In order to look your best, you have to put your best face forward — literally. These days, however, it’s not so simple. There are more skincare products to choose from than ever before, and getting ready in the morning no longer means just washing your face, combing your hair, and putting on your favourite cologne. Instead, there are cleansers, toners, exfoliants, serums, and myriad creams that go into a complete skincare routine — and then you have to do it all over again at night. It’s honestly exhausting.
That’s why I was excited when I recently learned about Tonic Grooming System, an online subscription service that caters to men’s unique skincare needs with customised kits that ship directly to your door. Even better, they only include products from reputable brands such as Murad, Zirh, Lab Series, and SK-II. Of course, there’s only one way to find out if Tonic can really find the right products for guys’ skin based on a short online assessment, so I decided to test it out for myself.
The first step is to give Tonic Grooming some important info about your skin. If you’re lucky enough to have problem-free skin and no allergies, you can opt for the The Two Step, two short questions that will lead you to a recommended kit of products. If you do have any skin issues (wrinkles, acne, large pores, etc.), then it’s best to take The Detailed Assessment, a series of 10 questions that cover your skin type, problem areas, pore size, and more.
Having occasionally sensitive skin and large pores, I answered the longer set of questions in hopes of finding products that would address those issues. The questions were straightforward, and each one was accompanied by illustrations and explanations that guided me toward the right answers. It took only a few minutes to complete the assessment, and it was an entirely annoyance-free process.
Based on my answers, I was shown a recommended kit of four products, including a cleanser, chemical exfoliant, day moisturiser, and night moisturiser. This is what Tonic Grooming calls its Minimalist Kit, and its sufficient if you’re looking for a no-fuss routine. I wanted to go beyond the basics, however, so I upgraded to a Quintessential Kit, which features the same four types of products found in the other kit, plus a toner and a serum.
Next, I was offered the option to add issue-specific products to my kit, including eye creams, facial masks, and acne treatments. I chose one of each, based on what was recommended for my skin type, though I could have selected any of the products in their inventory. In fact, one of the aspects I most enjoyed about the selection process is that even tough Tonic Grooming does recommend specific products in each category, I was able to browse alternative products and make changes if I wanted a specific brand or a different price from what was suggested. Another nice feature is that they offer to send you complimentary travel-size bottles with your order, so that you’re not forced to cart around all these product bottles whenever you hit the road.
After finalising my kit and placing the order, it was only a few short days until I received my kit. The packaging is sleek, and aside from skin care products, it includes product instructions and — most brilliantly — black and white stickers that can be used to label the products in the order they’re meant to be used, with white stickers for daytime products, and black stickers for nighttime products.
These ingenious stickers have completely transformed my morning and nights, times when I used to be too sleepy to care about using four or five facial products in the correct order. Now, I simply follow the numbers and the colours, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I’ve given my skin all the love and attention it needs to look clean, healthy, and radiant all day and night.
I’ve been using my Tonic Grooming System for over a month now, and I’m quite satisfied with the results. Not only do I have a better sense of how to take care of my face, but I’ve also been introduced to new products — like the amazing Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, a perennial fave of beauty editors — and product categories that I would have never considered on my own. Whereas once I only washed my face and put on a moisturiser with SPF, now I find myself cleansing, using a toner, applying a chemical exfoliant followed by a serum, dabbing on a bit of eye cream, and then finishing with a day or night moisturiser. It may sound a bit complicated, but all you have to do is follow the numbers and you’ll be set.
One final thing to note about Tonic Grooming System is that they offer one-time kits as well as ongoing subscriptions, meaning you can opt to receive fresh supplies every three months or so. And unlike other subscription services, which send you a rotating selection of sample-size products every time, Tonic Grooming always sends you the same products, so that you can formulate a routine that works for you and stick to it. If having better skin is one of your priorities but you hate shopping for your own products, I can’t think of a more hassle-free way to improve your routine than with this no-nonsense, indispensable service.
Main image credit: iStock/PIKSEL