Scalp sores, hair falling out in clumps, bald spots … no, this is not a description of a scene from a horror movie. This was actually the reality for 199 Monat product users whose complaints to the FDA were reported by ABC News in 2018. Over the last 3 years, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has processed 1,018 complaints against Monat. In addition, Monat has been the subject of a fair amount of litigation. Therefore, today we will not only look at the Monat shampoo ingredients, specifically those in the Monat Revive shampoo. We will also discuss the latest developments regarding lawsuits against Monat. So, read to the end to be in the know.
I heard about Monat shampoos when they first launched in the USA. In fact, one of their sales representatives approached me to sign me up to be a Monat shampoo seller. I politely declined. Instead, I wrote an unbiased Monat shampoo review that attracted a lot of attention. In retrospect, I am so glad that my experience of reading shampoo ingredients saved me from the Monat products. Moreover, that review has probably saved thousands of people from taking their chances with Monat shampoos. I do not take marketing claims at their face value; on the contrary, I recommend products only after intense scrutiny of each ingredient.
Are the Monat shampoo ingredients safe?
The list of Monat shampoo ingredients is one of the longest I have seen in my experience reading shampoo ingredients almost daily since 2012.
Monat Revive shampoo ingredients: Water, Lauramidopropyl Betaine, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Cinnamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Decylglucosides Chloride, Polyquaternium-11, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato Seed) Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot Seed) Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Adansonia Digitata Oil, Mauritia Flexuosa Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Caryocar Brasiliense Fruit Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Dextran, Citric Acid, Propanediol, Glycol Distearate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Hydroxypropylphosphate Decylglucoside Crosspolymer, Lauramide MIPA, Sodium Hydroxypropylphosphate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Butylene Glycol, Propoxytetramethyl Piperdinyl Dimethicone, Trideceth-6, Centrimonium Chloride, Aminomethyl Propanol, Fragrance (Parfum), C11-15 Pareth-7, Phenethyl Alcohol, Undecyl Alcohol, Benzyl Alcohol (source).
You have probably read lots of enthusiastic Monat reviews including those about Monat Revive shampoo. I could be getting very lucrative commissions, too, for promoting their expensive products. But after reading each ingredient, I decided that Monat products do not adhere to my standards. If you are a seller of Monat products, please know that there are many other multi-level marketing companies with non-controversial products that you can sell and generate an income for your family.
Known allergens in the Monat shampoo
Among Monat shampoo ingredients, the following three are associated with contact allergy – cocamidopropyl betaine, benzyl alcohol, and fragrance. While lauramidopropyl betaine and cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine are not established allergens, I believe there might be a danger of the same side effects as cocamidopropyl betaine’s because they are close relatives.
The symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis include redness, swelling, itching, and fluid-filled blisters. These are more severe symptoms than the symptoms of irritation.
Also, there is a difference between an irritant and an allergen. An allergen (aka sensitizer) causes allergic contact dermatitis after repeated contact with the allergen over time. Suppose, you used the Monat Revive shampoo once and did not experience any symptoms. It doesn’t guarantee you, though, that you won’t have a reaction to the Monat shampoo ingredients sometime later.
Cocamidopropyl betaine as one of the Monat shampoo ingredients
Cocamidopropyl betaine is a surfactant that makes shampoo lather. Commonly, so-called “natural” shampoos use it as a better alternative to SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) or SLES (sodium laureth sulfate). The proponents of cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) claim it is safe because it is derived from coconut oil. It does sound, safe, right? However, it is important to understand how CAPB is derived.
The process of manufacturing CAPB is as follows. First, coconut fatty acids go in reaction with 3-dimethylaminoproplylamine (DMAPA) to produce amidoamine. Then, amidoamine is combined with monochloroacetic acid to get to CAPB (source). To me, CAPB doesn’t sound like a natural ingredient in the Monat Revive shampoo. Does it sound natural to you?
In my mind, the fact that coconut oil serves as a source for CAPB becomes irrelevant when we learn that some amounts of the two chemicals – DMAPA and amidoamine – remain in CAPB. Commercial-grade CAPB can contain up to 3.0% amidoamine and up to 0.02% DMAPA (source).
