New WEN By Chaz Dean Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner
“Feel it!” he urged excitedly, lowering his head so that his gaze was directed to the red carpeting at his feet. Stretching his neck to narrow the gap between us, he beckoned me again. “Go ahead. Touch it!!”
I stepped forward trepidatiously, unfurling my fingers and fanning them out, my elbow unfolding and my arm inching towards him dubiously. Fully expecting him to change his mind or jerk his head back in horror, I hesitated before continuing to reach upward. Perhaps it was an involuntary response, the result of years of conditioning: after all, for us women of color, the hair-touching issue is more than a bit delicate, the unwritten rule being that such behavior is generally unwelcome (except, of course, when in the bedroom with a male conquest or in the salon with our stylist or colorist). After a beat, I continued raising my arm toward the top of his head until, at last, my fingertips grazed his choppy mane.
Before I knew it, I was combing through his feathery soft hair and practically twirling it around my fingers. Whie doing so, I blurted out in disbelief, “How is your hair this soft? It’s like a Gund toy!”
“A what?” he asked, in between peels of laughter.
“You know, one of those stuffed animals. I could just cuddle with your hair and, like, fall asleep on it.”
“So you wanna take a nap in my hair?” he said, laughing at the ludicrousness of it all. “You’re funny”
This was how I, however unintentionally, broke the ice with celebrity stylist Chaz Dean when we met at the Q Shop, QVC‘s pop-up store in Rockefeller Center, during New York Fashion Week. A QVC regular, Dean was on hand to greet shoppers and celebrate the unveiling of his new WEN by Chaz Dean Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner, which is set to launch on QVC on Monday, October 11th.
Within minutes of my involunary attack of silliness, we were chatting about his illustrious career, his work pioneering the no-shampoo movement, how his hair (and that of his sisters and niece) are practically walking advertisements for the WEN brand, and how the cover art of the DVD accompanying his Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner nods to Fabio-emblazoned romance novel covers.
In the video above, Dean talks about how he first began toying with the notion of eradicating shampoo from the haircare vocabulary. According to Dean, the main reason why we shampoo our hair is to clean it —and yet, when we do so, we also strip the hair of many of its nutrients due to the harch chemicals that give shampoo its lathering effect. We then compensate for that nutrient loss by piling on replenishing conditioners and leave-in moisturizers, most of which can’t counteract the damage done by shampoo. By devising a system through which hair could be cleansed and moisturized simultaneously, he figured he could streamline the process and ensure healthier, softer hair — hence, WEN was born. A proponent of natural ingredients like sweet almond oil, rosemary, panthenol, chamomile, fig extract, lavender extract, and eucalyptus, Dean has maintained his position at the forefront of the chemical-free, lather-free haircare movement.
Originally developed 11 years ago, the Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner was kept in the WEN “vault” until now. Like all previous WEN releases, the Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner (a sample of which QVC graciously provided for my review) effectively eliminates any dirt and excess oil from your scalp and strands, while also infusing the hair cuticle with hydrating, shine-boosting, plant-derived ingredients. It’s also a universal product, meaning it was devised to cater to all hair types (though, if you have particularly dry, color-treated, or breakage-prone hair, Dean still recommends rotating the Fig Cleansing Conditioner into the mix).
For best results, you should apply twice daily, washing your hair both in the morning and at night and using 6-8 pumps each time (or more, depending on hair length) of the product, massaging it into your strands and scalp vigorously and even combing it through strands before rinsing. Because of the pomegranate extract’s high antioxidant content, hair will not only feel softer and more manageable, but it will more effectively be safeguarded against environmental aggressors (such as UV rays, which both damage strands and accelerate the color fading process for women with dyed hair).
The smell is perhaps my one are of contention. As a tropical baby, I expected to adore the pomegranate scent, but I didn’t find it as savory as I had anticipated. When you first dispense the product into the palm of your hand, the juiciness of the scent will lure you in — and yet, within moments, the other ingredients in the formula (such as the rosemary) begin to overshadow the scent a bit, giving it a less appealing and more medicinal quality. At one point, I felt like I was sniffing a Robitussin bottle. To be sure, the olfactory aspect wasn’t the freshly-picked, ripened fruit smell I had expected, but it was hardly a deal breaker.
Besides, once I saw how much softer my hair felt, how much more bounce it accrued within only two weeks of use, the least of my concerns was whether or not the product smelled like a fresh orchard. Simply put: you gotta know when to say WEN — and the time would be now (or, on October 11th, to be more precise!).