I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Women claim Monat products damaged their hair and scalp

Published: Oct. 1, 2018 at 4:24 PM EDT
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Monday, October 1, 2018

(News 12 at 6 O'Clock / NBC 26 at 7)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's supposed to make your hair longer, thicker, and healthier, but an I-Team investigation into a popular hair care line could expose more than just broken promises. Some say Monat products made their hair break off.

Aside from breakage, other women say they believe Monat products made their hair fall out or caused sores on their scalp. Several sent me pictures with the hope the images could speak for them. They say they are scared to speak publicly.

An Augusta-area woman is too afraid to let you see her face and speak on camera. We met her at the local salon where she went to get help after she says Monat products severely damaged her hair. She says she had stopped using Monat at that point. Months later, the stylist showed us what she believes to be damage from the products. "You place the comb over it, you can see all of the breakage that pops up," the stylist said. "Monat pretty much destroyed her hair," she said. She admits she's seen a lot of women do a lot of bad things to their hair, "but I have not seen a shampoo/conditioner cause chemical damage like this."

According to its website, Monat is supposed to repair damage, not cause it.

On that website, you see a number of images of women with various types of hair. There's one on a page that asks customers to submit "before and after photos." On one side of the screen, you see a woman with seemingly unruly hair. On the other side, you see that same woman with long, straight hair. One might assume those pictures are the "before and after" of a Monat customer. On another section of the Monat website, you see another photo that appears to be a "before and after." It's posted just under the headline, "Spring Break Do A Number To Your Hair? Fix It Now." The photo is of the back of a woman's head. Half of her hair appears dry and dull. The other half shows hair that looks sleek and shiny. One might conclude Monat products are the reason for the visible improvement.

Our I-Team discovered those same images in an online photo gallery. Each photo is available for purchase. It appears that for just $33, you could use these same pictures on your website, too.

We kept digging and found even more examples of stock photos throughout the Monat website. We matched a photo next to the following text: "You CAN Make Thin Hair Look Thicker! Here's how." iStock's image shows that same woman combing that same hair. An image of a woman positioned next to "volumizing thin hair" is also available for purchase on iStock by Getty Images. Even Monat's junior line features a stock photo. I found one on the Monat site that appears to show an adult towel-drying a young girl's hair after a bath or shower. That same image is featured on iStock.

A mother in Texas says she used it on her then 3-year old. She says Monat made Ruby's hair break off and fall out in clumps. She also has cell phone video of what she claims are bald spots on her little girl's head.

Another woman in Texas sent me photos of hair she says she lost after using Monat. She also claims Monat products gave her sores on her scalp. The experience she described is a lot like one outlined in a class action lawsuit in Florida. It claims Monat users have "suffered hair loss and scalp injury," and "Monat has intentionally concealed these risks." Another class-action lawsuit alleges "hair loss claims are met by Monat with unsubstantiated claims of a "detox period" with increased hair loss" before you see any benefits.

We asked a local stylist about detoxing. She told us there is no such thing.

According to this lawsuit, once the hair loss starts, there are "suggestions to spend more money on still more expensive Monat Hair Care Products."

In all, we found at least 4 class action lawsuits against Monat, but Monat is also filing suit. We found a number of cases where Monat is suing people who speak out against the company and its products. One alleges a salon owner in Florida "repeatedly and falsely claimed that Monat's products cause balding, hair loss, and damage the hair." The company asked for damages in excess of $250,000.

The court denied a permanent injunction.

Multiple women from Texas to Canada tell the I-Team this is why they do not want their names used or faces shown in this report.

The same goes for the local woman who first told us about her experience. That's why her stylist said she would speak out. "I feel like a lot of people are going through this, and they're just not speaking up about it," she said.

We checked with the Better Business Bureau. This afternoon, it had an "F" rating. Last week, it briefly was listed as NR (no rating). It read, "This business is in the process of responding to 4 previously closed complaints that have been reopened." Today, it's back to an "F." According to the website, the BBB has received 746 complaints.

Monat has a web address dedicated specifically to questions about its products. Click here for that site. https://truthaboutmonat.com/

It reads, "Our purpose is to provide journalists, consumers, hair-care professionals, and others with factual information about MONAT Global products." There are links to new products, awards, and charitable donations. It also includes testimony from a woman identified as a Monat "Market Partner" who talks about "her experience and the experience of her customers who use MONAT products every day." She references negative social media posts and says, "most of it is untrue, but sadly has managed to gain traction because of the world we live in." You can also find postings by Monat about litigation.

The website makes reference to MONAT ingredients. "MONAT uses ingredients considered safe for cosmetic use by the FDA and European Commission. All MONAT products are made in facilities that are GMP certified, registered with the FDA, are operated in accordance with FDA regulations and are subject to FDA audit and inspection."

Monat references three studies. Click on the links below to read them.

We reached out to Monat to ask for an interview via email to the address listed on the Monat site for media inquiries. We spoke with Katie Olivier, Managing Director of Sunwest Communications. Olivier requested we reveal our source so she could gather information about that source's history with the company. We declined to reveal our source’s name.

We requested an interview with or a statement from Monat.

Olivier sent us the following statement from Stuart MacMillan, President of MONAT Global:

"MONAT Global is proud of our strong safety record and the outstanding results reported by hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers.

"All MONAT formulations use ingredients in concentrations that are approved and deemed 'safe for their intended cosmetic purpose' by the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Commission.

"To ensure MONAT's products are effective and safe, the company used one of the world's leading independent clinical testing labs, Kosmoscience Ciência & Tecnologia Cosmética Ltda, an ISO 17025-certified laboratory that specializes in skin and hair care product testing. The results of three, independent clinical tests confirm MONAT hair products are effective and do not cause hair breakage or hair damage. In fact, MONAT's products improved the condition of the hair, according to the independent clinical tests.

"MONAT's products have also been tested by Allergisa, a renowned third-party laboratory, that found MONAT's products to be dermatologically safe, non-irritating, and hypoallergenic.

"More than 800,000 consumers each month safely use MONAT products every day and are pleased with their results."