Prose vs. Function of Beauty: Find Custom Haircare Products That Suit Your Tresses

Both of these brands provide personalized formulas—but which one should you buy?

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woman washing her hair with shampoo in the shower at home

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Shopping for hair products the traditional way can sometimes be a guessing game. Most people already know to avoid two-in-one shampoo or to check the ingredients list for parabens and sulfates. But even if you carefully inspect the label, it isn't uncommon to end up with a product that promises anti-humidity but your hair is still frizzy, moisture but leaves your hair greasy, or one that supposedly defines curls yet makes yours fall flat. Though you're bound to eventually find products that work for you, there's no denying that it's a long game of testing. But what if you could create a hair product that checks off everything on your list and have it delivered exactly when you need it? That's where custom hair care subscription comes in.

With a little time and patience, you can create products and a routine to target your exact hair goals and needs. The process usually begins with a questionnaire or a consultation; you'll provide information like the current state of your hair, lifestyle habits, your residence zip code, and the type of hair you want to achieve to name a few. Based on your results, the company will create a custom formulation—sometimes a customized bottle, too—and ship it right to your door. You'll never have to worry about running out since you can modify your delivery frequency online. Custom hair products will be a bit of an investment compared to those you find in stores, often ranging between $20 and $30. But remember, you're getting a bespoke product made specifically to get your hair to where you want it to be.

There are many custom haircare subscriptions on the market, but Prose and Function of Beauty stand out the most—and for good reason. Both brands prioritize quality ingredients and provide subscribers with an extensive amount of customization options. At first glance, Prose and Function of Beauty may seem like identical options aside from the packaging and the $3 price difference, but the truth is there are plenty of other unique aspects worth considering between the two. To make the decision easier for you, we tested out both Prose and Function of Beauty so you can see how they stack up against each other before you commit to one.

How Does Prose Work?

It doesn't matter whether you know exactly what shampoo ingredients are best for your hair type or have no clue what products you should be using because Prose will ultimately determine all of that for you. After you answer a series of more than 30 questions about your hair, Prose will create a custom haircare routine made up of products such as shampoo, hair oil, and supplements. Every product is formulated according to your hair's needs, so in addition to standard details like your hair thickness and history of color treatments, you'll also be prompted to provide details about your lifestyle habits, like what types of food you eat and how much water you drink, and even your zip code to factor in environmental stressors in your specific area. 

Because Prose's products are expected to improve your hair over time, your formula will change too. Through the Review and Refine feature, you can report how your hair has changed with your existing formula, and depending on your answers, Prose will adjust it and/or your routine accordingly. The one thing that will never change is the absence of parabens, sulfates, alcohol, GMOs, and over 30 other synthetic ingredients. Upon request, your products can also be made without silicone, dye, or fragrances.

While you can purchase individual Prose products and put together your own haircare set, subscribers receive 15 percent off with free shipping, plus a subscription to hair magazine At Length and exclusive access to the brand's podcast. Subscribers are also guaranteed a freebie of their choosing after every 10 products.

Prose Shampoo and Conditioner


How Does Function of Beauty Work?

Founded by two engineers and a chemist, Function of Beauty prides itself on its science-driven approach to custom haircare. Rather than all-natural ingredients, Function of Beauty develops formulas that use synthetic ones that are scientifically proven to deliver results. For example, while silicones have a reputation for being bad for your hair, Function of Beauty only uses the kind that won't cause buildup. If you would rather not have any silicone in your formulas, though, you can request a silicone-free formula when taking the initial hair quiz.

Function of Beauty's hair quiz takes into account your hair type, goals, and fragrance preferences before matching you with a personalized combination of uniquely formulated haircare products. You can further customize your products by choosing a color and adding a label with your name or initials. Formulas won't automatically update according to the season or your reported progress; however, you can make changes manually through the subscription settings page or contact Function of Beauty's team of Beauty Nerds for further assistance.

Subscribers will receive products such as shampoo, co-wash, and serum every month, two months, or three months with free shipping, in addition to members-only access to new fragrances, colors, and products. There's also a 20 percent discount on the 16-ounce shampoo and conditioner for subscribers. 

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Function of Beauty

Prose vs. Function of Beauty: How Do They Compare?

