Function of Beauty: Is personalized haircare worth the prestige price tag?

Posted on November 14, 2018 under Reviews

After reading rave reviews of Function of Beauty from a few small bloggers whose opinions I trust, I somewhat reluctantly placed an order. I really wanted to try this personalized haircare brand because the promise seemed so vast, but I also kind of hoped that the product would disappoint so that I would not have to incorporate an $80 CAD shampoo and conditioner set into my regular life.

As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I recently went through a drastic hair change. I finally cut off all the old blonde, and I got bangs. Growing out my blonde has been a goal for a year and a half, and I’m very proud that I finally made it to this point. My hair is now healthier than it’s been in half a decade, which means I feel that I can give haircare reviews from a normal human standpoint, whereas before everything I said could really only apply to people who also had ultra-processed hair on the verge of death. My hair is of medium thickness and naturally wavy; I’m prone to a slightly oily scalp. I can get a bit of frizz, especially in humid weather. In the past few years I’ve started noticing some very mild dandruff (especially in the colder months), likely because the years of bleach dried my scalp out. I wash my hair every other day, though by the end of day two it’s definitely getting to a not-so-nice place. (Truthfully I just can’t be bothered to go through the whole washing and blow drying rigamorale every day.)

When you order from Function of Beauty, you take a quiz about your hair and your shampoo preferences which then allows them to customize a formula that theoretically addresses the needs of your hair better than anything else on the planet. My hair goals were strengthen, anti-frizz, shine, replenish hair, and soothe scalp. You’ll probably guess that I’m most focused on keeping my hair as visibly healthy as possible after years of bleach abuse.

I selected the scent Nude (P)each, mostly because it was limited edition at the time and I had FOMO. It’s now been made permanent. The scene is fine – definitely peachy, though it doesn’t linger in my hair at all after being rinsed out.

Function of Beauty orders come with a card outlining your preferences as per your hair quiz, as well as a sheet of stickers that I will hoard alongside my unused Glossier stickers.

Now that I’ve been using this shampoo and conditioner for a month now, I feel like I’ve gathered enough thoughts to write a proper review.

Texture

I am very picky about the texture of my shampoo. I can tell instantly if I will like a shampoo based on the texture alone. Almost without fail, shampoo that has a runny, gel-like consistency as opposed to a thick, stiff cream will not adequately wash my hair. My Function of Beauty shampoo is a lot runnier than the texture that I normally prefer. This makes it more prone to slipping out of my fingers and onto the bottom of my tub, which of course makes me brilliant with rage when I’m spending $40 on a bottle of shampoo. The conditioner has a much more reasonable texture and I have no complaints there.

Packaging

Get it? Functions! (I think – I was 2% away from failing Functions and that was seven years ago. Also I managed to pass that class without ever learning what a function actually is.)

These bottles are surely very aesthetically-pleasing, from the minimal text to the clear plastic that allows you to see the pretty colours. I almost feel like the main point of the packaging design is to be as Instagrammable as possible, and given Function of Beauty’s aggressive Instagram marketing this seems like a valid theory. Functional standpoint, I do think that we as humans have evolved to a point where we should no longer tolerate any shower products which cannot be stood on their caps. I am used to squeezy tube shampoo and conditioner packaging and I don’t wish to experience anything else. I do appreciate that Function of Beauty sends pumps to use with the bottles – because, trust me, trying to squeeze a brittle bottle to coax product through a relatively small opening is not fun. I must reiterate that there is no way to stand these bottles upside down, which means that when I get down to the last dregs of product – which I will CERTAINLY want to use up given the price tag – I will have to pull some lean-the-bottle-against-other-stuff manoeuvers just to use the product that is by its very definition mine and mine only.

If this were a drugstore product and it did awesome things to my hair, I could probably get over suboptimal packaging. But, of course, if I’m going to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner, I want every detail to be thoughtful and functional. I don’t want to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner and then have to work especially hard to get it out of the bottle. That’s just rubbing salt in the wound.

