Prose Review: Is Luxury Hair Care Actually Better?

Prose Review: Is Luxury Hair Care Actually Better?


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Prose is a luxury hair care brand that sells personalized products. Consumers can buy custom-formulated shampoos, conditioners and supplements based on their skin type and other factors like age.

But does Prose contain research-backed ingredients and is it really worth the high price, or is it no better than drugstore products? Do Prose products contain any questionable additive ingredients? Does the brand's supplement actually cause hair growth? And how do real users rate and describe Prose products?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Prose shampoo based on medical studies to give our take on whether or not it's likely to be effective.

We'll also analyze Prose's hair supplement called Root Source to give our take on whether it's worth the money, and share real, unsponsored user reviews of the brand.

Strange and Frustrating Purchase Process

Because Prose is an "individualized shampoo" brand, you can't simply purchase it on their site. You need to instead complete an extensive quiz that asks a large number of questions. We completed the quiz using sample answers and found some of the questions to be strange, intrusive, and unlikely to affect a shampoo formulation.

Prose strange health question 1

As shown above, Prose asks consumers if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. We're unsure why consumers would want to share that information with a shampoo company or why it matters.

Surely many pregnant women are especially conscious of avoiding toxins, but all consumers want to avoid toxins given the choice.

Prose strange health question 2

The brand also asks consumers about their diet. Again, we find this to be a highly strange set of questions and we're unsure how someone being a vegetarian or meat-eater would impact their ideal shampoo formulation.

Prose does not explain this during the intake process.

Once all of the questions are answered, and once you input your ZIP code, Prose creates a strange and confusing "scorecard" of sorts grading local environmental factors. The results based on our sample questions are shown below: 

Prose strange data

None of these categories are cited or explained. How is Prose calculating "water hardness"? How would local pollution levels impact a shampoo formulation, and how is Prose calculating local pollution levels?

We find this entire process to be somewhat unscientific and certainly frustrating from a user's perspective. Prose provides no evidence that this "individualized" approach is more effective than regular shampoo.

As we discussed in our review of another personalized health company called Noom, we recommend that consumers be cautious about sharing so much health data with a consumer products company unless you are extremely sure of the security and anonymity of that data, and that the brand is not selling that data.

But are the actual ingredients used by Prose proven to be effective? We'll analyze in the next section.

Prose Ingredient Analysis

Prose shampoo ingredients

The ingredients in our "individualized" shampoo formulation based on our sample responses are shown above. There are a number of ingredients in this formulation which are clinically shown to improve hair quality.

Jojoba seed oil was shown in a medical review published in the Polymers journal to provide protection to hair thread and improve breakage resistance.

Argan oil is another highly effective ingredient, which is clinically shown to reduce damage to hair follicles and improve scalp hydration as we documented in our review of another shampoo containing this ingredient called Routine Wellness Shampoo.

Linoleic acid is a plant-derived fatty acid that was shown in a 2021 clinical trial to activate hair cell growth factors and potentially slow hair loss.

Panthenol is shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science to hydrate the skin, which suggests it may be effective for both scalp and hair health.

Sodium benzoate is the only ingredient we consider somewhat questionable from a health perspective. It's a synthetic preservative that may cause irritation in some individuals.

Overall we consider Prose shampoo to be likely to improve hair quality and to be much better formulated from an efficacy perspective than the average drugstore shampoo. It's extremely expensive at around $27 for only 8.5 fluid ounces, but at least it is formulated like a luxury shampoo.

But how do real users rate this shampoo and other Prose hair care products? We'll share some real, unsponsored user reviews in the next section.

Real, Unsponsored Prose User Reviews

A YouTube creator named "Swavy Curly Courtney" review Prose including before-and-after images:

A YouTube creator named Abbey Yung compared Prose to another popular individualized shampoo brand called Function of Beauty:

Is Prose's Supplement Effective?

Prose sells a hair supplement called Root Source that's used to promote hair growth and reduce hair breakage. Like the shampoo and conditioner, the supplement contains ingredients customized to each individual, but the core ingredient included in all formulations is called PureCatalyst and is derived from millet.

A clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that PureCatalyst increased hair growth 13% more than a placebo compound. 88% of trial participants taking PureCatalyst had a "good general impression" of the results.

Prose also funded a clinical trial on Root Source which found that the supplement caused an improvement in hair growth rate in 91% of trial participants. However, this study does not appear to have been published in any peer-reviewed journals so the results are weaker in our opinion than the previously-cited study.

The image below is a before-and-after image from the Prose website showing results from one user of Root Source after three months:

Prose Root Source before-and-after hair image

Overall we consider Root Source likely to be effective for improving hair growth and improving hair quality, given that its main active ingredient was shown to have those effects in a legitimate clinical trial.

We don't currently recommend the supplement because, due to the individualized nature of the product, we can't analyze every ingredient to ensure the safety of all ingredients.

Our Clean Hair Care Picks

Ingreendients Daily Shampoo is our top shampoo pick, because it's formulated 100% from plants and contains research-backed active ingredients like acetic acid, derived from apple cider vinegar (ACV), which researchers suggest "can condition hair making it softer, silkier, shinier."

Happy Head Topical is our top hair growth solution.

This formulation uses FDA-approved hair loss ingredients like minoxidil which is clinically shown to increase hair count by 11%.

The brand also publishes the percentage concentration of each active ingredient, which is a sign of quality and transparency.

Pros and Cons of Prose

Here are the pros and cons of Prose based on our review of the products and the research backing them:

Pros:

  • Effective ingredients
  • Safe ingredients
  • Better than drugstore hair care
  • Clinically proven to work

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Frustrating website experience
  • Company asks for personal health information
  • Shampoo may contain sodium benzoate
  • Challenging to access full ingredient list for supplement
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We consider Prose to be one of the higher-quality hair care brands we've reviewed on Illuminate Health. We don't currently recommend the brand's products because the shampoo contains one additive ingredient we recommend avoiding and we can't access the full ingredient list for the supplement.

That being said, we consider both Prose shampoo and the Root Source supplement likely to be effective because both products contain research-backed ingredients.

Prose requires potential customers to input a large amount of somewhat personal health information like pregnancy status and diet just to get a shampoo blend made, which is highly inconvenient and we consider the website experience to be much worse than just buying a regular shampoo online.

Online customer reviews of Prose are generally positive, and the brand does not appear to have faced any lawsuits due to product quality at the time of updating this article.