Bamboozled by Mary Kay: One Woman’s “Facial” Experience

This weekend, Chrissy at My Cosmetic Bag (a site for all things makeup!) posted a review of her experience with a Mary Kay “facial.”  One of the common criticisms of Mary Kay here at Pink Truth is that the facials aren’t really facials at all. And that the “facial” is simply an opportunity to try to recruit you into the scheme. Chrissy’s review fully supports those criticisms, and is from an “outsider,” …. someone with no skin in the game on either side of the Mary Kay argument.

You can read the whole piece at “Bamboozled by Mary Kay,” but a few of the more interesting snippets are here:

The Invitation

“You will experience our Indulge Pampering which includes a 3-step hand spa, 2 step lip treatment, ultimate facial with microdermabrasion experience, PLUS a mineral color makeover! You are welcome to invite along any others you might like to join you – friends, family, co-workers, etc. And its all free :)”

The Event

I could not have been more wrong. When we arrived, we were rushed into a small room where other women were sitting around large conference tables, plates of product samples and mirrors in front of them. I immediately started wondering what I’d gotten us into. I sat down, already wary of the night, but since it wasn’t exactly easy to get there I thought I might as well just get it over with. There were droplets of product samples in front of me. They were numbered 1-10 and there wasn’t any information about the products or their ingredients nearby, so I was already a bit annoyed. There were probably about 20 other women in the room.

The Pitch

Then, the sales director said something that really caught my attention in a negative way. She said that one of the sales women under her employ especially benefited from being able to make her own hours because her husband had recently been diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. It was good that she didn’t have to work regular hours because she could now spend time with her dying husband. For those of you who know me, you know that cancer is a subject that particularly hits close to the heart for me. I immediately didn’t like this lady. Another family’s experience with cancer is not a selling point for you to get a group of other woman to sell makeup. It’s an extremely personal and horrifying experience that you completely just put on blast for your own benefit. That was not okay with me. I thought it was completely shameless and borderline disgusting that she had the nerve to try and spin that angle. I wanted to leave, but for the sake of myCosmeticBag I decided I should at least try the product samples in front of me.

The article goes on to detail how the session was nothing close to the “pampering” that was promised. She washed her own face, had consultants who had no knowledge of the products they were pushing, and ended up with makeup that wasn’t flattering on her.

Chrissy calls the whole experience “misleading,” because:

“… what they think will be an evening of spa pampering, only to find out that they would be spoken down to and directed to put products on their faces in which the “professionals” knew nothing about – she should really find a new method of sales. If she had just told me directly that she’d like me to try out some of the products and consider selling them myself, I would have been more open to the experience…”

Welcome to the Mary Kay experience, Chrissy. It’s not really about selling makeup. It’s about recruiting others to recruit others. The makeup is simply the bait used by desperate women who are trying to recruit. And about that sales director who told you she doubled her income with Mary Kay? My money says she’s making a fraction of what she used to, but you’ll never know because she’ll never back up her claims with proof. It is all part of the pattern and practice of using misleading and false earnings claims to get women into Mary Kay.

Thank you for sharing your experience, Chrissy!


  1. pinkiu

    I didn’t receive real training until I became a professional makeup artist for a national prestige company found in higher end department stores. In fact I was the one telling my friend who was an SD about peptides and what they did – how they plumped out cells temporarily from the inside to reduce the look of lines. She didn’t know why her customers had to use the serum before the moisturizer! I remember that moment as the aha moment about product knowledge. They don’t have any. Later she thanked me because now that she knew what it did, she sold it more confidently and had higher sales. Part of me regrets sharing that information, but it reminded me how little real training in products the company provides.

  2. workedpink

    “Oh come and be a “model” for my book”, she cajoled. She was a freind and while the whole concept of MK worked my nerves, I said, “Ok” and agreed to meet her at a local hotel. We were in the dining room, which was unoccupied because it was still early in the day, but was also an open space with hotel guests streaming by. I was given dabs of cleanser and moisturizer, a wet washcloth and dabs of makeup. I looked like a pasty-faced clown as the foundation was too light and the colors too bright. The worst part though was the evil, plastic Director. She was from another state and had “adopted” this unit. I guess she needed us to buy or book or join or whatever, to make her trip worthwhile.

