The Controversy Behind Popular MLM Hair Care Brand Monat
“Monat is causing people’s hair to fall out.” This statement may sound like an exaggeration, but it is not.
Class action lawsuits against Monat started to appear in 2015, all with similar claims of hair loss, scalp irritation, bald spots and hair breakage. In 2018, all of these lawsuits were combined into one large class action lawsuit.
Fast-forward to 2018, and widespread claims started appearing online from customers are claiming that Monat’s products are causing the same issues, with major hair loss being a common complaint.
These reports have continued on since then, and you can find reports all over the internet of users complaining about the use of their products contributing to scalp and hair issues.
Some users suffering hair loss issues brought this up to their sales reps, who told them that their hair was undergoing “detoxification”, and that losing hair was completely normal. Needless to say, it’s not.
Let’s take a closer look at Monat, and why it’s such a controversial brand.
The FDA Investigates, and It Doesn’t Look Good
As a response to these claims piling up, the FDA sent inspectors to Monat’s Florida manufacturing facility, where they reported Monat cosmetics being “prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby it may have become contaminated with filth.”
In 2019, in regards to the lawsuit and the FDA inspection report, a judge ruled that Monat’s products were “containing harsh chemicals that were made in contaminated facilities. In 2020, it was officially ruled that Monat and its distributors cannot make unsubstantiated claims that:
- Monat products are “detoxing” the scalp and hair
- Monat products are “clinically proven to increase hair growth and decrease hair loss”,
- Monat is certified by any entity including the FDA
- Monat the products are “scientifically proven”
- Independent lab tests confirm the safety and effectiveness of the product(s)
- Products do not contain polyethylene, glycol, petrochemicals, sulfates, harmful fragrances or colors, or are 100% vegan or cruelty free
Sales reps that violate this ruling are to be terminated immediately. However, hair loss claims remain ongoing to this day, and you’ll still find reps making unsubstantiated claims like the ones above.
Ingredients & Greenwashing
With Monat’s claims of being naturally-based, safe, and pure, we can quickly say that these are greenwashing claims, and the brand is far from free of potentially harmful ingredients.
A brief (and incomplete) list of questionable ingredients you’ll find in Monat’s line of products include:
- Fragrance – All Monat products contain fragrance, which in turn contain undisclosed lists of ingredients from a list of hundreds of potential ingredients. At Better Goods, we never recommend products that have hidden fragrance lists, and always recommend those that use natural scents from essential oils and extracts.
- Behentrimonium Chloride – A well recognized contact allergen.
- Cocamidopropyl betaine – Another well recognized contact allergen.
- Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine – An environmental toxin.
- Steareth-21 and Ceteareth-20 – Potentially contaminated with exylene oxide and 1,40-dioxatne, carcinogens.
Considering the fact that these products are making users hair fall out, there must be something causing this to happen, and it’s unlikely that it’s a “detoxification” period.
A Questionable Business Model
Monat is an example of a multi-level marketing company, sometimes abbreviated as simply an MLM. There are many ethical issues with MLM companies, and they’re important to know about even if they don’t directly affect our health.
An MLM is often referred to as a pyramid scheme. Essentially, the business model works by having consultants (sellers) recruit other consultants into the scheme. As is the case with most MLMs, new consultants are required to purchase a starter kit of product to sell, ranging from $99 to $649).
Below is a table of the official Monat income disclosure statement.
As you can see, 92.26% of members made an average of $161 in revenue (not profit), or $13.41 per month. Considering the fact that members must pay $99 – $649, its safe to say that very few people are making money as a consultant to the company.
Like all MLM businesses, a very small minority of people make any kind of money from it, while the vast majority end up losing money.
The business is heavily reliant on users signing up other users, which is exactly what makes it a pyramid scheme. The business isn’t about selling products—it’s about tricking other people into buying into the scheme.
When Your Customers Are Representatives, Things Get Messy
Brands like Monat develop almost a cult-like following, because their customers are literally invested in the company. Monat has nearly half a million representatives, and nearly 1 million VIP clients.
The problem is that their representatives are untrained, and this leads to reps having no idea what they’re selling, and getting information from other reps.
There are also those using straight-up misleading information and images to promote the products. Anecdotal reports online talk about users posting stock photography as examples of the results from using Monat products.
Better Business Bureau
At the time of writing, Monat has a total of 560 registered complaints at the Better Business Bureau. Monat Global is heavily involved in their BBB page, responding to every complaint publicly.
The majority of complaints are about the products themselves, with another large chunk being from customers who claimed that they were improperly billed for products.
