A quiet achiever adored by those in the know, Rationale is having its moment in the limelight. Sally Hunwick discovers why this Australian skincare brand boasts such a loyal (if discreet) following.
It almost doesn't matter now that he's the most bankable star in Hollywood, but George Clooney once lamented his "13-year overnight success story". It's true - fame didn't come to the actor with his first role. Having said that, Clooney was never going to be a flash in the pan.
The same might be said for Richard Parker and his adored skincare brand, Rationale. Celebrating 25 years in business, it's safe to say that Rationale has been a quiet achiever. After launching with little fanfare in 1992, this cult-followed company's upward trajectory has been almost entirely under the radar. And that's just how Parker likes it.
Preferring to partner with leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons rather than department stores, Rationale has attracted a slew of high-profile devotees (think A-list actors, models and socialites) who enjoy keeping this skin secret all to themselves.
Visit Rationale's headquarters in its trendy location in Richmond, Melbourne, and you'll likely see Parker tinkering around in his lab. Both the brand's founder and formulator, Parker is passionate about ingredients and can-do formulations that address skin concerns associated with some of the harshest climates on the planet.
"Eighty per cent of facial ageing is caused by the sun," says Parker. "As an Australian skincare company, Rationale knows more about preventing and treating the major causes of skin ageing than anyone else in the world."
At Rationale's core is a six-step skincare routine that, yes, takes dedication but is capable of delivering the skin you always wished you had.
"The keystone of Rationale is the Essential Six," explains Parker. "[These are] the six steps dermatologists and plastic surgeons agree you need to have healthy, luminous skin for life."
With these six products, Rationale has gained an impressive following that has enabled it to open seven standalone clinics in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth's most affluent suburbs. The Woollahra clinic in Sydney, which recently underwent an extension to keep up with demand, is booked solid for months (just FYI).
The product line-up has also expanded. To complement the primary skin fixers, Parker has developed several other complexion-boosting formulations.
"We have created a range of Essential Six boosters that increase your skin's solar resilience, protection and repair," says Parker. Amongst them: the DNA Serum, which supercharges the DNA Night Cream; the rejuvenating DNA Eye Cream; and a decadent pre-cleansing oil.
But don't think you'll be lumped with everything on the Rationale shelf. After undergoing Rationale's DNA skin test, this brand ensures you are given only what you need - which is dictated by your DNA. "DNA reveals your skin's strengths and weaknesses, which helps us develop a customised skincare plan that addresses your most important needs first," Parker explains.
Passed down to us by our parents, our skin genetics are unchangeable, he says. That's the bad news. The good news is we have the power to change the "negative genes" we inherit.
"Issues such as premature ageing or skin cancer may not necessarily be activated if we do the right things," says Parker.
Keeping out of the sun is top of his list. "If we avoid too much sun exposure and follow a solar protective and repair regime, we can keep our skin in optimal health and radiant for life," explains Parker, who has created two super lightweight sunscreens that protect skin not only from UVA and UVB but also skin enemy infra-red.
Chemistry is a crucial element for Rationale, but, much like Mr Clooney, this is a brand with plenty of style as well - both in the formulations' luxurious feel and the slick packaging. This combination is possibly what has made Rationale such a winner with women seeking skincare that delivers results and joy in equal measure.
"What we're born with is out of our control," Parker observes. "But what our skin becomes is very much in our hands." Star player, indeed.
Get DNA tested: Discover exactly what is going on at a cell level with Rationale's DNA skin test, DNArray. Here's how it helps:
Your results are unique: The data is different for everyone. You can't change your DNA, but you will find out what to do about the effect it could have on your skin.
You'll see the future: "The test tells you how your skin is going to age," says Parker. "It measures antioxidants, pigmentation and collagen production."
Impulse buying ends: "It takes the guesswork out of choosing the best products for your skin because you'll know its strengths and weaknesses," Parker says.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of marie claire.