Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Why You Should Skip the Suave and Try Custom Hair Care Products

For years, hair care has been a polarizing thing. To look at the descriptions on the shampoo and conditioner bottles, you either have “problem” hair (dry, lifeless, oily, dandruff-ridden) or else you have “normal” hair, which we must assume is none of those things.

I think we all know it’s not that simple. Not at all. Yes, there’s always the individual with a clear, unilateral hair care problem at play. But most of us have hair whose issues are a lot more complicated. In certain weather, it’s dry, but then the season changes or you go on vacation, and it’s oily. The strands are fine, but you have a lot of them, so does that mean your hair qualifies as “thick” or “thin?” You don’t have dandruff but your scalp itches frequently, or has a sort of pinched feeling, especially right after washing it.

Slater King/Getty Images

The latter problem was confronting the man in my life. Like so many men, hair care was rarely, if ever, on his mind. He’s the kind of guy who could step out of the shower, rub a towel vigorously over his locks, and spend the rest of the day fielding compliments. Since he was steadfastly opposed to complicating his hair care beyond the use of a single product, I persuaded him to at least trade it out for something tailored to his individual needs. Together, we sat down and pulled up the website for Prose.

Maybe you’ve seen the ads for Prose and other customized hair care products floating around — the brand is particularly prevalent on social media. It might sound like a gimmick, given the overwhelming volume of hair care products on drugstore shelves, but as we discovered, dropping the mass-produced hair products in favor of a customized hair care solution is much like the difference between wearing a suit off the rack and having one made to measure. The results were staggering.

How Custom Hair Care Works

In most cases, a customized hair care solution starts with a consultation that asks about everything relating to your hair and how you typically take care of it. In the case of Prose, there were even questions about the customer’s age, diet, stress level, and zip code. Prose senior PR manager Carly Rappoport says these questions help the company’s in-house chemists to dial in on hair issues that the customer might not even be aware of.

“We understand that life is a journey and changes happen all the time. In order for us to ensure we’re delivering our customers a formula that is 100% unique to them and addressing their potentially ever-evolving needs and goals, we want to be able to embark on their journey with them. As we have the ability to optimize our customers’ formulas, we’re able to address their changing lifestyles (i.e. changes in dietary habits, moving to a new city, etc.) efficiently. Specifically speaking, understanding an individual’s geographic location will provide us with specific regional information such as UV rays, water hardness, pollution levels, etc. All of these factors have an impact on one’s hair and scalp.”

Prose

Makes sense, right? Not only does the customized hair care model offer insightful solutions targeted to the individual’s needs, but it also ensures that the products you’re getting are fresh — they haven’t been sitting on shelves for months or even years.

It’s worth noting that although hair care products tend to typically be marketed toward women, custom hair care formulas like Prose take pride in being nonspecific to gender. If you’re a man dealing with hair loss, nobody’s going to pat your hand and say that’s just what happens as you age. Prose’s ingredient lineup includes ingredients like maca root, nasturtium, and biotin, all of which help stimulate hair growth and can even balance hormones so that you’re actually fighting the aging process.

When you’re using a custom hair care product, it’s important to give it time to work. Even the best products have a job cleansing past build-up on both the hair and scalp. And if your hair has been beaten up by sulfates, parabens, and other harsh chemicals, it will take a little time to restore its natural balance. Carly says it usually takes eight to 10 weeks for customers to see the full transformation they’re looking for.

That’s not to say you won’t see a difference right away. I certainly did — warm shine, silky softness, alluring smell — and I’m just an outside observer. An active outside observer, if you will. My man reported that his scalp felt clean and no longer tight or itchy. Needless to say, I’m ready to order my own personalized product set.

Best Custom Hair Care Brands

Our Favorite:

Prose

Prose

Innovative beauty brand Prose stands head and shoulders (see what we did there?) above the other custom haircare options on the market. The brand makes its mark using meticulously sourced, clean ingredients that cover an extensive range of attributes. In-house chemists conduct constant research to ensure their formulas are up to date with the best options. If you’ve tried everything to deal with your hair issues and nothing has worked, you need Prose in your life. Newcomers might find their 22-item questionnaire a bit precious, but just a couple days with their product will make you a believer. You even get to choose your own scent; we loved “Napoli,” which calls to mind a sunny day at the beach.

Best for Biohackers:

Virtue Labs

Virtue Labs/Facebook

Remember that blood transfusion system that’s been set up nationwide? Virtue Labs offers a hair-based version of that, with products built on a foundation of Alpha Keratin 60ku, i.e., pure keratin extracted from human hair. (Ethically, of course.) Unlike synthetic keratin, the pure version is easy for the hair on your head to recognize, accept, and absorb. Bet you had no idea your hair really did have a mind of its own.

Best to Set It and Forget It:

Function of Beauty

Function of Beauty

If you’d like to think about your hair as little as possible, Function of Beauty’s got your back. With just seven questions about your hair care needs, the MIT engineers, cosmetic scientists, and developers behind the brand set up a unique formula to restore your locks’ natural color and shine. You can even purchase an ongoing subscription to make sure you never run out.

