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How to clean your hair with conditioner

Nina asks about WEN, a line of cleansing conditioners created by a Hollywood hair stylist Chaz Dean. Dean believes that sulfates in most shampoos can be very damaging and stripping to hair so he created these cleansing conditioners to clean hair without stripping it. Nina wants to know if hair can really be better off in the long run by cleansing with a conditioner. And if it does work, will a regular drugstore conditioner produce the same effect.

The Left Brain replies:

Great question, Nina. First of all, the idea of cleaning your hair with conditioner is not new and was not invented by Chaz. And no, he’s not using any kind of revolutionary technology. Let`s take a look at the ingredients:

Water, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, rosemary leaf extract, wild cherry fruit extract, fig extract, chamomile extract, marigold flower extract, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine, amodimethicone, hydrolized wheat protein, polysorbate 60, panthenol, menthol, sweet almond oil, PEG-60 almond glycerides, methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, citric acid, essential oils.

Looking at just the functional ingredients (leaving out extracts, preservatives, pH adjusters, ) leaves the following:

glycerin, cetyl alcohol, behentrimonium methosulfate, cetearyl alcohol, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine (SADMA), and amodimethicone

These are very common conditioner ingredients. Here’s what they do: Glycerin can provide moisturization in a leave on product, but it doesn’t do anything for hair when it’s rinsed out. Cetyl and cetearyl alcohol are thickening and emulsifying agents are are used to make a conditioner rich and creamy. Because they`re oil soluble they could, in theory, help lift some of the sebum of your hair and scalp. Behentrimonium methosulfate, SADMA, and amodimethicone are very effective conditioning ingredients because they deposit on the hair.

Could you clean your hair with this product? Sure, if your hair isn’t very dirty this could work pretty well. But so could any basic conditioner. In fact, I’d look for a conditioner that doesn’t have any silicone in it, just to make sure it leaves as little on your hair as possible.

But what if you have greasy hair, or if you use hairspray, mousse gel, or putty? Then cleansing conditioners are not a very good idea. They don`t have enough cleansing power to remove gunk from the hair. Chances are that cleansing with conditioner will leave your hair feeling dirty and weighed down.

The Brains Bottom Line: If you’re really worried about drying your hair out from over-shampooing, there’s nothing wrong with skipping your shampoo and just rinsing with conditioner once in a while. But you don’t need to spend $28 on a special product. A nice inexpensive drug store brand will do the same thing.

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