Are MONAT hair products toxic? A reader posted this article from the Ancestral Nutrition blog on my Facebook page recently. I spent some time going through all the claims. This post is my rebuttal.
Before I begin this post, I will make a disclaimer. I am an independent MONAT Market Partner, which means I sell MONAT products and earn commissions. That said, I never promote anything I don't believe in, and if I find out something is not up to snuff, I discontinue promoting it. In fact, read the series of posts and watched the many videos I did on the fermented cod liver oil scandal. I used to promote and make money from Green Pastures' fermented cod liver oil, but after Kaayla Daniel's whistleblower report, I was extremely vocal about my disavowal of that product and cut all ties with the company that manufactures it.
Are MONAT Hair Products Toxic? Debunking the Myths
In the Ancestral Nutrition post, the author claimed that MONAT's products are toxic and contain harmful ingredients.
“Because fragrance is on the ingredient label of several MONAT products. No pthalates? Pthalates are often hiding under the umbrella term of “fragrance.” No PEGs? Then what about steareth-21 or ceteareth-20? Both are PEGs and both are found in MONAT products. The fact that this company lists the ingredients as toxins shows they know that they are harmful, but then they go on to have the audacity to use them in their products! This is not okay. It’s flat out dishonesty and women need to know.”
Let me start by saying that I have nothing personal against the author of the Ancestral Nutrition blog. I don't know her personally. My rebuttal is purely based on refuting factual errors.
And her article is absolutely riddled with errors. She even got the ingredients wrong on the Rejuveniqe Oil:
Those are the ingredients for the Rejuvabeads product, NOT the Rejuveniqe Oil.
She also wrote, “Fragrance is banned in Europe”. I commented on her Facebook page to let her know that is obviously false (just think of all the perfume that is made in Paris)… She has since deleted that line from her post.
However, she really needs to take the whole post down since there's almost nothing factually correct in it… as I will outline below…
Also, I need to note here that although Ancestral Nutrition does not disclose this on her post, she does sell her own skincare and haircare products.
So she's biased because she is a competitor. All journalists and reviewers are biased, of course, but we need to always disclose these things so people are aware of the bias. Particularly when there is a financial interest. And especially when you title your blog post, “An Unbiased Review”.
OK… so let's take a look at each one of her claims about MONAT…
1. Harmful Fragrance?
Do MONAT hair products contain harmful fragrances?
Nope. I debunked this in my original MONAT review.
In that post, I created a spreadsheet with all the ingredients in Renew Shampoo, and I specifically addressed the fragrances, which are all 3 and below on Skindeep…
Excerpt from my blog post:
“If you look at the spreadsheet, you'll notice that Fragrance (parfum) is listed and it scores an 8. That is Skin Deep's rating for synthetic fragrance, so it doesn't apply to MONAT. Personal care product companies are not required to list the ingredients in fragrances, and they can be very toxic.
However, I got a hold of all the ingredients MONAT uses in their fragrances, and they all score 3 or below. Here's the spreadsheet.”
But even without that information included in my spreadsheet, we can debunk her claim based on the information she published in her own blog post.
She says, “Roughly 95% of all synthetic fragrance is derived from petroleum, crude oil.”
This is true. Most fragrances are made from petroleum and yes, they are toxic.
But MONAT does not use petroleum products of any kind in their formulations. Hence, based on logic, MONAT's fragrance formulations are not petroleum-based.
Furthermore, note that although fragrance is allowed in Europe (see above), the EU is much more strict about which fragrance ingredients are allowed. There are many ingredients under the label of “fragrance” that are allowed in the US but banned in Europe.
But MONAT products are being sold in Europe as of February 2018. They just opened up the UK and they did not change their formulation at all. (See the second tab on my spreadsheet.)” What that tells you is these harmful fragrance ingredients are NOT contained in MONAT products.
2. PEGs, or Polyethylene Glycol?
According to Ancestral Nutrition's blog post:
“While MONAT says they do not use PEGs in their products – it’s clearly a falsehood. Steareth-21 and Cetereath-20 are both on the ingredient list and made of polyethylene glycol, aka PEGs.”
First of all, no, MONAT does *not* contain PEGs. As with harmful fragrances, if MONAT products contained PEGs, they could not sell them in Europe.