The personal care products trade association called Cosmetic Ingredient Review tells us that both DMAPA and amidoamine are known skin allergens (source).
The first reports of allergy to CAPB appeared in 1983. The first two cases were women with red lesions which cleared after they stopped using their shampoos with CAPB. Since then, there have been many reports in association with shampoos, liquid soaps, bath gels, toothpaste, contact lens solutions, make-up removers, and hygiene products with a range of incidence between 3% to 7.2% (source).
In fact, the American Contact Dermatitis Society named CAPB the 2004 Allergen of the Year (source).
Potential concerns about lauramidopropyl betaine and cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine
Lauramidopropyl betaine and cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine are also surfactants in the Monat Revive shampoo. By the way, I have counted 7 surfactants among the Monat shampoo ingredients. I am not sure why there are so many surfactants. Normally, I see 2-4 surfactants in shampoos.
These two surfactants share the same amidopropyl suffix in the first words of their names with cocamidopropyl betaine. That’s because their formation processes are very similar. Lauramidopropyl betaine also results from the reaction of fatty acids with DMAPA, which yields amidoamine. Then, the reaction with monochloroacetate produces lauramidopropyl betaine (source). According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review report as of 2018, there are three ways to make cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine. And it looks as though DMAPA were used in all of them. All three surfactants can have DMAPA residue in them, which may contribute to an allergic reaction.
By themselves, these surfactants might be okay in a shampoo. But in the Monat Revive shampoo, there are three surfactants that may have residue of the DMAPA allergen.
Potential concerns about benzyl alcohol
True, benzyl alcohol is an aromatic alcohol present in many naturally occurring plant products such as balsam of Peru. Also, it is a naturally occurring component of essential oils such as hyacinth, jasmine, and ylang-ylang oils. It even occurs in foods such as apricots, cranberries, cocoa, honey, mushrooms, and snap peas. However, to make use of it in products, lab chemists synthesize it by reacting benzyl chloride with sodium hydroxide (source).
Personal care products often list it as a preservative. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has concluded that it is safe for use in cosmetic products at concentrations of up to 5%, and up to 10% in hair dyes (source).
However, the European Union allows benzyl alcohol as a preservative in cosmetics and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 1% (source). The European Union restricts it because it may cause an allergic reaction.
The American Contact Dermatitis Society (ACDS) recognizes it as a “weak” sensitizer. The ACDS states that an allergic reaction to benzyl alcohol is rare. A Belgian patch-test of 8,521 patients revealed that only 25 people (0.3%) had a positive reaction (source).
I do not have any information as to the concentrations of benzyl alcohol among the Monat shampoo ingredients. While an allergic reaction is rare, the American Contact Dermatitis Society encourages consumers to use caution (source).
Potential concerns about fragrance
Fragrances are normally undisclosed mixtures of a long list of various chemicals. The FDA does not require companies to disclose the ingredients of fragrances. On my blog, I recommend products made by companies that value transparency. Thus, I promote products that have only natural scents that come from essential oils and/or plant extracts and oils. Fragrances may cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. The Skin Deep database rates them 8 out 10 where 10 stands for the highest level of toxicity.
On my blog, I do not recommend any products with fragrance even if a company claims that they use natural fragrance. You can find out what is not so good about natural fragrance in my Natural Fragrance post.
Ethoxylated ingredients in the Monat shampoo
There are two ingredients among the Monat shampoo ingredients that result from the process of ethoxylation. These ingredients are Trideceth-6 and C11-15 Pareth-7. What are the problems with the process of ethoxylation?
To begin with, most manufacturers use harsh petrochemical raw materials. To make them less irritating to the skin, they add ethylene oxide. As a result, there may be traces of unreacted ethylene oxide in the final product. Moreover, 1,4-dioxane is created during the ethoxylation process. Unless a manufacturer uses the vacuum-stripping method to get rid of 1,4-dioxane, the dangerous chemical can remain in the shampoo.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified ethylene oxide as “carcinogenic to humans.” It classifies 1,4-dioxane as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” “Probably carcinogenic to humans” means that “there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.”
