WEN By Chaz Dean Summer Honey Peach and Summer Mango Coconut

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation after my mastectomy, there was a moment when I realized I would eventually be bald. At that point in my life, my hair wasn’t in particularly great shape. I had stopped coloring it, and wasn’t getting regular haircuts, partly because I couldn’t afford them.

Back in the day when I got regular haircuts, and highlighted my hair every three months, I spent a great deal of money on hair care products. The owner of the salon I went to on Long Island was the creator of the Artec line of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products, which made him a significant fortune when he sold the line to L’Oréal. A quick Google search found that the products are no longer widely available.

Contrary to what many people think, losing your hair is not the most traumatic part of cancer treatment. You have to suck it up and put aside your vanity for however long treatment takes. The bottom line is, your looks take a backseat to how crappy you feel once you’ve been pumped full of poison a few times. No one wig, or any amount of cosmetics will make you feel better, no matter what anyone tells you. So, for me, it was a sort of added bonus to get a second chance at a new head of hair.

When my hair finally grew long enough to begin using shampoo again, I decided not to go back to the lather-and-rinse routine. Instead, I went back to using WEN cleansing conditioner, which I had tried years ago. I liked what WEN did for my hair; what I wasn’t so thrilled about at the time was the amount you had to use, and the time it took to rinse it out of your hair. Moreover, I was younger, and in hindsight, my thin, wavy hair didn’t need all those emollient ingredients, despite consistently highlighting it every few months.

Now that I’m older and on the other side of chemo, my hair loves WEN. It loves it so much that I bought three gallons of it in June, when they were being sold almost nonstop on QVC. Chaz Dean, the creator of WEN, has himself become very wealthy from his line of products. Some people don’t buy into the concept, and many can take it or leave it. Now that I’m the proud owner of a slightly thicker head of corkscrew curls (my previous hair was very fine and wavy), WEN works for me. And because my hair is older and drier, it now needs the moisture. Plus, I had to make peace with washing it just once a week. Any more than that and I might end up looking like this:

That’s Pam Grier as the 70s “blaxploitation” film character, Cleopatra Jones. I’m serious – shampoo is not a friend you want, unless you want to cultivate a 70s ‘fro like this one.

So what does all this have to do with fragrance? Well, a few years ago, Chaz Dean started introducing eau de parfum versions of some of his most popular cleansing conditioner scents. The first was 613, which is a blend of lemon, rosemary and vanilla bean, and is totally yummy. Then, he began releasing eaux des parfums of some of his seasonal scents. This year’s summer seasonal scents are Summer Honey Peach, and Summer Mango Coconut. I have no information about which perfumers are responsible for the scents, but if you are a fan of well-done fruit scents that smell like their names, they are extremely well done. They might be a tad boring for the average hardcore perfumista, but when the order of the day is straightforward and straight-up, these fit the bill.

Summer Mango Coconut is just that: mango and coconut. It is the perfect warm weather scent if you love coconut, and beachy scents reminiscent of suntan lotion. What I love best about this scent is the drydown: it is more vanilla than coconut, with a whisper of mango. Best of all, it’s not a sickeningly sweet, plasticky vanilla; it is a well-done vanilla.

Summer Honey Peach is a loud, in-your-face peach scent, with a good amount of honey added to the composition. At first blast, the peach is very strong, and the honey has a green, vegetal/floral quality to it. That element calms down rather quickly, leading to a drydown of fresh, juicy peaches.

I think these are well-done fragrances that are a pleasure to wear. Like I said, there is nothing haunting, unique, or life-changing about them; they are good fun, and great for this time of year. I don’t think I will be smelling like mangoes, coconuts or peaches come January, but when you want to keep things simple while you’re schvitzing in the heat and humidity, these are outstanding choices.

Some Housekeeping: WEN By Chaz Dean Summer Mango Coconut and Summer Honey Peach are available at QVC in 100 mL bottles for $107-$118. I’m not sure of all the notes contained in both fragrances, but there are videos on the QVC website that might mention them. Also consider the 613 fragrance if you’re so inclined (50 mL for $63). You can’t go wrong with lemon, vanilla and rosemary, especially not now.

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