Efficiency

Let’s go through my hair goals. First, strengthen. I’m not sure that my hair is any stronger than it was a month ago, but it’s not any weaker, and I have been using heat on it a lot more often. (At its current length, it really only looks good when I blow it dry. Once it grows out some more I’ll be able to air dry.) I’d say this little routine shines in terms of its anti-frizz benefits. I’m noticing a lot less frizz than I was a few months ago, and that’s with the addition of frequent blow drying into my routine. The shine aspect is about average; I don’t tend to have incredibly shiny hair nor incredibly dull hair, and this does about as well as anything. The same can be said for replenish hair: in all fairness, there’s not much left to replenish since all the damage is now gone, but I used this on my bleached ends for about ten days before I got my hair cut, and it didn’t seem to do any better than Marc Anthony. Finally, soothe scalp – I haven’t noticed any itchy scalp or dandruff, though that could ultimately change with the weather. However, I was dealing with mild dandruff through the summer, which is now gone.

With some of my shampoo/conditioner combos, I can get to day three before I have to wash my hair, but this routine reliably leaves me in need of a wash by day two. Now, this is definitely in part because my hair is healthier than it has been in years – I can’t compare how greasy it gets now to two years ago at the height of the bleach damage. It’s also impossible to stretch bangs more than two days before washing them (in the sink so you don’t have to wash your full head of hair because you have no time but want to trick people into thinking you’re clean am I right ladies?). And, of course, the hair goals I chose lean towards heavy hydration and nourishment, which will obviously leave hair less clean-feeling faster. That said, I sometimes have the feeling after blow drying my hair that it’s not totally clean even though I just washed it fifteen minutes ago, which I’m going to blame on that liquidy shampoo. (I am telling you, that type of shampoo never gets my hair fully clean, and I need to use so much of it to get the most minimal effect.) And while my scalp produces some oil, it’s not exactly greasy – my hair should feel clean for at least a day.

Value

This shampoo and conditioner do an admirable, better-than-average job of addressing two of the five things I paid a lot of money for them to do. While I am very much appreciating having less frizz and less dandruff than normal, I don’t think it’s controversial to say I can’t justify the high price tag in this instance, especially when combined with my complaints about texture and packaging. This is an incredibly interesting business model and I have no doubt that Function of Beauty does genuinely address other people’s concerns in a way that is worth the premium price tag. It’s just not quite there for me: I don’t feel that my hair is looking better than it ever has, and if it is that’s mostly just because I stopped bleaching it with 30 volume developer every other month.

Empties: September 2015 to January 2016

Posted on January 25, 2016 under Empties

empties-2016

The idea of doing Empties posts at regular intervals is alien to me. I just do them when I think I have enough products to warrant a post. Inevitably I do not seem to notice how stuffed my empties box or bag is, and suddenly realize that it has been more than long enough since the last time. So, I present to you: lots of empties spanning from September until now.

Skincare

empties-2016-skin

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil: It took me just over a year to finish this up and I meant to write a review the entire time. I loved it and used it religiously; it got my makeup off really well and left my skin feeling soft and hydrated. Right now I’m loving the Marina Miracle Sweet & Creamy Oil Cleanser*, but I do have another bottle of the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil that I’ll continue to use as well!

Boots Botanics Replenishing Night Cream: I ended up really liking this product; I’ve been using a Boots No7 night cream since I can’t get this one in Canada, but it’s just not the same! I was very sad to see this go, but it was great value for the money considering I got it for £4!

Vaseline Lip Therapy: I mainly used this to seal in other lip balms at night. I’ve moved on to better things, so I probably won’t repurchase. (You can’t get Vaseline in these tins in Canada, anyway – just the dinky little plastic tubs. Not nearly as fun!)

StriVectin Present Perfect Antioxidant Defense Lotion: Definitely not my favourite moisturizer; but then, I think it’d be better suited to someone with combination to oily skin. It was okay when I was using it in the summer, but as the cold crept up on me this just did not do the trick. The ingredients are great, though, if you put any stock in Beautypedia.