    She basically told me I was wasting time when I refused to go off and sit with her to hear the “opportunity”. I’d already heard it, and worked for her “future director”. I knew that the Future MK Sales Director I worked for was struggling. She was making co-pays on the car, she was living at home with her mother, she could barely pay me and offered me product in lieu of paycheck all the time. Being a model or getting a facial is a big lie and they should be ashamed for duping women like that.

  3. Muppet2171

    I was a Mary Kay Commando for a very brief period. I had one friend who was willing to put up w/ the sales meetings…er…pampering sessions, but she told me she didn’t like how pushy everyone seemed to be.

    Funny thing is I didn’t really notice it at the time. I got out because I refused to go into debt to order inventory I wasn’t sure I could sell…and if ordering by catalog was good enough for Avon – it was good enough to have me shunned and ignored at meetings.

  4. Shanay

    I must be a freak, I LOVE home parties and had a complete BLAST at the two sessions I went to at my consultant’s house. I even expressed interest in becoming a consultant and agreed to let a SD call me. She called me, I spoke to her once, nobody is hounding me or pushing me, which surprised me a little. The pampering sessions I have been to are just what I expected, a chance to try some new products, new treatments, new make up looks, new colors, and see if I like them. I guess not everyone at MK is pushy. Nobody likes pushy.

    1. Raven

      The key words in your comment are “home” parties! Not everyone likes to be put on display in public, especially when they were misled to believe it would be an entirely different experience. But yes, I agree with you when you say not all of them are pushy. I signed up to be a Consultant because not only do I love the products, but I had such a great (non-pushy) experience with my now team member. I wish everyone could have the types of MK experiences we’ve had!

    2. Laurissa

      Shanay I have to agree with you. I don’t know what training/guest night Chrissy went to but they are NOTHING like the ones my director hostesses!!! And I have been around Mary Kay all my life. I get bothered more by ladies in department stores than I do by my mentor whom I signed under. And I follow the Golden rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I AM educated about the products I ask women/men to apply to their faces. By law, we are not ALLOWED to touch our client faces. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I find it, and get back to them ASAP!!! And, A LOT of our consultants have had family members who have gotten VERY VERY ill!!! What they were thankful for was being able to set their own hours and still getting a paycheck. Hospital stays and illness is something EVERYONE can relate to. I know I can!!! I feel it’s such a shame some consultant has taken something so kind and wonderful to so many turned it ugly to y’all……..

  5. Raven

    This sounds absolutely horrible! Unfortunately, I stayed away from Mary Kay for several years because of this reputation and mentality they had. I “sold” Avon with no success, mainly just to get the discounts. If my first experience with Mary Kay had been like this, I would have RAN in the opposite direction. I signed up for MK in February, and absolutely love it. It has been stop-and-go for me, but I am extremely fortunate to be with a unit that does not advocate use of the word “facial”, and that encourages no more than 5 to 6 people at the “parties”. I do not try to recruit (not everyone does), I simply love the products and am trying to find a way to supplement income after losing my job just over a year ago. I hate that you had such a nasty experience, but I truly hope you do not base your opinion of ALL MK consultants on this. 🙂

    1. Lazy Gardens

      simply love the products and am trying to find a way to supplement income after losing my job just over a year ago.

      So, if you use this spreadsheet it will make a running balance of your income and outgo:

      Enter all your income from sales, then all your expenses. How’s the supplementing doing? Are you breaking even yet?

      And then put in the hours. Are you making more than minimum wage for your efforts?

  6. Foxeh

    This experience seemed similar to the one I had.

    My Mary Kay lady said that I should do a makeover thing for some type of contest to win a vacation, another makeover, and a donation to a charity of my choice.