Even if the company makes sure that no amount of 1,4-dioxane remains in the Monat Revive shampoo, I am not very enthusiastic about the ingredients whose manufacturing process includes two carcinogens.
On my blog, I do not recommend products with ethoxylated ingredients. You can read more about that in my Hidden Ingredients in Best Baby Wipes post.
Does this shampoo make your hair thicker?
Monat claims that Monat Revive shampoo “penetrates and supports the scalp while helping boost natural hair growth and improving follicle strength to assist in reducing hair thinning.”
I am not familiar with any independent studies illustrating that by using a shampoo you can increase hair growth or make hair thicker and stronger. Keep in mind that contact with shampoo is short and relatively infrequent. I had a hair-thinning problem and took the time to look for any independent studies on this subject. Sadly, I was unable to find any scientific studies proving that hair does get thicker due to shampoo. (Read my Overlooked Hair Loss Causes post to see how I solved my problem and what you can do today.)
On the other hand, there are quite a few ingredients that coat the hair. I assume it is the coating that makes the hair look and feel thicker.
The following may serve as hair coating ingredients: guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, cinnamidopropyltrimonium chloride, stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl decylglucosides chloride. Additionally, they are acrylates copolymer, sodium hydroxypropylphosphate laurylglucoside crosspolymer, propoxytetramethyl piperdinyl dimethicone, centrimonium chloride.
I have not seen so many coating agents in a single shampoo! The list of the Monat shampoo ingredients even contains acrylates copolymer. Normally I see this ingredient in nail polishes as a film former and in hair sprays as a hair fixer.
So, what do you think? Do you think it is worth $35 for 8 oz? Let me know in the comments. I personally would not use this shampoo even if they sent it to me for free.
More Monat reviews
Please visit the Better Business Bureau to read numerous complaints about Monat products and their customer service.
This is the most comprehensive review I have seen of what has happened since I first published this post.
Looking for a less controversial shampoo? Curious to know what shampoo and conditioner I am using now after I published the Shampoo Rating List and looked at each ingredient of over 100 shampoos? Please visit my Shop.
Lawsuits against Monat
It may also be important to know that Monat has been the subject of a fair amount of litigation, as people who have suffered adverse effects of the Monat shampoo ingredients have sued Monat. To clarify, the lawsuits include allegations that Monat Revive shampoo has damaged hair, even causing it to fall out in some cases. They also include claims for false advertising. Further, at least a couple of these lawsuits have been class action lawsuits. For my attorney husband’s take on class action lawsuits in general, click here.
Class action lawsuit
Specifically, there is a class action pending in Miami, Florida, in which the plaintiffs allege that Monat’s products were defectively designed and that they failed to inspect their ingredients for contamination. Nevertheless, in the fall of 2019, Monat asked the court to dismiss the case. However, the judge denied the motion, and did not dismiss the entire case, as Monat had asked.
On the other hand, the judge did carve out a small piece of the case and dismissed that small portion of it. As a result, Monat hailed this as a great victory publicly, but the case remains on the books and is headed toward a jury trial.
Additionally, here’s what else my husband has to say:
Apparently, there have been multiple class action lawsuits filed against Monat alleging harmful effects of the Monat shampoo ingredients. In fact, there are so many class action lawsuits that the Federal courts have consolidated them into one courtroom under what is called the Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL, process. MDLs are created by the Federal courts when a single defendant is facing multiple lawsuits from various people. That is to say, it’s more efficient, reason the courts, to consolidate the matters for pretrial proceedings. While this happens frequently in individual cases, it is pretty rare to consolidate a lot of class action cases. I guess one can draw one’s own conclusion from this remarkable turn of events.
Thus, if you know someone who is considering getting Monat Revive shampoo, please direct them to this post, so they can make an informed decision.
Your Superpower To Read Ingredients
Imagine looking at the ingredients of any shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or cream and in a matter of seconds being able to decide if it is safe to use!
With this easy unprecendented method, you will be able to spot potentially harmful personal care or skincare products that may cause irritation, an allergic reaction, or increase the risk of endocrine disruption or cancer.