WEN Cleansing Conditioner: REVIEW, RANT & Alternatives

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Wen Cleansing Conditioner $32 for 16oz, purchased by me.

Hello Guys & Dolls!
I first heard to Wen years ago- probably through a friend, maybe on YouTube, I can’t remember. Someone was raving about an all-in-one “Cleansing Conditioner” that eliminated the need for shampoo! At the time I thought- why not just use your regular conditioner? And for years I’ve done just that; the second or third day in-between shampooing my hair I’ll “condition cleanse” with a rich conditioner. The benefit of doing this is that you don’t over-shampoo your hair, which makes haircolor last longer, and is overall healthier for your hair and scalp. Over the years I did find myself wondering if WEN actually worked better than simply using conditioner. Last week I was shopping and a friend who works at Sephora was raving about WEN so I figured I should try it.

And I’m sorry I did.

After looking up reviews and talking with friends who’ve tried it, it seems I’m not alone.  It appears Wen is a very polarizing product- people seem to love it or hate it.  Count me in with the latter. Overall it made my scalp itchy, my hair and scalp felt oily, gave my hair static-electricity and managed to strip the color out of my hair, in the span of 5 days. Seriously. Go black and watch my haul from a week ago (I’ve embedded it below), and you’ll see that my hair was more of a blue-purple, and the pink wasn’t this light. I’m not new to the rodeo, I know Haircolor fades, but the thing is, I know the rate of my Haircolor fading, and this is abnormal- it’s fading much faster than normal, in weird patches. My hair looks blotchy.  It’s faded more in the last 9 days than it has in the previous 3 weeks.

Since I bought the Wen 9 days ago I’ve used Wen 3 times, and washed my hair with my normal sulfate-free shampoo & used my normal conditioner, and then used Wen one more time. When I stopped using it I noticed that my hair felt drier than it was before I used it. My hair feels stripped- the way it feels when you use a clarifying shampoo. This Sunday, after using Wen a total of 5 days I went in for a normal bang trim and my Stylist noticed I had more split ends than normal and asked what I’d done differently. I used Wen.

This is my experience- You might use Wen and have a totally fine experience, you might even love it! I wanted to tell my horrible experience to give credence to the people who say they’ve had terrible experiences with this product. Apparently some people have even experienced hair loss, Whoa dude! I myself have friends who LOVE IT, and I have friends who HATE it. Count me in the hate category. Back to Sephora it goes.

Weather or not you love Wen, it’s expensive right? $32 for 16 oz and the company suggests you use 10-15 pumps. OH LAWD that’s a lot of product. I want to offer you some alternatives. Of course you could go with the knock-offs like “Ren” or “One”- but since these are similar to Wen I don’t think I’ll try them. What I’ve used for years is just plain old conditioner to condition-cleanse. Some don’t work as well as others for this, but I’ve found that Moisture Maniac from Bed Head works great. You can get it on Amazon for $23 for 25.36 oz, and trust me, you won’t need 10-15 pumps.

bed head conditioner

The other option I want to present to you is using a great sulfate-free shampoo, with a conditioner of your choice. Sulfates are the things that makes traditional shampoo suds up, and gives you that squeeky-clean feeling. Sulfates also kill haircolor. My all-time fave sulfate-free shampoo is L’anza Healing Color Care. It is very gentle on my hair and I’ve noticed that my haircolor lasts much longer when I’m using this. There are many sulfate-free shampoos on on the market, this is just one I trust.

What I typically do is on the first day I wash my hair with my sulfate free shampoo & use conditioner, style and go. The second day I usually don’t wet my hair, I simply re-style it, sometime I use a dry-shampoo if it’s very oily. The the second or third day I use conditioner to “condition cleanse” buy using  about 3-5 pumps of my conditioner and working it into the roots of my hair to break up the oil and give my scalp a massage. And then on the fourth day I start the cycle over again.

l'anza healing colrocare

Below is my Sephora Haul from 9 days ago if you want to see what my haircolor looked like before using Wen.

I want to hear from you! Have you tried Wen and if so, what do you think?

All products mentioned were purchased by me- and all options stated are my own based on my experience with the product.

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17 thoughts on “WEN Cleansing Conditioner: REVIEW, RANT & Alternatives

  1. OH NOOOOO!!! I’m so sad that you had a bad WEN experience!! I LOVE my WEN, I won’t use anything else consistently. I have really hard water in my city, so I do have to use a shampoo before I use the WEN, but I use so little I barely count it. My hair has never felt better and I was bottle blonde for YEARS so I had LOADS of damage and dryness to contend with. My hair is thin too, I’ve just got lots of it.
    When I first started using WEN, I wasn’t happy either. It took about a week and half to figure out my routine with it and I’ve never been without it, that was at least 3 years ago. Now when I get my hair done at a salon, it always feels weird and hurts when they use regular conditioner on my hair (because the shampoo/conditioner make it tangle so badly). I wish you had had a better time with it, I absolutely love WEN. (I used to use all the styling products too, but that got to be a lot.)

