From an early age, Richard Parker was aware of his skin. When Parker was a teenager, he was diagnosed with a skin condition caused by sun damage called ochronosis. And in his early 20s, he suffered from acne. After meeting multiple dermatologists and learning more about products and ingredients that could help his conditions, Parker was inspired to venture into health and beauty to share that knowledge with others.
The knowledge Parker gained from medical experts and his own studies led him to launch Rationale in 1992. Since its creation, the skin-care brand’s sole purpose has been to equip consumers with the necessary information and products to help repair damage caused by the sun and other free radical exposure.
“The information [on how to maintain healthy skin] was so valuable to women [when we launched] because there weren’t any of the codebreakers or websites that we all have access to today,” Parker said on the latest episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast. “Some of the vital components that we now know are important to skin health, like immune boosters and antioxidants, didn’t exist in skin care at that time.”
Rationale’s unique and medically-backed approach to skin care catapulted the brand’s growth in Australia. Three decades later, Rationale is considered a cult favorite among many of Australia’s biggest celebrities and skin-care enthusiasts. Parker is now grooming the brand to connect with consumers around the globe. He’s currently focused on the U.S. and Southeast Asian markets.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Setting the brand up for expansion
“After 30 years, we finally understand our place in the skin-care world. [Rationale] has this strong knowledge about the effects of the sun on the skin — it’s 80% of facial aging. And if you can control that, you’re going to have great skin. … Moving into Southeast Asia, and now in the United States, we’re seeing all the global skin types … and understanding completely their unique skin problems, in relation to the sun. … So although there are some genetic differences, the major cause of aging remains the same, and we have the expertise to be able to help people globally.”
Creating six pillars of skin health
“When I started my training as a skin-care scientist, they were pretty much only two things that were acceptable to have any effect on the skin: sunscreen during the day and retinoic acid, which is a prescription drug. That was nearly 50 years ago, so we’ve learned a lot in those 50 years [since]. … As bizarre as it sounds, skin-care companies never study human skin. They [instead] look at marketing trends and cosmetic trends, new, trendy ingredients, and so on. But [Rationale] never had that philosophy. We don’t follow trends. What we did instead was study skin in a state of optimal health. … That was a revolutionary concept. And then I thought, ‘Let’s study the skin’s natural health systems.’ And it’s there in the medical literature. The skin has an immune system, an antioxidant system, a sun protection system, a barrier repair system, a pH modulation system and a DNA repair system. Those six pillars of skin health became the basis of “the essential six.” So “the essential six” are our series of collections based on the six pillars of skin health. We pick and choose, customize and tweak regimes for people, [leveraging] each of those collections. … You need to have something from each pillar of skin health on a daily basis to ensure your skin is optimally healthy and looks its most radiant.”
Building loyalty in beauty
“[Rationale] makes sure we have such a strong relationship with our clients that they trust us and have absolute faith in our ability to know their skin and when their skin has changed and what to introduce. We’re doing the tweaking for them; we’re doing the adjusting — and we’re helping them understand the changes and meet the challenges throughout life. … The relationship between the [Rationale] client and their doctor or the Rationale client and their therapist is the most treasured thing on both sides.”