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The Controversy Behind Popular MLM Hair Care Brand Monat

Better Goods

Sep 22, 2021


"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.

A class action lawsuit filed by multiple plaintiffs accuses hair product maker Monat of misrepresenting ingredients as safe when they actually caused hair loss and skin lesions in some users.
(Amber Alabaster/U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma

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

from Monat's website

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. Others

All it takes is one person to

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.

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