  2. Thank you for this review, I’ve been trying to decide if I wanted to try this! I have very thick-split end prone hair and lots of it and everyone who loves it from what I have seen has very fine hair. i’ll save my 30 bucks.

  3. I tried Wen once as well, and as you know, I also have pink hair! This product is NOT made for specialty color hair!!! I did not like it and it definitely made my hair fade so much faster than when I was just using my Pureology hair care products.

  4. I hear you! i have not tryed Wen, (now i will not), but i am also a hair dyer. i dye my hair bright red, and i hate it when a crappy shampoo takes out their rath on a good dye job. And the orange my hair fades to is just…i dont even want to go there. but anyways, i would like to know how you wash you your hair, i know you touched on your routine a bit, but i would like to know in more detail if you could explain what you do. this would be a great help, i have been looking for a good routine. I hope your next dye job goes well! :)

  5. Very sorry that WEN didn’t work for you. I’ve been dying my hair a deep brown/red for years (boring compared to your fab brightness.) Started using WEN about 2 years ago and really like it. However I have noticed that certain versions are great for my hair while others are not. I have thick/coarse hair with sections that are wavy while others are curly. I’m prone to frizz especially on my top layer. I have a lot more gray than I’d care to admit and I think that has made my hair even coarser through the years. This is where WEN really helps me. As coarse as my hair can be it’s very soft when I use this product. However I do find that certain versions are not kind to my color. Sweet Almond Mint and Cucumber being the worst offenders. I stick with Pomegranate, Fig and Lavender and do not find any issues with color fade.

  6. I have never used Wen but I have curly hair and follow a modified Curly Girl method. I cleanse my hair 3 times a week, once with a sulfate free shampoo, and then the other times with a very moisturizing conditioner. Curly hair is typically dry and I have a ton of hair! My hair always feels clean, never oily or dirty. You CAN effectively cleanse your hair and scalp with conditioner. The Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture conditioner is a great option for those with dry hair who want to conditioner wash.

  7. Hi Cora,

    I had the same experience. My mom got Wen as a Christmas gift and when I went to visit her I used some…big mistake! My hair started to clump together and felt like it was falling out! It was terrifying! I rinsed it out right away and my hair was matted, dull and had a weird film to it for two weeks. Skip this awful product, especially if you have very fine, curly hair!

  8. Oh my, your hair is really faded!

    My hair isn’t dyed, but Wen sure did a number on it. After using it for two weeks my hair was dried out and greasy at the same time while I was using it. Seriously, I had straw-dry ends and Exxon Valdez at the roots. It also gave me a pretty bad case of back acne.

    Wen is just overpriced conditioner. It’s just like you said, you can use any conditioner. Wen has just figured out how to market co-washing and make it seem more fabulous than it is.

  9. You should also make sure that your other hair products are silicone free if you are using sulfate free shampoo. The sulfates help to strip the silicone off of the hair. Silicone locks out moisture which is not good for anyones hair. I learned this from the Curly Girl Method which also includes condition cleansing in the routine.

  10. I bet it was the menthol (and maybe some other that made you itchy. I think they put the menthol in because it leaves a cooling feeling on the scalp that can make it feel clean, but it’s such an irritating ingredient that it really has no place in a product that you’re supposed to rub into your scalp.

  11. Thanks so much for your review. I had sooo many problems with Wen, but didn’t figure it out till a month ago. The “itchies” are not from menthol, they are from the last couple of ingredients; can cause acne, allergies, breakage, and a host of other problems. I’m soooo done with Wen.

  12. For you gals who want to try the product, be aware that if you purchase from Wen website, you may be authorizing a subscription that will cost you more than 3 times your original purchase. It’s not obvious, doesn’t show up in the item you add to your shopping cart. But it will show up in fine print in the product description in your cart and show up in very fine print on your packing slip. Beware of this misleading purchasing information, and refunds are difficult to get from this company. I’m a savvy online consumer and this one caught me off-guard.

  13. Thanks for this blog on WEN. I too tried it after watching on QVC. First wash thought wow great, but after a few washes my hair was so dry it began to break. At first I did not realise it was the WEN and my hairdresser was totally perplexed. I then went on line and discovered I was nit alone with this problem with WEN. I immediately stopped using it and it is taking a long time for my hair to grow back. Will now nut the Bedhead you mention above. Great blog.

  14. I wont be trying wen now unless I can try a sample first..think I will try the bed head also..thank you for the heads up on the product. I appreciate all the helpful comments. :-)

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