Ancestral Nutrition is making the claim that Steareth-21 and Cetereath-20 are PEGs… but she has no proof of that. While these two ingredients CAN be PEGs, they are only PEGs if they are contaminated with ethylene oxide, which is carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
OK, I'm about to get science-y here, but stay with me… I'm not a scientist or a chemist… in fact, I didn't even take chemistry in high school.
But this is plain logic… all you have to do is read the definition of what a PEG is and you will see that there is no evidence that MONAT contains PEGs.
“ETHYLENE OXIDE: a known human carcinogen; banned in Canada and European Union; EWG rates it 10 for the harmful health impact on a scale from 0 to 10 (10 being the most harmful); associated with cancer, reproductive effects, mutagenic changes, neurotoxicity, and sensitization; not an ingredient but a contaminant of ingredients such as Polysorbate-20, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG-100 Stearate, Ceteareth-20, Ceteth-20, Polysorbate-60, Laureth-7, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Steareth-21 and others” (Source)
“CETEARETH-20: an emulsifying agent; may be contaminated with carcinogenic ethylene oxide (see ETHYLENE OXIDE) and 1,4-dioxane (see 1,4-DIOXANE)” (Source)
Note the words “MAY BE CONTAMINATED”.
Also read this definition of what a PEG is: “PEG is also known as polyethylene oxide (PEO) or polyoxyethylene (POE), depending on its molecular weight.”
So, polyethylene oxide is a PEG… but Steareth-21 and CETEARETH-20 are not necessarily contaminated with ETHYLENE OXIDE.
Are you following? Therefore, there is no proof that Steareth-21 and CETEARETH-20 are PEGs. Since we don't know if they have been contaminated by ethylene oxide. They must be contaminated by ethylene oxide to be classified as a PEG.
Furthermore, according to one of the Market Partners in my upline, MONAT does small batch manufacturing and tests at four different points for a number of different factors, including contamination of primary ingredients (such as Steareth-21 and Cetereath-20).
3. Behentrimonium Chloride?
Ancestral Nutrition writes:
“Behentrimonium chloride is an ammonium salt and while I found reports stating that it causes tissue death – I wasn’t able to find any studies to substantiate this claim. However, if you or your child have skin issues like eczema or psoriasis, it is best to avoid a harsh ingredient like this.
Behentrimonium chloride is only safe in concentration under 0.1% – as I was unable to reach Monat, I am unsure of what percentage they use in their products.”
What is behentrimonium chloride? It is a waxy solid made from colza oil, which comes from the seeds of Brassica rapa olifera. Also known as canola or rapeseed, Brassica rapa olifera, is part of the mustard plant family.
Behentrimonium chloride is rated as a 3 on the Skin Deep website, which means it is very low to moderate in terms of toxicity.
They consider anything between 0-2 to be non-toxic and 3-6 to be moderate; keep in mind, some essential oils score a 3 on the Skin Deep website. For example, natural lime oil scores a 3.
The Soft Landing blog, a website that I respect and recommend based on the quality of their research, says behentrimonium chloride is an “ingredient of mild concern”.
I found lots of other articles about Behentrimonium chloride, including this one from the website, I Read Labels For You:
“In the Skin Deep database, behentrimonium chloride is rated 3 with no data available. In the Canada Environment Substance List, it is listed as being non-persistent and non-bioaccumulative, but still toxic to aquatic life.
The European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety found that behentrimonium chloride may cause irritation in concentrations above 5% in the rinse-out products and up to 3% in leave on hair care and facial cream products. Since these are relatively much higher thresholds than for other quats, such as cetrimonium chloride or steartrimonium chloride, we can probably assume that behentrimonium chloride is safer.
This study confirms that, unlike some other quats, this one does not cause either immediate dermal irritation or delayed sensitization (an allergic reaction developed over time) when used in concentrations >5%.
In conclusion, behentrimonium chloride has not been linked to any health problems when used in concentrations of under 5%. However, there is a concern about its safety to aquatic life.”
Behentrimonium chloride is found in many other natural shampoos and hair products, including Shea Moisture, Herbal Essences, OGX and Deva Curl.
OK, so I think it's clear behentrimonium chloride is not an issue and clearly not toxic unless it is used in high concentrations… and the Ancestral Nutrition post showed no evidence of that.
4. Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine?
In the Ancestral Nutrition article, she says Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is in the Rejuvenique oil (see the screenshot above, where she got the ingredients wrong), which is applied to the skin.
