Richard Parker wants you to have great skin. As someone who suffered with skin issues, he knows how much skin can affect our self confidence. It's why he started skincare favourite Rationale in the first place.
Speaking with Richard was a true delight. He is someone that is passionate about helping in anyway that he can, sharing his knowledge of skin and ingredients freely and openly. His level of total transparency is refreshing amidst a sea of marketing terms and misinformation.
Following the launch of The Tinted Serum, a product that took him 30 years to develop, I spoke with Richard and asked him all the questions I'd ever had about Rationale - plus a few more that I simply wanted his answer to. Below, he explains why he created his brand and why he thinks knowledge is power when it comes to skin.
Tell us about Rationale, what inspired the brand?
Like a lot of people who go into skincare research, I had problems with my own skin. I was a competitive swimmer. I grew up in the South Coast of New South Wales. I had sun damage theories and acne at same time, I thought this was a joke. I thought there's got to be something to do about this. And, there really wasn't much out there. I think that's where the obsession with with skincare came from.
Like anyone's skin problems, it's very, very obvious to the world, when we have skin problems and very difficult to conceal. It's tied up with self esteem, it's even tied up with your emotions and with your hormones. So when your skin's healthy, you glow and you're happy. When you skin is unhealthy, it's the opposite. So I had my own issues that I wanted answers for.
I then went on to study cosmetic chemistry, which was a natural progression for me to enter this industry. And I was very, very blessed to be mentored early on, all those years ago, by a group of dermatologists who were very forward thinking and understood that one day cosmetic science and medicine would meld. I think that was my motivation. We started in medical dermatology. Our first I guess, interface with the public was through dermatologists, plastic surgeons where we sold our formulations. But in the last 10 years, we've added our own flagship store, because we realised that we are a luxury brand. And we need to be able to provide that high touch, luxurious experience for our clients. And so that's where we are now.
What is the brand ethos? How is Rationale different to other brands?
I think we look at skin at the genetic level. So you are born with a genetic code that comes from your parents for your skin. For example, I've got to take a weakness for skin cancer and sun damage. Some people might have a tendency towards rosacea or acne. What we do with that genetic information, which we use a DNA swab test to determine, is then we look at how do we influence the gene. So epigenetics is the new science that sits above genes. And epigenetics means your behaviour and what you do can influence genetic outcomes.
So from that information, we then prescribe from the range called the Essential Six Collections. The Essential Six Collections I guess are the six pillars of skin, beauty and health. We talk about these as collections. We have the Resilience collection, the Vitality collection, and Brilliance collection, the Integrity collection, the Clarity collection, and the Renewal collection. All of those collections allow us to select for our clients what they need. So if someone's issue is resilience. We start with Resilience. If someone's low in antioxidants we'll start there. But that's always our focuses on getting our clients onto what they need. It's like, topical skin nutrition is kind of how we we refer to it. If you go to a good nutritionist, they'll say, right, you're low in zinc, you need this you need to eat these foods, take this supplement. That's kind of what we do with skincare. The idea is well balanced skin diet if you like.
With the Essential Six Collections, why did you make six collections specifically?
It's like the food groups. It's like you had the various food groups and you select something that right for you, but it might be different for everyone. We have six collections, which we refer to as the six, categories of skin nutrients that you might need. And then within that collection, this is an ever growing variety, to suit a person's needs. So for example, you know, if someone's skin needs balancing, and the pH needs balancing, there's a variety of ways that we can do that. And, of course, the other crucial thing is that you have to have those ingredients in the right delivery systems. We vary the delivery system for someone that has oily and sensitive skin, you need a completely different delivery system to someone that has dry and sensitive skin.
How can you tell what someone's skin might need?
It's a genetic test first. We do the DNA swab test, and then we do other diagnostic testing. So we look at sebum count, we look at your blood supply. We use polarised lenses that look at sebum, blood flow, collagen, and so on. All of these filters and lens can give us imaging, diagnostic imaging, that shows us what what your vulnerabilities might be. And then that's that suggests to us a treatment plan.
Once you've got this information, you have it for the rest of your life, and it guides your decisions. It's what's good for your skin and, you know what to stay away from.
The six Essential collections, are they designed to be beginning to end routines?
I think every single formulation is designed to stick with every other formulation. This is where it gets complicated. You've got people, we call them tinkerers, when something starts going wrong with their skin or they notice the first signs of ageing, a lot of people go out and they try things that you can buy things in the pharmacy or they buy things online. But the problem is none of that is thought through from a holistic point of view. You might have an ingredient that might be good, but it's in the wrong delivery system. Combine that with a formulation that has something that's not right for your skin, we've got a problem.
But how does the average person work out what that problem is and what to do about it?