Bath and Body

empties-2016-body

One Direction You & I Shower Gel: … You know what? I HAVE NO SHAME. I did not particularly care for this very strong floral scent, but that was my fault for buying a shower gel aimed at 13-year-olds. I still used it up to show my #support.

Freeman Body Sugar Scrub in Pomegranate: This has probably been in an empties post before because my mom buys them in bulk. Body scrubs don’t excite me, but this one does the job well enough so I will continue to use it as long as I have easy access to it! (I’m about halfway through the last tube I have on hand right now – hopefully it will last me until the end of the semester!)

dermaglow 10% Glycolic Body Cream: This is probably like 75 years out of date but I DON’T CARE because it’s the best body cream I have found for my keratosis pilaris. I still weep every day that dermaglow went out of business; I have found some pretty good body creams but nothing as good as this. RIP dermaglow/my happiness.

Avène Akérat Smoothing, Exfoliating Cream: My mom and I both tried this in our quest for a replacement for the dermaglow; we both agree that it’s definitely far better than nothing, but nowhere close to dermaglow and not even the best of all the substitute options we’ve tried.

Haircare

empties-2016-hair

L’Oreal EverPure Blonde Brass Banisher Shampoo: I liked this. It didn’t blow me away. I’m not a blonde anymore so I will not be repurchasing any time in the near future.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo and Conditioner: I’ve gone through a few tubes of both of these; I think this might be #3, but I can’t be sure. I found them quite effective at keeping the brass at bay, but they weren’t the most nourishing. Again, I’m not a blonde currently, but if I ever am again (ONE DAY!!!), I’d be happy to repurchase.

Ice Cream Dry-T Hair Mask: I have already repurchased this. I credit it for singlehandedly keeping my hair alive far past its expiration date and for adding life back into it post-death.

Makeup

empties-2016-makeup

Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup in 110 Ivory: I would consider repurchasing this in the future, but I’m trying something else out. (I don’t like to have more than one foundation going at a time.)

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser in Brightener: I picked this up after hearing nothing but endless praise; I think I should have gone for one of the flesh-toned shades rather than the Brightener. It wasn’t horrible, but the shade had a grey tint that made me look a bit sickly. I didn’t find that it did an amazing job of covering dark circles, either. I’m just worried that the lightest of the regular shades will still be too dark for me!

MAC StudioFix Concealer in NC15: I do not want to tell you how old this concealer is. You will judge me. There is still a lot of product in it, but IT IS TIME, PEOPLE. I actually really liked it for blemishes and wish I had just bought a new one instead of trying something new!

Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara: You guys know I stubbornly refuse to pay more than $10 for mascara; however, I’d absolutely spend my Shoppers Optimum points on this. It won’t be for awhile as I only use one mascara at a time and I have 3 backups, but I’m sure I’ll obtain another one of these one way or another. I very rarely feel any which way about mascara – but I love this stuff.

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Clear: I feel like the tinted options might be better, but this one was just, you know, a clear brow gel. At $12.99 CAD, I really feel that it is not the best value for your money – especially because I didn’t think the hold was amazing. Will not repurchase.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black: I’ve lost track of how many of these I’ve gone through. Maybe 5? There is no end in sight!

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in East End Snob: Another product that I seem to go through like Kleenex. This is maybe my third or fourth; obviously, I’ve already made quite the dent in another.

NARS Pro-Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Primer: I would take a bullet for this product. It and the Stila eyeliner are my only true holy grail products. $30 CAD for a product that is undeniably boring is obviously steep – but I got over two years of use out of this guy. I have no qualms with that.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: I liked this pretty well. I haven’t seen it for sale anywhere that I frequent so when it came time to replace it I went with another beautyblender knockoff, but I’d probably repurchase. (I’ve never tried the beautyblender because I AM NOT PAYING $25 FOR A SPONGE, so I can’t compare the two.)

Whew! Time to throw it all out and start again.