Best for Ethnic Hair:

Form

Form/Facebook

Tired of trying to find a hair care solution in a world of Westernized beauty standards? Form is a breath of fresh (h)air. This collection of products is customized for the unique hair needs of people of color. No questionnaire involved — simply choose from the mercifully minimalist product lineup and start styling.

Best for “Uncle Jesse” Types:

Ouai

The Ouai

For some guys, the relationship with their hair goes as deep as any family or romantic ties. Maybe even deeper. If that’s you, walk this Ouai (pronounced “way”). Founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, Ouai curates a custom hair care regime for each customer from their exhaustive product lineup. All products are sulfate-free and boosted with keratin for optimal health and shine, and include of-the-moment styling options like wave spray, air-dry foam, and sun soothers.

Editors' Recommendations

Chelsea Batten
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chelsea Batten is a writer, photographer, and Kerouac groupie. One of the original digital nomads, she was seduced from life…
Mineral vs chemical sunscreen: Which one should you actually use?
mens skincare routine changes to make man in sunscreen

Even on cloudy days or days spent indoors, wearing sunscreen every day is a non-negotiable part of a healthy skincare routine. Not only can excess sunlight cause premature aging of the skin, but it's also critical to wear sunscreen to protect against various types of skin cancer. When choosing sunscreen, you'll find two main types -- chemical and mineral sunscreen. The mineral vs chemical sunscreen debate has been an ongoing one, as both forms of sunscreens have their pros and cons. Below, we'll dive into the pros and cons of each type of sunscreen to help you choose the best option.

Pros and cons of chemical sunscreen
Chemical sunscreens, often made of chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, or other similar chemicals, are absorbed into the skin when applied. This type of sunscreen is generally easy to apply to the face and body and absorbs UV rays that touch the skin.
Pro: hydrating for the skin
Due to the thin and blendable nature of chemical sunscreens, they are generally hydrating for the skin and can be added to cosmetics such as moisturizers, skin tints, or foundation products.
Pro: sweat and water resistant
Many cosmetics that market "SPF included" contain chemical sunscreens. People also like chemical sunscreens because they are quite sweat and water-resistant.
Pro: no white residue
Chemical sunscreens also blend well into the skin and do not leave any white residue. If you think back to the sunscreen you used as a kid, chances are it was a chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens have become more popular in recent years as consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients in their skincare and health products.
Con: not the best for sensitive skin
Although chemical sunscreens are easy to use, they are not always a great choice for those with skin conditions or sensitive skin. The chemicals found in this type of sunscreen can cause allergic reactions or worsen conditions such as melasma.
Con: chemical ingredients and environmental impact
In addition, some of the chemicals used in these products may be linked to cancer, as trace amounts get absorbed into the bloodstream. Another con to consider is the environmental impact of chemical sunscreen, which may damage reefs and other marine environments.

Read more
Why everyone is saying bakuchiol is the new (natural) alternative to retinol for your skin
skin

Expected to reach USD 1.79 billion by 2030, the global retinol market has been on the rise recently -- offering an easy and accessible way to achieve brighter, more youthful skin at home. Retinol works by helping to increase your skin's proliferation (creating new skin cells) and helps increase your skin's collagen production to help target acne, fine lines, wrinkles, and other common skin concerns.

Although many people find they have great success with retinol, it's not for everyone. Not only can retinol be harsh on certain skin types, but it's not always the best choice for those who prefer a more natural skincare routine or one that is plant-based. That's why many people opt for Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative. Below, we'll break down the hype about Bakuchiol and its potential benefits for your skin.
What is bakuchiol?
Bakuchiol comes from a plant grown in India known as Psoralea corylifolia. Also known as the "babchi" plant, this botanical extract has been used in ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practices for centuries. Recently, Bakuchiol has gained popularity in the skincare world, offering properties similar to those of the well-known retinol. Bakuchol extract is offered in many forms to add to your skincare routine, such as in serums or moisturizers. Sometimes, Bakuchiol is also combined with other botanicals, such as jojoba or rose hip, to help improve effectiveness.
What are the benefits of bakuchiol?

Read more
My 5 favorite (discounted) Tom Ford colognes in April 2024
Someone spraying a Tom Ford cologne on themselves.

When you buy a Tom Ford cologne, you get one of the best men’s colognes around. However, understandably, such fragrances come at a premium. If you’re keen to save money while also scoring some great new fragrances this month, we’ve got all the best cologne deals on all things Tom Ford. Once you’ve chosen the right cologne for you, dive into our highlights below to see the best Tom Ford cologne deals that are available this month.
Tom Ford Grey Vetiver -- $122, was $235

Launched in 2009, Tom Ford Grey Vetiver aims to encapsulate the modern man’s spirit with timeless elegance. It has top notes of grapefruit which blends with the aromatic freshness of sage. There are also notes of orange flower, orris, and a hint of spicy nutmeg and pimento. Base notes of amber woods and oak moss add earthy depth which last throughout the day in a manly yet sophisticated way. For a more traditional and classic scent, you can’t go wrong with Tom Ford Grey Vetiver.

Read more