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Wen Cleansing Conditioner Review

is a Solution for:
Dry or Brittle Hair, Dull Hair
Wen Cleansing Conditioner
January 22, 2014 Reviewed by Marta 10 Comments
TRU Rating
A rather difficult-to-use product that, in the end, left my hair dull


Avoids sulfates and contains numerous botanicals


Left hair limp, dry and dull and caused scalp itch

Wen by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner ($32) for hair has the world divided more bitterly than the Iron Curtain. Devotees of Wen love it and I mean loooove it. Detractors hate it with a passion. Me? I am — unusually — sitting on the fence. I don’t hate Wen, but I most certainly don’t love it.

Wen is an unusual hair product that has carved a sizeable niche in the market. It isn’t really a shampoo and is positioned as conditioning cleanser. The fact that it has no foam doesn’t bother me at all — to me that means that it is free of the nasty surfactants that are usually used to create suds. What did bother me — among other things, including its performance — is the directions for use.

My bottle of Wen by Chaz Dean Fig Cleansing Conditioner suggested that I use 30 or more pumps for each use. I was so astonished that I stopped the shower to grab my reading glasses. Wen not only wants me to use an inordinate amount of product, but it also wants me to “cleanse, repeat, and rinse.” And to add in an additional pump at the end as a leave-in conditioner.

I tried following the instructions and, despite rinsing for what seemed like 10 minutes, my hair was a greasy limp mess of rat’s tails. I decided to go it alone and found that, although I have long hair, about five pumps were enough. This left my hair way too dry. And not just dry, but dull. The additional pump as a leave-in helped somewhat, but my hair didn’t look or feel like hair I wanted to spend the rest of the day with. Despite further experimentation, I never really came to terms with Wen.

And then there was the itchy scalp issue. Not unbearably itchy, but just enough to be distracting. I wasn’t too pleased as it has been years since I have given up crappy chemical-ridden shampoos and said good riddance to an itchy scalp.

I am inclined to suspect methylchloroisothiazolinone, a known allergan (that recently that is only recommended for use in rinse-off products (which, of course, Wen is — although the large amount of recommended product and the leave-in part may have been enough for my sensitive skin). Or it could have been methylisothiazolinone, a preservative just recently linked by researchers to allergies from baby wipes. An unidentified fragrance could do it, as could benzyl benzoate.

To be fair though, there is much about Wen’s formula that is good. Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine is a conditioning ingredient that is an alternative to silicones, sulfates have been avoided and there are plenty of nice botanicals.

My hair gets the last say and it found Wen to wanting. Even had I been happier with the performance, I found the process too convoluted and the amount of product required to be beyond profligate.

  • December 25, 2015

    by Karin

    I used Wen, but found that it made my hair oily and stringy, despite following directions. I am interested in the Citronics/Wen combo and will try that. The WORST part about Wen is that Gunthy-Renker will not follow my account instructions. I had already moved to washing my hair 1x/week before Wen. They must think that you are washing your hair every other day or even every day. They sent a new bottle before I was 1/3 through the first. I re-set my account for one bottle of cleansing conditioner every twelve months. Today they billed me for two more bottles and auto-shipped. They apparently don't care about consumer laws. They can't bill you for what you don't order.

  • September 10, 2015

    by Jacquie

    Wen cleansing conditioner has actually helped my hair. However, the Fig conditioner is the only one my hair hates! There must be something in the ingredients that my hair simply does not like. I suggest you try the seasonal blend. This is how I use the product: Make certain your hair is very wet. Add several pumps to sections of your hair (I start at the back, go to each side, the front, and end at the top of the head.) Remember to add several light sprays of water just until you have a creamy solution to gently massage throughout your hair. Rinse and repeat these steps leaving the solution on your hair for 1 or 2 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly and go to your deep conditioning, rinse, and comb out using 1 pump of the cleansing conditioner as a leave-in. Style as you like.

  • June 18, 2015

    by Marta

    Good catch Emanuella. I think that when our editor posted my review she extrapolated from my mention that there was a silicone alternative there. As you note, that doesn't mean there isn't any silicone at all and there is one in the formula (albeit near the end). I have removed the reference to no silicones from the plus/minus box. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  • June 18, 2015

    by Emanuella

    Confusing review. On the left hand side, you list the ingredients, one of which is amodimethicone which is a silicone. Then on the right hand side under the pros of this product, you state "Does not use silicones".