A common tactic Monat reps use is getting customers to sign up for a “VIP” membership under them without disclosing this. Customers are then signed up for automatic delivery of products, and if they choose to cancel, they are charged a $25 cancellation fee unless they’ve ordered 3 products through the program.
Many of the BBB complaints are regarding this issue, and it does seem that complaining on the BBB listing gets the brand to waive the cancellation fee. How generous.
Examples of complaints from the BBB listing:
Our Rating: Avoid
For all of the reasons listed above, we simply cannot recommend Monat. There are ongoing issues with customers suffering from hair loss and scalp irritation, their multi-level marketing business model preys on people, and their greenwashing claims make this a brand that should be avoided.
Definition of insanitary
: unclean enough to endanger health : CONTAMINATED
The information you have about pyramid schemes and your response to this article screams of someone who has fallen for the lies. I suggest you listen to the podcast called “The Dream” as it does a very good job of describing how these companies prey on people.
Kristina L Groves
I used it and was directed by my sales rep and I’ve lost over half my hair from it breaking off. It has ruined my hair.
I tried Monat intense hair treatment and broke out in a rash on my scalp, neck and face
I’ve been using their products for 4 years and have never had an issue. It has actually changed my hair for the better. I am so happy with my results! We must remember that with every product and line out there, not all will work for everyone.
I have had incredible results and am obsessed with the products. I would say it’s like any product out there, it’s not going to be fit for everyone, doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a great product for others, you’ve gotta try it on to figure it out for yourself !
I, along with many others, have had amazing success with these products. Haircare, skincare, and more. Just like any other brand/product, it doesn’t work for everyone. Does it stink that some people have reactions like this? yes, absolutely. But, not everyone has success with everything they try. I say give it a chance and see for yourself if you are curious!
I’m so sorry reading these comments from those that had bad reactions but for myself and others I know the products have completely transformed their hair for the better.. Its important for people to do their research but there are other brands out there that also have bad results – its a natural product, you should know your allergies. I’ve had bad reactions to other things ie waxing because Im allergic to Bees Wax, does that mean other people that do not get a reaction not wax their eyebrows because I myself am allergic. My take is try it for yourself. I’m glad I did
Thanks for taking the time to write this review. I thought it was helpful to get a rundown on the lawsuits since I have been enjoying the products but was curious when a friend told me not to use the products anymore.
I started questioning the validity of this review when the FDA was quoted to use the word “insanitary.” I let that slide since it was probably an error in transcribing. But then the part about MLM’s often being referred to as pyramid schemes perpetuates the misinformation that is heard louder than the full story.
Yes, MLMs are referred to that by people who aren’t educated about pyramid schemes. Pyramid schemes are illegal. It’s where NO products or services are exchanged for money and people make money on the people they recruit.
True, there are some companies that are like that and need to be shut down. So it’s smart to be vigilant of it and do sound research.
It’s also important to note that not all customers want to earn income or interested in becoming business partners, or say they want to, but are not willing to put in the time to learn, so they will spend a lot of money on products for their own consumption. Customers will be lumped into earning stats, which lowers the percentage of customers who earn money.
“Like all MLM businesses, a very small minority of people make any kind of money from it, while the vast majority end up losing money.” In any profession, if you do not have proper training in how to operate professionally, the vast majority end up losing money. The MLM businesses are not exempt from this, but get targeted disproportionately.
The stigma of MLM’s comes from people who use buzz words like “get rich quick schemes” or those who sensationalize how much people can potentially make, and gloss over the amount of training, hard work, sacrifice, personal development that goes along with earning a sustainable income from sales, which is really relationship building.
I totally agree that most people who decide to become associates/representatives will do so for the discount on products initially, and have no intention on learning the art of sales (which for many is an icky word because there are a lot of people out there who make it about themselves, rather than coming from the space of serving others, matching people to products, rather than products to people).
But when done correctly, when an individual DECIDES to make a profession of it and puts in the hours of training to learn the ins and outs, manages expectations, learns from experts in the field who are transparent, it ranks up there in the highest forms of creating income; sales.
Success in the MLM or Network Marketing profession happens when you help as many people get what they want. The person who helps the most people win, wins. It’s a way for people to earn residual income, passive income, and leveraged income. That’s freedom income.
There aren’t too many other professions out there that can offer that, with relative low start up costs (compared to franchises), and are open to people from all backgrounds. No, it’s definitely not a perfect profession, but the opportunity is pretty darn good.
Thank you for your thoughtfulness and passion for clean products and health!