If you’re a TV watcher at all, you’ve likely seen the infomercial for WEN, the “conditioning cleanser” invented by Hollywood hair stylist with the oh-so-Hollywood name, Chaz Dean. As much as I don’t like to get suckered in by these ads on steroids, I was intrigued by WEN’s claims of cleansing hair without harsh shampoo ingredients and that this one product did the work of five. Not to mention that it was being promoted by actresses with such diverse hair types as Alyssa Milano, Holly Robinson Peete and Ming-Na Wen.
So to satisfy my curiosity, for the past few months I’ve been using WEN Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner because I wanted to find out: is WEN a revolutionary hair cleanser?
What’s in it?
While WEN Cleansing Conditioner doesn’t have detergents, it contains rosemary extract, which purportedly has toning and astringent qualities. Other ingredients include glycerin, chamomile extract, cherry bark, panthenol and sweet almond oil.
One thing is for sure: WEN ain’t cheap. WEN’s website promotes an introductory monthly supply starting at $29.95 (CDN and U.S.). While this price includes the cleansing conditioner, a styling creme, an intensive hair treatment, a texture balm and a comb and shipping; that’s still a lot more than most women I know spend on hair products per month.
Note: If you order this kit and don’t cancel; WEN will keep sending you 90-day supplies at the same monthly price, but with a $10.99 shipping and handling fee added on.
If this seems like too much commitment, you can buy WEN products individually and in sets at Sephora. The Sweet Almond Mint Cleansing Conditioner sells for $38 CDN at Sephora Canada and $32 at Sephora U.S., but this price is for a bottle that’s four ounces larger than the one sold in sets on the WEN site.
While WEN’s advertising emphasizes its simplicity ─ the company claims it does the work of five products ─ using it involves more steps than a conventional shampoo and conditioner regimen.
WEN’s package directions advise applying 10 to 15 pumps of product to hands, rubbing them together, applying to wet scalp, adding a little water to create foam and then massaging vigorously for one to three minutes. (As WEN has no detergents or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, it creates creamy foam rather than lather).
Then you’re supposed to comb WEN through hair and leave on at least three to five minutes for maximum conditioning. Finally, you’re to rinse hair thoroughly, combing product through it, massaging scalp and running fingers through to ends. An option is to apply a small additional amount of WEN to ends as a leave-in conditioner.
I find this a lot of massaging and rinsing (especially when I visited the WEN website and saw it called for rinsing hair for at least one minute prior to application). But I guess some pruned-up fingertips are a small price to pay for your crowning glory.
When I first used WEN I thought my hair looked duller. However, this may have been an adjustment period as my hair acclimated to a cleanser without detergents. I now find my hair looks shiny and has body when I use WEN.
Five products in one?
My hair is very fine (one hairdresser ─ definitely a former hairdresser ─ referred to it as cotton candy) but it also tangles very easily. I can definitely vouch for WEN’s claims as a shampoo, conditioner and detangler. The latter is a real win for me because I can easily comb my wet hair after using WEN, which doesn’t happen when I use conventional shampoos and conditioners.
But as for WEN’s abilities as a leave-in conditioner? For my fine hair, it’s way too heavy. However, on thicker locks I bet it would do the trick.
Worth the cost?
I haven’t been using WEN exclusively, partly because the required application regimen doesn’t work when I’m time-pressed. But I’ve still noticed a change in my hair. It now seems more manageable and less prone to knots even on days when I use other hair products. So I think WEN has a lasting effect on hair texture.
While my fine hair gets oily quickly, in recent years I’ve changed from washing my hair daily to washing it every other day and rinsing it in the shower on alternate days. When I use WEN, I notice that my hair looks freshly washed even on rinse-only days.
My conclusion? While I think WEN is a little high-maintenance, it’s non-toxic multitasking abilities make it, for me, a revolutionary hair cleanser.
I also think hair can benefit from it without using it exclusively, so what WEN deems is a 30-day supply can last much longer.
Now, if only Mr. Dean could come up with a less time-consuming and more affordable formula. Then I’d really “say WEN.”