Prose vs. Function of Beauty — how the two most popular personalized hair-care companies stack up

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Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

  • The shampoo and conditioner from two popular startups, Function of Beauty and Prose, cost more than the average bottle ($18 to $38), but for good reason: they’re personalized to your exact hair type and hair goals.
  • Both use hair quizzes to figure out what ingredients to include in your custom formulation. They steer clear of parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, and GMOs when formulating their hair-care products, and insteaddefer=”defer”to natural alternatives.
  • Personalization and better ingredients are key components to both Function of Beauty and Prose’s businesses, but differences like price, level of customization, and gifting options could make you choose one over the other.
  • We broke down these similarities and differences in our comparison below.

Forget monograms and engravings – the future of personalization lies in data and algorithms, which are being used to make everything from personalized vitamin packs to personalized pillows.

In women’s hair-care, Function of Beauty, founded in 2015, and Prose, founded in 2017, are popular startups hoping that you never settle for catch-all shampoo and conditioner (or, god forbid, two-in-one shampoo and conditioner) again.

By using your answers to a “hair quiz” to create a unique formulation filled with natural, effective ingredients, they both make hair-care personal, which, considering the multitudes of hair types and needs out there, is the way it should’ve been all along.

Function of Beauty and Prose share many similarities, including their basic business models (personalized hair-care, delivered), a ton of funding ($12.2 million and $25 million, respectively), and even founders utilizing their MIT smarts. So which one should you ditch your current shampoo and conditioner for?

To help you distinguish between these two leading personalized hair-care companies, we’ve put them up head-to-head on important factors like level of customization, customer experience, price, and ingredients. We’ve tried both Function of Beauty and Prose‘s shampoo and conditioner, so we can attest to their quality. However, we’ll let you make the final decision after comparing them below.

If you’re not sure which personalized hair-care startup you should try, Function of Beauty or Prose, we’ve cleared up their similarities and differences below.


Let’s get price out of the way first. Since these are personalized formulas, be prepared to spend more than $10 on your shampoo and conditioner.

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Prose/Instagram

Function of Beauty sells two products: shampoo (8-ounce or 16-ounce) and conditioner (8-ounce or 16-ounce). There are a few different ways to buy them, and the prices are set regardless of ingredient content:

  • In an eight-ounce shampoo + conditioner set – $36
  • In a 16-ounce shampoo + conditioner set – $49
  • In an eight-ounce and 16-ounce mixed set – $43
  • Individual 16-ounce shampoo or 16-ounce conditioner – $36

Prose sells three products: shampoo (eight-and-a-half-ounce.), conditioner (eight-and-a-half-ounce), and a hair mask of the same size. Shampoo and conditioner cost $25 to $38 each, while the hair mask costs $38 to $58. The price varies depending on the specific ingredients that go into each unique formulation. You can buy them in any quantity and combination.


Function of Beauty and Prose operate in similar ways.

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Function of Beauty/Instagram

First, take a hair quiz, the answers of which will be used to create your customized formula. Then, choose which products or set of products you want to buy. Prose sends you your hair-care products in seven days while Function of Beauty takes a little longer, up to nine days. Both services let you go back to your profile and readjust your hair quiz answers, and thus your formulation, when you want to reorder.


But the hair quizzes themselves are pretty different.

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Prose

Function of Beauty asks you some basic questions about your hair and scalp type, then has you select up to five hair goals (choices include volumize, color protection, anti-frizz, and curl definition). By asking what you want out of your shampoo and conditioner, the company assumes you already at least partially understand your hair and its various intricacies.

Prose‘s hair quiz is more in-depth, resulting in 85 data points, and inquires about everything from what products you usually style your hair with to your diet and stress levels. It also asks about hair goals (though there are only four choices), but seems to focus more on your current hair characteristics to create whatever solution is most appropriate for your hair.


The final hair-care products look and smell different, too.

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Function of Beauty/Instagram

After inputting the name or nickname to print on your Function of Beauty bottles, you can choose from at least six different colors (limited-edition colors are sometimes available), or go dye-free. Since the bottles are clear, these glittery colors will be displayed front and center in your shower. It offers four main fragrances, with adjustable fragrance strengths, or you can go fragrance-free. The best seller is the pineapple-coconut blend and the scent with the best reviews is the peach-citrus blend.

You cannot customize the name or color of your Prose products. It makes seven fragrances in total, but offers only its signature fragrance plus two others depending on your quiz results. Some standouts include the floral, powdery Signature scent and herbal, sweet Botanical scent. Like Function of Beauty, you can forego the fragrance.


Despite their differences in look, smell, and level of customization, you can trust the ingredients that both companies use.

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Prose

Function of Beauty and Prose never use parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, or GMOs in their hair-care products. Instead, they make use of dozens of healthy and effective natural ingredients (over 50 for Function of Beauty and over 75 for Prose) to help your hair look and feel great. Prose’s products can also be made vegan, gluten-free, and silicone-free upon request.


If you like your experience, it pays to take advantage of a subscription, which ensures you’ll never run out of your favorite shampoo and conditioner.

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Function of Beauty/Instagram

When you subscribe to Function of Beauty (deliveries made every one or two months, or whatever timing you choose), you get free shipping, access to discontinued colors and fragrances, invitations to help test-drive new products, and more.

When you subscribe to Prose (deliveries made every one, two, or three months), you get 20% off your total order.


Satisfaction guarantee policies decrease the riskiness of trying out these services. Function of Beauty and Prose want you to love their products, so they offer refunds and reformulations.

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Prose/Facebook

If you’re not happy with your Function of Beauty products, reach out to hello@functionofbeauty.com. If for some reason they’re not able to help you, you’ll get a full refund.

If you’re not happy with your Prose products, reach out to hello@prosehair.com to get a reformulation, free of charge. You may also return no more than half-used products for a full refund.


Once you’re happy with your Function of Beauty or Prose products, you can share the experience with friends.

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Function of Beauty/Instagram

Function of Beauty offers various gift card options so your loved one can create their own customized shampoo and conditioner. In addition, its referral program gives both you and your friend $5 off your orders.

Prose does not yet offer a gifting option, but it also has a referral program, which gives both you and your friend $10 off your orders.


Ultimately, Function of Beauty and Prose both offer excellent customized hair-care solutions…

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Prose/Facebook

…but one will be better than the other based on your budget, preferences for customization, and hair needs.

Function of Beauty‘s hair quiz isn’t as in-depth, but the customizable features (name, color, fragrance) make it feel more personal. It’s also simultaneously flexible and inflexible: you can only buy its shampoo and conditioner in pre-arranged sets, but there are multiple sizes and combinations to choose from. Its products are cheaper than Prose’s and are a great gift option.

What Prose lacks in camera-ready packaging it makes up for in its use of detailed data to create your unique formulation. Its products are more expensive, though it does have the added hair mask option, and you aren’t constrained to pre-made bundles. If you’re willing to spend a little more and don’t care that it’s not (yet) giftable, try Prose.

Thankfully, with whichever one you choose, you can enjoy high quality ingredients, great customer service, and the convenience of customized hair-care delivered right to your door.

Get your personalized hair-care formula at Function of Beauty here

Get your personalized hair-care formula at Prose here