hair

be Wary of Wen!

updated 12/2015: since Wen has been under fire in the news recently for women losing their hair after using this line of hair care products, my post from 2013 has gotten a lot of traffic. i hope this post helps shed some light on why being an educated consumer and knowing how to read ingredients labels is highly important. with Wen causing people’s hair to fall out, we all have cause to be wary and learn more about what’s in all of our beauty products. xo, alexraye

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the hair care line Wen seems to be all the rage recently. it’s sensationalized as this natural hair care line that is full of magic and that will leave you with supermodel hair!

a lot of crunchies and low-‘poo-ers (and let’s face it… regular shampoo-ers, too) have fallen for this spotty advertisement and green-washing.

wen isn't everything it's cracked up to be - why you should be wary of wen!

what is Wen?

Wen is a hair care line with natural ingredients that’s advertised by the company to be sulfate and petrochemical free. anyone can take a quick glance at their “key” ingredients list and see the glaring lie.

why you should be wary of Wen – 

here on AE we talk a lot about all the various chemicals to avoid in shampoos and other beauty products, with petrochemicals, sulfates, and fragrance among them. now Wen’s here & has become popular as the new more “natural” shampoo. the truth is, their entire line of hair care products are FAR from being natural! it’s green-washed marketing at best. let’s take a look at Wen’s main cleansing conditioner ingredients as an example.

full ingredients list-
oh wait… they won’t give us one! when i first visited the site, they had a list of “key ingredients” (as you can see in the picture below), but they have since taken it down! hmm…

so here’s the old one that’s been taken down –
Water, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Serotina (Wild Cherry) Bark Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Vegetable Oil (Olus Oil), Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Polysorbate 60, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Amodimethicone, Citric Acid, Menthol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Fragrance, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Hydroxycitronellal.C960

i even asked someone to help me and this is the response i got (below). i still didn’t get answers. no one seems to want to publicly share what’s in it anymore. that’s a big red flag to me. i personally won’t buy from a company that won’t divulge ingredients in products that will be going on my body. if your products are more natural, what do you have to hide?
wen response

let’s stick with what we know is in the cleansing conditioner. out of those “key” ingredients, which ones don’t you want on your hair or scalp?

  • Butylene Glycol (petrochemical! and they say Wen doesn’t contain them.)
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate (it’s a sulfate. i’m sorry wen… how is this cleansing conditioner “sulfate free”? and for those claiming it’s natural because it’s derived from rapeseed oil – it’s HIGHLY industrially processed and doesn’t resemble a natural substance in the slightest. it’s a sulfate. )
  • PEG 60 (another petrochemical)
  • Fragrance (that dreaded cocktail of smell-good chemicals that irritate the lungs and skin)
  • Limonene (recommended RESTRICTION from cosmetics from the International Fragrance Association Codes & Standards &a restriction in cosmetics from CosIng)
  • Hexyl Cinnamal (again – a recommended restriction from cosmetics from the International Fragrance Association Codes & Standards &a restriction in cosmetics from CosIng)
  • Benzyl Benzoate (& again – a recommended restriction from cosmetics from the International Fragrance Association Codes & Standards &a restriction in cosmetics from CosIng)
  • Hydroxycitronellal (even worse – BANNED in the EU because it’s a known human immune system toxicant, as well as recommended restriction from cosmetics from the International Fragrance Association Codes & Standards & a restriction in cosmetics from CosIng)

if you use wen, please know there are WAY better options out there that are indeed all-natural and organic! if you know someone using Wen, please point them in this direction!

if you’re looking for a spectacular, truly all-natural shampoo, i’m personally a HUGE fan of Josh Rosebrook Nourishing shampoo & conditioner. here’s his website of hair products (link is NOT an affiliate and doesn’t benefit me in any way). it’s pricey but completely worth every penny.

you can also start searching for your perfect, all-natural shampoo here.
or if you’re more into DIY things (i know i am!) you can try making your own clay shampoo (for all hair types), as seen here.

stand up against green-washing! be an educated consumer.

hippie heart black sig 3

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118 thoughts on “be Wary of Wen!

