Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WEN Cleansing Conditioner

I don't review skincare or hair care products often because 1) it takes too long to properly test a new product and 2) I have neither the inclination nor patience to cycle through new products every few weeks. And unlike my fickleness with makeup, I am generally content with my current regimes.

Well, maybe that's not entirely true about my hair; I had just reached a point where I didn't think anything would help it.

I was born with baby-fine hair that never had much volume, not even as a kid. I also have an oily scalp, so I have always washed my hair every day. Once I stopped fighting my hair's natural texture, and found the right cut for me, I accepted my hair and managed to have it look pretty good for years.

Until I stopped taking oral contraceptives. Or at least that's what seems to be the catalyst because the change in hormones caused me to lose about a third of my overall volume, and after waiting several years for it to grow back, I begrudgingly accepted it might not. I didn't have tons of hair to begin with, and I expected a brief shedding from the hormonal change, but I never imagined I would lose so much and get nothing back.

I realize it is normal to shed hundreds of hairs a day, naturally,  but I was losing so much I wondered how I was not going bald. I can't begin to tell you how traumatizing it was to see a miniature wiglet circling the shower drain each morning. If I gathered up that little fluff of hair, it would fill one of those mini jam jars you get at brunch buffets. I was tested for all kinds of things, but nothing turned up.

To baby my hair, I tried different shampoos, including volumizers and those without sodium laurel sulfates, which I suspected were too harsh for my fragile locks and were contributing to the breakage. I even experimented with henna (much gentler than chemical dye), which left my hair feeling heavy and silky, but the color did not suit me.

Out of the blue, enter a very kind blogger. I don't even remember how the topic of WEN Cleansing Conditioners came up, but Jeanie sent me a box of huge samples to try out. I never thought conditioner would satisfactorily clean my hair, or at the very least my hair would be so greasy by the end of the day, I envisioned the entire experiment turning into a complete failure, so no one was more surprised than I when it worked!

WEN thoroughly cleans my hair (I can hear a little squeaking as I rinse it), and over the few weeks that I tested it, I noticed the following:
  • The short new growth around my crown no longer stood on end in a crazed halo of frizz.
  • My hair was shiner.
  • The ends no longer felt crispy.
  • I began to notice progressively less hair loss in the drain.
  • More body.
  • Scalp produces less oil.
  • Hair color lasts longer.
  • And, yes, I could still skip a day!
I was so happy with the results, I ordered a 16-ounce bottle from Amazon (I get free shipping and they have a no-nonsense return policy). I chose Cucumber Aloe, which is for all hair types, particularly fine to medium hair. Prices vary at different e-tailers, but I paid $38.75. If I had wanted to use a different scent, I could have saved $10, but most of the others are for thicker hair.

The WEN line by Chaz Dean is fairly comprehensive, but I don't see myself using more than just the cleansing conditioner. I don't even follow his exhaustive instructions or use nearly as much product as he recommends, and I still get great results. Here's what I do:
  • Wet hair.
  • Pump out a small amount (about half a shotglass full) and disperse through my palms. (My hair is a short bob, so you might need more product than I use.)
  • Press the product on the sides of my head (over my ears), at the nape of my neck, and at the hairline near my forehead, and then swipe my hands up toward my crown.
  • Massage and smear the conditioner around for about a minute.
  • Comb through my hair.
  • Leave the product on my head while I do whatever else I need to do in the shower.
  • Rinse rinse rinse with lukewarm water and finish with a cool rinse to seal the hair cuticle.
I let my hair air dry for an hour, and if it does not settle into the shape I want, I put bamboo (velcro) rollers in my hair for about 15 minutes, and the added body those provide lasts all day.

Honestly, I am not sure how much different this product is from regular conditioner, and it's a bit pricey, so it might be worth comparing ingredients because you can go through a bottle of WEN fairly quickly--especially if your hair is not short. That said, I have tried the "no poo" method with regular conditioner, and ALL weighed my hair down, so there is something special about the mixture of ingredients with WEN.

Out of curiosity, I used a regular (SLS free) shampoo last weekend, thinking it might be a good idea to clarify, and my hair felt awful. Stiff, dry, sticky, crunchy, and when I ran a comb through it, there were tons of hairs stuck in the teeth. Ugh, no thanks.

Bottom line. LOVE! I see no need to ever use anything else, and since I get no buildup, there is no need to use a damaging clarifying shampoo.

Meanwhile, I am not even sure how I missed Jeanie's WEN posts, but here they are.

Photo credits QVC


  1. Sounds fantastic! I was always curious about this stuff, thanks for sharing!

  2. I am a big fan of WEN myself and have been using it for over a year now!

  3. Wow...that sounds amazing! I have very fine hair as well, and after having my children some of it fell out. Then I was put on Topamax to ward off migraines, and more fell out. A LOT more. To the point that by last year I had a nearly bald patch at the front of my head. I was mortified.

    I recently stopped taking the Topamax (it was making me stupid as well as bald) and I've noticed less hair in the drain and a lot more growing in on my head. Hopefully, the change will be just what it takes to at least get a full head of hair again.

    However, I'll take whatever additional help I can get, and if WEN helped you this much, I think I can handle the idea of a $40 conditioner.

    Thanks for the excellent review!!


  4. I've been there with the hair loss and it's awful. Luckily my hair grew back. I'm glad you've found something this great. I know Jeanie loves Wen and has been a Wen advocate for years. She's such a sweetheart.

  5. Hi

    I'm so pleased that the *goo* is working for you!
    I live and die by WEN and don't know what I would do without it. Great review xx

  6. Thanks, Jeanie. I don't know how I originally missed all your reviews, but I have since read every one. Now that I know how much you love it, I double appreciate your generous samples.

  7. This sounds like really good stuff! I have similar hair to yours, it's very fine and seriously lacking in the volume department. I've also just stopped taking oral contraceptives and have noticed I'm losing more hair than usual when I wash it, so I've been on the hunt for products which may help.

    I checked to see if the brand was available in the UK after reading your review and noticed a great introductory kit on the UK site. It looks like a great way to try the products and it's not a bad price either, so I may give it a go.

    Thanks for the review!


I love reading your comments. If you have a specific question or request, please feel free to e-mail me directly. Comments that contain advertising links or shameless plugs will not be published.