Meet skin expert and cosmetic creator Rachel Robertson

Skin expert Rachel Robertson is on a mission to improve skin health with her cosmeceutical brand Prologic. Editor Trudi Brewer chats to her about the challenges and triumphs involved in creating effective professional skincare using natural ingredients, and her new stockist.

Rachel Robertson from Prologic skincare

When Wellington-based skin therapist Rachel Robertson decided to create her own skincare brand back in 2011, she knew it not only had to be effective but that it also needed to be kind to our planet. Armed with a degree in cosmetic chemistry and more than 20 years' experience in the beauty business, the mother-of-three established Prologic Skincare – ‘Pro’, meaning professional only, and ‘Logic’, referring to the logical use of clean, active natural ingredients that deliver visible results. Here, she shares her inspirational journey and the expansion to About Face skin clinics across Auckland.

How did Prologic Skincare come about?
As a skin therapist of 21 years, I found I wasn’t able to treat my clients’ skin concerns effectively with the products that were available to me at the time. So, after studying cosmetic chemistry, I started working on my own formulations. Using clean and effective natural ingredients I was able to achieve the results I was after and so Prologic was born. 

How is Prologic a natural cosmeceutical range?
The science behind Prologic’s formulations is based on corneotherapy, which is all about protecting the skin’s surface (epidermis) and repairing its barrier function. Developing products that are skin-identical is essential, so we don’t use preservatives, parabens, emulsifiers, SLSs or mineral oil. Our products are clean, with very high percentages of active natural ingredients. This is pretty rare, most brands are one or the other, but not both.

What challenges did you face in the development process?
The standard way of formulating skincare products is to have a base cream, liquid or gel, then to add a few active ingredients into that base. That base, however, is usually full of fillers and undesirable ingredients. We formulate the opposite way, starting with a list of actives which we keep as pure as possible, then adding the base ingredient to act like a stabiliser. Finding a laboratory in NZ that had the knowledge to formulate in this way was very difficult. Being a small country we don’t have a vast selection of labs or technicians to choose from, but I’m so blown away by the standards of my lab. It has very much been a team effort.

What has kept you motivated?
Winning NZ Therapist of the Year 2011/2012 was great recognition of all the hard work and dedication I put into my business, helping clients achieve their skin goals, and watching Prologic grow every day. When you’re a small business owner, the little successes need to be celebrated.

Prologic is a professional-only brand, why don’t you sell through retail stores?
The range was developed to treat specific skin disorders and concerns with the correct skin analysis and treatment programme. All of our stockists are qualified skin therapists with the knowledge and experience that comes with being a skin expert. Education is one of our priorities, we make sure our therapists are up to date with the latest information.

How many products are there and which are your favourites?
We have 17 products in the retail range, plus our professional products which therapists use during treatments. My favourite is definitely the Prologic Omega 3 Treatment Oil. It was the first product I made, and it’s still our bestseller. It’s a miracle oil for so many people – especially those with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis – but it’s also gentle. I have used it on my three children to clear up cradle cap and dry skin. My other favourite would be our Prologic Anti-Ageing Spray. It’s formulated with fast-acting argireline, touted as the natural form of topical Botox, and works to smooth lines. It also contains matrixyl and vitamin C to improve collagen formation and strengthen the skin. 

The top sellers in the range

Prologic Cleansing Oil, $65. Prologic Anti-Ageing Spray RRP $121. Prologic Repair Moisturiser $118. Prologic Omega 3 Treatment Oil RRP $80.

What are your hero ingredients?
Vitamin A – without it in your skincare routine you are not changing skin cell structure or encouraging healthy cells. We use it in the form of retinyl palmitate, which is readily absorbed into the skin. Our kiwi seed oil would have to be the other one. It is grown, extracted and manufactured here in NZ and is 61 per cent omega-3, which every cell in our body needs to function correctly.

What are you most excited about when it comes to ingredients right now? 
Every day we are destroying the microbiome on our skin and within our environment, so probiotics in skincare are becoming a thing. The technology isn’t quite there yet for live probiotic strains, but skincare companies are definitely playing around with extracts. As skincare formulators, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long before we have these ingredients available to us. 

Who can use Prologic skincare?
Anybody and everybody can use Prologic, but the most important thing is to get a full advanced skin analysis and treatment programme from a qualified skin therapist. That will ensure you get a correct, detailed evaluation of your skin at the cellular level and the right products to give your skin what it needs to repair itself and function correctly.

What’s next for the range?
These next few years are going to be really big for us. We have new products in development at the lab, overseas distributors lined up, and Prologic is now available in all seven About Face clinics in Auckland. My long-term goal is to grow the business with environmental sustainability in mind and to use this platform to create better awareness of skin health.

What other natural brands do you rate? 
Bestow Beauty Oils for a natural, internal health boost.

What would we always find in your makeup bag?
Jane Iredale natural mineral makeup – I love the liquid minerals and the retractable eyebrow pencil. I’m all about minimal makeup and makeup that is actually good for the skin. 

What’s your best beauty tip? 
Sunscreen! Growing up, my girlfriends used to tease me because we’d be on holiday in the Coromandel aged 18 and they’d all be lying in the sun covered in baby oil and I’d be in the shade covered in sunblock. I used to say to them, “You'll come running to me when you’re 30 asking me to help you with your skin” – we thought 30 was old back then! – and they’d reply, '“Oh, we’ll be old then, so it won’t matter.” Now, aged 40, I can tell you they all come to me for advice and help. Moral of the story: wear sunblock, stay in the shade and look after your skin.

The Prologic range is available from July in all seven About Face clinics, where you can also experience the Nature's Way facial. This bespoke skin therapy combines vegan-friendly Prologic skincare with expert lymphatic drainage massage, for a relaxing treatment that gives great results.

Learn more about the Prologic skincare line and founder here