  1. Wow Ladies! As I am reading the posts on all the Wen negativity I seriously did not want to listen to it. But running to the mirror because I have had a sore scalp for a year or so now and itchy and red sores and bald thinning hair in which I have always had long naturaly curly brown hair and full too and with what I know now is yeast which had produce 2 series of lice in my hair because it obviously is not “cleaning” it, Wow omg my Wen is in the freaking garbage. Sorry Chaz not for me! Im done

  2. My hair did look great with Wen. I used it exactly 2 days. The first day my hair looked so beautiful and shiny. But I noticed about 40 broken hairs the next morning I looked like I had recently gotten a bad perm. They were sticking up all over my crown. By the second day I did some research and low and behold I found the culprit. I read that the Wen product was causing hair breakage and others had reported chunks of hair falling out and balding. I only used it twice. I have noted a few hairs falling out since then but my hair suddenly looks mousy and feels thin. I am never touching that stuff again. I threw the entire batch of products in the trash. I am not losing all my hair. Something in there is not good. I am not sure which thing it is. Most of his ingredients are good. So it must be one of the items that is not natural. I don’t know but he does not seem to care, they keep selling it. I hear there are two versions of it, a good version sold by the Wen company and a second version sold by another manufacturer and that they might have different formulations. I don’t know for sure but perhaps one is fine and the other is toxic. I don’t want to take a chance. That is probably why some women experience no problems and others experience terrible hair loss and breakage. I am scared to do anything now to my hair for a while until I make sure my hair is not continuing to have issues. I am using the Olive Oil Conditioner, the one that smells like oranges and I am going to find something completely natural and organic to reverse whatever was done to my hair. I am going to avoid any ironing for a while and I am going to try to follow up and see what happens. I think they are continuing to sell this product so they can pay for the lawsuit they are facing. Why not pull it and reformulate it at least. They are crazy. They only care about money is all I can think. Good luck ladies, I just thought I would also confirm I immediately saw a considerable noticeable breakage in one use.

    Kimberly in Virginia Beach

  3. Does anyone know about the negative effects of Hair One vs Wen? Or what other cleansing conditioners might be as harmful as Wen?

    I just started using Hair One and heard it’s the most similar to Wen, so I worry. I already plan to heed the warning about build up and use shampoo every few washes.

  4. Wen causes build up which traps the bodys hydrolipic film underneath the build up. The oil goes rancid and an overgrowth of bacteria and/or fungus is created, causing sores, burning, itching, and can cause serious secondary type infections that lead to hair loss. Many Wen users have developed yeast infections of the scalp that burn and itch just as a yeast infection would on other parts of the body.

    There are not sufficient surfactants in Wen to ever adequately remove the buildup it creates. There’s a plethora of oils and extracts, but also non water soluble film formers, many ingredients which repel water, and without sufficient surfactants to properly cleanse them from the hair and scalp, the scalp and hair remain constantly coated. This leads to hair damage, depleted air flow to the scalp, the inability to exfoliate the scalp of oxidized sebum, dead skin cells, free radicals, mineral deposits, dirt, oils, and any other environmental contaminants, the buildup of silicones/polymers and oils in Wen, causing clogged follicles, bacterial and fungal imbalances, which can lead to permanent damage to the follicles, and can hair loss.

    This coating of oils and artificial film formers can absolutely make hair feel and look incredible for a while, years even, because it’s masking any damage, dryness, frizz etc you may have with its coating. Over time this coating will continue to buildup on the hair and scalp, preventing beneficial ingredients from working properly if at all, exacerbating issues. It makes doing any process to the hair more difficult – the more buildup there is, it’s harder for hair to lighten, color to deposit, thermal or other chemical processes to take, etc.

    The dangerous part about this, regardless of what it’s doing to hair long term, is what it’s doing to the scalp. Our scalp isn’t dead like hair is, it is alive. This coating over time decreases air flow to your scalp, throws off fungal and bacterial levels, many may not even notice it for a long time, except maybe a decrease in the rate of hair growth. Some may get visible signs of imbalances on their scalp though with greasy flakes, patches, itching, redness, tenderness, breakouts, infection, etc. Regardless if you have visible symptoms of imbalances though, our bodies try to fight and protect themselves in these situations. The scalp stays coated over time, throwing off these levels, and the scalp tries to protect, heal, and fight it off. When our bodies do this, white blood cells focus on the area, and over time this slowly creates scar tissue where the follicles are, which is where each and every hair strand is born and created. Scar tissue where the follicles are alters them physically, damaging them, and hair may never grow back.