Beating the bleach blues with L’Oréal and Ice Cream

Posted on October 02, 2015 under Reviews

I have lost track of how many times I have bleached my hair. Perhaps a quantitative description isn’t vivid enough, anyway; I think it’s more effective if I tell you that the last time I tried washing my hair without conditioner, I physically could not get a comb more than an inch and a half through it.

In addition to conditioner, a good purple shampoo is a necessity in my hair care arsenal. Gone are the days when I could slather any shampoo and conditioner onto my head and be reasonably pleased with the results. I am no longer so low maintenance that I will use hotel products, whatever my host has at their house, something hastily purchased at the airport, etc. No. I must bring decanted versions of my shampoo and conditioner with me wherever I travel, lest my hair stage a protest at its abuse and leave my head forever.

(Who, me? Dramatic?)

I declared back at the end of April that I was very happy with my John Frieda Go Blonder, and I do still enjoy the line. However, when I went to Pharmaprix to replace it, they were out of it! After having a momentary internal freak-out, I decided to try out L’Oréal EverPure Blonde Brass Banisher, which was on sale.

loreal-everpure-blonde-shampoo

After using it for about a month now, I have formed a pretty solid opinion on it. Firstly, it’s definitely not as effective as the John Frieda at removing brassiness. I have a tiny bit of brassiness from the last time I bleached my roots, and it hasn’t done a huge amount to combat that. However, it has maintained my hair’s tone, which in general is good enough for me. (It’s rare that I have brassiness since I am pretty diligent with the toner – this is anomalous.)

That said, I much prefer L’Oréal EverPure’s texture to the John Frieda! It’s thicker and feels almost sticky, which doesn’t sound that appealing, but I find it lathers quite nicely. It smells like lavender, as opposed to the slight lemon of John Frieda. I don’t hugely prefer one over the other, but lavender is a bit more relaxing to my mind. Finally, the L’Oreal keeps my hair feeling clean for way longer! By day two using John Frieda, my hair always needs a blast of dry shampoo. But day two with L’Oreal it still feels and looks shiny, soft, and decidedly non-greasy.

I also like the price on this one. When it’s not on sale, it costs $10.99 for 250mL, or $0.044 per mL. (That’s $1.29 for each of its 8.5 fl oz.) 250mL bottles of shampoo usually last me about 6 weeks, and eleven bucks every 6 weeks does not break the bank.

Shockingly, I have also done away with my L’Oréal deep conditioner, after the fourth tub. Don’t get me wrong – I still think it’s great stuff. I’ve just discovered something even better.

ice-cream-dry-t

Enter the Ice Cream Dry-T Mask, which we got a limited quantity of at work in August. I immediately hopped online to research it, was met with rave reviews, and put a tub aside for myself. And holy crap is it good. If the L’Oréal was moisturizing, I don’t know how the hell to describe this stuff. Like magic. My hair has never felt healthier in my entire life – and this is after nearly two years of mercilessly subjecting it to 30-volume developer. “Silky” and “soft” do not even do my hair justice. I seriously touch it every day and think about how amazing it feels. A bonus is that the 500mL/16.9 fl oz tub goes for $9.99, putting it at $0.020 per mL/$0.59 per fl oz. Way better value than the L’Oreal mask, which was $0.026 per mL/$0.75 per fl oz.

There are only two potential downsides to this product in my books. First, it smells like bananas, which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t bother me, but it also doesn’t particularly entice me. (It’s also available in a Tutti-Frutti scent, but I can’t imagine that would be any less obtrusive.) Second, Ice Cream’s availability is limited. It is carried only by select Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix locations in Canada. Luckily, my local Pharmaprix does carry Ice Cream, but it’s annoying to know that one of my favourite products isn’t super readily-available.

Between the L’Oréal shampoo and the Ice Cream mask, my hair has been in amazing condition lately. I tend to be pretty loyal with hair products, so I don’t see this combination changing anytime soon. But who knows – it’s not like I wouldn’t be thrilled if even more magical products fell from the sky.