Beauty Test Drive: L’Oreal EverCreme Cleansing Conditioner

I make a general point of treating my hair gently, especially since I ill-advisedly went for the big cut a year ago. With kitchen scissors, over the bathroom sink, I sheared off around 10 inches of my long, damaged, box kit-bleached hair, and I regretted it almost instantly. Tears were shed, panic attacks were had — I felt like I had lost a dear friend. My hair has been growing in the tiniest, most minute of increments ever since. It’s gotten a little longer, and I’ve gotten a little more used to it, but I know that when it grows long again I want it to be as healthy as possible so I can keep it.

I’ve already made a habit of washing my hair only a couple of days out of the week, which I like to think has served it well and not just made me the greasy, scowling person you don’t want to sit next to on the subway. Using a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and a deep conditioner does my hair good, and it looks shiny and healthy, if a bit unremarkable. I’ve always been intrigued by the WEN hair care system, which uses cleansing conditioners rather than lathering shampoos and promises (and, I’ve heard, delivers) the most gorgeous hair ever, but at $30 for a “30-day supply” I’m kind of over it. I found a similar product that I don’t remember the name of at Bed Bath and Beyond for something like $7, but I didn’t like the smell of it or the fact that it left my hair looking lifeless.

Enter L’Oreal EverCreme Cleansing Conditioner. I had tried the shampoos and conditioners in their similar EverPure line (both EverPure and EverCreme are free of sulfates) and liked them, so when I saw the new product with its WEN-like properties at a fraction of the price, I didn’t hesitate to purchase it. I must smell a hair product before I buy it, no exceptions, so I unscrewed the top in the store (is that weird?) and was even more convinced. The cleansing conditioner smells like sex and magic (also known as a slightly floral, non-cloying caramel/vanilla and musk). Sold!

There are no instructions as to how much of the product to use, and the pump only dispenses a tiny amount at a time, so when I washed my hair last night I pumped away and used it liberally. Like, a lot liberally. I massaged it into my scalp first and was pleasantly surprised to find that, unlike other cleansing conditioners, the EverCreme has a low, soft lather, so it doesn’t feel like you’re just washing with conditioner. I let it hang out on the top of my head for a minute or so, then washed it out, then used a ton of it and massaged it into my roots and lengths. I was extra careful not to miss any spots, making sure that my entire head of hair was covered in the stuff. I put my hair up on top of my head left it on for a few minutes while I finished my shower.

Before washing the cleanser out, I wet my hair again and combed it through with a wide-tooth comb. It went through easily without snags or tangles. My hair felt really untangled and soft after I rinsed, soft enough that I decided to forgo a separate conditioner. That’s kind of a big deal, considering how easily my hair works itself into knots after shampooing. My hair truly felt like it usually does after I shampoo and deep condition. I towel-dried, threw it up in a ponytail, got in bed, watched Arrested Development, and forgot all about it.

My hair looks pretty damn good today, if I do say so myself. It has waves that I usually lose after sleeping on it, and it’s really clean. I have absolutely no build-up and I do use product in my hair, which means that this cleanser was able to wash it out. It’s all really soft, with none of that crunchy feeling my ends tend to get when they’re dry. I have extremely fine hair and a lot of it, which is so easy to weigh down, but I didn’t lose any volume to this conditioner. If anything, my hair actually has more body and bounce than usual.

This cleansing conditioner is marginally more high-maintenance, and much less wash-and-go than my old routine, but I say it’s worth it for the results I see in my hair. It’s truly clean and light and lovely and smells amazing. My only gripe is the size of the bottle: with the amount of product I used, I could drain it in two weeks. Next time I’ll use less and see if it works as well, but I have faith in this cleansing conditioner. [$6.99, Ulta]