    When she said words like, “makeover,” and, “facial,” I assumed that I would be getting pampered by a professional makeup artists. In other words, I didn’t think I’d have to do everything myself.

    When I got to the Mary Kay place, there were other women there, with the same mirror trays mentioned in the article and comments. While the consultants present knew what they were doing, I was disappointed that I wasn’t being pampered the way I had expected to be. I liked the products, though.

    At least I had the door prize to look forward to, right? Nah, it was just a lip balm.

    But like everyone else has mentioned, it was basically a Mary Kay consultant meeting to try and get everyone to join Mary Kay.

    If my ride hadn’t left to do errands, I would have left when they started the marketing scheme.

  7. Suzie

    I am so happy to have found this website! Pink Truth you are a saint! I recently got convinced to go to one of these “ultimate pampering sessions” myself. How dumb of me to think it was legit! My friend is getting married and some woman claimed my friend had “won” this little session. The email is very convincing. Ultimate pampering could be defined differently ….depending on experience so they lure you in! We got there and there were little black trays with a dab of facial products in front of us….barely enough to even put all over our faces….that we applied ourselves I should add. They spent more time trying to recruit us to the company than we did trying out products. It was 2 hours! I could have left, yes but my friend was nice enough to include me in what she thought was a day of facials. Shame on Mary Kay for encouraging business practices like this! It is a complete scam!

  8. Mckenzie

    I’m glad I saw this. Someone texted me out of the blue about the same thing: “a facial, I know your friend, etc, etc.” Course, I immediately texted my friend, and she didn’t even know who I was talking about! SO GLAD I bothered to look this up!!!

    1. princess lea


      Another one saved!

      If you want a real facial, go somewhere else! Go to any mall, just do not go to a Mary Kay facial, party, meeting, etc etc…

      I was the picture perfect consultant for years. I always had guests at ‘events.’ So, I can honestly say that these events are NOT facials, they are NOT pampering. They are only meant to recruit people to recruit people to recruit people.

      Also, there is very little product knowledge taught to consultants. You will learn nothing of real value.

      Please come back to visit us soon, and learn everything you can about the dangers of MLM’s!

      1. Jenn

        Yep. Facials were never meant to teach women about makeup and skincare. Only the hostess was allowed to receive a “color makeover”. Everyone else got Satin Hands and the skincare demo. And then, if they liked the foundation, they could only buy it in the complete skincare set, which was so stupid. And then the mantra was sell to everyone, get at least three other women to book a facial party and always try and recruit the hostess.

        1. enorth

          “Only the hostess was allowed to receive a “color makeover”.”

          Yep, this is what the training videos show. The guests ooh and ahh because Helen Hostess is getting all glammed. That’s supposed to make them envious and jump at the chance to host their own party so they, too, can be treated like a “queen.” Some training even suggests that the IBC and guests refer to the hostess as “Queen Helen.” Hellllooooo…it’s 2015, no one falls for that nonsense.

  9. becky

    I LOVE pinktruth! I too am a consultant and have been for 3 months now
    Everything that is here is SO true! I hate selling things I really know nothing about! That is why I do research on the products MYSELF! I will never recruit I’m just in it for the discount! I hope everyone that is considering becoming a consultant finds this page!

    1. 4:8 girl

      Hi Becky – Welcome to PT! Tons of great info on here, so have fun. 🙂 If you love the discount, it’s just as easy to go on Craigslist or Ebay & see tons of MK items for LESS than 1/2 price. That way, you don’t need to order $225 wholesale every 3 months to retain your active status.

    2. MLM Radar

      Hi, Becky

      So glad you’re making the effort to learn about the products. MK doesn’t spend much effort doing that, and consequently very few consultants learn much themselves.

      In your quest to learn more I recommend you do comparison testing with other brands. Use a MK cleanser for two weeks, then use another brand for two weeks and see which makes your skin feel better. Use a MK lipstick one week and a Revlon the next, and see which one has better staying power. Use a MK eyeshadow one week and a Maybelline the next week, and see which produces richer color coverage with the fewest strokes.

