Custom hair care: Formulate shampoo and conditioner review

I reviewed the personalized Prose shampoo a while back, and now I’m ready to share my experience with a third custom hair care brand: Formulate.

Author: Jenny Wu
Jenny Wu

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  1. Ann says:

    I can attest to the fact that they are not replying within the same day. It takes several days, in fact. The ONLY time I got an immediate response is when I canceled my subscription. I was extremely disappointed with the so called “customization process.” My hair is extremely fine and it can be oily. They sent me a conditioner that is not only way too heavy for my hair type but also quite useless for a person that lives in a hot humid place. The “fix” suggested several days after I posted a message to the chemist – mix in a little shampoo with your conditioner. Really? Really?! That’s thr scientific approach to “customization”? I can get overly moisturizing shampoo and conditioner at a drugstore and do that. I followed the brilliant science based advise. Now I’m sitting here with greasy waxy hair that was washed the night before last. It’s so waxy that my hair keeps the shape after taking it out of a ponytail. It leaves so much residue that I had to wash my brush and comb with dishwashing liquid to get the gross residue off. I needed a product used to cut kitchen grease and scalding water jusy to get the gunk sent by this company off of my brush. Waxy hair attracts dirt and suddenly I’m finding lint stuck in my hair. Maybe the angle is to make people have to wash their at least once a day so they have to buy more or maybe they are just lazy. Isn’t the point to *not* have to buy and try many off the shelf products? If this is the service provided, why not just go back to trial and error. Why put a “chemist” into the process. Use Amazon. I used HairLabs by Strands clarifying shampoo to get the gross residue out of my hair and changed to the Strands custom product. It’s more expensive but you don’t need nearly as much of it. It’s actually custom. You get a report describing exactly the characteristics of your hair.

    I cannot recommend Strands enough. Fantastic.

    Formulate – stay away. You are better off experimenting with sulfate free products from Walmart.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, and I’m sorry to hear about their chemist’s response to a formula that’s clearly not suitable for your hair type. I really hope they reach out and try to make things right with you, but I’m glad you’ve found a better alternative. I’ve never heard of strands but I’m definitely intrigued now!

  2. Cas says:

    I absolutely LOVE Formulate the team is always so responsive and accommodating when I want to change something up. I doubt I’ll ever use anything else! They ask you to try using the product differently if you have an issue and if that doesn’t help then they are all about changing the formula. I found the routine change they suggested solved all my issues.

  3. Ashley says:

    I just came across this review and thought I would comment. I’ve been using Formulate for 2 months and have not had any problem with my formula. Even though I was a little concerned when I read that some individuals’ formulas were not working for them. My hair is very oily, fine, and wavy. I’ll have to admit the products have not drastically changed the oiliness of my hair but has made a slight difference I think. The products have given my hair more volume, strength, and curl definition which I also put as my hair goals. The shampoo makes my hair feel smooth, unlike other shampoos I’ve used, and the conditioner makes my hair feel nice as well. Over time the products have made my hair easier to detangle which was difficult before. I have not had any problems with customer service but that’s just my experience.

  4. Ashley says:

    I have tried Prose (and I love it, but not the price). I tried Formulate and was super excited to try it. It took a while to arrive (they warned it would). I hopped in the shower almost immediately to give it a try. My hair felt super greasy when I got out of the shower. I thought maybe I hadn’t rinsed well. So the next time I rinsed very well and it was even greasier. When I got my hair cut the stylist asked what I used in my hair. I then tried just the shampoo and the shampoo WAS nice for my hair. It made my hair feel great (and smells good). I reached out about the conditioner and didn’t get a bad response like some people I got NO response. Bit the bullet and went back to Prose (which to be fair is also shipping on an increased delay) and my hair is happy. Kind of sad because I would have stuck with Formulate if they’d even been like “Let’s see how we can fix it for next time.”

    • Jenny says:

      Sorry to hear about your experience Ashley. Unfortunately that seems to be a common occurrence with them now, and I’ve updated my post to reflect this as well. I’m glad at least the shampoo worked for you!

  5. Jessica says:

    I tried Formulate and was very disappointed with their solution and their customer service follow-up. Their packaging is delightful — who doesn’t want to have geometric bottles? However, this doesn’t make up for the way their product worked for me. Others may have different experiences. As they don’t allow a way for people to submit negative feedback, here I am on this article.

    The shampoo was just “fine” — comparable to a store brand shampoo in feel, smell, and cleaning power. However, the conditioner left my hair completely oily in a way I didn’t think was possible. I applied a normal amount of conditioner and after drying with a towel and hair dryer, when I scrunched my hair with my fingers, my hand came away sticky and slick with grease. It was painful to brush through. I thought surely I answered the questionnaire incorrectly, or their questionnaire was missing something critical — this conditioner is NOT for my hair! I have light textured hair with thin strands. It lays flat. It does not need oil!

