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Interview: Tony + Munro

Ewan Belsey and Tony Tsianakas are the founders behind Tony & Munro, a pioneering Australian beauty brand fusing skincare and makeup for men.

Ewan Belsey and Tony Tsianakas are the founders behind Tony & Munro, an Australian beauty brand leading the way fusing skincare and makeup for men.

Tony and Munro are changing the way men —especially Aussie men—think about beauty and grooming, and challenging worn-out misconceptions about masculinity. Noticing a gap in the market the pair created a range of skincare products especially for men, so guys now you no longer have to borrow (or steal) your lady friend’s stuff. You don’t have to look rough and unkempt to be manly. Why shouldn’t guys have the option to dab on a bit of concealer and hide the sins of the night before? Or disguise that angry red spot? Guys have skin that needs looking after, and they want to look good too, right?

The Tony & Munro range currently consists of a simple three-step regime which includes a Hydrating Eye Gel, a colour Correcting Concealer and a Nourishing BB Cream in three shades. All their products are Aussie-made, sulphate and paraben-free, vegan and cruelty-free, and the range is specially formulated for men's skin.

We chatted to Tony and Ewan about evolution of the men's skincare market, launching the world's first 'fusion cosmetics' brand, and redefining masculinity.


Hi Tony and Ewan. Can you tell me a little about how Tony & Munro came to be? What inspired you to launch a men’s skincare range?

[T&M] We’ve both spent 22+ years in corporate marketing and had very fortunate careers. At some point you realise that a) you want to build something for yourself, so you can use all the skills that you’ve learnt, and have something challenging to keep you going for the second half of your career, and b) that you want to start to give back to society, the universe and all the people that have given to you over the first part of your career. We started looking into gaps in the market, interesting opportunities that were a good fit and aligned to our skills and experience and things that we were passionate about — and we are both passionate about looking after ourselves and helping others to do the same. And hey presto! The birth of Tony & Munro.

You launched last year in Australia, just months before the Covid-19 outbreak. How have you adapted to this challenging environment as a new small business? Have you noticed any changes in the way the market has evolved and the way people consume?

[T&M] Part of being a business owner is learning to evolve to meet changing and challenging market conditions — learn, adapt, pivot and execute — COVID or not, so we were in that mindset anyway. What we did when the COVID lockdowns hit though was go back to basics. People were evaluating and adapting to their new lives of lockdown, the virus and being at home. What they looked for changed, what, why and how they purchased changed. Luckily the Tony & Munro shop, for now, is online only, so that worked in our favour, but we reassessed what people were buying and why, and changed our messaging to appeal to the new needs of customers.

We put our customers squarely in the centre of our business and asked ourselves “what do they want, how can we give it to them, faster, better and at greater value to them — and how are they now consuming media and via what channels?” It was a slow build at first, but we’re really talking to customers on their terms now and have had some good success. Overall, the market is more conservative in terms of spend, but people are focusing on self-care, self-improvement (including home care / improvement) and bringing things into their lives that are going to help them get though lockdown, isolation and COVID in general. People are consuming more online, but the focus has definitely shifted to things that are going to improve their lives at home — and we’re well positioned to help with that.

Masculinity, is what you make it and self-care—physically, emotionally and mentally —is super important. It’s about time we shifted the dial on what it means to be masculine.

My husband is always nicking my skincare and beauty products and marvels at all the options women have compared to men. Why has the been so little attention paid to men’s skincare and beauty needs in the industry? And how do men’s skincare needs differ from women?

[T&M] Hahaha, not surprising and something we hear all the time. Firstly and thankfully, there is so much more awareness amongst males today about the short and long term benefits of looking after your skin. Historically, makeup was the domain of men. We’ve been experimenting with beauty remedies and cosmetics improvements since the times of ancient Egyptians, when makeup was seen as a sign of status and power. The Romans and Greeks, meanwhile, were partial to more than an eye cream, as was Napoleon and men of his generation in the 1700’s.

Somewhere throughout history though we men lost our way and thought that being men meant we had to be all macho and lacking in self-care. Thus, today, women do have a lot more options than men. Where men’s skin care needs differ from women’s is that our skin is about 25% thicker, generally more oily and we have larger pores. So our products are made with more absorbent, non-greasy formulas and our Eye Gel is pore-minimising, helping to tighten and hydrate at the same time. Guys, you can thank us later. You’re welcome!

Do you feel like the culture has shifted and there is more emphasis now on men’s grooming and ‘self care’?

