We talk a lot about beauty products, but most of our discussion focuses on the latest launches or products that you can already buy in stores. Have you ever wondered what the process is like creating those products? You’re not alone. We asked Chaz Dean, celebrity hairstylist and founder of WEN Hair and Body Care, what it’s like developing products for his range. Chaz is all about a healthy, natural lifestyle, and that carries over into his product range. The first product he ever developed was his Cleansing Conditioner, an alternative to shampoo and that does not contain sodium laurel sulfate or other damaging detergents.
Read on to find out more about what its like creating products for his WEN range!
The Gloss: Tell us about the process of designing a new product.
Chaz Dean: I usually begin with direction from my clients at the salon and followers from social media. Being active on the Internet is an important part of product development for me. I listen to my followers’ comments and try to help as much as I can by connecting with them via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Periscope. They tell me their concerns and I develop products that I know will help deal with their hair issues.
TG: Where did the idea for your Cleansing Conditioner come from?
CD: The day I opened my salon in May 1993 is the day I said goodbye to lather. All of the harsh chemicals, detergents, surfactants, and sulfates were stripping my clients’ hair, stripping their color, and causing me to have an oily scalp and dry hair from over shampooing. I knew there had to be a better way to cleanse without all of the damage. It was at that time that I went to my garden and got sage, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, apples, bananas, and pears and boiled them up into a tea elixir. Once I cleansed my hair, it was clean, it was healthy and it was shiny—the light bulb turned on and I knew I had discovered something incredible. I had created a way to cleanse hair without the harsh chemicals, detergents, sulfates, surfactants, polymers, fillers, alcohols, etc.
TG: What was it like developing your cleansing conditioner? Are there difficulties you have to factor in when using only natural products?
CD: The most difficult factor in creating new products is getting people to understand my concept. People were used to lathering up with shampoos and conditioners. When I told my clients that one product was going to replace the harsh detergents they were using, it took some time for them to trust that WEN would work. Once they saw the results first hand, traditional shampoos became a thing of the past.
TG: How do you figure out what ingredients work together and which ones don’t?
CD: I work very closely with my lab during the entire product development process. It starts with my wish list; I suggest ingredients that I would like incorporated. I rely on their expertise when it comes to developing products.
TG: Do you get an idea for a product or are you usually inspired by an ingredient?
CD: Both. It all started with the Cleansing Conditioner, from there I have expanded and through working with my clients and QVC viewers I realized which products were needed to achieve their healthiest hair possible. I find a need and come up with a solution. I develop products that resolve my clients hair issues.
TG: What is the hardest thing about developing the formulas for your products?
CD: At times a formula can be perfect fairly quickly, other products can take three to five years and beyond to get them to where they should be. There are many components to factor in when creating a new scent. Fragrance and ingredients have to work harmoniously together. Most importantly, the performance has to be up to our standard. I always test products myself and have the stylists and assistants at the salon try them on clients as well.
TG: Was there one product that was especially difficult to perfect?
CD: The product line that takes a bit more time to perfect is my seasonal collection. The products have to reflect the time of year; I like to capture the feeling of the season at the time whether it be spring, summer, fall or winter. I want it feel like you are briefly escaping into your favorite season when cleansing your hair!
TG: What is something that people would be surprised to know about the process?
CD: The amount of time it takes to approve each formula is lengthy. It begins at the fragrance house; I collaborate with my chemist to create each individual note. From there, I begin testing each formula. Beginning with version one at my office, salon and I test until it is absolutely perfect. Like I said before, it can take years to perfect one formula!
TG: How do you work scents into the formulas?
CD: I look to natural botanicals, extracts and essential oils when creating my formulas. Some of my favorite scents are those of my childhood. I remember growing up and picking my own fruits and vegetables. I loved the summer road trip days where we would pull over, pick fresh juicy peaches and devour them. I have captured those moments and put them into my products.
(Photo: Getty Images/Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)