    I contacted them, and received two back and forth responses that basically told me to dilute the conditioner with some shampoo. No indication that the formula was incorrect, that I’d answered incorrectly, or any effort to work towards a better formula — just “try this and see.” No “oh, that’s horrible, let’s ship out a better formula” or “you know, we demand great experiences, here’s your money back” — just “keep trying” as though I’d only just discovered how to wash my hair in my mid-thirties and needed to improve my technique like I admittedly do with parallel parking.

    Packaging? 5/5 stars it does look good
    Customer service? 0/5 stars
    Formula? 1/5 stars only because the shampoo did remove oil and dirt
    Shipping? 2/5 stars only because they warned me upfront it would be delayed, although it was delayed even longer than the expected date. It took well over a month to deliver this disappointment.

    There is no way to submit negative feedback so that potential customers can be warned. Be warned! It’s all marketing, no transparency.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Jessica, I can’t speak to your experience with the formula as they are different for everyone, but wow I’m sorry to hear about the poor customer experience. Have you tried posting/reaching out to them via social media? Either way I will be updating my review to reflect this.

  6. Marie C. says:

    Took 4 weeks to receive my package in Des Moines. Then I wished I’d never received it. Just awful. Zero stars.

    • Jenny says:

      At first I thought your comment was legit, until I saw that both you and Andy Monroe above share the same IP address. And it’s an IP address from an ISP in Canada, so explain how you’re getting your package in Des Moines? Nice try spammer.

  7. Andy Monroe says:

    Tried Formulate. My hair started to to fall off. Had to go through so much to get the refund… Customer Support is awful too. Stay away!

  8. Amber says:

    Formulate sucks for me I did not like the smell it made my hair smell like somebody with stink breath eating an orange tic tac thats how it made my hair smell .

    • Jenny says:

      Because of the scent? You do realize you can pick that right? And if you don’t like you should be giving that feedback to Formulate so they can address the issue. Posting about it here isn’t going to help you.

  9. Anna says:

    Formulate sucks. They never replied to my 3 emails and 3 direct messages to my “personal chemists” that I sent requesting a refund. I commented on their Instagram and they deleted my comment and never responded. Horrible customer surface and their shampoo made my hair SO greasy.

    • Jenny says:

      Sorry you had a poor experience, but you should contact paypal or your credit card and file a chargeback if that’s the case. As for the shampoo quality, I can only say that I had a similar experience with Function of Beauty when I picked features that did not work for my scalp. However I am surprised that they did not help you try to reformulate, that is poor customer experience indeed.

  10. Neha says:

    The packaging looks lit here.
    The concept of personalize hair care is very important innovation in the world of hair care.
    A lot of brands out there are working on this mechanism, like, Bare Anatomy, Prose, Vedix.

  11. Sonny says:

    I was browsing the internet for shampoo till I saw Formulate. Kinda cool! I thought of reading a review first before I order it. Your review of the product is very helpful. Thank you????

  12. I had no idea you can create a custom shampoo! I must have been living under a rock because this is genius. My hair is so finicky, that this might be the way to go for me. Formulate sounds fantastic but I will check out Function of Beauty as they ship to the UK. Amazing review as always Jenny! xx

  13. Gabrielle says:

    How amazing you can even talk with the brand’s chemist for further information; what a great concept! Happy 2019 darling! x

  14. Liz says:

    Custom shampoo? Sounds amazing! I love the packaging :)

    Lots of love ♥ January Girl

  15. I wouldn’t mind trying something like this. I’ve been trying different shampoos for my scalp but haven’t really been 110% content with them. I’m currently using Angel Wash by Kevin Murphy. It’s great on my hair, ok on the scalp but I’m noticing it’s not really plumping with volume on the roots. I’ll need to investigate some more, sadly I’m in Oz and I think I did once check out Function of Beauty but I can’t remember why I didn’t go ahead.


  16. Radi says:

    For sure these products look amazing! The packaging draws me in right away.
    Happy 2019!

  17. Jessica says:

    This sounds fantastic. I’d love to check this out myself. Thanks dear!
    Jessica |

  18. Alyssa says:

    You already got me on personalized. Having had my hair bleached and dry, I use 2 different shampoos and conditioners each, plus treatments, just to keep my hair healthy, smooth and shiny.

    xx Alyssa | STYLE VANITY

  19. Lackadaisy says:

    Sounds good, but I got to add that the packaging is just so stylish <3

  20. These sounds absolutely lovely! Good luck everyone who entered, I’m located in the wrong country as always. LOL!

  21. allie says:

    Ohhh… never heard of this shampoo before! It sounds great and I looove the packaging!
    xo, allie

  22. Lisa Autumn says:

    Oh I always wanted to try a custom made shampoo!

    x Lisa |

  23. Customized hair care – we have really come a long way from the Schauma days of my youth. I use conditioner religiously, but always follow up with a hair oil to protect from frizz.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca