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 for improving hair quality and apperance? Does the brand use any questionable additives? Does Prose's supplement actually cause hair growth? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of the products?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Prose shampoo to give our take on whether or not it's likely to be effective for improving hair quality, and whether or not it's healthy.

We'll also analyze Prose's hair supplement called Root Source to give our take on whether it's worth the money, document our frustration with the purchase process on the brand's website, and feature real customer reviews of the brand.

Strange and Frustrating Purchase Process

Because Prose is an "individualized shampoo" brand, users can't simply purchase it on a standard product page.

Instead, users need to 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 most 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 users input their 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 they are extremely sure of the security and anonymity of that data, and that the brand is not selling that data.

Prose Shampoo 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 Routine Wellness Shampoo review.

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.

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, at least based on the sample formulation assigned to us, and assuming a fragrance-free option is selected.

Real People Try Prose

A YouTube creator named "Swavy Curly Courtney" has a Prose review that includes 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 before-and-after image below from Prose's site shows 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 supporting hair growth and improving hair quality, given that its main active ingredient was shown to have those effects in a clinical trial.

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

Our Clean Hair Care Picks

Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo is our top shampoo pick.

It contains argan oil which is clinically shown to help protect hair from damage.

Happy Head Topical is our top premium hair growth solution.

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

Momentous Zinc is our top value hair growth solution.

A 2022 medical review on the use of zinc in dermatology concluded that "This review has found evidence to support the use of zinc...in hair loss disorders."

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

Prose Pros and Cons

Here are the pros and cons of Prose in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Effective ingredients
  • Safe ingredients
  • Better than drugstore hair care
  • Clinically shown to work
  • Appears to be fragrance-free
  • Highly positive online customer reviews

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Frustrating website experience
  • Company asks for personal health information
  • Challenging to access full Root Source ingredient list
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 to date on Illuminate Health.

We consider both Prose shampoo and the Root Source supplement likely to be effective, because both products contain research-backed active ingredients.

Prose requires potential customers to input a large amount of personal health information like pregnancy status and diet just to get a suggested shampoo blend, which is highly inconvenient.

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.