“Gosh you’re in purple, and I’m in purple! We’re twinning!” I said out loud the second I stepped foot into The Fullerton Hotel’s suite, where I was scheduled to meet with Australian luxury skincare brand Rationale founder and Director of Research, Richard Parker.
Immediately he let out a chuckle and welcomed me to a seat opposite him. Like many other interviews I’ve done in the past with beauty founders and entrepreneurs alike, Parker exudes humility and honesty about his achievements in scaling his skincare business. And it shows in our more than an hour-long conversation on topics like kindness and good vibes.
Growing up as a competitive swimmer and a classically-trained pianist and cellist on the South Coast of New South Wales, Parker at the age of 25 was suffering from acne and skin damage. Like many of us, he went to a dermatologist who prescribed him antibiotics and a cream called Retin-A. The antibiotics didn't do much for him but Retin-A did. “I was able to see a slight improvement on my skin and I thought, I love this field. So I considered a career in medicine, but I wanted to work in wellness and decided to go into skincare formulation as my next career direction,” Parker shared.
You'll need something to boost the skin’s immune system; you’ll need antioxidants and something to protect your skin from the sun, which causes 80 per cent of facial ageing.Richard Parker
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Parker went on to open his first store around 1992 and proceeded to run consultation services and prescribe simple products for shoppers for a start. Eventually, Parker derived a new concept called The Essential Six, an array of sophisticated formulations that deliver environmental protection by day and repair at night. Every Essential Six regimen is personalised in line with a treatment plan curated from a comprehensive suite of luxury facial services available at Rationale’s salons, including a flagship store that was recently opened at Raffles City Singapore.
With over 30 years of drug research background, Parker is confident that his products can deliver what our skin needs, which is luminous skin no matter where his clients are around the world. He stressed that with the Essential Six, where a good exercise ratio of muscle strength and flexibility matters, the same applies to our skin. “You'll need something to boost the skin’s immune system; you’ll need antioxidants and something to protect your skin from the sun, which causes 80 per cent of facial ageing."
"You’ll also need to restore the skin’s barrier every night with repair and rebalancing the skin’s pH. This is what I like to call good skin nutrition. And I guess that (the Essential Six) became our claim to fame.”
On top of having a dedicated website, the brand keeps customers updated through social media, especially Instagram, where over 35,000 followers receive bite-sized news on announcements and collaborations.
Rationale has worked with well-known personalities for their social campaigns, like Singaporean actress Fann Wong, Sydney-based makeup artist Kristyan Low and host and journalist Hannah Hollis, just to name a few. While continuing to discuss the subject of authority, Parker is aware of the pros and cons of social media, especially when it comes to personalities who may not be the right authority to communicate information. "There are a lot of people who claim themselves to be authorities, who tell things that aren't true and (consumers) will take it as true. I noticed beauty influencers doing that by just reading out what the company asked them to say because they get paid to say that, and that's not good education."
"So that's our essentially our job. We have to have a level of knowledge that's right up there with a medical specialist. So I think social media has the potential to show the beauty industry, 'this is what healthy skin can look like.' We need to make sure that what people are hearing on social media is, in fact factual, and helpful."
Like most of us who struggle with makeup under face masks amidst the pandemic, I asked Parker his advice on going makeup-free like Grammy award-winning singer Alicia Keys, who’s been the queen of the no-makeup look for years. He stressed that sunscreen is one way to go. “Zinc is the key here as it is the most superior sunscreen. I've spent 30 years developing a technology called zinc fusion, where you take various particle sizes of zinc and combine them in a way that protects you from ultraviolet (UV) light, which is 50 per cent of the sun's energy and infrared light.
“If you use a zinc fusion-powered sunscreen, you need to replace your skin's barrier every night. That's the fourth thing. You need to rebalance the skin's pH every day because that skin becomes more alkaline during the day with environmental damage. And we have to bring it back to an acidic level. This is why, we still get cellular damage every day, no matter how good our skincare regimen is. So we look at Vitamin A to repair cellular damage. I think that’s the key to having that makeup-free glow that everyone's looking for today.”
And who says it best other than Parker himself, who exudes a calming warmth and a radiant complexion, making him the ideal spokesperson for his brand. We can only learn the best from him.