      The best beauty consultants know a variety of brands and are able to describe both the best and the worst aspects in side-by-side comparisons. Sadly, the typical MK Sales Director knows a great deal about how to convince you to place another inventory order, but very little about what is in the boxes other than what the marketing brochure says.

      So go into Ulta or Sephora or a department store where you can talk to the in-store consultants (who get far more training than MK provides, and may be graduates from formal cosmetology schools). Ask them about the brands they’re showing, and what makes their brands better or other brands worse.

      You may be surprised what you learn.

  10. sarah

    Oh my gosh i almost fell over when I read thia article this happened to me last night. . I get a text saying YOUR A WINNER ..she had picked my name from a box that I had put my name into and says uve won a free pampering session! You can bring a friend you will be TREATED to a soothing hand and lip treatmeant, skin care update, flawless foundatio matching and dash out the door makeovers! So after I read that I waas so excited that i “won” this asked my friend to go told my fiance and eveeyone that I won a free pampering session.. my friend and I drive all the way there walk upstairs amd boom! There is a room full of women sitting in chairs as of attendi gllng a seminar..I look at my friens and I’m like this can’t be it.. well guess what it was! And that’s when i found out that it was marykay ..and there was def no pampering to be done all we did was sample a few of their products! I waa soo humiliated they made me stand in front of everyone introduce myself i was so embarrassed. .. I felt bad I had dragged my frie lnd along for thia! Crazy absolutely crazy ita horrible that that’s how they have to get people in there they should be ashamed!

    1. princess lea

      Sarah, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I can imagine how ‘duped’ you must be feeling! All of these makeover events are the same. I was a consultant for 10 years and have gone to quite a few different directors’ meetings, success events, pampering parties, muffins and makeovers, girlfriend get together, etc etc. I was very consistent at bringing guests along. I always used the scripts my director gave me, and they worked! Sure, I was always ‘friendly’ and never pushy but every time I sat there next to my guests I couldn’t help but wonder if they were having fun, or if they were thinking how I tricked them into coming to a recruitment event. Did they feel relaxed, or were they feeling like I was trying to take advantage of them? And then that little voice would tell me “No Princess, it’s not up to you to worry about how they are feeling, they are responsible for their own feelings.” Well, maybe so, but it is my fault for tricking all those women into thinking they were going to get pampered when all that happened was they were drug into some public area to take off their makeup in front of strangers, listen to some boring business shpeel, and then asked to buy a starter kit and sell the stuff.

  11. newmkconsultant

    I’ll never do something like that. And am I the only one who doesn’t recruit? Why would I? That just means less customers for me. Besides I’m a poor saleswoman anyway. I got an awesome new mk diaper bag out of the deal though.

    1. MLM Radar

      “Awesome.” And so it begins. New Consultant, I invite you to come back this time every month for the next six months and let us know how you’re doing. See if your story doesn’t unfold much the same way that another of my friends did.

      I heard the exact same thing you are saying from the receptionist in our office when she joined Mary Kay. She’ll never recruit. She’ll never buy inventory. She’ll just order whatever her customers want to buy and nothing else.

      And then one night she brought a friend, her best customer, to a “guest” night. She felt so bad that she had never brought a friend, so she did. Just this once. Before the night was out her Director recruited the friend for her. Suddenly she had one less customer, one less source of referrals. Not that she had many customers anyway, after the first two months. But she had a good start and she was sure it would get better.

      It didn’t.

      But she still swore she’d never buy inventory. But little by little she realized that shipping charges on small buy-when-they-buy orders were eating her alive. And her Director called on the last Thursday in June, telling her “the team” was sssoooooo close to qualifying for an award at Seminar. Couldn’t she PLEASE buy some inventory??? She’d save all those nasty shipping charges. “Don’t worry. You’ll sell it. It’ll fly off your shelves.”

      And she bought inventory. She used the money she was setting aside for school supplies in August.