[T&M] Awareness about the benefits of men looking after their skin is changing and therefore, so is the culture. At Tony & Munro we say, ‘beauty belongs to everyone’... and why shouldn’t it! You no longer have to be rough, plain, and even unkempt to be masculine. Masculinity, is what you make it and self-care— physically, emotionally and — is super important. It’s about time we shifted the dial on what it means to be masculine. We’re here to put men’s makeup on the map and are proud to be part of the evolution in men’s grooming and self-care that is happening now.

You’ve launched with three products, fusing skincare and cosmetics— an eye gel, concealer and BB cream—rather than the usual cleanser, toner, moisturiser combo we find with women's skincare. Can you discuss the idea behind fusion cosmetics and why you decided to start off with these particular products?

[T&M] When it comes to men there really is no ‘usual’ products. It’s a new sub category in a saturated (cosmetics) market. There is a lot out there and men generally don’t know what to make of it all. So, we asked them. Before we launched Tony & Munro, we spent about a year in research. Men told us they wanted something to help with their tired eyes and cover up the sins of the night before. Something to cover up the occasional blemish and red skin undertones and a day cream that moisturised, protected (SPF) and made them look... better. Hence the Tony & Munro range.

We know that men need a little bit of a helping hand to get back in the cosmetics groove, so we’ve launched Australia’s first (and a world first) fusion cosmetics brand. What’s Fusion Cosmetics? Simply put, Fusion Cosmetics is skin care meets make up. We realise that feeling confident can come from looking and feeling your best and that sometimes traditional “skincare” only products just don’t cut it. Sometimes we might need that something extra to help us look that little bit more fabulous. That’s why we’ve blended skincare and makeup to bring the men of today Fusion Cosmetics. So weather guys are after an Eye Gel to reduce those puffy puppy eyes, a Concealer to hide that acne spot or a BB Cream to make them look more... well alive, we’ve got it covered (pun intended).

Your products are also clean and non-toxic. Why is that important?

[T&M] Our products are vegan and ethically-tested and cruelty-free as well as sulphate and paraben-free — and our ingredients are sustainably sourced and farmed. We also use natural or naturally derived ingredients as much as possible which means our products are non-harmful to our customers as well as the environment. For example, our SPF 30 BB Cream doesn’t contain doesn't contain Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, chemicals typically found in SPF products, which can cause damage to our coral reefs. See our values page for more. It’s important for two reasons, firstly your skin is your largest organ, and when you put something on your skin it is absorbed into your body, so we believe healthy on the outside, contributes to healthy on the inside. Secondly, we also believe that looking and feeling your best shouldn’t come at a cost to the world we live in. So at Tony & Munro, our products are carefully crafted to not only care for your skin, but to reduce the impact of our footprint on the world.

Your skin is your largest organ, and when you put something on your skin it is absorbed into your body, so we believe healthy on the outside, contributes to healthy on the inside

Can you talk about your ethos and how have you integrated sustainable and responsible practices into your business?

[T&M] We are proudly 100% Australian made and owned. Our products are Australian made, contain natural Australian ingredients and are approved for Australian conditions, and we also support local business, which is why all our partners are Australian-based. This is particularly important during times like these. Where possible, we’ve also used recycled paper and cardboard to create our packaging — and 100% of our packaging is recyclable.

I also mentioned at the beginning that one of our founding principles was to give back, to pay forward all the good fortune we’ve had in our careers. So, one thing we’ve done from the start is take a stance against bullying—a cause very near and dear to our hearts. We support a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and we’re support the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, who are working hard to tackle bullying in our schools and communities, through a process of developing and implementing change. If we can make a difference to the lives of the current generation, so they can feel free to grow up to be themselves, whoever that is, we’ll consider it a job done!

Finally, any tips for the guys on using your products?

[T&M] Yeah, definitely. The Eye Gel (01) is a must, it contains so many power ingredients that help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the signs of ageing, tighten pores and reduce puffiness in as little as 15 days. The Concealer (02) is a great product for correcting reskin undertones or covering blemishes. It goes a long way and you don’t have to overwork it, like some concealers. The BB Cream (03) really is our hero product. You can use it sparingly for the less is better look to enhance your natural look or you can layer it on for more coverage. It’s SPF 30 and contains Kakadu plum which is the world’s richest source of vitamin C and promotes skin elasticity, helping you to look younger.

We’ve developed a numbering system (as above) to help guys get a handle on how to apply our products in the order which we think will achieve the best results, but there really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ order when it comes to applying BB Cream and Concealer. We really encourage guys to try it out and see which order works best for them. Right now, we’re offering a 15% discount when you purchase all three products. Check out the T&M Set and let us know that you think.





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