Wen Cleansing Conditioner

Reviewed by Marta on January 22, 2014


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.