Legend has it...
That when a certain award winning actor with a serious skincare contract (as in multimillion-dollar) left her beauty bag onboard an overnight flight recently, the nosy female cabin crew couldn’t resist taking a peek inside. (Don’t judge. Wouldn’t you want to know the real secret behind her poreless, flawless complexion?) Said rummage revealed numerous black glass bottles and jars, all with their labels painstakingly removed. But one eagleeyed crew member (an especially radiant one, we might add) recognise the tampered-with packaging straight away. “Rationale,” she whispers to me a few weeks later (courtesy of four glasses of wine, we might add), eyes widening dramatically as if I’m her co-conspirator in this tawdry beauty tale.
Define Rationale, I hear you say. Surprisingly for an Australian skincare brand that’s been around 25 years (it was established in Melbourne by formulating chemist Richard Parker in 1993), it’s still weirdly under the radar. It doesn’t pay spokesmodels. You won’t find it in department stores. And if you wander into one of its six flagship clinics and declare you’re ready to invest in the whole skincare range, its therapists will politely rebuff you. Cue lecture on restraint being required, patience being a virtue (yada, yada, yada), and then maybe they’ll start you off with two, maybe three lotions if you’re lucky. Don’t even bother expending energy handing them your shopping list. They’ll tell you what you can have. It’s all very Seinfeld Soup Nazi, but, if anything, the restrictions only fuel fans’ fanaticism.
Jokes aside, it’s the word-of-mouth effect that’s driven this company’s growth. Editors telling their designer mates. Women complimenting the radiant complexions of fellow school mums on the sidelines at Saturday-morning sports. Makeup artists prepping actors, models and politicians for photoshoots. “These women coming to us for the first time are normally 30–35 and in that interesting life space when the penny drops: they can no longer take their skin for granted,” Richard Parker says. “She’s not a panicker. She doesn’t see a wrinkle and shriek, ‘I need Botox!’ But she’s reached that fork in the road — do I go cosmetic surgery or do I explore other options?”