  • November 13, 2014

    by Marcella

    I use Wen as a conditioner only. I "wash" my hair with an all natural shampoo (Ctonics which unfortunately has been discontinued but I stocked up back in the days so I have been able to keep using it for the past year) and then I follow it with Wen. The Ctonics has clays in it which I think it is responsible for soaking up the oily part and using Wen just on my ends works really well. I have very fine wavy hair that I can dry curly (air dry) or straight (with a flat iron). The combination of these 2 products works really well for me.
    When I use wen as a cleanser and conditioner alone it works well the first few times and then I also feel that it leaves my hair a bit oily. I generally use it alone only if I have just washed my hair and then I sweat a lot (I do hot yoga) and just want to wash the sweat away. I used to have itchy scalp problems but ever since I started using Ctonics and wen together that went away. I do not put Wen on my scalp much (I just put it on my ends) but other shampoos recently have made my scalp itchy again.
    Because Ctonics has been discontinued I have been purchasing samples of other organic/natural shampoos and trying them to be able to find a replacement (I am down to my last bottle) but so far everything I have tried either has not been able to deliver in terms of results or it has given me itchy scalp. I have tried small sizes of Rahua, morrocan method, goa, acure, one love organics (the facial soap that they say it works for hair too- I also have and like their dry shampoo), a couple of handmade soaps with clays and natural oils only in them, briogeo, 100% pure, davines. Do you have any suggestions? I feel I will probably give Morroccan method another try once I run out of my last Ctonics....

  • July 10, 2014

    by Millie

    I didnt find that it made my hair dry, or dull, but i did notice the itchy scalp and kind of like....dandruff sort of but not as dry, which i didnt like that, also my hair didnt feel as full or thick and idk I heard it can make your hair fall out so I hope that isnt happening because I freaked out when I read that. I have shoulder length hair, and I use 5 pumps on my scalp and rinse then 5 pumps just my ends with 3 pumps sixthirteen or whatever its called again, leave it on for the rest of my shower and rinse, once I used another product as leave in but then i found my hair REALLY like flat and felt thin so I didnt do that again.
    I think that maybe because everyone is different the use might differ for each individual...I like it a lot but I might not use as a regular shampoo for too long, probably thinking that I might cancel my subscription after my second shipment and use it only occassionally as a treatment. We'll see how it goes.

  • February 16, 2014

    by Marta

    Thank you for the additional information Craig. The detailed directions for the repeat dose are given on your website. However, the bottle simply says repeat as necessary without suggesting the reduced amount.

  • January 23, 2014

    by Craig

    Full disclosure: I work for WEN and my comments will of course reflect that. Sorry to hear you did not like your results. I do want to point out that while we do specify to cleanse, rinse and repeat, you did not mention that the directions state to use half of the pumps per cleanse when doing so. So in your case if we recommend 30 pumps total, you would cleanse twice with 15 pumps each time. We'd love to have a product specialist talk through your experience and see if we can't improve those results. Please feel free to contact us at 323-467-6444 ext 4 any time.

  • January 23, 2014

    by Monica

    I'm very glad to see the reviews of Wen's Cleansing Conditioner as I have also had conflicting results. I bought some Wen products online about six months ago and much to my surprise, received another huge box of product several months later. Little did I know I'd signed up for some sort of regular delivery plan! Anyway, I cancelled the plan but kept the product as I thought I'd use it.

    I have coarse, curly hair that can turn to frizz when it's humid so I'm always looking for hair products that can mitigate the problem. I started out by using 10 pumps of the Cleansing Conditioner followed by another 5 pumps as a final conditioner. My hair looked fantastic! Shiny with good loose curl. But as I began to use it more often, my hair became dull. It seemed the product was leaving a residue on my hair so I abandoned it for a while and went back to my Kerastase shampoo and Philip B Russian Amber conditioner. Now I alternate between the Philip B conditioner and the Wen - and use the Wen only as a rinse-out conditioner. It seems to be working OK but could also be that I keep using it because I have so much of the product and hate to just throw it away!

  • January 23, 2014

    by Teri

    When I tried this a few years back (my husband bought the entire set for himself), I only used 4 pumps (can you imagine the time it would take just to pump 30 times?) and it felt like I hadn't washed my hair in 3 days. He liked it for the first few times but then it started leaving his hair flat and limp. It's great that so many people have had success with these products, but I just don't get how it isn't making their hair greasy, limp and lifeless. Would be interesting to hear from some that really love it!

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