It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad of options in the haircare section of your local store, but it turns out that of all those products, the formula within most shampoo and conditioner doesn’t vary much across brands.
A new Y Combinator company, Function of Beauty, is looking to change all that.
The company lets the user choose a scent and describe their own hair type, with options from straight to curly, dry to oily, and thin to coarse hair. From there, users can choose different hair goals, combining things like strengthening to heat protection to anti-frizz.
Function of Beauty currently offers 450 million different combinations based on hair type and goals.
“Most products will cater to either a hair type or a specific goal,” said cofounder and CEO Zahir Dossa. “Very few cater to multiple goals.”
If you don’t know what you need, Function of Beauty provides instant chat with a hair chemist to help you self assess and choose goals. In the future, the company says it will have offer a kit to help determine the proper formula for folks who aren’t sure what they need.
For now, the team is hand-filling each bottle and using a software algorithm to determine ultra-precise formulas for both the shampoo and conditioner. Eventually, however, Function of Beauty will use an advanced robotics machine to automate the creation of each formula and fill the bottles.
“Once we build the machine, we’ll be able to handle 100 different ingredient blends, leading to 900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 combinations,” said Dossa. “That number dwarfs the number of people on the planet, much less the relatively small number of shampoo and conditioner options on the market.”
Beyond formula customization, the company also offers the ability to name your specific formula, with that custom name printed right on the bottle.
“Some people may be completely sold on the products they use and not want to change a single thing, but those people are few and far between, and even then need to rotate products based on the season or a change in hair-style,” said Dossa. “We can quickly alter formulas for customers based on these changes, allowing an infinite number of tweaks so that our customers always have the perfect shampoo.”
Function of Beauty keeps prices relatively low by selling directly to consumers online. An 8oz set will go for $26 and a 16oz set goes for $38. Comparatively, low-end products like Suave will cost you around $10 to $15, whereas high-end products like Fekkai shampoo and conditioner can cost up to $50/set.
Function of Beauty was started by two MIT grads, Zahir Dossa and Joshua Maciejewski, as well as Cosmetic Chemist Hien Nguyen. The company has been funded largely by the founders themselves, along with a $100k friends and family round.
You can check out the site here.