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.

Review: John Frieda Go Blonder Shampoo and Conditioner

Posted on April 30, 2015 under Reviews

A fake blonde’s work is never over. Maintaining the perfect hue requires constant vigilance, lest we be visited by the dread B-word – brassiness. It does not do to simply tone your hair to perfection and hope it will last, because it won’t. That is a fact. Blonde is not for the lazy.

Unfortunately, after arriving in Glasgow in September with the perfect ashy platinum, I fell down on the job. I had a brief flirtation with lilac, which faded to silver, which faded to a greenish-blonde. In March, I decided that enough was enough.

purple

And so, I picked up the John Frieda Go Blonder Shampoo and Conditioner, after scouring the internet for reviews. I read mixed things, but most of the people who didn’t like the products seemed to have only used them one or two times. In the interests of fairness, I opted to give these a test drive of at least five washes, so as not to be like all the outraged Ulta.com customers who don’t seem to understand that short of bleach, nothing you put on your hair is going to instantly lift colour in any noticeable way. Much like blonde, these products are not a short-term commitment!

Also in the interests of fairness, I decided not to use my beloved L’Oreal mask as conditioner, and rather to just use this system on its own. This way, I could see how the texture of my very damaged hair fared with John Frieda at the proverbial wheel.

jf-before

Here is my hair before using this product. My iPhone camera doesn’t pick it up terribly well, but there is a bit of yellow running through, particularly at the roots. Hot roots are real, people! And that green is unmistakable. (Also, excuse the greasiness in the first picture – I took it immediately after returning from Warsaw, and the travel did not make my hair any cleaner.)

I used these two products for about a month (and sadly had to leave them in the UK because NO SPACE IN MY SUITCASE). They made my hair feel rather soft after washing it, and I could brush through it with relative ease. (When I don’t use any conditioner I literally cannot get a brush through it. Bleach is fun.)

jf-after

I did notice a change in colour, though subtle. It absolutely did not immediately tone my hair to a cooler blonde, but over time it helped take some of the brassiness out and definitely eliminated that green tinge. It also lightened my naturally medium-brown roots a touch after a month of consistent use. It didn’t take my hair to my ideal colour, but it made it a far more reasonable shade. I’ll take a slightly warm blonde over green any day! Plus, look how shiny and smooth it looks in that close-up – does that look like the texture of 10x bleached hair to you?!

I was previously using the John Frieda Sheer Blonde purple shampoo, which was okay – but Go Blonder is infinitely better, and once it’s on sale I’m going to replenish my stock. I think it was much more effective than Sheer Blonde at slowly toning my hair. It’s certainly not a replacement for a proper toner (Wella T18 for life!), but it’s effective for slow, long-term toning.

ash

I also recently did my poor CAVERNOUS ROOTS OF DOOM and toned my hair to an ash blonde, so I’ll be interested in seeing if Go Blonder is good for maintaining that ashiness. Toned hair doesn’t last very long on me, and I am very interested in prolonging the results!

Long story short, I am pro-Go Blonder. It’s a bit of a pricer option for the drugstore, but I’m willing to pay the $14 for a product that works. I’d have no business being blonde if I weren’t.