The Hype Around Australian Skincare Brand RATIONALE, Explained

Have you heard about RATIONALE? Sure you have.

The crazy-popular Australian cult skincare line has literally stalked every beauty conversation I’ve had with experts and editors in the last year. Often followed with testimonials like “I’ve been converted” and “Now it’s all I use” and lamentations of running out because the products are, er, quite an investment… it has left me wondering exactly what’s so special about RATIONALE?

Over the last month, I put the skincare’s signature $915 total “Essential Six” regimen to the test and here’s why it’s different to most other skincare products we’ve used:


The homegrown cosmeceutical skincare label turned 25 last year, and is still formulated and manufactured in Australia. That ought to give you a pang of patriotism. Founder and formulator, Richard Parker, continues to work with leading Australian medical dermatologists to develop RATIONALE, which shouldn’t be taken for granted. In 2016, RATIONALE appointed Shamini Rajarethnam. Having joined the brand as marketing and digital coordinator in 2012, Rajarethnam’s is a success story of rising through the ranks–just four years later she would be promoted to CEO making her one of Australia’s youngest female CEOs at 32-years-old.


You won’t find RATIONALE touting the most retinol or the highest dosage of vitamin C. Its formulations contain skin-identical vitamins, minerals and enzymes that work in synergy with the skin, and Parker says his “essential six” represents a complete topical skincare plan, without need for anything else. Personally, I’m all for single-ingredient booster serums and higher dosage treatment products to deal with a rash, pimple, sensitised skin and seasonal changes. RATIONALE, however, suggests sticking to their brand’s “essential six”, especially in the beginning to regulate the skin.

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We organised our first skin consultation at Rationale’s Mosman flagship store. It costs $75 inclusive of superior diagnostic skin imaging, RATIONALE facial treatment, and tailored product recommendations. Alternatively, there’s the $150 DNArray Medical Consultation, which we wish we’d done! It includes all of the above, plus an insightful DNA test via cheek swap that reveals genetic and allergy information about your skin.


I was instructed to use the creamy RATIONALE ProCeramide Cleanser once a day; their stance is also anti-foam to prevent stripping the skin. This felt strange to start but is a massive time saver and the product doubles as a mask, which is my favourite way to use it.

5. $$$

RATIONALE has a reputation for being expensive. Still not as expensive as your last Net-a-Porter order, and this actually goes into your skin (which yes, is your body’s largest living organ). The serums will set you back at least $150, a cleanser $92 and the “essential six” rings in at a cool $915. Notwithstanding the cost, a lot of women and men happily–and repeatedly–hand over their money because, if you believe the hype, once you’ve used it, there is no going back.

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VOGUE Australia’s Senior Beauty Editor Remy Rippon tests products on a daily basis yet she counts the Beautiful Skin Superfluid as her go-to. The Base founder Lara Worthington is a fan of the Catalyst Cleanser, which she uses to double cleanse everyday. TV News Presenter Sylvia Jeffreys uses the PhotoDynamic Day Cream, Proceramide Cleanser and Super Antioxidant Serum whilst Australian actresses Rose Byrne is a devotee of the entire range and Pia Miller loves the Immunologist Serum, the B3-T Superfluid Sunscreen SPF50+, Proceramide Cleanser, as well as the Catalyst Cleanser and Gelcreme.


If there’s only ONE thing you takeaway, Parker hopes that it’s RATIONALE’s forte as a sun-damage skincare solution. “RATIONALE leads the world in understanding and addressing the major cause of skin ageing, the sun. We know more about the prevention and treatment of sun damage than anyone else on earth,” he says. The sunscreens are all SPF 50+ and super fluid, which takes getting used to–spillage and all. But, it’s so lightweight you feel obliged to use more. A flawless sun protection system, which gave me exactly zero breakouts. That’s right, ZERO. Keeper!


Full disclosure, I was only able to use RATIONALE ProCeramide Cleanser, Immunologist Serum, Immunologist UltraCreme and B3-T Superfluid Sunscreen 50+ because I was recovering from acid burn after using too many chemical exfoliants and had rashes on my cheeks like a newborn (#beautyeditorproblems). Let me be a lesson for us all. However, after a month on RATIONALE, my skin barrier is a little stronger but alas, no skincare miracles to speak of. I purged hard and fast in the first week, but using the Catalyst Serum as a spot treatment brings blemishes to a head overnight. Admittedly, I am not the prime candidate for RATIONALE since I have relatively minimal pigmentation and anti-ageing is thankfully not a concern yet, but definitely give it a try in your mid-to-late 30s (when you have the salary to keep the habit), and you’re on a mission to find a reliable, results-driven skincare regime.

Tell us, have you tried the RATIONALE Essential Six regime? Which products would you be most keen to get your hands on?

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Excellent product and it does work. However, it is extremely expensive and I cannot see the justification in that. Not for the size of the bottles, I just can't (when they reduced the size of their product sizes they almost doubled the price). In fact, I find the company very, very greedy and that really puts me off Rationale. I don't buy the marketing spiel for Rationale either - to be frank, it just screams bullshit - but, then again, I have a background in formulation I will admit this marketing is very slickly done. I also agree with their branding strategy and I attended one of their stores to get the dual-phase consultation and the facial prior to starting the product. Lots of bells and whistles. But, again, the price was hefty ($300) but the facial was lovely. The upsell was huge but I just stuck with the six and avoided purchasing the other items the beautician recommended. Given the beauty industry is very wide and there are products that work similarly and for much less, I will not be purchasing Rationale again. Dropping over a grand for a skincare routine is obscene.

Christine Ruggles-Brise

Having just attended a promotional talk on your company and product in Kyneton Victoria. I would like to suggest you give an account of how you derived at the name Rational. I feel it would connect people of all walks of life to you as a company. Definition : Logical basis for a course of action or belief. Is my understanding and one given in the Oxford dictionary. With kind regards Christine Ruggles-Brise Mrs

Susie Boyce

Great article on Rationale. I was converted over 5 years ago after struggling with dull skin, breakouts and pigmentation. I had tried many, almost as expensive, brands and products with no discernible improvement. Rationale was, and continues to be, a miracle for my skin. I am in my early 50s. My skin is smooth, soft, bright, line free and the sun damage from my teenage years is greatly reduced. The Rationale products are beautiful. They smell natural and fresh and I love using them!

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