There aren’t many of us who can blindly grab a bottle of generic shampoo at Target and expect it to get the job done. Most people’s precious locks require a bit more love and forethought, whether it’s through shampoo that’s gentle on color-treated hair or leave-in conditioner that can properly moisturize kinky curls. And while there are plenty of products out there for every type of tress, who has the time (or money) to test every bottle on the shelf? Enter personalized haircare companies, which churn out shampoos, conditioners, and masks designed specifically for you—yes, you.
In the world of customized haircare, two brands tend to dominate the conversation: Prose and Function of Beauty. These two start-ups have a lot in common at first glance—subscription options, clean ingredients, a fun little “hair quiz” to kick off the customization process—but just as no two bottles of personalized shampoo are exactly the same, neither are the companies touting them. Check out our Prose vs. Function of Beauty comparison guide, below.
Founded in France and based in Brooklyn, Prose is a beauty start-up that takes customization to the next level. As with many personalized haircare services, the Prose journey begins with a “hair quiz” that asks typical questions about your hair texture, oil/dryness levels, density, and more. But then it goes even deeper, asking about your diet, stress levels, and—here’s the kicker —your zip code, so your hair products can protect against the UV rays, water hardness, pollution, and humidity levels (what Prose dubs “geo-aggressors”) in your exact location.
After you get your results, you can choose between making a one-time purchase or opting into Prose’s subscription service, the latter of which comes with a 15 percent discount on all products, free shipping, and the occasional complimentary product. Aside from haircare products (shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, etc.), Prose also lets you add a monthly supply of ingestible Root Source™ supplements to your subscription that promotes hair growth and health at the root. You can also buy candles, hair towels, and a monogrammed brush, although those one-time purchases are not subject to the 15 percent subscription discount.
About Function of Beauty
Function of Beauty was founded by two MIT engineers and a chemist in 2015, with a central goal to bring customizable beauty to the masses (hello, reasonable prices). The company prides itself on its vegan, cruelty-free products that have all been tested by a team of in-house dermatologists and stylists. The customization process begins with a—you guessed it—online quiz that asks about your hair and what goals you hope to achieve. Folks new to the haircare game will appreciate the little definitions that pop up along with the quiz answers. For example, if you select “Smooth” as a hair goal, the blurb further clarifies, “Smoothes the hair cuticle for better hair alignment and easier styling.”
Though the quiz sticks to the basic questions about your hair, Function of Beauty lets you further customize your products by letting you “name” your bottles (i.e. get your name, or nickname of your choosing, printed on the bottle), and also choose your fragrance (with options including rose, eucalyptus, coconut, and more), your fragrance strength (light, medium, strong), and finally nine different color options to dye your shampoo and conditioner (or opt for dye-free). If you go the subscription route, you’ll get a 20 percent discount on your shampoo and conditioner (all other hair products are immune to discounts) and be able to add on exclusive products like a wide-tooth comb and cute toiletry bag with reusable bottles and hair ties.
Prose vs. Function of Beauty: How Do They Compare?
- Price range: $23.80–$52.70
- Free shipping? Yes, for subscribers
- Ideal for: All hair types
- Subscription discount: 15%
- Delivery frequency Every 1, 2, or 3 months
- Vegan? Offers vegan formulas
- Products: Shampoo, conditioner, scalp mask, hair mask, styling gel, hair oil, dry shampoo, leave-in conditioner, curl cream, and supplements
Function of Beauty
- Price range: $21.60–$30.00
- Free shipping? Yes
- Ideal for: All hair types
- Subscription discount: 20% (for shampoo + conditioner only)
- Delivery frequency: Every 1, 2, or 3 months
- Vegan? Yes
- Products: Shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, hair mask, styling primer, hair serum, co-wash, purple shampoo, purple conditioner, and purple hair mask
Products & Pricing
- Shampoo: $27.20
- Conditioner: $27.20
- Pre-Shampoo Scalp Mask: $38.25
- Pre-Shampoo Hair Mask: $38.25
- Styling Gel: $25.50
- Root Source™ Supplement: $52.70
- Hair Oil: $40.80
- Dry Shampoo: $23.80
- Leave-In Conditioner: $23.80
- Curl Cream: $23.80
Function of Beauty
- Shampoo: $21.60
- Conditioner: $21.60
- Hair Mask: $24.00
- Leave-In Conditioner: $24.00
- Hair Serum: $29.00
- Styling Primer: $29.00
- Co-Wash: $30.00
- Purple Shampoo: $27.00
- Purple Conditioner: $27.00
- Purple Hair Mask: $24.00
Prose Customer Reviews
Customers generally love the customized products they’ve received from Prose, as well as the packaging, scents, and in-depth hair quiz on the website. In particular, the cleansing shampoo earns rave reviews for its ability to lather nicely, hydrate, and eliminate frizz. As for the hydrating conditioner, reviewers have reported less breakage and increased hair growth (and more reports of the amazing scent keep cropping up).
A lot of reviewers mentioned that their expectations were high based on the price points, though they tend to still be happy with the results and plan on using Prose again. A few people did report that the products made their scalps dry, while others expressed disappointment that Prose doesn’t use glass bottles.
Function of Beauty Customer Reviews
Function of Beauty earns major points for its customer service, which reviewers tout as consistently friendly and helpful. Other reviewers drew attention to the quick and efficient shipping. As for the products themselves, many customers have reported softer, less frizzy hair, while others report faster growth and longer-lasting shine between washes.
A few reviewers noted that the fragrance was a bit too strong, though it didn’t turn them off to the line completely. A few others reported that the products led to scalp dryness and dandruff, while others stated that the products are good, but not different enough from their regular uncustomized shampoo/conditioner.
