What happens when MIT graduate engineers and cosmetic scientists team up to tackle haircare challenges in the digital era?
A fully customized cosmetic experience — in this case, for the locks on your head.
Anyone with a head of hair is fully aware of how many options have flooded the market over the years.
From shampoos and conditioners to rejuvenating rinses, there’s a virtually an endless supply of products and brands promising to make your hair soft, healthy and vibrant.
Yet, when you look along the shelves, a few things become obvious: no one product fits every situation. Worse, none of them are tailored to the unique and individualized characteristics of your hair.
Do you want to fix split ends or hydrate your hair? Tackle frizz or protect yourself from thermal damage? For years, we’ve asked: Why not both? Or more? Or all of the above?!
Function of Beauty brings something interesting to the table giving us the ability to create our own formula for personalized hair care. This review will take a closer and unbiased look at the innovative product line and whether or not it actually works as promised.
It all starts with a simple, four-part quiz.
Slide one: Hair type. Here you discuss curly versus straight, fine versus coarse, and the dryness level of your scalp.
Slide two: Hair goals. What do you want to get out of your shampoo? Function of Beauty has you choose 1-5 goals, which affects your main ingredients and formula.
Slide three: Fragrance and color. You can choose from six fragrances and the strength of the smell, or opt for fragrance-free.
The choices are a little eccentric in their description, displayed as an equation of scents and associated thoughts like “tropical getaway” and “sweet escape”, but the main descriptions are as follows:
As far as colors, you have nine base choices or dye-free; the team includes a note that the color can vary in actuality based on your formula. This means it could be creamier or bolder than what you see. If you choose the brassiness reduction under goals, you will have a deep purple color regardless.
They also have you put a name for personalizing bottles.
Slide four: Size and price. Here you get to choose what size bottles you want and whether you want a set or a single. You get to choose between 8 oz and 16 oz, and you can mix and match if you have larger or smaller shampoos and conditioners in a set.
After you select your size and set, your order is added to your cart. Function of Beauty has a few other products you can search through, like leave-in treatments and hair masks, that are also individually formulated based on a quiz.
Once you have made your entire order, simply wait for it to arrive. Not only will you receive your product and a full list of final ingredients, but you will also receive personalized instructions based on your formula and hair quiz.
Clients can choose to subscribe so that their formula reships automatically over a chosen schedule. Subscribing nets you free shipping, as well.
If you have any questions while filling out your quiz, like seasonal oily versus year-long oily and what option to pick, the Function of Beauty is happy to help. They can give you recommendations on what to select based on your experiences.
The Function of Beauty ingredients are a little difficult to discuss, as each blend chooses from a full list of 60 natural ingredients. When you receive your order, it comes with a full print out of what was included; but you can’t really find a list on the site.
The only time we saw actual ingredients is when we were filling out our hair goals. As we clicked through the options, we were shown various main ingredients to address our goals:
I was slightly concerned to see that the formulations quiz does not ask about allergies. See how coconut is listed twice? Those formulas would have me itching like crazy within minutes!
While I can avoid the choices in the hair goals, I have no way to verify no coconut unless I contact Function of Beauty directly to figure something out.
It’s worth noting that Function of Beauty products are free of parabens and sulfates, cruelty-free, 100% vegan, and made in the USA.
They also list themselves as ‘Sustainability Focused,’ though they don’t really go into detail on what that means— it’s just a pretty badge. We do know that all packaging is made from recycled products, so they do follow sustainability practices; we just don’t know what others they may follow.
We touched on the risk of allergies already, but we can’t ignore other potential side effects. Most of the natural ingredients that we were able to discover don’t have a lot of research associated with them-- simply anecdotes and blog articles.
This lack of research means we don’t really know all of the risks involved with the ingredients. It’s a sort of trial and error to find out if you’ll have a reaction to something.
One big area of concern is customer complaints. Many of the dissatisfied customers note hair loss, dandruff, itchy scalps, oily hair, and more as a result of trying the custom formulas.
Some admit it could have been an issue with their choices, but not all of the issues could be explained with this.
One of the more concerning reports was on TrustPilot, where one consumer reported:
“...it had worked very well for about two weeks until my face and back started breaking out with really bad acne out of nowhere at age 20 and that was the only product I switched in my routine in the past couple of months and the acne got so bad that I now have to see a dermatologist and use prescriptions on my face to try to help what function of beauty did to me.” [sic]
As you can see from the above complaint and others, no one really knows what is causing issues when the product doesn’t work for them. They’re just dealing with the results. Not all results are negative, however, which brings us to Customer Reactions.
Most complaints are found on third-party sites like TrustPilot and HighYa, some of which seem a bit unreliable. However, it's always worth taking them into consideration.
Those reviews on Influenster are mixed, trending to positive (4.5/5 stars with 127 reviews), and reviews on Function of Beauty’s own Reviews page seem to be heavily tilted to 5 stars (28,238 at 5; 1,652 at 4; 295 at 3; 384 at 2; and 471 at 1 star).
Overall, reviews of Function shampoo and other products are generally positive, with most customers having a favorable opinion of the product.
It seems to us that the results are based on the same theory of Function of Beauty: everyone is unique. Some have amazing success with the service and product, while others are left angry and waiting to hear back from customer service.
Speaking of customer service, many complaints claim they are long to respond or flat-out ignore tickets. However, the store has only been around since 2015 and experienced a massive boom of popularity.
It’s safe to assume that customer service is still working out the kinks in efficiency. They certainly seem very proactive on TrustPilot in responding to positive and negative reviews.
Is Function of Beauty worth it? Does Function of Body Work? Well, we can’t really tell you.
Results are varied by individual, but the pattern seems to be trending to ‘yes.’ Trouble comes if it’s a no for you with drastic consequences.
The cosmetic-conscious hair product shopper will probably have more luck, as will the shopper willing to reach out to the customer service team for advice. It’s a risk, but it seems a worthwhile one to us.
If you decide to give them a try, we recommend journaling your hair health. Start taking notes one to two weeks before you start using Function of Beauty and pay close attention for the first few weeks of use.
This way you can notice right away if something is amiss. Be careful not to make other changes in your cosmetic routine that could skew results.
The cautious approach is best, but we don’t think Function of Beauty should be sworn off. It’s a great idea that really works out for many consumers.
Function of Beauty is only available on the official website here due to its customizable nature. Function of beauty costs are based on the size of the product instead of the formula.
Function of Beauty Prices listed below are subject to change. Further, there may additional coupons, promo codes or special offers available from time to time.
Do note that only subscribers get free shipping. The prices above are just for the product— they don’t include any possible taxes or shipping charges since those vary based on your location.
Now, refunds are where it gets a little tricky. The official policy is that if you are not satisfied, you can get a free reformulation. However, customer experience notes that they will either reformulate or give you a refund.