All those drugstore and salon shampoos, conditioners, and masks that seemingly treat every hair type can move over for a new wave of customizable hair care.

By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan
Photo: Jamie Ongus/EyeEm/Getty Images

The beauty and health worlds have seen a trend on the rise: customization. For skin care, that means products like "boosters," which allow you to add concentrated, efficacious ingredients to your creams, lotions, or oils to tailor the product to your specific needs. (Dry skin? Try a booster with hyaluronic acid. If you're prone to zits, choose one with niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3.) Likewise, a treasure trove's worth of customizable vitamins are now available, too. Unlike the mega daily multivitamin you may take, these are also tailored to meet specific nutritional and physiological needs. For example, women's formulations include higher amounts of iron, essential for regular menstruation and uterine health. The latest category to get the customizable treatment? Hair care.

While a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner from the drugstore will work just fine on most hair types, a new crop of slightly pricier, tailored-to-your-every-need products provide an answer for those who have never been able to find everything they need in one bottle. What if your hair is colored and thin, for instance? Even better, they're often comparable in price to salon-grade formulations. (Related: The Best Natural Beauty Products You Can Buy at Target)

"Consumers are no longer satisfied with hair care that puts them into one hair-type category," says Arnaud Plas, the cofounder and CEO of Prose. "Instead of choos[ing] between curly shampoo or a color shampoo, all of the different parameters of your hair needs are considered, so you never need to compromise."

To find these products, look no further than your smartphone. "You can find the best customizable hair brands online," says Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist in New Jersey. These four brands are leading the way in the customizable haircare industry.


Prose has a litany of stylists across the country, making it easy to build your hair-care routine either online or in person. The science-heavy brand takes an impressive 85 different criteria into account, including things like hair and scalp conditions, along with lifestyle habits and geographic location. You can also select from an array of personal preferences based on your hair goals, fragrance preferences (including unscented), and values (say, vegan).

Prices range from $28–32/each for shampoos and conditioners and $38–48 for masks;

Form Beauty

Women of color tend to have more textured, coarser strands-and Form wanted to make styling the range of curls, coils, and twists not only easier to do, but also more accessible.Similar to Prose, Form starts with a questionnaire in order to learn more about your particular needs. While Form doesn't offer in-salon sessions yet, they've got tons of options for those looking to test the customization waters.

All products start at $5/each for travel sizes and $13/each for full-size bottles;

Belle Bar

There are a dizzying number of hair masks to choose from, but Belle Bar allows you to play chemist with all-natural, food-grade ingredients to create one that's truly best for you. Start with a base of say, restorative avocado or scalp-cleansing apple cider vinegar, then cherry-pick your add-ins, which are neatly displayed in a drop-down alongside the additional cost and the ingredient's function.

Masks start at $59/each (not including optional mix-ins);

Function of Beauty

Using years of scientific research, two MIT-educated engineers developed a crazy-specific algorithmic quiz. The quiz covers your hair type, how thin or thick it is, scalp dryness, styling goals, use of haircolor, and fragrance preferences to create products you won't be able to stop using. Kind of the OG in the customizable haircare category, Function of Beauty scored an impressive $9.5 million in Series A funding last year, and in October, opened their flagship headquarters and lab in NYC. With those kinds of dollars being thrown around, perhaps it's proof that all this science may help you on your quest for an incredibly healthy scalp and hair.

Shampoos and conditioners start at $18/each;

Comments (1)

January 17, 2019
I have very thin, fine brown hair. I have tried SEVERAL department store dry shampoos. I have hated everything except Batiste with the brown tint, but I still struggled with it and felt the need to keep searching for the perfect dry shampoo. When I first used this, my hair felt greasier than it was before and I thought "here we go again". I watched some YouTube videos and realized I was not using enough. Don't be afraid to just pour this onto your roots. You want to see piles of powder. When it soaks up the oil, the gray powder turns to a brown/black and blends into your hair perfectly. The only thing I don't like (which I think is just the sacrifice of using dry shampoo), is when I scratch my head, I get dark residue under my nails. You don't notice there's anything on your scalp until you have an itch though. In the end, I am DONE searching for the perfect dry shampoo!