Once in a while someone comes along who changes the status quo of an industry. Richard Parker, the Melbourne founder of skincare brand Rationale, is one of them. Built 25 years ago on the idea of “feeding” the skin with topical minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, Rationale recently found its stride after becoming a consumer-facing brand, and opening 11 well-designed clinics across Australia over five years. By 2020, Parker wants to see that almost double to 20 clinics across the country.

But a word now on how I joined the ranks of Rationale converts. As a fashion editor who has tried hundreds of brands and products, and often been disappointed, I approached with caution. But I couldn’t shake off the many skin success stories from Rationale’s fans (which Parker refers to as “luminaries”) – from Sydney blogger Nadia Fairfax to La Porte founder Hayley Bonham – who all say this range has helped give them the confidence to go make-up free. More than 20,000 Australians seem to agree (25 to 30 year olds are Rationale’s fastest growing market with almost 100 per cent of customers returning). It’s one of the few brands that can rightly claim the C word: “cult”.

And so there I was, seated with an iPad at Sydney’s Woollahra clinic, filling out a new patient form. Three months later and with four facials under my belt, my inner skin sceptic has been silenced. Rationale’s skincare range does what it says on the bottle.

The Essential Six (a collection of six products) works as a unified system. Your morning regime begins with three drops of the Immunologist Serum (which Parker says visibly improves skin clarity by boosting immune responses), followed by the same dose of the Super Antioxidant Serum (to reactivate skin luminosity) and the Photo Dynamic Day Cream SPF15.

At night there’s the milky ProCeramide Cleanser (which acts as a liquid exfoliant and goes against irritating, granual exfoliation principles), followed by the Cataylst Serum and the DNA Night Cream. “Your skin absorbs a higher level of nutrients when you’re asleep,” Parker tells me.

After three months of religious application, my skin is noticeably improved. Pigmentation is gone, the texture is dewy and luminous, and I have become that person telling anyone who will listen to get on board.

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In line with its mantra “great skin surpasses DNA", Rationale blends science with Australian botanicals. “We sit in an interesting new space. We’re not in the organic-natural zone, but neither are we in the hardcore drug zone,” Parker tells me. “For us, a majority of skin health is about using the same ingredients that are found in the skin and replacing nutrients that have been lost.”

It’s not pitched at the “organics” – such as Akhal and Sodashi devotees – but at those seeking science in their skincare.

Rationale’s beginnings raise a mirror to Parker’s own experience. After battling skin concerns as an adolescent swimmer (which knocked his self-esteem), he found himself at Melbourne University’s library combing through dermatology textbooks. A preoccupation with finding the formula for “healthy skin” was born. And in 2013, the self-taught skin expert bottled his answer – Rationale’s Essential Six. “When you have problem skin it becomes an obsession to have perfect skin,” he says, pointing out that the sun causes 80 per cent of facial ageing, which he’s become fixated on reversing.

“In Australia we have a lot of awareness about sun damage. We now know getting burnt is a bad idea. What people give up on is they think the damage is done and that’s the end of it. You can repair sun damage,” says Parker.

While the products’ prices sit at the pointy end of the luxury market (the whole set costs $915), therapists don’t sell you everything at once. You start on one or two products, and gradually build up your skin’s tolerance. Rationale also goes a long way to reward its customers. There’s a lesson to be learnt here for other beauty brands: it incentivises customers by offering free treatments for any referrals. Plus you can look at it like a long-term investment in healthy skin for the long term (and you don’t need to buy any other beauty products – it offers everything you need).

“When people talk about Rationale being a cult product, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. We have a sophisticated social media and online presence, but I think the reason we have such a supportive following is because we have something real. There are products on the market with beautiful packaging that don’t deliver – and they die a quiet death. Our products do what they say they do – for life.”


Rationale clinics


627 Military Road, Mosman
(02) 9969 9599

Mon to Wed 9.30am–5.30pm
Thu 9.30am –6pm
Fri 9.30am–5.30pm
Sat 9.30am–5pm

La Porte Wellness, 87–103 Epsom Road, Rosebery
(02) 8377 0630

Thu and Fri by appointment only.

Shop 2/83–85 Queen Street, Woollahra
(02) 9327 7835

Mon & Tue 9.30am–5.30pm
Wed & Thu 9.30am–8pm
Fri & Sat 9.30am–5.30pm


114 Maling Road, Canterbury
(03) 9888 5683

Mon to Wed 9.30am–5.30pm
Thu 9.30am –6pm
Fri 9.30am–5.30pm
Sat 9.30am–5.30pm

Shop 1010A Westfield, Doncaster
(03) 9840 2228

Mon to Wed 9am–5.30pm
Thu & Fri 9am–9pm
Sat 9am–6pm
Sun 10am–5pm

Shop G–016A Emporium, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
(03) 9662 4438

Mon to Wed 10am–7pm
Thu & Fri 10am–9pm
Sat 10am–7pm
Sun 10am–5pm

531 Toorak Road, Toorak
(03) 9824 1390

Mon & Tue 10am–6pm
Wed & Thu 10am–8pm
Fri & Sat 10am–6pm


Fortitude Valley
Shop 3/1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3252 7077

Mon & Tue 9.30am–5.30pm
Wed & Thu 9.30am–8pm
Fri 9.30am –6.30pm
Sat 9.30am–5pm


Shop 11/1 Rokeby Road, Subiaco
(08) 9388 2563

Mon to Wed 9.30am–5.30pm
Thu 9.30am–6pm
Fri 9.30am–5.30pm
Sat 9.30am–5pm

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