      Six weeks later she realized that she still had 95% of her inventory order in her house, and didn’t have enough cash to buy school supplies. It was the beginning of the end.

  12. robotfishhead

    Let me preface with im a bit of a nerd, a bit closeted when it comes to make up and had no idea what Mary Kay was.

    A friend tells me she wants to get into “Applying” makeup again I agree to go to help fulfill her dream and go to her TRAINING.. I get a call saying they will give a free facial if we get there early ( after a long day I rush a beautiful dinner that I spent hours cooking for my partner who I hadn’t seen all week) because I’ve had ACTUAL, REAL facials before, I was excited. We get to this lady’s “studio” fiilled with cheap craft store decor. I noticed the women in the room giving me my facial have no idea how to put on makeup or match .. I wipe my face, put a bunch of goop on. I’m a greasy clown with cheap feeling makeup. I PUT BRONZER on with a flipping poof ball. Im sure you ladies know what happened the rest of the training.

    Im an actual sales rep, getting paid very well by the hour for a company monitored by the fda. These women clearly have no sales experience, no expense reports, no demographics reports, no sales reports.

    I hope this site stays up bc I’ve been reading articles and comments and everyone seems like smart women with ambition that have been wrongfully and illegally deceived. Seriously how us this not illegal?

  13. Judy

    I went to a bridal show at the mall about 2 weeks ago and I received a free “pampering” day with Mary Kay! Or so i thought! I go there with my bff only to find out I have to do everything myself and the lady didn’t even give enough product for my face! She basically just kept talking about a contest between them and whoever won would get a Michael kors purse! I’m a stay at home mother right now and money is tight so i told her I didn’t really bring any cash with me and she still insisted on seeing what i would like! So she wrote everything down on a reciept and I’m thinking its for future purposes for when I was ready to call her she knows what i want …but she finishes the reciept , hands it to me and says she was getting my FREE honeymoon package ready! So she hands me 3 things as I’m getting ready to leave , which I was in a rush doing cus it just wasn’t what i thought it would be! But she hands me these 3 things and then I notice when i get home that its all the things I told her I would buy when I had extra money! Now I didn’t give her any money and I was just confused like who does that! Who give merchindise without money!? So now I’m stuck buying this stuff for over $100 and I have no job and my fiance already pays for everything in the house encluding the 2 kids we have under 2yrs old! I feel like I was conned and now I dont know what to do.

    1. Lazy Gardens

      Judy … NO! You are NOT stuck buying that stuff. She may be trying to guilt you into paying for it, but there is NO LEGAL SALE when she just hands things to you.

      Unless you actually SIGN a promise to pay, her making out a receipt and stuffing it and some product into your hands is NOT a sale on credit. It’s a screwed-up way to force you to buy stuff.

      Call her and tell her that she seems to have misunderstood the situation, you were NOT asking for any sort of credit or gift and she has to come and get the stuff NOW! Leave it in the bag and just shove it out the door and shut the door!

  14. Melinda

    A really nice customer at my work came in one day and told me I had done a really good job with her and wanted to offer me a “complimentary facial on her.” She was very pretty and extremely nice and I assumed she worked in a salon somewhere, I was actually very excited to go. When I got there the initial red flag was that I wasn’t sure where the place was, I was looking for a salon somewhere…. but the address took me to some shady office building in an industrial park! I get upstairs and it’s completely different than what I thought. It looked like a classroom with a bunch of older upper class women with notebooks in front of them congratulating eachother and taking selfies. I was not informed ONCE that this had ANYTHING to do with Mary Kay. I was still confused the whole time, assuming my chair with my actual real facial was waiting for me and the two other girls (victims) in the back room, but nope just some weird dabs of product on a plastic tray. The whole time the directors kept talking about personal experiences and dumb things like how expensive the jewelry they had on was. I was honestly appalled. I waited for the free hand cream at the end and I bolted as soon as the girl asked me if I would be “interested in being a part of the team.” Maybe I wouldn’t have such a sour taste about it if they weren’t so sneaky about it. I now hate Mary Kay.

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