Is a $36 personalized shampoo + conditioner developed after years of world-class scientific research along with two MIT-educated engineers all it’s cracked up to be, or can it be too good to be true?
With all the heat and humidity, summer is not the most forgiving of seasons when it comes to taking care of your skin and hair. I’ve already tackled some summer skincare tips, so it’s about damn time that hair has its moment!
Unless you’ve been pulling a Patrick Star and living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the company Function of Beauty or seen it pop on one of your various social media feeds. If you have been living under a rock (ok fair – no judgement!) and have no idea what I’m talking about, then let me explain: Function of Beauty is a company that promises to deliver a “uniquely formulated” set of shampoo and conditioner personalized for you that is sulfate free, cruelty free, paraben free, made in the USA, and contains no toxins.
At the beginning, a little preliminary research on my part had me pretty impressed. On their About Us page, the company talks about “celebrating individuality,” stating, “we believe your shampoo and conditioner should be as unique as you and your hair.” I think this is a really cool concept, given the fact that we all have different hair types and needs. The company also talks about how “it took years of world-class scientific research along with two MIT-educated engineers to leverage technology, develop proprietary algorithms, and analyze data to create products that are revolutionizing the beauty space” and that “each set is uniquely formulated for you once you place your order, with up to 12 billion different possible formulations” which, tbh, sounds super fancy and alluring.
After reading all of this, seeing dozens of beauty influencers try this out, reading tons of reviews on this, having a few friends of mine try this out for themselves, and just overall being seduced by the pleasing pastel aesthetic of their website, I decided that I wanted to join the party too, even if I was a bit late to the game. As I have said many a time before: I may be late, but at least I showed up. However, at $36 for a set of 8oz shampoo + 8oz conditioner, this party did not come cheap, and I couldn’t help but wonder if what seemed like NASA for hair was actually worth it.
Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t. At least not for me, that is.
That’s right, I’m telling you straight off the bat that despite all of the rave reviews, I don’t personally think it’s worth it for me, and in my own ~comprehensive~ review, I’m going to tell you why. That being said, as I previously touched upon, I know we all have different hair types and needs, so I’m also going to provide some ~thoughts & opinions~ from a few of my friends with drastically different hair types and needs than me to show what they thought so you, the reader (breaking the 4th wall here), can make your own informed decision!!
Ok, after that long-winded intro, if you’ve somehow decided to stick with me, let’s get on to how this whole shebang works!
HOW IT WORKS
Upon landing on the website itself, you are prompted with a “Hair Quiz,” which is where the personalization part comes in. This quiz is quick, simple, and visually pleasing, which are three adjectives I definitely WOULD NOT use to describe myself. #bitter
The first part of the quiz is to build your hair profile by indicating your hair type, hair structure, and scalp moisture. As you can see above, my hair type is straight, my hair structure is medium, and my scalp moisture is oily.
Next, you’re asked to select five hair goals. I’m half Asian and my hair reflects that half, so again, my hair type is straight and dries straight, meaning that I never really have to use any heat on it (I despise blow drying my hair and only curl it every so often with a wand), so I have no issues with damage. My hair structure is medium and not really prone to breakage, so luckily that’s not an issue either.
Where the beef with my hair comes in is in the oil department – because my hair is straight, oil tends to move downwards pretty quickly, making my hair look super oily overall, so “oil control” as a goal was kind of a no-brainer for me. I try to wash my hair as infrequently as I can to try and preserve my scalp’s health because it gets irritated pretty easily (hence the “soothe scalp” goal I picked), which is kind of difficult given the oil production. Typically, I can go two days without washing my hair, but this also requires me being a dry shampoo fiend.
Because my hair is so straight, it tends to be pretty flat, so “volumize” was another goal I picked. In terms of the last two goals, strengthen and add shine, I honestly didn’t know what else to pick goal-wise because none of the other hair issues really applied to me, so I just chose them because why not? This, coupled with the fact that my hair problems are kind of superficial, should have probably tipped me off as to the answer to the whole “is this really worth it?” question, buuuut we’ll get into that later.
I thought that a really cool thing about this part is that for each goal you select, you get to see what each goal is supposed to do, as well as the active ingredients added in order to accomplish the goal. I think this is great because it kind of “educates” you on what ingredients fix certain problems so that you know what ingredients to look out for in other products in the future in case you ever wanted to narrow down your hair needs!
