An Almanac For The 21st Century

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WEN Cleansing Conditioner

WEN Cleansing Conditioner

I wrote previously about my favorite Kiss My Face shampoo. It really was my Holy Grail shampoo... but my heart has been stirred by another, and my hair has become a glorious mane of beauty because of it. Yes, I have joined the cult of WEN.

You've probably heard of WEN Cleansing Conditioner. It's sold on QVC and advertised all over the place. There are even generic impostor products sold at Walgreens. The gist of WEN is that it's not a normal shampoo - it's a 5-in-1 concoction that does the jobs of shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and detangler. Now, prior to WEN I only used shampoo, and occasionally conditioner. Even though I wasn't looking to replace five products with one, WEN has made my hair shinier, more manageable, and all around BETTER than it's ever been.

I've read mixed reviews of WEN, and I must admit at first I wasn't convinced, but after I did a little research and learned how to use the product properly, I was a total convert. A little background on my hair: It's not super thick or thin, but I have a lot of it. I used to have thicker hair, but it's thinned out over time. I don't color it, and it's medium length (right around my shoulders). My scalp tends to be rather oily, and I typically (before WEN) washed my hair every other day. I also use heat stylers almost ever day, whether it be a hair dryer, flat iron, or hot rollers.

A friend told me about WEN, and gave me a small bottle that was almost empty and told me to give it a try. She said there were about two washes left in the bottle, and explained how to use the product. I'm a stingy fool, so I ended up getting more than two uses out of the bottle. Right after washing and styling my hair, it was beautiful. So shiny! So full! So smooth! But I didn't notice any real difference in the length I could go between washes. That was what interested me in WEN in the first place. My friend told me that her mom has oily hair, and she's been using WEN for years and can go three days without washing her hair. This appealed to me more than anything, but after my first few experiences with WEN, I didn't see the same results. Well, I was using it wrong.

From what I've read online from people dissatisfied with WEN, misuse seems to be the most likely reason for dissatisfaction. I went online and read Chaz Dean's own instructions for how to use his product properly, and now that I've actually paid attention and followed proper instructions, the results are ASTOUNDING. So to help make sense of the WEN Phenomenon, or convince you to give WEN a try, I present you...

Sarah's Guide To Making WEN Work 

1. You need to use a lot of product. Like A LOT. For my medium hair I use 24-32 pumps. I apply WEN to four separate sections of my hair, the front/crown, each side, and the back. For each section I use 6-8 pumps of product. This will seem like a ludicrous amount of product to be putting in your hair. It's still hard for me to get used to. Trust. This is the way.

2. I like to apply WEN to my four sections of hair, focusing on the roots and working through to the ends. Once my whole head is coated, I go back and massage my entire scalp for 2-3 minutes. This can get tiring, but lucky for me I have a window in my bathroom with a ledge that I rest my elbows on while I rub my noggin. I then comb through my hair with my fingers (It's recommended to use a wide tooth comb, which I've tried, but I find my fingers work perfectly well), twist up my hair and use a big clip to hold it up. I do this all first thing when I get into the shower, and let the product sink in while I go through the rest of my shower routine. You're supposed to leave it on as long as you can, and I'd guess the rest of my ritual takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

3. Once it's time to rinse, I stand under the shower head and let that water rinse, and rinse, AND RINSE. With the amount of WEN you need to use, it feels as though you are taking a few ladles full of mayonaise and coating your head with them. Naturally, you're going to also feel the need to do a good amount of rinsing. Chaz Dean recommends then using one pump or so on your clean hair as a leave-in conditioner, but I skip that step.

4. I towel dry my hair and, depending on the time of day, either blow dry it completely, or just a little. I've found that my hair is fuller if I let my hair air dry after using WEN, but if I let my hair completely air dry my bangs look idiotic. So, I wash my hair at night, blow dry my bangs and slightly dry the crown of my head (I do this hanging my head upside down for added volume), and let the rest air dry overnight. Then in the morning I style as usual, which lately has been with hot rollers.

5. If I do all this (the main trick is using an extremely massive amount of product) I can go three or four days without needing to wash my hair. I'm writing this on Monday afternoon, and I last washed my hair Friday night. I'm planning on washing again Tuesday morning. I don't feel like a greaseball, and I don't look like one either! This is a completely foreign experience to me. Before WEN, there is no way in hell I could stand to go this long without washing my hair. I'd look like I shellacked my hair to my head, honestly. WEN has truly changed my life.

A few days ago I used my old Kiss My Face shampoo, and the difference was so noticeable, I couldn't wait to re-wash my hair with WEN. My hair felt greasy after one day, and it just wasn't as full, shiny, and healthy looking.

The one downfall of WEN is that it's much more expensive than any shampoo I've ever used, which also makes it hard to justify using so much product. You want to be stingy with it, but if you are, it won't work! ARGH! But here's how I justify it: I wash my hair about half as often now, so while I'm using more product for each wash, the washes are less frequent, so things kind of balance out. Also, if you buy through QVC (I bought my current bottle at Sephora) it's cheaper, and if you buy during one of their promotions and get monthly delivery, it's even cheaper. I'm planning on doing this next, and switching from Sweet Almond to Pomegranate, which is gluten-free.

On the subject of gluten, I am gluten free, but I haven't noticed any horrible side effects from people using WEN. I didn't know when I bought my bottle that it contained wheat proteins, or that that could harm people with gluten sensitivities. I did some online research and found celiacs who had no reaction, and some that had horrible reactions, so just to be safe I'm going to switch to the soy-based pomegranate WEN after this bottle is done. (Pomegranate WEN is only available through QVC until the end of 2013)

If you ever have any questions about WEN, I highly recommend going to the QVC WEN site to get info. There are questions and answers from actual users of the product, guides for what flavor WEN might fit your needs best, and instructions (including videos) of how to properly use the product. It's a better source of info than even the official WEN site.

WEN Cleansing Conditioner: $32 (for 16oz bottle at Sephora)

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