You can customize anything these days. Have it your way by foil stamping your leather wallet with your surname, stitching your PJs and pillowcases with your initials, and slapping a hand-painted monogrammed sticker onto your suitcase. Your items can unambiguously announce they’re yours. But what about the items in your shower? Can—and should—a shampoo and conditioner have not only your name on it but also have a customized formula that takes into account your heritage, exercise routine, preferred look, and location? If you asked Prose, a custom hair company out of New York City, it’d say a resounding yes. So would the 1138 shining reviews from Prose customers.
The brand, which launched at the start of 2018, is nowhere near being alone in the customization haircare field. A handful of popular, high-quality brands have risen the ranks as well. Function of Beauty was created by two MIT-educated engineers and utilizes their high-tech backgrounds for customized data analysis with their hair quizzes. Another interesting option is Form Beauty, which is specifically developed for women with curls, twists, and textured hair and has a hair professional–guided quiz that looks at your lifestyle and styling preferences to custom build an entire routine.
This “made just for you” field is especially suited to the hair industry, which makes sense because hair, and even specific hair types, are not one size fits all. So why should your shampoo be?
Prose stood out to me because of its customized quiz, an online consultation so detailed that it edges closer to a Proust Questionnaire. It felt more like the back-and-forth rapid-fire questioning on a first date than a hair quiz: It asked where I live (they then told me what the pollution, UV, humidity, and hard water ranges should be for the next few months in my area), how often I work out, and about my eating habits, daily styling routine, and goals. It begins more general—age, hair length, dying frequency—and then it ramps up into the very specific—including fragrance preferences, gluten sensitivities, and stress levels. In fact, it was probably more in-depth than any date I’d been on recently.
The end goal of this full-dimension analysis is to understand your unique hair needs and goals. “Our consultation is quite extensive because we look at hair health holistically,” says Prose co-founder and CEO, Arnaud Plas. “It’s not enough to create formulas based on a hair type or whether or not they have colored hair.”
Each question allows the formula to be altered to fit you best. Use heat tools or keratin treatments? Your formula will include ingredients that protect from damage, as well as play nice with any chemical treatment you might have.
“Prose is niche without being niche, meaning that we can cater to unique preferences while still tackling all of their needs,” says cofounder and VP of product Paul Michaux. “For example, we’re not a vegan haircare brand, but we offer the option to make haircare vegan.”
After that comprehensive get-to-know-you intro, the brand allows you to choose your product types—shampoo, conditioner, treatment mask, and hair oil. Once you’ve ordered your custom match, the brand small-batch blends your mix just for you, ships it off, and within less than a week, you’ll be staring at a bottle of your own little concoction with your name written on it.
I was still a bit hesitant staring at my Kristin-branded kit—even after knowing about the 1138 reviews, Paris-based R&D team, and an extensive questionnaire. You see, I had a hair system, and I rarely diverged from my routine. I used my pricey, French (Christophe Robin, thank you very much) products because they worked beautifully. But also, every time I seemed to previously test a new hair product or brand, my scalp revolted in anger and irritation. But knowing I had to finish what I started, I brought the shampoo and conditioner into my shower that night. I’m happy to report the formula was neither irritating or drying, it felt Goldilocks-right. Unscented, volumizing, effectively cleansing (is there anything worse than a shampoo that leaves residue behind?), and sulfate-free, my hair didn’t look “classic hair commercial, va-va-voom, life-changing” afterward, it was more like “just another normal day” but with a really happy scalp and shiny hair, which in the end really were my hair goals. It was almost like it was made just for me…
The sleek packaging is another selling point. For Domino’s editorial assistant, Julia Stevens, the packaging is what actually drew her to the brand in the first place. “It takes everything we love about Aesop’s moody medicinal vibe and combines it with a millennial pastel palette that pops,” she says. “The personalization of your name printed onto the label, along with the cutesy titles like ‘Fitness Lover’ or ‘Thirsty Ends,’ make it all the more fun.” For scent lovers, there are a variety of options to choose from in the formulation. Stevens chose the lychee scent, which she says is hypnotic yet not overpowering.
The brand’s biggest launch is actually a product you can’t even purchase right now—the customized hair oil. An industry first, the hair oil can be blended precisely for your hair. It’s rather impossible to believe that custom-blended hair oil wasn’t available before now, especially in this day and age with customized face oils like Vitruvi. Well, available before spring 2019, when the hair oil will be back permanently—the limited run in October sold out in just days.
Interested in learning more about any of these customizable hair brands? Give the quiz a whirl, and you might just find a product with your name written all over it.