If you’re looking for the most personalized skincare experience available, Rationale might be the one for you. Representatives from the brand—which touts itself as a research company that makes skincare products—use a scan of your face to assess exactly which skin concerns you should be tackling, then set you up with an individualized regimen to address those issues. Rationale Skincare is, notably, the best-selling and top skincare brand in Australia—and it’s making its way Stateside. Four W magazine editors gave the system a try, and shared their honest opinions.
Katie Connor, Executive Digital Director
Had you heard of Rationale Skincare before?
I had not heard anything about the Rationale brand before. But when I mentioned that I was trying it to a fellow editor at a fashion week event, she said it was beloved in Australia and had a huge following there.
What was your skincare routine like before switching over to Rationale’s system?
My skincare routine has always been extremely basic. For the better part of two decades, I simply washed my face with Clinique’s Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser and followed with its Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion for dry skin. Perhaps I’d add an eye cream from a random sample I received at work or in a gift bag from an event. Just before trying Rationale, I was working with Tula’s Purifying Face Cleanser topped off with 24-7 Moisture Hydrating Day & Night Cream. Generally, my previous routine did absolutely nothing to help age spots and dry skin. But at least it was short and sweet!
Were you seeking a new skincare routine when the Rationale opportunity came along?
The older I get, the more interested I am in trying out new products. I just never fully trust that anything is actually as good as it purports to be. My physician father and my mother, a teacher, were not at all interested in complicated skincare routines, so I grew up with a healthy dose of skepticism about anything beyond simple moisturizers. For example, when I hit my tweens and started experiencing breakouts, my parents gave me Betadine—as in the thin red iodine solution commonly found in first aid kits—to use as a face scrub.
Describe your experience using Rationale Skincare’s system.
Katie Matten, the head of education for Rationale, could not have been more lovely. First, she took VISIA scans of my face and walked me through the lay of the land: my brown spots, UV spots, wrinkles, texture, pores, red spots, and so on. The VISIA images look a little bit like heat-mapping images of Mars and I was nervous about just how bad my damage would be—but alas, she said I had been doing pretty well, even with my half-ass routine!
My dryness level and sun damage could really use some fine-tuning, so she set about creating a plan that would offer me maximum hydration and protection. It sounds silly, but one of my biggest hurdles with a multistep skincare regimen is remembering the order in which to apply each product, especially when I’m tired at night or rushing to get out the door in the morning. But the Rationale system makes it abundantly clear by providing you with a customized prescription plan. My new morning routine called for 2-3 drops of the #1 Serum, a half-pump of the #2 Hydragel, and 1-2 pipettes of the #2 Tinted Serum SPF 50+. At night, I massaged a pearl-sized amount of the #4 PreCleanse Balm to emulsify makeup without rinsing off, then applied one pump of the #4 Cleanser and rinsed with tepid water and rinsed off completely. The final two steps were the #5 Milk Concentrate followed by a finger’s worth of the #4 Crème over my entire face, neck, and chest.
How did you like the products? Would you use them again?
I have noticed my skin is no longer flaky or rough. While I’ve yet to achieve the full doughnut-glazed skin look of say, Hailey Bieber, I am happily moisturized and smooth. I used every product down to its last drop, pump, and scoop. The cleanser is the longest-lasting, and I continue to use it almost nine months since I first received it. Full disclosure: I left the tinted SPF in a hotel a few weeks after I first started applying it daily and was absolutely devastated because I loved it. (I called and asked them to send it back to me—alas, it never turned up.) Purchased as a whole set, the plan is a bit cost prohibitive, however, I would certainly use them all again. Also, the products last quite a while, making the price per use justifiable.
Christina Holevas, Accessories and Jewelry Director
What was your skincare routine like before switching over to Rationale?
Lately I’ve been all over the place with my skincare routine, using whatever random face wash I have lying around, followed by a simple moisturizer. I occasionally use vitamin C or AHA when I feel like my skin needs it. Skincare can become a lost cause for me during summertime because I get so lazy. This year, I am (at least) trying to be better about wearing sunscreen every day.
What did you think of Rationale Skincare’s products?
