Many of us are quick to look in the mirror and identify our skin’s concerns, but we’re less spot-on than we realise when it comes to recognising our skin’s actual needs.
Case in point? Dull skin. If you’re picking up bottles of brightening serums to give you a more radiant glow, it’s likely you’re neglecting the real reasons for your skin’s lacklustre appearance. These could be anything from a weak barrier function to dehydration.
Opposite to heaping products off the shelves in a desperate attempt to give the skin a glow-up, personalised skincare takes a targeted approach to combat your skin concerns.
What is personalised skincare?
Personalised skincare involves having a professional analyse your complexion, identify your skin’s needs, and then prescribe skincare products that work specifically for your skin.
The setback for most of us is that personalised skincare is often much more expensive than products that you can toss into your basket, which is why the question remains: is personalised skincare really better?
Wanting to find out once and for all, I Marie Kondo’d my regular skincare products and committed to eight personalised skincare products, prescribed to me by the skin experts at RATIONALE.
I tried RATIONALE’s Essential Six Collections (a full range of eight products) for three weeks, before I returned for a review of my skin. Here’s how it all turned out.
What is RATIONALE?
I first came across RATIONALE, when I walked past its brightly lit, minimalistic storefront at Raffles City.
Later, I found out that RATIONALE is an Australian luxury skincare brand that’s known for delivering more results for the skin using fewer products. How? It’s by helping their customers pick out products that really target their skin’s actual needs and support all facets of skin health.
RATIONALE provides all its customers with skin consultations to prescribe products from its Essential Six, a unique six-collection skincare that supports (all) six facets of the skin’s health.
The first three collections are to be used during the day, to protect the skin; they strengthen the skin, fight against ageing free radicals, and shield the skin from harmful UV rays.
The last three collections are for night-time use; they nourish the skin, balance the skin’s pH, and increase the skin’s ability to repair itself.
But just as important as RATIONALE’s multifaceted Essential Six are its skin consultations.
The brand offers the Signature Skin Consultation, where a RATIONALE Skin Specialist identifies your skin’s problems through UV Diagnostic images, such as high sensitivity, enlarged pores, or spots in the deeper layers of the skin.
The Skin Specialist then prescribes a complete set of skincare products from the Essential Six collections to target your skin’s various needs.
Since RATIONALE is serious about giving you products that make sense for your skin, even if you don’t purchase the Signature Skin Consultation (S$100), their Skin Specialists will still sit you down for a pod consultation.
You will share your concerns with the Skincare Specialist, who will inspect and feel your skin to advise you on suitable products to bring home.
What to expect during the Signature Skin Consultation
I was led from RATIONALE’s spacious, glossy, brightly-lit store to a cosier room that was tucked away at the back.
I filled up a form to indicate my skin concerns and shared that I wanted skin that was brighter, more refined, and more hydrated. She also wanted to find out what skincare products I used in my daily routine.
After talking me through my responses, the Skin Specialist performed a soothing double cleanse on my face. She then led me to the UV Diagnostic Machine where, three bright flashes later, I was able to view the images it captured of my skin on a large screen.
The images revealed the percentages and placements of everything from fine lines, bacteria present, to dark spots on my skin.
Most surprising to me were the brown spots that showed up in the images, as I had never noticed them before. The Skin Specialist noted that they were present in the deeper layers and would show up in later stages, even if they weren’t visible now.
I was also taken aback by the number of bad bacteria present on my skin. The Skin Specialist explained that, while it is normal for bacteria to show up on the skin, it is ideal to have a balance of good and bad bacteria – and my skin obviously didn’t have a healthy balance.
Just as I suspected, the images also showed fine lines in the areas under my eyes, with some deeper lines that were traced with dark green on the screen.
After an elaborate consultation, the Skin Specialist prescribed me the #1 The Serum, #2 The Hydragel, #3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+, #3 The Enriched Eye Crème, #4 The Cleanser, #5 The Milk Concentrate, #6 The Gel Crème, and #6 The Eye Crème.
To ease me into using actives on my skin, she chose gentler products like #6 The Gel Crème, which uses botanical bakuchiol instead of more potent retinol.
She also made sure that I took home #5 The Milk Concentrate to rebalance my skin; it was a milder formula compared to #5 The Serum, which contained stronger AHAs.
Since my skin was dehydrated, it was also important that I swap out my (current) harsh foaming cleanser for #4 The Cleanser. A formulation filled with ceramides and lipids, the cleanser was to remove my skin’s impurities without stripping it of its moisture.
It was a good thing that I went for the Signature Skin Consultation because, otherwise, I might have chosen only products from #2 The Vitality Collection to try to secure a radiant skin glow.
Instead, I went home with a full skincare range that targeted my skin’s specific needs on multiple fronts – all that was left was to find out whether I would really get healthy, glowing skin after three weeks.
First impression of RATIONALE’s Essential Six
Housed in weighty, elegant packaging, RATIONALE’s Essential Six was a treat to my senses even before I started using them. I started my night ritual beginning with #4 The Cleanser.
My night ritual
#4 The Cleanser had a creamy, balm-like texture that melted into a milky liquid in contact with water. The moment that I rinsed the cleanser away with water, I was surprised by how immediately soft, supple, and hydrated my skin felt.
