I am well aware of how blessed I am to have a naturally thick head of hair. But after years of bleach, heat, and everything in between, I’ve really put my hair through the wringer—and recently, thanks to all that damage, it had pretty much given up. It wasn’t taking color properly, it was frizzier than ever, and had lots of breakage.
Six months ago, two weeks after a coloring appointment, I visited celebrity hair stylist Chaz Dean for a blowout. After examining the state of my hair and its already brassy hue, he couldn’t believe I had only just gotten it done. First and foremost, he made me promise not to never return to my now former colorist, and secondly, he put me onto his haircare line WEN, with the star product—a conditioner—in place of a shampoo.
Why ditch the shampoo?
“Traditional shampoos, a.k.a. lathering shampoos, generally contain harsh chemicals, sulfates, and surfactants that strip out the moisture, hydration, and color from your hair,” says Dean. "The consequences are finer, thinner, and weaker hair each time you lather up."
He explains that he witnessed this firsthand on his own hair (and that of his clients) back in the 90s. “I was shampooing and conditioning my hair twice a day, but every time I used a lathering product, it would rob my scalp of its natural oils,” he says. “The body then works overtime to replenish those essential oils at a rapid pace, causing an oily scalp, but dry hair.” Giving up on lathering products himself in 1993, he launched his patented formula of a cleansing shampoo in 2000.
In many cases, the lather that we all know and love in our shampoos comes from a sulfate that’s added to make us feel cleaner. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS, is one of these—an emulsifier and foaming agent commonly found in skin and hair products. Though it offers a nice froth, it can strip your hair of color and natural oils and irritate the skin. One study that tested 1600 patients for SLS irritancy found 42 percent of patients had an irritant reaction.
The benefits of an 8-in-1 hair product
We’re all aware that finding a 2-in-1, or even worse, a 3-in-1 hair and body product in a guy’s bathroom is an immediate red flag. However, WEN's cleansing conditioner—which is touted as an 8-in-1—is the exception.
“The Cleansing Conditioner replaces shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in-conditioner, detangler, shave cream, facial cleanser, and body cleaner all in one,” says Dean.
Over the past six months, the cleansing conditioner has replaced nearly every part of my routine. While I’ve kept my shaving cream and face wash separate, I have used it consistently alongside WEN’s Re-Moist Hydrating Hair Mask ($170) as a shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in-treatment—even lugging the big bottle with me when I went back home to Australia for a few weeks.
What happened when I tried WEN cleansing conditioner
I’ll be honest: not having the traditional lather was hard at first when starting with WEN. As someone who only washes their hair once a week, it was challenging to trust that it was getting all the product build-up and general dirt out efficiently. With its rich and creamy consistency, it's like trying to shampoo your hair with a conditioner. But I trusted the process because I knew it was gently cleansing my hair and scalp "without stripping it or removing the beneficial properties that are crucial to help promote a healthier scalp and hair growth,” says Dean
Once you come to terms with no lather, there’s no looking back. Never in my life have I received more DMs or comments about the health of my hair. In fact, I’ve been using more heat than ever, yet, my hair is the healthiest, strongest, and most cooperative, it’s ever been. Plus, it’s practically frizz-free. “The Cleansing Conditioner is void of lather, parabens, SD Alcohol, as well as harsh fillers, binders, and waxes,” says Dean. Alternately, it has the perfect balance of essential oils, botanicals, and extracts, that work on all hair types to hydrate, condition, and moisturize.
Six months ago, I truly believed this was as good as my hair was going to get. I’d even gone as far as to make the investment and purchase the Dyson Airwrap in the hope that that technology would fix my hair. It didn’t—it made it even frizzier, no matter what products I used to help. Now, the results are unmatched. I can trust my hair to be frizz-free if left natural or to hold the style with heating tools like my Airwrap. As for the Cleansing Shampoo, I’ve just finished my first 32 oz bottle. Also available in 16 oz and 1 gallon (128 oz), the fact that it is an all-in-one product has saved me money as I’m not having to purchase every product separately. Knowing that each product is clean and cruelty-free makes it even better. WEN has converted me, and I’m sure if you give it a try, it will be your new go-to no-poo, too.
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