Pros and Cons
- An in-depth hair quiz that factors in diet, stressors, and environmental conditions of your zip code
- Vegan and silicone-free options are available for all products
- You can easily pause or cancel your subscription online
- Bottles are made out of 100% recyclable, BPA-free plastic, and supplements are mailed in refillable glass jars and compostable refill pouches
- All deliveries come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee; if you’re unhappy with your order, you can receive free adjusted formulas or a full refund within the first 30 days of delivery
- Haircare products are only available in the United States, US territories, and Canada; supplements and brushes are only available in the United States
- No customer service phone line; all requests must be submitted through an online form
Function of Beauty
- Aside from haircare products, customers can also shop for personalized body wash and lotion, as well as skincare products
- Products can ship to the United States (including territories) and the European Union, as well as 18 other countries around the world
- Full refunds are available within 30 days of receipt
- Bottles are made from either premium PCR (post-consumer recycled) material or 100% recyclable PETE-grade plastic
- You can get your name printed on the bottle and choose the color of your shampoo and conditioner
- Products are a bit pricey
- The hair quiz is not in-depth; does not ask anything beyond the basic questions
More Haircare Subscriptions
As we said before, there are many different companies touting personalized haircare right now—ones that cater to all hair types, and ones that are extremely niche. If you’d like to explore options beyond Prose and Function of Beauty, here are a few more popular subscription services worth checking out.
- Price Range: $15–$60/month
- Free Shipping? Yes
- Ideal for: Men dealing with hair loss
Hims is a telehealth platform that connects healthcare professionals with patients dealing with everything from erectile dysfunction to acne. One of the company’s niche areas of expertise is mild to moderate male pattern baldness (baldness that is not caused by stress, illness, medication side effects, or other factors that should be treated at the source). To get started, you must fill out an online intake form, get matched with a healthcare provider in your state, then wait for customized products to get mailed to you in discreet packaging. Haircare products range from topical sprays and hair-thickening shampoos to finasteride pills and biotin gummies.
- Price Range: From $40/month
- Free Shipping? No
- Ideal for: Hair color/dye
As any regular hair dyer will tell you, touching up your roots is not a one-and-done process and requires maintenance every six to eight weeks (at the longest) to keep those grays at bay. That’s why a hair dye subscription service, like Madison Reed, makes so much sense. To get started, either take a five-minute online quiz or book a video consultation with a licensed “Colorist Concierge” to determine your perfect shade. You can then opt into the subscription service, which applies a 15% discount to all products and lets you choose any delivery frequency between two to eight weeks.
- Price Range: $25/month
- Free Shipping? No
- Ideal for: Curly and natural hair
Founded by Myleik Teele in 2012, CurlBox’s sole aim is to make life a little bit easier for people with textured hair—no more subpar, overpriced products, and no more wandering down aisles of beauty stores lined with products that don’t quite get it. The subscription process is easy: simply add the monthly subscription to your shopping cart, pay the $25 (plus $5 for shipping), and get ready for a box packed with four full-sized hair products to arrive on your doorstep every month. The products rotate every month and will be a total surprise, but they are always hand-picked by CurlBox’s experienced team and designed to hydrate and nourish natural hair. CurlBox also offers a themed, non-subscription box every month, which is doled out on a first-come, first-served basis (you can join a waitlist so you don’t miss out).
Prose and Function of Beauty are both start-up companies that offer customized products for all hair types. With its wide range of products and extremely in-depth hair quiz, Prose is a great option for people needing a bit more personalization that goes beyond hair texture and length (though the products are more expensive). You can also add monthly supplements to your subscription that stimulate hair health and growth at the root. Function of Beauty is a little more basic in terms of personalization—the hair quiz sticks to general questions about texture, length, and density. However, it also offers slightly lower prices than Prose and lets you customize your shampoo and conditioner with your name and color. Blondes will love the line of purple shampoos and conditioners, while everyone can appreciate the separate lines of skin care products and body wash.
How Much Does Custom Haircare Cost Per Month?
Customized shampoos and conditioners start at around $22 per bottle, but depending on the brand, they can reach up to $44 per bottle and higher. Most companies offer discounts between 15 and 20% if you sign up for an auto-renewing monthly subscription. If you want both shampoo and conditioner sent to you every month, you can expect to pay up to $144 per month, even with the subscriber discount.
Do Haircare Products Have an Expiration Date?
Yes, haircare products have an expiration date. Most shampoos last for about 18 months after being opened. Though, depending on the ingredients, they can last anywhere between six months and two years. Many bottles are marked with a PAO (period after opening) number that helps you keep track of a product’s freshness. If not, use visual cues like odd coloring or sudden lack of lather to let you know it’s time to toss the bottle.
How Often Are You Supposed to Wash Your Hair?
It really depends on your hair type and scalp condition, as well as your lifestyle and personal preferences. In general, people with straight or wavy hair could shampoo every two to three days, while people with curly and coily hair should stick to once a week (to prevent dryness). If you have an oily scalp or sweat it out at the gym every day, you may need to increase washes. On the other hand, styling your hair with braids and extensions means you may be able to get away with washing every other week.
What Hair Types Should Avoid Silicones?
Silicones are ingredients that coat your hair and lock out humidity, resulting in softer, smoother textures. Haircare products with silicones are most beneficial for people with dry, frizzy, or curly hair; that means people with thin, fine, and/or straight hair should avoid silicones. Even if you do have hair that could benefit from silicones, it’s important to use a clarifying shampoo periodically to get rid of build-up that could weigh you down and decrease volume in the long run.