    You cannot possibly expect to coat the hair and scalp so heavily for so long without repercussions. There’s only 200 people actively filing in this class action lawsuit, but there are thousands and thousands of men, women and children who have lost hair, got fungal and bacterial imbalances, infection….

    I do not understand why it’s so hard for Wen and their fanatics to understand that leaving buildup forever on the scalp will lead to imbalance and even hair loss. If you are regularly clarifying, or using any outside product or process that is designed to, or just so happens to exfoliate the buildup from the scalp mechanically or chemically, then you’re not likely to have this issue. But Wen has failed to address the issue of buildup. If Wen would eliminate the artificial film formers and include some mild surfactants to adequately remove oil buildup, or just include and instruct to use a clarifying shampoo once a week or every several washes, nobody would be having any of these issues!

    I think it’s horrific there’s people on here, including Wen and Chaz, claiming that out of the thousands and thousands of women experiencing imbalances and/or hair loss, that ALL of them are allergic, lying, have medical issues, nutrient deficiencies, etc…pay attention and understand film formers and the scalp. Most all of these women, men, and children have all had tests run and blood work. The thing is though, that REGARDLESS of if someone has a medical issue or not, if you never actually remove buildup completely from the scalp, you WILL have imbalance that often leads to hair loss!

    “Those people” making ignorant assumptions and accusations of Wen victims will be singing a different tune when their hair starts falling out, or their scalp has a yeast infection, their hair is breaking, or this happens to their mom, sister, daughter…there are literally thousands of people who have experienced these effects from Wen, yet the Wen die hards somehow have convinced themselves that ALL of these people must have either allergic reactions, thyroid issues, medication side effects, low iron, hormone issues, that it must be from their lightener/color, etc. It’s such a slap in the face. So the thousands of women that all have the common denominator of using Wen in regards to their hairloss, thinning, infections/imbalances etc, somehow it’s not Wen causing it……….OKAY. I’m sure there’s probably some out of the THOUSANDS that are having an allergic reaction on TOP of the constant buildup issue, there probably are some that are having shedding due to other factors as well like hormones, iron deficiency, etc. But if they were following Wen’s instructions and using strictly their products and never removing their buildup they were unaware of, Wen is still going to cause scalp imbalances, resulting in hair loss or thinning, fungal/bacterial infections and imbalances, etc, regardless of any health issues or allergies. Wen is the constant, common denominator. You cannot leave buildup on the scalp indefinitely and NOT have scalp imbalance! Whomever actually formulated Wen should have known this, and Wen should acknowledge this too! Anyone with an understanding of film formers and the biochemistry of the scalp should know this!

    I highly recommend discontinuing use immediately, clarifying the hair and scalp intensely, use Olaplex to repair broken disulfide bonds, and switch to Shea Moisture African Black Soap collection to help restore balance.

    To everyone experiencing scalp imbalances, from hair loss and thinning to fungal/bacterial imbalances, infection, hair damage, etc, I created the group Wen Support Group, open to anyone and everyone effected by Wen directly, indirectly, anyone wishing to learn more about Wen causing hair loss, anyone that wants to follow the class action lawsuit, be part of the lawsuit, etc. Please invite and share! The more people aware, hopefully the less people will have to experience hair loss as a result of these products. I am a licensed cosmetologist and a cosmetic science researcher and educator, but there are many fellow hair nerds on there that can help. There’s Olaplex educators from the Olaplex team, there’s cosmetic chemists and Trichologists such as Mags Kavanaugh of the website askmags , ambassadors, CEOs, VPs, educators from various companies, large and small, who all hold education, safety, honesty and passion for truth, facts, and cosmetic science close to their heart. You can join the closed group in the link below

    1. Hi…how can I find out more about the lawsuit and how to rebalance my scalp. Recently developed a fungus infection on one side of my scalp.
      Thanks.

      1. Hi JoAnn! I created a support/education group for Wen victims on Facebook where there’s tons of personal stories, information about the lawsuit, contact information, product recommendations, etc. Here’s the link to the group. I also made it a closed group, and I screen each and every request to make sure there aren’t any Wen affiliates in there, and I try hard to keep spammy product reps out of the group as well.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/1667252706876357/

        Christiansen Davis, LLC is the Dallas based law firm representing the 200 women in the class action lawsuit.

