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Review: Rationale’s Catalyst Range

I love cosmoceutical skincare – it’s high in active ingredients and innovative formulas. Rationale is an Australian cosmoceutical brand founded by Dr Richard Parker. You will notice right away that the range looks impressive and looks pretty luxe, because it is! One of the reasons I was drawn to the range is because most of Rationale’s products focus on repairing sun damaged skin since UV rays are the number #1 reason our skin ages prematurely. When living in Australia, it makes sense that you would want skincare products which block UV rays, neutralise free radicals but also repair UV damaged skin in a variety of ways.

I was really undecided which product to try first from the range, but then I ran out of my staple Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum (an AHA/BHA chemical exfoliant) so I picked up the Catalyst Serum, which works in a somewhat similar fashion – that, and I just wanted a change… Slowly, they started to expand their Catalyst range which focuses on refining and repairing the skin, and through various events (birthdays etc.) I also got my hands on the Catalyst Cleanser and Catalyst Gelcreme. Now that I have tested these products over the last few weeks, let me tell you what I think of them and if they are worth the gold (since they are pretty darn exxy) 🙂

Catalyst Cleanser

“Catalyst Cleanser is a transformative cleanser suitable for oily and breakout-prone skin as well as sun damaged, sensitive skin lacking luminosity. The radiance-boosting formula contains natural skin refining Enzymes, super hydrating Peptides, nourishing Ceramides and Australian PhotoRepair Botanicals to gently purify, balance and brighten skin day by day. Organic acids gently smooth and refine, recalibrating skin pH to accelerate cellular renewal. Skin looks and feels sparkling, resurfaced and deeply luminous.

  • Purifies and rebalances with Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids, infused with
    Australian Botanical Polyphenols to help normalise oil flow.
  • Restores barrier function through in-situ ceramide synthesis to ameliorate dryness and sensitivity.
  • Oat amino acids gently remove excess sebum and debris while eliciting an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids unclog pores and inhibit bacteria through recalibration of the skin’s pH from alkaline to acidic.
  • Empowered with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory peptides to clear and calm oily or troubled skin.
  • Suitable for sensitive and / or acne-prone skin.
  • Oil-free.

The Catalyst Cleanser is a gel cleanser, which only foams up slightly . It’s definitely not like the old gel cleansers, which strip your skin and foam up like you are in a washing machine. It feels really refreshing and has leaves skin feeling seriously smooth and refreshed. I try and take my time when washing my face with this cleanser, so the acids have time to work their magic and breakdown oil and other undesirables. It has a fruity-acidy scent, even though Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water is the first ingredient in the ingredient list (just a little bit fancy 😉 ). Perhaps others can pick up a rose scent or note but I can’t. I also love that the cleanser is housed in a pump bottle – making dispensing product easy. The cleanser also works brilliantly with my Foreo Luna.

Above: Rationale Catalyst Cleanser and a cat scratch 😉 

I love that even sensitive skin can use this cleanser and that it works against inflammation. I think living in the city, your skin is always under attack from pollution and free radicals, so your skin is always in ‘fight mode’. My skin feels balanced and like it is getting a ‘treatment’ even at the beginning of my routine. I don’t use it to remove makeup and haven’t tried to use it for this purpose. I think it would almost be a little bit of a waste, because the cleanser has so many great ingredients, which would have a hard time getting through makeup and grime. It is also hands down the most expensive cleanser I have ever used and I can’t say it’s an absolute must have at $92 a pop (for 200ml) but if you are struggling with your skin and clogged pores/smog and breakouts, it does an excellent job! If you can’t allow yourself to spend so much, the Antipodes Juliet Brightening Cleanser is an excellent ‘dupe’. It also contains antioxidants (vinanza grape extract), acids for some gentle exfoliation action (derived from kiwi fruit and hibiscus flower) and manuka honey (active manuka honey, an antibacterial) which works to fight inflammation, breakouts and soothe skin. I will post up a comparison photo via Instagram soon!

