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.

Related Videos
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.”


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


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


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

You Should Make the Switch to Waterless Grooming Products
OWA Waterless Shampoo

Remember when saving the planet was as simple as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth? These days, a wide-scale climate crisis looms behind every action you take (or don’t take). As a good citizen of the planet, you’re likely already commuting by bike or public transport instead of using your car, grocery shopping with reusable bags, and cutting down on your addiction to Amazon Prime. What else can you do?

We’ve got an answer, and it involves almost no change to your lifestyle or personal comfort. You can switch out your conventional grooming products for waterless versions.

Read more
You Go to the Gym for Your Body, Why Not for Your … Face?
facegym charcoal detoxify workout face gym training sticks 01

Yes, that headline is correct. No, this does not involve using tiny weights to tighten and tone your facial muscles. And while we would love to see that some day, the closest we can get now is a jade or quartz roller we apply to our faces in upward strokes in a (probably) misguided attempt to trick gravity into thinking it doesn’t exist and thereby reduce future sagging and wrinkling. But that’s still not what we’re talking about today.

No, today, we’re all about the FaceGym, which is not a series of tiny weights, but a roll-on facial treatment intended to be used during your daily or weekly workouts.

Read more
Never Neglect Your Nethers Again with Ballsy’s Line of Ball Care Products
ballsy ball wash spray cologne tools

We're always looking for new ways to expand a man’s grooming repertoire and recently we stumbled upon an exciting new company looking to aid our routines: Ballsy.

Ballsy has one goal: to keep the funk off your junk. The brand's new Ball Wash line offers a trio of top-notch products that target your family jewels in order to keep them feeling and smelling fresh by providing proper grooming products for below the waist.

Read more