Out of the shower, I reached for #5 The Milk Concentrate, a milky serum with a natural, citrusy scent, which was supposed to balance the good-bad bacteria on my skin. This was in place of the brightening serums that I would usually use.
Just three drops were enough to cover my entire face and neck, and the solution also absorbed easily into my skin.
Then, I scooped a pearl-sized amount of #6 The Gel Crème, a pinkish, lightweight, water-based moisturiser, and applied it to my skin. I finished my skincare routine with #6 The Eye Crème: I placed two tiny white dots of the cream under my eyes and tapped them in.
I was surprised by how little product I was instructed to use, yet how easily the formulas covered the large areas of my skin. The whole routine was quick and simple – like how I enjoy it to be, and nothing like a 12-step Korean skincare regimen that would have taken too much out of my evening.
The moisturiser and eye creams stung a little initially, but I figured that it was just my skin getting used to the actives.
My day ritual
The next morning, I awoke to skin that was much softer and brighter than I had expected, though I noticed a little bit of flaking and peeling in some spots.
I applied #1 The Serum, another citrusy and pleasantly lightweight formula, to my face and neck, followed by #2 The Hydragel, an orangish gel-like moisturiser that was slightly sticky on my skin, but comfortable nonetheless.
I was surprised (yet again) by how little product I needed to moisturise my skin; #2 The Hydragel used a small pump that released a little bit of product each time.
The instructions were to apply only half a pump of product over my face, neck, and décolletage, and, sure enough, the tiny pearl-size amount was sufficient.
The final two steps in my daytime skincare routine were the SPF serum and eye cream. #3 The Tinted Serum SPF50+ was a watery, slightly grainy serum that I needed to shake to activate before applying it to my face.
The holy grail product for so many RATIONALE users, the serum absorbed quickly into my skin and gave my complexion only a slight tint. I liked the consistency and how it felt on my skin. Though I didn’t quite enjoy the product’s natural scent, I got used to it eventually.
#3 The Enriched Eye Crème was a thicker formula than the nighttime eye cream that I had used the evening before. I tapped it on the skin under and around my eyes, and it brightened as well as hydrated my eye area.
The fuss-free routine let me leave my house quickly, with my skin feeling more protected than usual.
Results after three weeks
Fast-forward three weeks, and my skin felt much softer, hydrated, and brighter than before!
In the beginning, my skin would flake a little in the mornings, despite feeling softer and more supple. There were also dry patches that were more noticeable when I applied foundation to my skin.
My skin was also getting used to the nighttime actives, because they would sting a little after I applied the products. However, after about one and a half weeks, my skin no longer felt any stinging sensation, and my complexion started to look smoother and more radiant.
The patches of flakey skin that I usually had under my eyes were gone, and the dry patches that appeared after the first time I used the products had disappeared too.
Instead, my skin was softer than ever before, and felt much more nourished and supple; this, instead of the tightness that I would sometimes experience on my skin during the day (before I started my Essential Six ritual).
Although not all the products were focused on “brightening” the skin, my complexion had acquired a more even, radiant tone, especially on my forehead where I would often notice its dullness.
Final skin review at RATIONALE
I visited RATIONALE for a second skin review, which is a complimentary service that the brand provides all its customers.
The Skin Specialist performed a cleanse on my skin and then inspected it by touching and gently pinching the different areas on my face.
Turns out that my skin was, indeed, more hydrated and radiant. The Skin Specialist, however, identified that there were still some clogged pores on my chin. She advised me to use the more potent #5 The Serum as a spot treatment on those areas, which would help to resurface and decongest my skin.
Verdict: Is personalised skincare worth it?
In the past, my skincare routine involved switching between hydrating and brightening serums, depending on my skin concerns at the moment.
The results that I saw were almost always temporary: even if my skin looked brighter the next day, the dullness would return soon after.
What I loved most about my personalised Essential Six “ritual” (what the brand calls your prescribed regime) from RATIONALE is that I saw results over time. This assured me that my skin was gradually getting healthier day by day, and I would be able to enjoy a skin glow-up in the long run.
Although RATIONALE’s Essential Six collections, like most personalised skincare products, come with a hefty price tag, they last a good amount of time; you don’t need a lot of product to see a big difference in your skin.
I also enjoyed using, for the first time, an entire range of skincare from one brand only. My skincare products are usually a hectic combination of products from different brands.
Performing a full Essential Six ritual made sense for my skin and gave me peace of mind; I knew that the products complement each other, layer well, and wouldn’t cause irritation to my skin.
Is personalised skincare worth it? I would say, it’s really for you to decide. But does personalised skincare really work better? Based on my experience with RATIONALE’s Essential Six collections, I say yes – a resounding yes.
In celebration of RATIONALE’s first year in Singapore, the brand is letting you redeem S$100 on products when you purchase the Signature Skin Consultation (S$100), for a limited time only. Book your session here.
Not sure whether personalised skincare is for you? Speak to RATIONALE’s Skin Specialists at the store before you make a decision – it’s free. Head down to RATIONALE at Raffles City or Tang Plaza today.
This article is brought to you by RATIONALE.