regime to restore and maintain a client’s optimal skin health and radiance.
As Ellie explains to me on my first visit, most of her clients don’t start with all of these at once, but introduce them slowly. “RATIONALE’s approach to skin health is to treat the barrier first,” she explains. “We can slowly introduce stronger actives that the skin will be able to utilise once optimal skin health is achieved.”
So with this in mind, she started me on the Essential Six, minus #2 (the super antioxidant serum) and #5 (the catalyst serum). These were added a month or so later upon our second consultation.
What makes RATIONALE special?
As a health editor, I can often be found slathering on the latest serums and creams, containing some sort of buzzy new hero ingredient, or putting my face on the line in the name of beauty. But even I knew RATIONALE was special, though at first I couldn’t put my finger on why, exactly.
So who better to ask than Mr RATIONALE himself: founder and director of research and development, Richard Parker.
At the outset, he tells me that RATIONALE’s offering is based on 30 years of research in medical dermatology. “Our understanding of our clients’ unique skin DNA allows us to create customised rituals that deliver luminous skin for life.” In other words, The RATIONALE Glow!
He adds, this is “based on our singular understanding of each skin’s unique needs for synergistic nourishment, protection and repair then incorporating this precious knowledge into skin identical formulations that activate skin energy and luminosity”.
I ask him what he wishes more people knew about skincare. “We are all born with a genetic skin ‘blueprint’ that identifies our skin tendencies, for example resilience or a predisposition to sun damage,” he says. However while most people think of their skin inheritance as “a life sentence”, the great news is that we can control our skin epigenetics – a series of switches that determine whether genetic tendencies are ‘switched on’ – by our behaviours: “So healthy, glowing skin is very much in our own hands.”
The most common faux pas he comes across? “Trial and error” (of which I am most definitely guilty). This can result in many skin problems, from sensitivity to acne, he says. Which is obviously where a DNA consultation can take the guessing out of the equation.
Did it actually work?
In a word: yes!
In more words: yes – in just a couple of months, I was – as promised – going bare-faced about 90% of the time (save the occasional night out). When I asked Ellie (she is the expert, after all) about the changes she noticed in my skin, she assured me I had finally achieved ‘The RATIONALE Glow’.
“You quite literally had the trademark RATIONALE luminosity,” she says. “Your hydration improved tenfold and your sun damage had started to reduce, creating a more even complexion.”
3 things I learned
Unlike some other editors who visit Ellie, I am relatively new to skincare and went into this experiment pretty much blind (need I remind you of my mixed bag prior skincare routine?).
Clearly, I’m a convert. Here are my 3 takeaways from the experiment:
SPF is non-negotiable– Upon our first consultation, Ellie warned me that once I knew more about the sun’s effect on our skin I would never leave the house without SPF on my face again. And she was right. I have now become one of those people who treat applying SPF in the morning with the same sanctity as brushing my teeth.
Skincare can only do so much – Admittedly, while I noticed incredible improvements in my skin, I still found I broke out around the Christmas and New year period – turns out, even the best skincare in the world couldn’t have saved my pores from all those bottles of rosés and Christmas mince pies.
Sometimes more is more, sometimes it’s not – When it comes to skincare? The latter applies. Ellie tells me that one of the most common mistakes she sees clients making is “overusing scrubs and granular exfoliants” which can actually contribute to a cascade of skin conditions. She adds that “higher concentrations aren’t necessarily better for your skin health. Sometimes, less is actually more.”