Above: Rationale Catalyst Cleanser Ingredient List

Catalyst Serum

“Catalyst Serum reactivates vital youth enzymes through recalibration of the skin’s pH, enhancing radiance, firmness, hydration and clarity. By bringing skin pH back to youthful acidity, Pro-Vitality + Pro-Luminosity enzymes are activated. Australian PhotoRepair Botanicals provide unique rejuvenating abilities, reducing inflammation and reversing the signs of sun damage. Skin looks and feels immediately resurfaced, smooth and luminous.

  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Helps unclog pores and prevent breakouts
  • Fades epidermal pigmentation
  • Promotes hydration levels
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces oxidative damage maintaining healthy collagen and elastin synthesis
  • Helps decrease sensitivity to topical irritants and improve stratum corneum barrier function
  • Time release effect of acidic delivery for more efficient enzyme reactivation
  • Increased hydration efficiency with incorporated immune modulators and Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs)
  • Reduction in irritancy is achieved through our new Isotropic Formulation

Active ingredients; 

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids
    Lactic Acid
    Citric Acid
    Malic Acid
  • Beta Hydroxy Acid
    Salicylic Acid
  • Furanocoumarin
    Active Constituents of native Australian flora, including Waratah, Banksia and Finger Lime Caviar. Benefits; Anti-inflammatory, reduces solar induced inflammation, reduces oxidative damage within the skin, maintains skin firmness and elasticity.
  • Phytoceutical Extracts – Antioxidants: Juniper, Orange, Neroli, Grapefruit, Lemon. Anti-inflammatory; Clove, May Chang, Lavender, Lavandin, Geranium
  • Australian Photoprotective and Repair Botanical Extracts – Hydrophilic; Illawarra Flame Tree, Crown of Gold, Mountain Pepper Berry, Rosella, Waratah, Banksia, Native Snowflower, Davidson Plum, Kakadu Plum and Finger Lime Caviar. Lipophilic: Black Cypress, Blue Cypress, Native Sandalwood and Native Peach.”

As you can see, this serum contains a lot of ingredients! Essentially, it’s an AHA/BHA serum (a chemical exfoliator), which means that not only does it work to re-texturise your skin and keep cell turnover high so ingredients can penetrate through the outer layers of skin more easily (thanks to the AHA’s), the BHA works to clear out pores and oils, minimising future and current breakouts (for more info on this and which acids will work best for you, check out my Acids 101 post). I find using a serum which contains AHAs and BHAs is perfect, as you get the best of both worlds.

I should mention that a few months ago, I switched contraceptives. I was on a contraceptive pill primarily due to my acne and the pill that I was on (Jasmine) refined my skin and kept my cystic acne at bay. Now that I’ve switched to the Implanon (I was on the contraceptive pill for to long you see) my skin has changed. My skin is now slightly oilier and I have started to notice my pores a little more – specifically on my nose and between my eyebrows – which lets face it, is super annoying. I do think the Catalyst Serum has kept my general breakouts at bay and stops my t-zone from breaking out and going into an oil overdrive (oil refinery plant anyone?!). I use the serum every second evening, alternating between this serum and a retinol serum. The morning after using the Catalyst Serum, my skin is less red and my pores look smaller because they are ‘cleared out’ so to speak. If you have very oily skin and a major breakout happening, you could use this serum every night for some extra action! It tingles a little when applied to clean skin, but that means it is working 🙂 Note Only use this serum in the evenings as the exfoliating action will make your skin a little more sensitive, so you want your skin to renew itself during the evening, before being exposed to UV sunlight.

Is it very different to the Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum I was using before? The effects aren’t majorly different. I do think the botanical extracts in the Catalyst Serum are an extra plus though, especially when dealing with inflammation (which I think everyone deals with because of the sun but even more so, when breakouts are a concern). Plus, because of my last order disaster with Ultraceuticals, I think I will stick to this serum for the time being 🙂 It is a little more expensive coming in at $154 (for 30ml) as opposed to $112 for the Even Skintone Serum (also 30ml).