        CONTACT:
        For more information about the lawsuit, contact Amy E. Davis by phone at 214-838-3501 or by e-mail at adavis@CDFirm.com, or visit the firm’s website at http://cdfirm.com they have a form you can fill out

        There’s also this firm which is filing individual lawsuits from all states:

        https://www.schmidtlaw.com/wen-class-action-lawsuit/

        You can read more about the case here, there’s pdf files as well:
        http://cdfirm.com/wen-hair-products-lawsuit-filed-by-law-firm-christiansen-davis-for-injuries-and-hair-loss/

        For Wen Users who are experiencing imbalance with their scalp or hair loss,

        I highly recommend discontinuing use immediately, clarifying the hair and scalp intensely, use Olaplex to repair broken disulfide bonds, and switch to Shea Moisture African Black Soap collection to help restore balance.

        I would get a clarifying shampoo, like Malibu Undo Goo, Kevin Murphy Maxi Wash (professional products), or Suave Naturals Clarifying Shampoo, clarifying vigorously 3x, then use a demineralizing treatment like Malibu Crystal Gel (professional) or Ion Crystal Clarifying Treatment (from Sallys) , then you’ll need to be shampooed 2-3 more times with the clarifying shampoo to Remove all the buildup from Wen.

        After that, do an Olaplex stand alone treatment or use Olaplex No3 to cross link broken disulfide bonds. The disulfide bonds are like the bones to the body, foundation to a house, frame to a car. It uses Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate to pair broken disulfide bond’s single sulfur hydrogen molecule end with a single oxygen molecule via an ionic and covalent bridge. This makes the hair stronger, and can even make it feel thicker as it is multiplying the bonds. Without Olaplex, naturally, half of our broken disulfide bonds later go on to oxidize by pairing with 3 oxygen molecules, creating the sulfate group SO3, producing cystic acid, which then eats away at the protein in the hair. Olaplex stops this negative oxidation domino effect from occurring.

        After using Olaplex, I would immediately start using Shea Moisture African Black Soap collection to help balance the scalp and hair, because you will be dealing with the aftermath of Wen’s perma-coating, the scalp will be imbalanced and the hair is going to flat out be a mess in all honesty. By keeping it smothered for however long you used it, this barrier hindered and blocked beneficial nutrients and essentials from depositing or penetrating, like moisture, protein, etc.

        The African Black Soap collection is such a great balancing line that I recommend everyone with imbalance to, especially Wen victims. The entire line of all Shea Moisture products are free of sulfates, harsh surfactants, SILICONES & ARTIFICIAL FILM FORMERS, petroleum, paraffin, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, artificial fragrance, fragrance additives, DEA, and they’re cruelty free, practice sustainable, fair trade through community commerce, and are still family owned now, since 1912. The African Black Soap collection has natural antifungal, antibacterial, anti inflammatory, antiseptic, soothing, exfoliating, pH balancing, sebum regulating, normalizing, moisturizing, and overall balancing natural properties. It is absolutely perfect to restore balance. I always recommend using the ABS shampoo and conditioner, there’s also a scalp elixir and masque for more severe cases.

        Clarifying, chelating, doing a stand alone Olaplex treatment, using Shea Moisture African Black Soap products, and using Olaplex No3 at home will help to restore balance to the scalp and hair very well. If you do have hair loss, with approval from a Physician, they can continuously use Minoxidil (Rogaine, approved by the FDA), and take a combination of Biotin, B-Complex, Zinc and Magnesium too.

  5. Also contains methylisothiazolinone an extremely nasty preservative that has been linked to severe contact dermatitis and is banned in most of Europe!!!

  6. Wen caused me to develop some kind of extreme scalp issue (I’m assuming it’s scalp psroasis). It took me sometime attribute these large disgusting scabs developing in my head to Wen and I’m convinced it was the culprit. I took medicine, used a medicated shampoos. (Never consistently) Nothing worked at all. And then I ran out of my Wen shampoo. And guess what? The scalps suddenly disappeared! Whatever is in the Fig “feel it formula” that gives it that tingling sensation ate away at my scalp! Then it scabbed over! At least that’s my theory lol

  7. Does anyone know How I contact the attorney in the class action lawsuit!! I still have bald patches that I have to cover up with bangs, I look like I have a receding hairline. I’m lucky that I had really thick hair when I started using this crap. After a few weeks of using it my hair fell out in clumps and I got sores and ooozing gunk on my scalp.

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