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Function of Beauty wants to scale beauty personalization

Illustration of mechanical robot arms holding a makeup brush, lipstick, and a mascara wand.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Function of Beauty wants to democratize personalized beauty by using its proprietary algorithm to create customized products at scale.

Driving the news: With beauty manufacturing set to become an M&A hotspot, Function of Beauty has been honing its in-house capacity since its inception in 2015.

What they're saying: "The way you accomplish (beauty personalization) is through automation, through highly innovative equipment that we've custom-built in-house," says CEO Alexandra Papazian.

  • The company has its own labs and its own factory, but, she adds, "fundamentally, the company is based on a digital algorithm that's been developed right at the beginning."
  • Everything is fully automated due to the "incredible innovation on the algorithm front," she says.

Flashback: Function of Beauty received a $150 million strategic minority investment with L Catterton in December 2020.

  • CircleUp and GGV also invested in the round.

What's next: The company hopes to implement more artificial intelligence into processes to further improve personalization.

  • "We sort of already have AI in what we do, but we will push this to the next level," Papazian says.
  • "Being a digital company, we're very focused on that."

Zoom in: The company recently launched a new product line at Sephora called the Function of Beauty Pro, a professional hair care line developed with stylists and its R&D team to address bond-building and hair repair.

  • Function of Beauty has been at Target since 2020, serving up basic, everyday care needs like shampoo and conditioner, as well as a styling and treatment range.

Zoom out: Papazian says the company will continue to focus on its direct-to-consumer channel while also striking exclusive partnerships.

  • "Exclusivity allows you to be super focused, and it allows you to basically invest in one retailer consistently over time and build something very big," she says.
  • "When it comes to hair care, mass is very big. It's the largest category. It's way bigger than prestige," she says.
  • "But prestige has seen tremendous growth, and there's an enormous appetite from a consumer standpoint to care for their hair," she adds.
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