I really liked my skincare consultation with Rationale; I am a sucker for anything personalized. And since I’m not really in the beauty world, I actually felt like I learned something from it. Firstly, I love the feel of these products—they are light and luxurious on the skin. And I appreciate the simplicity and straightforwardness of the Rationale routine: the products literally have numbers on them, so you can’t really mess it up. As far as results, I wouldn’t say that I was blown away, but my skin has been clear and calm. I’m lucky that I don’t have super sensitive skin, so I don’t always see huge results when I change up my product regimen.
From Rationale, my favorite products were definitely the morning and evening moisturizers—they’re so luxe.
Would you use Rationale Skincare again?
If I could, I would definitely continue to use the moisturizers. I feel like a rich lady when I use them. That said, I am not, in reality, a rich lady, so the prices are a little prohibitive for me. But I also loved the tinted SPF, and would purchase that on its own.
Maryam Lieberman, Contributing Beauty Editor
What did you like about your previous skincare routine?
I am quite precise with my skincare regimen when I’m not testing out new products. I am critical (to say the least) and I am loyal to Sisley, Editrix, Tatcha, and some Albion products as of late. They give me great results and most of them use plant botanicals. When I visited the Rationale Flagship on Melrose Place, I had a consultation with the aesthetician and then received a scan that dissected and photographed my skin, showing me where hydration was lacking, where sun damage had taken its toll, and the parts of my face that might be vulnerable to future sun damage. My main concern was hydration—so the Rationale aesthetician set me up on a program.
Describe your experience using Rationale Skincare.
I ended up taking what the Rationale aesthetician gave me and added it to products I’d previously received from the brand’s publicist, thus creating my own regimen. It’s just the way I do my skincare: I pick and choose what feels best.
I started with my nighttime routine—really, that was the most impressive. I first applied the #4 Gentle Cream Cleanser on my skin. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and it took everything off brilliantly. I followed up with #5 Milk Concentrate Serum, which has bergamot fruit oils that help heal the skin and reduce inflammation. It felt nice on my face and absorbed well. I finished up with the #5 Night Cream, which was even more hydrating. This product contains lemon peel, which also helps brighten skin naturally without irritating the dermis. Full transparency, the night regimen won me over—so I didn’t change a thing for daytime, except for adding in the #3 tinted sunscreen (my favorite product of the whole line). It’s a zinc formula and it went on light, which is so rare.
Would you use Rationale Skincare’s products going forward?
I would use the milk concentrate and the sunscreen again, again, and again. No question.
Carolyn Twersky, Staff Writer
What is your usual skincare routine like?
I am still very much on my skincare journey, and before trying Rationale, I’d recently started using some of Laneige’s new Water Bank Hyaluronic products. Hydration was a concern of mine, and those products seemed to be the answer. When offered the opportunity to try Rationale, however, I was happy to put those products to the side. Sometimes I feel like I try products prescribed for specific problems, but it’s hard to determine whether or not they’re doing their expected job. Thus far, no products have wowed me to the point of unwavering loyalty, so I’m always happy to give something new a shot.
What were your thoughts on the Rationale Skincare system?
I liked the idea that Rationale was catered specifically for my skin. After a consultation with a brand representative, I felt fairly confident that the products would address my concerns, aside from one thing: I’m 26, and Rationale normally caters to more mature clients. I do still have the occasional breakout which, besides hydration, is my number-one skincare qualm. The representative admitted the products don’t really focus on acne of any kind, so I assumed they wouldn’t work for me. When I received the products, that concern grew. I do like to keep my skincare routine as simple as possible, and the Rationale system included a lot of steps. There are seven in total, plus a weekly mask, and I was definitely overwhelmed at first.
In the end, though, I couldn’t be happier with the results. While Rationale might not cater to breakouts, I haven’t had one since I began using the products regularly. It’s hard to say exactly which product is my favorite, but I love the #5 Serum as well as the #3 Tinted Serum. My only complaint is that the daytime routine feels heavy; I’m putting a lot of product on my face and I can really feel it. But hey, the results speak for themselves—and my skin has never looked better.
Would you use Rationale again?
I would definitely use Rational moving forward, but it’s a bit out of my price range. I will milk the products I have for as long as I can, and then I may pick a few to re-up if I feel like splurging. Otherwise, it may be back to the drawing board for me.