Skin is an organ of the body, just like your liver or kidneys or your brain or your heart. And we don't tinker with those. But yet with our skin, we kind of treat it like it's a fair game. As I said earlier, the most important thing I think you can do is to have a DNA test, so you know your skin, and you know, what to do what to stay away from. I think the second most important thing you do is have a good relationship with your therapist. Your Rationale therapist is trained in how to analyse what's going on. They can refer you to a dermatologist if it's a medical issue, but the thing is that relationship because, it's similar to a personal trainer. The best result I've ever had with my health and fitness have been with when I'm with my trainer. And I think it's a similar thing with skin. So Rationale clients tend to be incredibly loyal. They often come to us after they've been through rounds of trying everything and doing a bit of damage to their skin. But once they start they stay. People say it's a cult, but I don't I don't think that's accurate. I think it's like a final destination. You know, we say luminous skin for life. Because for our clients they stay with us for life. Because we have the answers.
Why did you decide to create a product like The Tinted Serum SPF50+?
I've always known - when I was living in America, I was doing research in the states in the 90s. And the American Academy of Dermatology commissioned this study to find out about sunscreen use. And they found that people, predominantly women, were more likely, much more likely to wear sunscreen if it was in their foundation. We all know, women love multitasking products. People love it. So I thought, you can't fight the tide. You can't, you've got to go with what people will actually do and what's realistic. I knew that the most important brief for this was it had to look beautiful, and feel beautiful on the skin and be good for your skin. And then comes the SPF. I think we've nailed all those things, thank God. I'm so happy, a bit like sensitive skin is such an important area for me and for the company. Because I have sensitive skin myself, I react to sunscreens. This one doesn't make you break out or develop a rash. It makes your skin calm, a conscious good, it makes it just look dewy.
How is The Tinted Serum SPF50+ different to say a sunscreen?
We don't refer to it primarily as a sunscreen. As cosmetic science and knowledge of the skin emerges, I think the sun is one factor we have to be conscious of - but I think there are many, many others. So I think people want something looks beautiful. This product creates this optical effect on the skin where the skin looks dewy luminous, you can't do that with a sunscreen. Sunscreens use the same chemicals. They always have that oily sort of sheen to them.
The second thing is that this is a new benchmark for us. I guess we're looking at a new paradigm, it's not really a sunscreen. It's more like a luminosity-enhancing, nourishing, hydrating and protective serum. I always had this vision of creating, I guess a super serum. Something that people could put on the morning feel like "I'm done". You know, "if I do this, I look good, I feel good, and I'm protected". I don't think sunscreens have that.
Of course, we need a certain amount of sunlight to make vitamin D, it's good for our eyes, it's good for our bones. And I think this paranoia about the Sun. I think we're starting to come through that a little bit more now. And I think we're starting to develop more of a holistic view of the Sun, and what it can do for us.
We include vitamin D precursors in this formulation, because you know, you want to make a little bit of vitamin D, you don't want to be completely blocking that. I think it offers a particularly good block of pollution because the interaction of carbon particles and sunlight causes oxidation and pigmentation and so on. So, we've got ceramic shield technology in this serum that makes skin look good, but it also stops pollution particles or carbon particles from sticking to the skin. We've got a group of compounds in the formulation that helps with Heat Shock proteins. So Heat Proteins absorb infrared heat, which is another problem for collagen breakdown and pigmentation and so on.
We've tried to attack it like like the facets of a jewel, you know, it doesn't matter which facet you look at, they're equally beautiful. So that's kind of the philosophy behind The Tinted Serum SPF50+.
What do you think many people get wrong about skincare?
I think guessing. The trouble with skin issues is, for example, if everything is red, hot, feels hot, itchy, has lumps and bumps - those symptoms could be one of 2000 skin conditions. Now, I'm not qualified to make those determinations. Only a doctor can, only a dermatologist really, a specialist that has that level of knowledge and skills. So I think the problem is that people tend to self diagnose. And that's an issue.
I think the complexity of skin conditions, the relationship with skin conditions to mental and psychological states emotions - I think is very complex. And I think all of those things drive people self diagnose and tinker with it. The truth is it's knowledge. That is the most empowering thing with your skin and simplified, targeted treatment.
So what what do you wish more people knew?
I wish more people knew what their genetic tendencies to skin are. What their gene history is and what their genetic code is. And I wish that they knew that anyone could have good skin, it is in your hands, but you need the knowledge of what's going on at any level. Knowledge is power.
Do you have one one piece of parting advice that you would like to share?
Know your own skin. It's like going having a really good consult with a personal trainer. I think form a relationship with your therapist. Find someone who is knowledgeable, find someone who has your best interests at heart, find someone who has a long term view of giving you healthy skin for the rest of your life. All of that's an investment. If you invest time into somebody in a good consultation and put the energy in to do that. Consistency is key. Success in anything in life, I believe, is a function of doing the right things over and over again. And skincare is probably the most obvious one of all because it's right there on our faces.