Walk down the hair-care aisle in your local drugstore and you’ll likely be bombarded with hundreds of shampoos and conditioners promising you things like intense hydration, high shine, and sheer volume (whatever that is). Yet the great irony is that these mass offerings are at once overwhelming and yet somehow also incredibly limiting—why the hand-wringing over having your hair be voluminous or shiny?
Thanks to a new start-up called Function of Beauty you don’t have to pick just one. Cofounders Zahir Dossa, Joshua Maciejewski, and Hien Nguyen—a computer scientist, an engineer, and a cosmetic chemist, respectively—combined their varied backgrounds to launch the direct-to-consumer, online-only brand this past December, and are bringing a science-based approach to every head out there with its super-personalized products.
Powered by a proprietary algorithm, Function of Beauty offers more than 300 million combinations for a custom shampoo and conditioner set. These individual formulations (none have ever been repeated for separate customers so far!) will help you achieve not just one or two hair goals, but up to five of your choosing. “Generally, a company will do well with two hair goals, but not much more,” says Dossa. “Our base is uniquely tailored to accommodate more goals than that.”
Sign us up, right? Here’s how it works: First, create a hair profile where you select your hair type, structure, and moisture level. If you’re not sure or have questions, you can use the “Chat with a Chemist” tool to connect with Nguyen herself directly.
The best part is when you get to select from the 17 available hair goals—everything from “anti-aging” and “fix split ends” to “thermal protection.” Other great features include a choose-your-own fragrance option with scents such as cucumber-mint and sandalwood-violet, and the ability to customize the colors of your shampoo and conditioner bottles. To make it extra special, your name gets printed on the labels, replacing Beauty in the “Function of Beauty” logo.
For two weeks, I tested my own formulation that promised “anti-frizz,” “shine,” “nourish roots,” “soothe scalp,” and “oil control,” and I’m happy to report that it delivered on all fronts. The white tea–jasmine fragrance I picked was balanced and pleasant, not overpowering, cloying, or too artificial. What I really appreciate is how much control you’re given throughout the whole process, despite not being able to touch and smell the products before buying them.
To make up for the missing tactile experience, Function of Beauty gives you almost every other option, laying out what your bottles will look like visually and listing all the ingredients, which are natural and cruelty-, paraben-, and sulfate-free. When your hair changes over time (as it is wont to do), you can adjust your saved hair profile and tweak your selections to meet a whole new set of hair goals. Even when the final product isn’t what you envisioned, Function of Beauty works with you to develop a replacement formula and priority-ship it to your mailing address on the next business day.
You’d think with this down-to-the-details level of customization that you’d be paying a hefty premium, but one of the selling points for Function of Beauty is its cost: $26 for an 8-ounce set or $36 for a 16-ounce set. Each set is more affordable than most high-end salon brands because there’s no middle distributor. Throw in free shipping within the U.S., and there’s truly no need to trek from store to salon to find something that works for your hair.