Above: Rationale Catalyst Serum Ingredient List

 Catalyst Gelcreme

“Catalyst Gelcreme is a super hydrating, radiance-boosting formula powered by the same pH recalibrating technology found in our iconic Catalyst Serum. Catalyst GelCreme reactivates skin clarity, luminosity and hydration with purifying organic acids, moisture-multiplying Peptides and skin-identical Ceramides. Australian PhotoRepair Botanicals optimise solar repair processes. Skin looks and feels renewed, resurfaced and deeply luminous.

  • Luxurious skin feel and a matte transparent finish
  • Recalibrates skin pH to youthful acidity, upregulating collagen and elastin production
  • Resurfaces, refines and rehydrates Dry, Sun Damaged Skin
  • Promotes hydration levels
  • Contains Alpha + Beta Hydroxy Acids to help unclog pores and prevent breakouts
  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Fades epidermal pigmentation
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces oxidative damage maintaining healthy collagen and elastin synthesis
  • Helps decrease sensitivity and improves stratum corneum barrier function
  • Optimises the skin’s solar repair processes to reverse sun damage”

The Gelcreme intrigued me the most out of the Catalyst range, because it sounds so hydrating and active, yet is a gel and to be honest, I usually find gels to be a bit drying. They tend to ‘dry down’ and leave a crusty layer of something on top of the skin. This Gelcreme as you can guess, is different. It doesn’t look like a gel, but it’s incredibly light and a small amount goes a long way. It leaves skin hydrated and doesn’t really leave an emollient finish, which sits on top of the skin like a traditional moisturiser does (I guess this would be the ‘matte’ finish mentioned in the product description). It absorbs into the skin quickly and brilliantly! I love that it is also super active (containing AHAs and a BHA) but also moisturises and firms the skin using peptides. The hydrating ingredients and extracts, would also help to counter balance any irritation you might expect from using either chemical exfoliants for the time first time or in such concentrations. It also has the same fruity slash acid-y scent that the cleanser and serum also have.

Something worth mentioning about Rationale products, is that they are all designed to be layered on top of each other (hence the serum has the number ‘5’ on the bottle, as its meant to be step 5 in your routine when using the Rationale skin care routine). If I feel like my skin needs more emollients – which mine does in winter – I layer another moisturiser on top, or as I have been doing lately, the Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules. In a humid and tropical weather zone, you will probably find that the Gelcreme is all you need when it comes to night time hydration. The Gelcreme is soooo perfect for those of us who may struggle from breakouts or skin texture issues but still want an anti-ageing kick. This ‘little’ tub (50ml – the standard size for a moisturiser) will last me a long time, so I do think the price tag of $150 is worth it, despite it hurting me a little when ordering 😉

Above: Rationale Catalyst Gelcreme Ingredient List

So Beauties, have I sparked your interest in this range? 🙂 The Catalyst Serum and Gelcreme will be staples in my beauty cupboard for a while me thinks… while the cleanser I will purchase when I can. You can order Rationale products directly from their website here and they also ship internationally!

Somehow I don’t think I will ever not be a skincare fanatic 😛 I suppose that’s not such a bad vice, if you are to have at least one! 😉

Let me know Beauties if you are fans of cosmoceutical brands and why!

Catch ya next time,

Beauty Bee~

Published inReviewsSkincare 101

4 Comments

  1. Jen Jen

    This is my favourite products too!! I usually added Niacinamide serum before the catalyst to control oil production 🙂

    I’d suggest the rationale Immunologist serum or a cheaper alternative by Niacinamide + Zinc of Ordinary

    Ps. I’m loving your blog!

    • beautybee beautybee

      Thank you for visiting my little blog Jen! 🙂 I really like the Immunologist serum, I had like 4 or 5 little samples of it, which actually lasted me a while. And that’s an awesome tip, I never considered using it before the Catalyst serum at night… *hmmm I have lots of options now to consider! 😀 *waves*

  2. Ellen Ellen

    You can’t buy it in the U.K. from http://www.banwellclinic.com they’re the only place in the U.K. to stock it – and they ship to Europe!

    • beautybee beautybee

      Oh great- thank you for the link Ellen! I’m sure all European Beauties will appreciate it 🙂 I’m sure they will probably expand their stockists with time. They are certainly getting more and more popular over here in Aus. Especially in salons! *waves*

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