*Please read this entire entry before trying a Wen product*
Okay, this is a long one…Wen conditioner is one of the conditioners I get asked about all the time. And for most of that time I didn’t recommend it because I felt it was expensive, the essential oils were irritating, and there were tons of other products out there that could do the same thing. But I guess if Wen’s a product a person really wants to try, there isn’t anything harmful for the hair in it, and it does its job with combing and keeping our hair moisturized. Because of it’s essential oils, it would work well as a no-po conditioner. However, I must confess, I have ulterior motives for putting it here besides it simply working fine: I wanted to include a conditioner with nearly identical ingredients as all the others I recommend, but this one actually says on the bottle that it’s okay to leave in your hair.
Wen is basically a simple conditioner. It has nearly identical ingredients to all the other conditioners I recommend. The two main differences it has over other conditioners are 1) Marketing and 2) Irritation:
Marketing: Wen is basically a regular conditioner, ingredients-wise (using the same ingredients that are in many lotions and leave-in hair products as well). It’s just that it says on the bottle you can use it for conditioner-washing, and you can use it as a leave in (which is something this site talks about already for these ingredients), whereas most other conditioners don’t say this about their products. Those other products want you to spend the money on buying as many different redundant items in their product line as possible. Wen’s slant is that they market their conditioner as being able to do all these things in one product, but then they charge you a bunch for it (about $20-30 a bottle). But again, it’s just marketing. These are still all the same ingredients that are in regular conditioners, but Wen is saying you can leave them in, and use them to wash with as well. Because it markets itself as being natural, people often don’t question what’s really in it.
Irritation: Wen contains very very strong and irritating essential oils, including menthol, and fig extract, among others. This is a very strong product. These strong essential oils are put in the product to make your scalp “tingle” so it feels like it’s being cleansed. But in reality it’s just irritation. When I was looking up ingredients that were in the Wen product, I was fussing to Jon about how surprised I was at some of the highly irritating ingredients it had. So he became curious, and wanted to try Wen for himself. He has really sensitive skin, and we both felt it would be a good test to see how this product would affect someone with skin like his.
When he came back from the shower, he shook his head and handed me back the bottle. He said he ended up having to shampoo the Wen conditioner out because it was hurting his scalp, and it was still hurting a bit. Days later you could still see it red and blotchy through his hair. So do be careful with this product. When I used the Wen conditioner, it was really strong on my scalp, but it didn’t hurt when I combed it and left it in. So I was totally fine, but Jon wasn’t.
In summary: This product combs well, and clumps the hair well. The essential oils may be way too strong for anyone with sensitive skin, so please, please don’t use Wen products on any one (such as a baby or a pet), who isn’t able to let you know it’s hurting their skin. Use this product with extreme caution:
- Don’t use this product if you have sensitive skin
- Don’t use on any creature that can’t let you know it’s too strong
- I suggest rotating this product with other (preferably unscented) conditioners every week so your scalp doesn’t develop sensitivities to some of the ingredients.
P.S. I know it says to use it also as a shampoo, but I’d say that’s a waste. Since it’s so expensive (and potentially sensitizing), I suggest using it for only one thing, either as a no-po conditioner, or as a combing conditioner. If you use it as a combing conditioner, use a more mild conditioner (if you co-wash) or shampoo (if you like to shampoo), but this product is too expensive to use as a shampoo and a conditioner. It doesn’t do anything special that a regular light conditioner or mild shampoo can’t do as far as cleansing. And the essential oils are too irritating to use as both a shampoo and a conditioner. It’s good to give your scalp a break.