The third part of the quiz is customizing the formula of your shampoo and picking the colors, fragrance and strength, and naming it. I picked a sea-foam green for my shampoo and lilac for my conditioner because I couldn’t decide on just one color, chose the essential oils fragrance because it was recommended and I really like the smell of mint, chose a strong fragrance because I wanted my hair to smell good, and typed “Amanda” in the formula name section because I’m not creative at all and that’s my name. So yeah.
Finally, you’re asked to choose a size and frequency. I chose the smallest size of both (8oz each) and just once for the frequency because I’m afraid of commitment and at the time was not looking for anything long-term.
I first ordered this on June 18, it shipped on June 23, and it arrived on June 26, making the total waiting time just over a week. This was pleasantly surprising given that I expected to receive it two days later on June 28 due to the wording of the confirmation email above.
The package itself definitely felt like I had spent almost $40 on it. The box the bottles came in is a really bright mint green and I really liked how the colors I chose looked IRL (glad I didn’t get catfished here) because I’m extra as hell (we’ve been over this many times) and was going for something that would fit in with the current aesthetic of my shower. Can you tell I was going for more of a ~beachy paradise~ theme? Anyway, it also came with a little “booklet” it came with that listed all my answers from the quiz, as well as two pumps for the bottles.
THE PRODUCT ITSELF
After using this for just over a month, I’ve definitely come to some conclusions:
- Softness → my hair definitely feels soft
- Healthy Scalp → my scalp doesn’t feel dry or itchy at all
- Oil Control → scalp isn’t overly-oily, which is always a plus for me
- Scent → I really like the minty-ness of the essential oils scent I picked!
- Ingredients → this product is sulfate free, cruelty free, paraben free, made in the USA, and contains no toxins, so can’t really go wrong there
- Customized → I think it’s so cute that the bottle has my name on it!
- Happy Hair Guarantee → the company offers free refunds within 30 days of when your order was shipped if you’re not 100% satisfied with the product
- Free Shipping → since I’m already paying $36 for my shampoo, the free shipping is a BIG thumbs up from me
- Price → $36 in total breaks down to $18 per bottle, which is just way too expensive for me tbh
- No Volume → I haven’t noticed any improvements in the volume of my hair, which is kinda a bummer
- Shine? → haven’t really noticed any shine difference in my hair tbh, but it was already pretty shiny 💁🏻
- No Sample Size → for $36 a pop, I wish there was the option of testing it out first, but I understand that a “generic sample since that would defeat the whole purpose of a having personalized formula” (as stated on their FAQ page)
- Pros not “Unique” → I’ll talk about this below in “Overall Comments”
While this shampoo + conditioner is definitely nice and I can really respect and appreciate what the company is trying to do and how they’re doing it, I just wasn’t blown away by anything this product was doing for me. As you can see from my last Con, all the benefits I enjoyed from this product weren’t exactly unique – I’ve experienced all the Pros above (softness, oil control, healthy scalp) from other shampoos because I found that for me, those benefits were all tied to the fact that the other shampoos also don’t contain parabens or sulfates.
When it all boils down to the lack of parabens or sulfates, it’s actually pretty easy to find brands nowadays even at the drugstore that also don’t contain these ingredients. For example, OGX is a brand that can be found in easily accessible stores such as CVS, Ulta, and Target and checking the Company FAQs shows that the products are paraben-free and sulfate-free.
While the company also says they do “not initiate animal tests on either finished products or ingredients whether directly or indirectly… OGX® is against the suffering endured by animals when ingredients and products are tested,” according to Ethical Elephant, their products might be sold in stores in mainland China (where animal testing is required) and the parent company Johnson & Johnson is not cruelty-free, meaning that their entire worldwide supply chain might not be 100% cruelty-free. PETA’s website says that this company DOES test on animals, so that might be something to consider for you. Since Function of Beauty is an online-only company that does not currently ship worldwide, it’s pretty transparent that they are 100% cruelty-free, yet while I do prefer 100% cruelty-free products and do not condone animal testing in any way, shape, or form, I’m going to honestly say that this isn’t a deal breaker for me – as long as I know that the specific product I’m using wasn’t tested on animals, I’m ok with the product.
