New Palestine mom says popular hair product left family's hair falling out in clumps

Monat facing four class action lawsuits

NEW PALESTINE, Ind.— A Hancock County mother said a popular hair product left her hair falling out in clumps, and also caused damage to her children’s hair and scalps.

Jessica Deetz, a licensed cosmetologist, is one of several Monat customers speaking out about negative experiences with the hair care company.

Monat is now facing multiple class action lawsuits accusing the hair product line of fraud and deception.

Deetz, now a stay-at-home mom in New Palestine, saw Facebook friends selling Monat hair care products that claim to make hair longer, fuller, thicker and younger-looking.

“A lot of stylists I used to work with were using it and loving it, so I said ‘you know, I’ll try it,’” said Deetz.

Deetz spent nearly $300 on a starter package, which meant Deetz became what the company calls a “market partner.”

However, Deetz said she never sold the products because she’s on disability and can’t bring in any income.

“It was fine for a couple of months, and then all of a sudden hair starts falling out,” said Deetz. “I started noticing clumps coming out and I would have to clean out my brush every day or two with all the hair loss I had.”

Deetz’s children, ages 2 and 9, also experienced problems after using Monat’s junior line, which claims to be “gentle for children ages one to nine.”

“My daughter’s hair is breaking off,” said Deetz. “I found massive amounts of hair that were concerning in her crib. I’ve been massaging her scalp to try to wake up those dormant hair follicles and I don’t see any new hair sprouting out.”

She said her son A.J. is teased at school after developing patches of hair loss and painful sores on his scalp.

“It’s devastating,” said Deetz. “He just continues to lose hair and has all these sores on his scalp. I’m afraid it could be permanent hair loss.”

When Deetz she spoke out on social media about her issues with the products, she said some Monat supporters accused her of lying.

Deetz found Facebook groups with similar customer concerns and learned about several class action lawsuits.

“We are not making this up,” said Deetz. “Who wants to make this up? It’s kind of silly.”

Monat customers across the country are going public about breakage, scalp sores, and hair falling out in clumps allegedly after using Monat products.

Class action lawsuits accuse Monat of fraud and deception, and that the company uses harsh chemicals and known human allergens.

The company is also accused of strong-arm legal tactics, like suing critics.

"We have to do that to protect ourselves from defamation," said Monat spokesperson Gene Grabowski.

Call 6 Investigates requested an on-camera interview with Monat, but the company has not yet granted one.

The company did agree to a phone interview with fellow Scripps affiliate, KTNV, in Las Vegas.

"Any reputable lab will tell you there's nothing in the products that would cause this kind of reaction in a large population – there just isn't. You can rub it in your skin, you can drink it if you like, within reason. It's not going to cause this kind of reaction," Monat Spokesperson Gene Grabowski said in a phone interview.

Monat points to three clinical tests that show their products do not cause hair damage or breakage.

"When we tried to reason with our attackers who were bullying people online, bullying some of our market partners, bullying other customers and ridiculing them for using our product, we had to file a lawsuit to protect ourselves from the attacks," Grabowski said.

The company's repeated response to BBB complaints states that "although Monat's ingredients are naturally-based, safe, pure and sustainable, we understand that some may experience a reaction and should discontinue use."

The class action lawsuits claim the products use numerous "harsh chemicals" and "known human allergens."  

One controversial ingredient the suit highlights are Capixyl – containing red clover – which some say should be on a warning label.

"Yes, there should be a warning label, but only if the amount was higher," Grabowski said.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says women with a history of breast cancer should avoid red clover due to its estrogen-like effects in the body. It also says red clover may interfere with the liver's ability to process some drugs.

"The amount of red clover used (red clover extract) is so small that it would have no effect," said Grabowski.

Monat provided a fact sheet about the safety of its products.

Brittany Pillars, spokeswoman for MONAT and a Market Partner in Stillwater, Oklahoma released the following statement to Call 6 Investigates.

“MONAT is being forced as a last resort to use litigation to stop online defamatory attacks on Market Partners like me and on our products. We’re the real victims of the falsehoods and online bullying that has come from attackers who are trying to hurt our company. These attacks are aimed at damaging the livelihoods of thousands of Market Partners and their families who have safely and successfully served their customers across the United States and Canada.

“I know from my own experience that MONAT products are safe and that there is no scientific or other factual basis for the claims that have been made. MONAT’s products have undergone independent, clinical testing, and hundreds of thousands of consumers safely use the products every day.” 

“I also know that as with any consumer product, some people may develop adverse reactions. When that is the case, they should stop using the product and report their reaction to the company. But going to the media and trying to make it appear like there is something wrong with a product in order to damage the livelihoods of so many good people is just shameful and wrong.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is assessing 199 adverse event reports related to Monat products received between  August 2017 and March 2018.

As for Jessica Deetz of New Palestine, she stopped using the products.

In fact, she’s spent hundreds of dollars on medicine, products and treatments to try to fix her family’s hair.

Deetz said she’s not telling her story for financial gain, but to raise awareness.

“I’m worried about my children’s health and what chemicals I put into their body by using a product line that says it’s safe,” said Deetz.

MONAT Fact Sheet

  • MONAT understands that facts, science, and the truth will ultimately prevail despite the attacks the company and its Market Partners are facing online. To learn the truth about the company and its products and this issue, we readily share factual information on this website: www.truthaboutmonat.com.
  • In the immediate term, MONAT is being forced to litigate as a last resort in order to:
    • Put a stop to these coordinated online defamatory attacks on its more than 100,000 Market Partners – the real victims – and on its scientifically tested products.
    • Create an unbiased legal venue where the facts can be examined transparently.
  • On March 14, 2018, MONAT released the results of three independent clinical tests that confirm its products are effective, do not promote hair breakage, or further hair damage.  Testing was performed by Kosmosciense Ciencia & Tecnologia Cosmetica Ltda, one of the world’s leading independent clinical testing labs, which also does testing for L’Oréal, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson. The results make clear that MONAT’s shampoos and conditioners, used together, contribute to the improvement of the condition of hair.
  • All MONAT formulations use ingredients, in concentrations, that are approved by the Personal Care Product Council, and that that the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Commission consider ‘safe for their intended cosmetic purpose.”
  • All MONAT products are made in facilities that are GMP certified, registered with the FDA, operated in accordance with FDA regulations and that are subject to FDA audit and inspection.
  • All fragrances used in MONAT’s formulations have ingredients that adhere to the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) and RIFM (Research Institute of Fragrance Materials) standards for safety.
  • MONAT products are formulated with vegan materials, the finished products and ingredients used for cosmetic purposes are never tested on animals, and we use only those colorants approved by the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Commission.
  • MONAT has said “no” to following toxic ingredients:
    • No Parabens
    • No Sulfates
    • No Cyclic Silicones
    • No BHT
    • No DEA/MEA
    • No Phthalates
    • No Polyethylene Glycol
    • No Phenoxyethanol
    • No Petrolatum, Mineral Oil or Paraffin Wax
    • No Triclosan
    • No Plastic Microbeads
    • No Formaldehyde Releasers
  • With millions of consumers, there is a possibility that a small number of people are sensitive to one or more ingredients that have proven to be safe, effective and approved for the general public.  If someone has a reaction to a product, she or he should stop using it, like any other personal care product.
  • Millions of customers know from their own experience that MONAT’s products are safe. Any reputable lab will confirm there's nothing in the products that would cause the kind of reaction in a large population that is being claimed by some individuals.

 

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