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Wen Cleansing Conditioner

Wen Cleansing Conditioner Review

is a Solution for:
Dry or Brittle Hair, Dull Hair
Reviewed by Marta January 22, 2014 10 Comments


Avoids sulfates and contains numerous botanicals


Left hair limp, dry and dull and caused scalp itch
A rather difficult-to-use product that, in the end, left my hair dull

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....

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