This is false.
Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is in some MONAT products including Rejuvabeads. If you are familiar with the products, Rejuvabeads is something you ONLY use on the ends of your hair (it's a split end mender). It is not something you put on your skin or on your scalp. And you also use a very tiny amount of it — maybe a pea size at most.
Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is also in the Blow Out Cream, Air Dry Cream and the Junior Detangler. But you will notice on the ingredients lists for those products, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine is at the bottom of the list. Which means there is very little of this ingredient in the products.
I did some research on Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine. It's a 1 on the Skin Deep site, which means very low hazard.
In all the articles I read, they said it's nothing to be scared of.
Check out this excerpt from an article from NaturallyCurly.com:
Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine sounds scary for two reasons: one, the -propyl ending is reiminiscent of isopropyl alcohol, that naughty drying alcohol that lends itself to snapping damaging and breaking natural hair.
Two, the dimeth- shares the same first 6 letters as dimethicone, a common silicone used in hair products. Anti-cone naturals may mistakenly associate this ingredient with a cone, when in fact, it is not.
In actuality, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine is touted as a silicone replacement, often used in place of or in conjunction with silicones in many conditioners. It is a cationic surfactant (positively charged) made from the rapeseed (more canola!).
What does it do
Stearamidopropyl dimethylamine binds to the hair, helps correct the negative charge of shampooing (like most conditioners), helps detangle, reduce flyaways and static, and helps smooth the cuticle. Unlike some silicones, it does not cause buildup.”
Waxes and silicones can build up on hair and cause the follicles to get blocked and slow hair growth. Build up is one of the things we really want to avoid with haircare products.
5. Benzyl Alcohol?
Yes, there is benzyl alcohol in MONAT products but this is not something to be concerned about, because the amount used is very small, and it is not irritating or toxic in tiny amounts.
From the Ancestral Nutrition article:
“In a primary irritation study 10% benzyl alcohol applied in a 24-hour occlusive patch to the back of eight male albino rabbits did not cause irritation.”
In other words, they put a patch containing 10% benzyl alcohol on rabbits and there was no irritation.
There is no way there is 10% benzyl alcohol in any MONAT product. This one is a non-starter.
But it is also important to note that benzyl alcohol can be derived from petrochemicals OR from natural sources. Since MONAT does not use petroleum products (see #1 above, under Harmful Fragrances?), it is safe to assume any benzyl alcohol comes from plant-based sources. Many plants, fruits, and teas actually have benzyl alcohol as a component, as do essential oils like jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang.
What this means is just because you find benzyl alcohol in a product does not mean it is toxic such as the benzyl alcohol derived from petroleum. If this were the case, you'd have to throw out all your essential oils.
6. Trifolium Pratense, or Red Clover Flower Extract?
Most of the MONAT hair products do contain red clover flower extract, however, this is not a toxic ingredient. Skin Deep gives it a 1, which means they consider it non-toxic.
Also, they are using EXTRACT, not the actual plant. Finally, it's a tiny, tiny amount. Less than 1%. There are products on Amazon that have over 10%.
For more detail on this ingredient, and why it's perfectly safe, watch the video below:
7. Centrimonium Chloride?
From Ancestral Nutrition's post:
“Centrimonium chloride is an ammonium salt used as a preservative… At low doses, it is a skin irritant (source). At high doses…”
Again, not a high dose. And it's a low to moderate hazard… a 3 on the Skin Deep website.
In Conclusion… Are MONAT Hair Products Toxic?
Are MONAT hair products toxic? The answer is no.
Clearly, there is zero evidence in this article by Ancestral Nutrition to prove that MONAT hair products are toxic in any way. And I think it's extremely irresponsible for a blogger to attack products and a company like this when it is so completely unwarranted. I'm the first in line to attack products that are unsafe and hazardous to health… but you have to actually prove that with facts. Which she didn't.
Accusing MONAT products of causing cancer and birth defects is defamatory, as there is simply no evidence to validate these claims.
If anyone finds evidence that there are toxic ingredients in MONAT products, please comment below. I have yet to find anything anywhere on the internet. On that note, I will be doing another post in this series to explore some of the other posts I have seen on social media about MONAT. Again, there is zero evidence of anything toxic. Check back soon for more… Follow me on Facebook for future updates.
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