I fell victim to Instagram’s algorithms. Somewhere along the way, they picked up that I was the target market for customizable, eco-friendly, sustainably-made, cruelty-free, pretty-to-look-at beauty products.
And they were right.
That’s how Prose blipped onto my radar.
Here’s the thing: It’s hard to weed out the real deals from the ones that are “pay to play” in the very oversaturated world of social media. But I decided to take a chance on Prose because when I dug further, I resonated with the intentions of this new product line and the story behind the brand.
Prose has a strong team made up of four French co-founders: Paul Michaux, Arnaud Plas, Nicolas Mussat, and Catherine Taurin. Combined, they have 30+ years of experience in the beauty (including L’Oréal) and tech industries, making them a dream team for a brand like Prose that relies as much on the ability to create a seamless digital experience for their clients as it does on delivering a product that actually works.
Read our Q&A with Paul Michaux, Co-Founder and VP of Prose!
Their research and development takes place in Paris and the products are made fresh with active ingredients in their New York lab, meaning there’s actually a recommended “use by” date, which is 3 months from when you receive the product.
So what does Prose promise?
Prose is disrupting the beauty industry by offering made-to-order hair care products that aren’t mass produced for generic categories like hair type, gender, or ethnicity. Instead, the products are made for the person, taking into account factors such as lifestyle, specific pain points, and even geography. Because you and I both know that not all long, straight hair is the same, nor is curly hair, or natural hair.
On top of that, the products are free of sulfates, parabens, dyes, mineral oil, and GMO, and the ingredients are all organic or eco-certified, and made from sustainable resources. They’re also vegan and cruelty-free AND available as gluten-free, fragrance-free, or silicone-free.
Knowing what’s in your beauty products is something worth looking into. I won’t step onto my soapbox here but you might be surprised by how many high-end and well-known brands include these not-so-great ingredients in their products, not to mention how many still test on animals. (Eek!)
Another unique aspect of Prose is how seriously they took their fragrances. Instead of opting for generic scents, they enlisted master perfumer Karine Dubreuil-Sereni, renowned for working on fragrances for Guerlain, Yves Saint Laurent, and Jo Malone, to help create a portfolio of seven scents. Of the three options you see when taking the quiz, two are selected based on your hair type and scalp pH level and the third is the Prose Signature scent.
The first thing you do when you’re ready to try Prose is fill out an extensive online questionnaire, so grab a mirror and a drink because things might get personal.
The series of questions addresses everything from your hair (like how much of your scalp you can see or how many strands of hair you lose), to your lifestyle (diet, stress levels, where and how often you exercise), to the geographical area in which you spend the most time. This last bit is actually quite important since environmental factors like pollution and UV rays play a role in your custom formula.
Finally, you can finish off the customization process by selecting one of three fragrances or going fragrance-free. I selected Perle, described as powdery and musky with freesia, white lilac, and iris. My other options were the Signature (floral and powdery with violet leaf, peony, and blue iris) and Ispahan (floral and fruity with lychee, rose, and raspberry).
About a week later, I received my box of shampoo, conditioner, and the hair mask, neatly packaged up in a recyclable cardboard box. The pastel-hued labels were all personalized with my name and zip code, along with a clever name for each formula and the key points it was going to treat. The brown bottles are wisely not glass and instead made from 100% recyclable BPA-free PET plastic (can you imagine dropping a glass bottle in the shower??). The shampoo and conditioner come with screw caps but they also send you two pumps - save the caps for when you travel to avoid messy leaks.
Also included was a custom chart showing the diagnostics of my hair, instructions, and a breakdown of the main ingredients selected to treat my hair specific hair needs. Collagen, lilac, and hyaluronic acid are in my mask and shampoo for fiber repair while my conditioner has apple vinegar and caviar lime to enhance shine.
When I received my set, I opened a bottle and took a whiff…and a rather strong spicy floral scent hit my nose. It wasn’t quite the musky floral I was expecting.
The first few uses were a little overwhelming, to be honest. I liked the scent but it seemed to cloud around my face like when you put on just a spritz too much perfume. But within a week, I had gotten used to it and now I absolutely adore it.
My first step was to use the hair mask, which is applied to damp hair before you shampoo and left on for 5-15 minutes. It seems like the frequency of these hair masks depends on your hair’s needs - while I only need to apply the mask twice a month, some may receive the recommendation to use it more often.
Next up was the shampoo which, despite being sulfate-free, lathers wonderfully. While I know lather has nothing to do with the cleaning ability of a shampoo, there’s a psychological reassurance that comes with it (that’s marketing for you!) and I was relieved to feel those satisfying suds. Prose even includes a gentle warning that you might experience less foam but it’s for the best since sulfates can also cause dryness in your hair and scalp.
The conditioner went on last and even though my instruction booklet told me to twist sections of my hair as I applied it to my lengths and ends, I could never remember that step.
Prose recommends a whopping 4-6 pumps for both the shampoo and conditioner but I didn’t need anywhere near as much. I cut it down to a full two pumps and found it to be more than enough.
The state of my hair:
My hair is long and I have a lot of it, but the strands are on the finer side. My regimen is a pretty low maintenance “wash and air dry as I go” method, aside from the occasional flat iron used to add loose curls. A few years ago, I bleached and color-treated my hair and since then I’ve been growing out the lightened bits, which are still pretty dry and damaged and tend to resemble hay in both look and feel.
Hand to heart, after the first round with Prose, I could already see a difference in the texture and quality of my hair.
The difference may not be drastic enough to notice for those looking at my hair from afar but I can feel it. My ends aren’t as scraggly, the strands are smoother and shinier, and my hair held up well throughout the cold months of dry air and knit caps. Plus it smells pretty fantastic!
Good To Know
Prose is currently only available in the US (sorry!) but I have a feeling they might be looking into ways to expand.
I was so dedicated to using Prose that I actually brought along the shampoo and conditioner while traveling around Japan for 3 weeks. Previously, I probably would have packed a couple of travel-size bottles and then just used the products available at the places I was staying once they ran out, but not this time.
Yes, it did have to do with the fact that I had dedicated myself to doing a proper review of the products, and that included using them continuously, but I also felt really good about knowing that the shampoo and conditioner were eco-friendly and cruelty-free, and that they were made specifically for my hair needs.
I’ll be honest: the price tag on getting your own custom haircare is steep compared to what you could get off the shelf. You’re looking at $25 USD each for the shampoo and conditioner, and $38 for the hair mask. They are 8.5 fl. oz. in size and last approximately 2 months (depending on how heavy-handed you are). But if you’re already spending on high-end salon products, it’s not going to make much of a difference in your wallet and you can feel better about what’s going on your hair and down your drain!
And if you are an off-the-shelf user (like I was), Prose might be worth a try if you’re exploring beauty products that are not only better for you but also better for the environment. If anything, just take the quiz for fun to see what your results are!
I know this isn’t for everyone, and it might even seem gimmicky, but I really am quite pleased with how the Prose products turned out. I think they’re onto something and am excited to see how the company grows!
Take a peek behind the brand and read our Q&A with co-founder Paul Michaux for more insights on building a bespoke beauty brand here.
The Caviar Spoon ReBelle received these products as a sample but all opinions expressed are our own.