With one quick waltz through a Sephora or Ulta Beauty shop, you’ll be swooned by the selection of shampoos, conditioners, hair masks and oils, with the promise of volumizing, ridding away frizz or helping alleviate dry scalp issues.
But, how disappointing is it to run through the gamut of top brands, only to be left disappointed after your shower? Sure, they may be well-respected among the beauty community but, for your hair type, certain products may not fit the bill.
For precisely this reason, personalized haircare brands have taken over the beautyscape, trending in both popularity and efficacy. With a brief hair quiz — some even asking for your zip code to assess your environment’s pollution levels (yeah, they’re that good) — you’ll be en route to receive specially curated formulas that help reach your hair goals.
Not to mention, some of these brands really are the definition of #hairgoals. After testing the 30 best shampoos this year — along with the best dry shampoos on the market — I’ve had conversations with hairstylists (including one who creates beautiful locks for Kim K and JLO) — and learned the ins and outs of what makes a certain product good.
So, I put three top personalized haircare brands to the test: Formulate, Function of Beauty and Prose. After months of hearing integrated sponsorship ads on the influencer channels I subscribe to, I knew it had to be something worth sharing for the New York Post audience.
Ahead, find my three respective reviews. Spoiler alert: all brands were great; it’s just a matter of which one you find the most suitable for your hair type.
Click to jump to a specific review (or, just keep reading for an overview on all three):
- $39 for the 8oz. shampoo and conditioner (fairly priced when compared to high-end brands)
- Instantly left my hair feeling clean and volumized
- 12 unique fragrances to choose from in refillable bottles
- The ability to connect with your chemist after initial use
Truth be told, I haven’t heard of Formulate until I started investigating all things personalized haircare. However, it’s a company I instantly loved in my haircare routine, especially with the bountiful conversations I’ve had with people saying, “You have to try this!“
How it works: You begin by taking a brief haircare quiz. Your answers will be passed along to one of Formulate’s chemists (how cool!) and that science expert will design your initial formulas. You’ll then receive your formulas all packaged up, all of which have been dispensed in the U.S.
What’s especially unique to Formulate is the ability to communicate with your chemist via the paired app, all while your chemist will check in with you and take note of any changes you’d like to make. I expected to reply with something — anything — to critique, but I came up empty.
Though everyone’s hair quiz will be different (let’s be real: everyone’s hair type is different), Formulate was the best for giving my hair unmatched volume — volume I hadn’t received from any of the 30 on-shelf shampoos I tested from Sephora, Ulta Beauty and more.
I instantly noticed a difference in the look of my hair. Oh, and when you add its personalized hair serum to your cart, you’ll never go back.
Function of Beauty Review
- Beautiful clear packaging that’s pleasing to the eye (with a formula that left my hair feeling super soft)
- Fun shampoo colors to choose from
- Offers a variety of additional products, like a leave-in conditioner and a hair mask
- Not necessarily worth the $40 ticket for both the shampoo and conditioner
- Didn’t give my hair that “wow” factor, though it did the job of making my hair feel clean
Function of Beauty, which has gained a cult following for being the Queen of Personalized Haircare (just check the brand’s Instagram for proof), is known for its customized formulas with a colored flair. Yes, all products have the option to cater to your favorite hue.
How it works: On its site, you take a hair quiz, much like Formulate, but it’s divided into three different types: hair, skin and body. That said, the brand has fully expanded past only-hair territory.
Your custom formulas will soon show up at your door (along with stickers and some other fun goodies) and they’re yours to enjoy.
First and foremost, Function of Beauty provided the largest shampoo and conditioner bottles among the three brands, which is a nice gesture considering you’re paying for more than $5 shampoo. However, quantity doesn’t always mean quality and, unfortunately, I felt like Function of Beauty didn’t live up to all the hype.
That said, it was still good (after all, my shampoo was pink!) But color aside, it made my hair super soft and is a surefire step-up from your traditional brand (especially with the hair serum and leave-in conditioner; those were worth every penny). Just note that because it wasn’t my absolute favorite, it may be yours.
But, my final thought is this: it’s a great line of products and a wonderful brand to try, especially if you’re seeking a new formula to get your hands on. But, compared to the other three, I don’t reach for it quite as often.
Check out one of our editor’s review of the brand for another perspective.
- Each formula left my hair feeling both soft and volumized
- The scent is phenomenal (trust me on this)
- It’s the perfect size for your shower (and a great value for your wallet)
- The extras — pre-shampoo mask and hair mask — weren’t extraordinary
You can say I’m saving the best for last (which I totally am, because Prose deserves all the praise for being my favorite out of the three brands I tried). After all, it’s the shampoo I took a selfie with above!
How it works: Much like Formulate and Function of Beauty, that hair quiz still remains. Once your responses are sent to the brand, your formulas will be crafted from only natural ingredients, its website detailing how each product is “meticulously sourced and tested.”
I love virtually everything about this brand. From its apothecary-styled packaging to its impeccable scent (my advice: go with “Corsica,” a blend of Anjou pear, peony and cedar wood) to its formula and long-lasting shine, I can’t rave about it enough.
While I didn’t feel like my hair needed the extras, including the pre-shampoo scalp mask, I enjoy them once in a while if I’m looking to give my hair a bit of a detox, much like a clarifying shampoo would (which, according to hairstylists, should only be used once a month).
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