Specs Prose Function of Beauty
Base price $23.80 $21
Free shipping? Yes Yes
Types of products Shampoo, conditioner, hair supplements, scalp mask, hair mask, dry shampoo, curl cream, hair oil, leave-in conditioner, styling gel Shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, hair serum, hair mask, co-wash, purple hair mask, purple shampoo, purple conditioner
Silicone-free formulas? Yes Yes
Shipment options Monthly, bimonthly, quarterly Monthly, bimonthly, quarterly
Subscription discount 15% 20% off first order of shampoo and conditioner
Return policy  100% satisfaction guarantee within 30 days of delivery 100% satisfaction guarantee within 30 days of delivery

Products & Pricing


Product Price
Shampoo $27.20
Conditioner $27.20
Root Source Hair Supplements $52.70
Pre-Shampoo Scalp Mask $38.25
Pre-Shampoo Hair Mask $38.25
Dry Shampoo $23.80
Curl Cream $23.80
Hair Oil $40.80
Leave-In Conditioner $23.80
Styling Gel $25.50

Function of Beauty

Product Prices
Shampoo $21
Conditioner $21
Leave-In Conditioner $24
Hair Serum $29
Hair Mask $29
Co-Wash $20
Purple Hair Mask $24
Purple Shampoo $21
Purple Conditioner $21

What Reviewers Are Saying About Prose

Most subscribers express satisfaction with Prose, which isn't much of a surprise considering the continuous modification of your formula until it's perfectly tailored to your needs and liking. Customers especially love the location feature and how it takes into account environmental and seasonal factors that other custom hair subscriptions normally overlook. Reviewers also are big fans of the brand's scents. Though a few reviewers have found it to be a bit too perfumy, most don't view this as a deal breaker since there are plenty of fragrances to choose from if you don't end up liking the one in your original formula.

The majority of the reviewers who reported seeing major changes after using Prose seem to be people who initially turned to the subscription specifically to repair damaged hair. Meanwhile, those who say they subscribed to Prose mainly to maintain healthy locks through personalized haircare have mentioned that they haven't seen as much of a difference as they would like to. Prose's dry shampoo and hair mask have received the most criticism, not because they aren't effective but because the quality doesn't stand out against the generic kind despite the higher price tag. As for the standard shampoo and conditioner, the only resounding complaint is that they come in plastic rather than glass bottles. Still, people generally find Prose's subscription to be well worth the cost and renewal.

What Reviewers Are Saying About Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty is rated fairly high among its subscribers, largely due to the fact that the products deliver results almost as soon as you start using them. Customers seem to notice a difference in their hair after the first wash, though according to some it can take three washes or up to a full month of consistent use. Subscribers also appreciate that you don't have to use a ton of product in order for it to work, justifying the price for many, since one bottle of shampoo lasts longer than the average shampoo you'd buy at the store. Reviewers also pointed out that if your monthly supply is still full by the end of the month, Function of Beauty makes it easy to modify your delivery date.

As far as the formulation is concerned, it's clear based on the reviews that Function of Beauty's strong suit is hydration. Those who have low porosity hair, a dry scalp, or frizziness have reported significant improvement in those areas. However, for the same reason, a handful of people experience greasiness and feel that the formulas either weigh down their hair or create buildup on their scalp. Customers also complain about the synthetic ingredients, despite the fact that Function of Beauty doesn't advertise itself as an all-natural brand. A number of reviews mention the strong artificial smell and caution that the ingredients in your formula may not mesh well with dyed hair. But many of the same people also say the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and point out that the artificial smell is limited to the peach and rose scents.

Pros and Cons



  • Custom formulas factors in your lifestyle and environment
  • Lots of natural-smelling scents to choose from
  • Each product can be set to its own delivery frequency
  • Fine-tunes your formula every time you provide feedback
  • Subscribers get 15 percent off every product including non-subscription items
  • For every 10 products you receive, you'll get to pick out a free full-sized one


  • You may not notice drastic changes unless you have very damaged hair
  • The shampoo doesn't lather a lot and may take time to get used to

Function of Beauty


  • Products last you a long time because of how concentrated the formulas are
  • You don't have to wait long to see results
  • All ingredients and formulas are tested for safety
  • The color of the formula and the label can be customized too
  • Option to exclude silicone from your formula
  • Packaging is 100 percent recyclable, and pumps are optional


  • Strong scents may be hard for some to tolerate
  • Formula can feel heavy for people who don't have dry hair
  • Quiz doesn't have many detailed questions

Other Custom Haircare Recommendations

Prose and Function of Beauty are just two of many hair subscriptions on the market. If you're interested in looking into other competitors, it might be helpful to consider a subscription service targeted toward specific hair types or that can offer more specialized care.