Ethical arguments aside, my main point here was that I didn’t really notice anything different about my hair during my use of Function of Beauty in comparison to when I used OGX, which I actually used before switching to Function of Beauty. Again, I think this is mainly due to the mutual lack of parabens and sulfates. At the end of the day, when all of the other Pros basically become arbitrary due to ingredients and the fact that this is isn’t the only really nice smelling product on the market, the only real “unique” Pro is the fact that this is customized.
Even OGX products, while not 100% customizable, can still cater to your different hair types and needs. For example, the benefits of the Teatree Mint shampoo above (which I’ve actually used before and really liked) is pretty darn close to what I wanted to achieve with my Function of Beauty shampoo, promising to strengthen, moisturize, and bring “balance” to the scalp – plus it even smells kind of similar. It doesn’t claim to do anything about shine, volume, or oil control, but then again, I saw no difference in the shine or volume department with the Function of Beauty shampoo and my hair acted basically the same as with the OGX shampoo in terms of oil production.
Let’s look at this from a price standpoint: if you get two bottles of 8oz product from Function of Beauty for $36, that breaks it down to $18 for 8oz each, which then comes to $2.25 per oz. Similarly, if OGX is $5.45 for 13oz, that comes to $0.42 per oz. To further compare, if you were to get as much product in the Function of Beauty bottle as you would for the OGX bottle (13oz) while holding the Function of Beauty price constant at $2.25/oz, you would be paying a whopping $29.25 for one bottle – that means you would be paying $58.50 for the two! By contrast, if you were to get the same amount of product in the OGX bottle as you would for the Function of Beauty bottle (8oz) while holding the OGX price constant at $0.42/oz, you would only be paying $3.35, or $6.70 for a shampoo and conditioner. In short, you’re paying 137% more per oz for a Function of Beauty shampoo than an OGX shampoo.
If I haven’t lost you there, let’s keep it fair: the prices do come a little bit down per oz if you were to buy a bigger bottle of the Function of Beauty as you can buy a bottle of 16oz shampoo for $30 and another bottle of 16oz conditioner for $30 separately (instead of in a bundle), meaning that if you wanted to buy the two together, you’d be shelling out $60, which is about the “theoretical” price from my first argument. I’m not going to go through all the math again, but as you can see from the table above, although your percent difference in this scenario is slightly smaller, you’re still paying 127% per oz for Function of Beauty than OGX.
In my ~humble~ opinion, it’s not worth it to pay 137% more per oz for a product that I think performs equally as well as another product I’ve used before. While I do actually really like the Function of Beauty shampoo and I’m glad I tried it (and will be continuing to use it because I paid $36 for it), I will most likely NOT be repurchasing it unless a boat ton of money comes my way. The bottle is cute and all, but paying an additional ~$20 for my name is be on it is honestly not worth it to me.
BUT, since my opinions definitely are not the end-all-be-all, here’s what some of my friends thought:
If you have easy-to-manage, damage free, straight hair like me, you might want to pass on this shampoo. As I’ve said multiple times already, it’s a nice product, but it’s just a leeeetle too expensive for my liking given that I’ve experienced similar results from a much less expensive, more easily accessible drugstore brand.
If you’re really on the fence here, another thing to consider is the fact that they have that “Happy Hair Guarantee” I mentioned in my Pros, so if you’re really not happy after trying it, you can get a full refund. I didn’t opt for this since I do genuinely like the product and I was satisfied with it, I just don’t consider myself impressed enough to repurchase it.
Other options for saving some $$$ here include subscribing to the shampoo, where you can save 10% by starting a subscription based on your personalized formula and get to choose the size and the frequency, or by using a “Give $5, Get $5 Credit” link either by finding it somewhere on the internet or by snagging it from a friend. I technically only paid $31 for mine since I used my friend Mary’s link, which means she also got a $5 credit towards her next purchase. Just note that this link can only be used for new customers and for up to five referrals, so I’ve included all our links below in case one “fills up” so you can try using another one!
Tl;dr – If your hair is overall just not very ~problematic~ and you don’t really want to spend $36 on shampoo + conditioner, you might just wanna say no to this (Hamilton reference, anyone?) and stick to the drugstore options. Maybe you could use all that money you’ll save by not purchasing this product on Hamilton tickets, but then again, if saving ~$25 is all it takes to allow you to afford to buy Hamilton tickets, maybe you can afford to buy this shampoo in the first place…
*Disclaimer: I purchased all above products with my own money and am not affiliated with or compensated by any of the brands mentioned. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own (unless stated otherwise)!