  • Base Price: $15
  • Free Shipping? Yes
  • Types of Products: Shampoo, conditioner, hair serum, regrowth foam, medicated spray, prescription pills, gummy vitamins

Hims as a brand targets hair loss and thinning. To get your products, you'll first answer detailed questions and goals about your hair growth and medical history. Upon evaluating your answers, a licensed medical professional will then create a monthly treatment plan made up of either nonprescription products, like biotin gummies and thickening shampoo, or a combination of prescription-grade topicals and FDA-approved medication. Hims also assigns you your own physician or nurse practitioner whom you can continue to consult with for free even after you get your first delivery of hair products.


  • Base Price: $20
  • Free Shipping? Yes
  • Types of Products: Shampoo, conditioner, scalp serum

When you subscribe to Formulate, you'll get to work directly with a chemist to help create your own shampoo and conditioner. While you will initially have to complete a multiple-choice quiz similar to other custom hair subscription services, it won't just spit out automated results. You'll be able to add comments, which will be reviewed by a chemist. This chemist will personally create a shampoo and conditioner set based on the needs and preferences you've discussed and will continue to touch base with you as you use your products. Any feedback that you provide them will be used to modify your formula for your hair to improve over time.


  • Base Price: $40
  • Free Shipping? Yes
  • Types of Products: Shampoo, conditioner

There's only so much that can be determined by self-evaluation of your hair, so Strands takes a different approach to customization. Instead of a questionnaire, the company sends you free fragrance samples, an at-home sebum test strip, and a prepaid sample collection container that you'll send back with several strands of your hair. Once received, the Strands lab will analyze your hair texture, scalp sebum, protein levels, and cuticle health, and then use the data to create a shampoo and conditioner formula that addresses your hair's unique needs. Your products are always guaranteed to be free of phthalates, parabens, sulfates, and mineral oil, but if you end up unsatisfied with your formula, you can contact Strands for a reformulation or refund.

Final Thoughts

You can't go wrong with either Prose or Function of Beauty if you're looking for customized hair products that come in an aesthetically pleasing bottle with unique formulas. Both brands offer vegan and cruelty-free formulations and have a range of products for all steps of haircare. You can get custom shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and hair masks for a similar price through either subscription, but curly-haired customers will have to choose between Prose for curl cream or Function of Beauty for co-wash. Prose subscriptions also include supplements to support healthy hair growth, and while Function of Beauty doesn't provide this option, it does offer toning products for blondes including a purple hair mask, shampoo, and conditioner.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are Custom Haircare Products Worth It?

    Generic hair products aren't necessarily bad for your hair, but if you've noticed you aren't meeting your hair goals despite consistent use, a custom formulation will most likely be worth it for you. Custom formulas ensure that you can target your specific needs, whether it's in strengthening your hair, improving your scalp health, or hydrating your locks to name a few. Having a regular delivery schedule is also convenient, as you will always have your products in stock when needed.

  • Can You Order Custom Hair Products Without a Subscription?

    Many custom haircare companies make it possible to order individual products outside of a subscription, however, it isn't the most cost-effective way to go about it, as subscribers receive a discount as well as free shipping. Hair treatments, in general, also work best when you establish a consistent routine, so you may not see long-term results if you buy products only once and then go back to the generic kind soon after.

  • Do Customized Hair Products Contain Chemicals?

    When deemed necessary for your formulation, custom hair products will sometimes contain chemicals but never any that are considered toxic or harmful. Most subscription services also make it a point to exclude sulfates and parabens, chemicals that are frequently found in store-bought hair products. Regardless, brands will give you the choice to remove certain ingredients, and you'll be informed on what chemicals you may be getting and why.

  • Are Custom Hair Products Safe for People Suffering From Hair Loss?

    Custom hair products are designed to address a wide variety of hair concerns, ranging from heat damage to dandruff and even hair loss. Brands, more often than not, will address your concerns and goals through their hair quizzes or consultations. In Function of Beauty's case, all the ingredients also undergo toxicology testing to ensure your products are safe to use, even if you don't disclose whether or not you deal with hair loss.

  • Are Haircare Subscription Products High Quality?

    The products you get in a haircare subscription are more expensive than what you'd get at the store, but it's largely due to the fact that the quality is also higher. Generic shampoos will inevitably contain a variety of ingredients to encompass a wider range of hair types and textures. A custom hair product, though, will only include the ones you actually need.

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