The Truth About Personal Use in Mary Kay and Why It’s a Losing Proposition

Written by Black Nova

“I can’t believe it,” I thought as I sat at my computer placing what would turn out to be my last personal use order. “I’m going to have to order crap I don’t need in order to make the $200 mark.”

You’d think with seven of us ordering, it wouldn’t be that hard to put together an order every 6 months or so of $200 wholesale. But after putting in everyone’s stuff, I was still short.

I was angry that I was going to have to shell out money on something I didn’t need. But I had already taken my friends’ orders and I wasn’t going to let them down.

Here are the basics of being a Personal Use consultant that you usually aren’t told prior to signing up:

  • You must order $400 retail before your 50% discount kicks in.
  • You will always pay for shipping.
  • You will always pay tax on the full suggested retail value of the products.
  • You will always be hunting for people to buy stuff. Even at 50% discount, you still have to sell!
  • The 50% discount only lasts for the month you placed the order and the following 2 months.

Contrary to popular belief, even family and friends don’t like to be bugged unless they actually need something. Your personal use group will want to be able to buy an item here and an item there when they need it. They don’t like to plan for 6 months worth of stuff.

“But,” you say, “Once you have your discount, you can order any amount you like for 50% off!” That’s true, but that discount only lasts at most for 3 months (the month you order plus the following 2 months—not 3 months from when you place the order).

When women are stocking up on an order from their friend who’s a personal use consultant, believe me, they order way more than a 3 month supply. But there’s always that one thing they forgot, say a mascara, that they will have to pay full retail tax on, plus over $8.00 for shipping. That one mascara just got really pricey.

Allow me to debunk a few myths about being a Personal Use consultant.

You get 50% off all your Mary Kay Product! Only if you order $400 retail every three (or less) months. Factor in your costs of time, gas for deliveries, shipping, and taxes, and your 50% goes down significantly. You, your family and friends will not be getting a true 50% discount ever. Especially you.

You don’t have to sell. Oh, yes you do. You have to find out which of your family and friends use Mary Kay. Then you have to ask them if they’d like to buy through you so that you can get the 50% off discount. You get to convince them why it’s okay to buy from you, rather than their own consultant. When they give you small orders, you have to convince them that they need to pull their weight in the group so that everyone can get the discount—can you order just a little more? Did you see all the great new stuff? *gag*

It takes no time. You will spend hours finding people to be part of your personal use group. Organizing the orders, placing the order, running to the bank to cash checks, explaining why they are paying tax on the full retail. Then when the order arrives, you’re a real consultant now! You get to make deliveries! Oh, the joy! Time, time time. For me, it became one big chore. Mary Kay products are simply not worth putting out that kind of effort.

So, if you’re considering Personal Use because you think it will save you money, give it some more thought. Better yet, try Ebay, or the trading boards on Pink Truth. You’ll have a much easier time getting your product at a true discount—no $400 retail minimum required!


  1. NeverInButAgainstMK

    Hi, I am so sorry to do this in the comments (feel free to delete), but it’s been a really long time since I’ve been here on PinkTruth. I wanted to log back in to my account and have requested password reset information be sent to my email, but I think it is being sent to an email accoutn that no longer exists because I signed up on Pink Truth at least 6 years ago. There is an email to contact Tracy, but it states she is very busy and cannot answer all emails so I didn’t want to bug her. Are there any site admins that could help me? I am willing to provide any information needed. If it is better that I sign up for a new account, that’s fine too, but I didn’t want to do that to look like I’m just trying to have mulitiple accounts going. Anyway, if someone could point me in the right direction I am looking forward to getting back to parcipating here at Pink Truth. Thank you! – NeverInButAgainstMK

    1. princess lea

      I’m not an authority on this, because I’m new and had some problems signing up as well (I think it had something to do with my browser and email service, not PT). I finally got my activation code and have learned so much from Pink Truth! NeverInButAgainstMK, I would start by emailing Tracy, I don’t think it would hurt! I know that user accounts do not get deleted, so there must be a way you can change your email on the sign in page? Again, I’m not an authority on this, so don’t quote me! But also I am aware of a few people who have had to make a new account, probably because they lost all their sign in info &/or email like you? So, as a last resort you could go that route… Hope this helps! I’m sure somebody who knows more will be commenting soon 🙂

  2. MLM Radar

    Of course, Mary Kay couldn’t be content with squeezing Personal Use Consultants up to the $400 level with unwanted items. As of the 1st of March the new threshold is $450 every third month, AND the threshold has to be all in one order.

    I expect there will be quite a lot of Personal Use Consultants who didn’t read the memo, particularly the ones who only order a couple of times a year. Over the next six months they’ll place their orders thinking they’ll be charged $200 wholesale, then get slapped with a bill for twice that much because their orders didn’t meet the minimum.

  3. AllTheLostOnes

    I remember when I signed up I hated make-up but they got me by saying. “You can make other woman feel good and happy because you’re so sweet”
    Then I was told I should wear it all the time and at least do personal use and tell everyone I love it… I hated it…. I should have stopped long before I did but at least I am out of that cult…
    But my director got my mom to sign under me which she did knowing it was a bad idea. She didn’t really place orders only two of them. My director fed her this BS which is posted above. You don’t have to sell you can just do personal use… Such utter bs….

  4. Rkcanada

    OMG! Thanks so much for your post!! It’s been a year to the day that I last ordered anything. I was on the fender about staying personal use but I don’t want to sell to family/friends do deliveries etc. your article clarified the issue for me so I WILL NOT be staying in MK at allThanks!!

  5. princess lea

    This article is 100% correct!
    Even when you have customers and carry inventory, it can be hard to muster up the minimum order amount to get your 50% discount at times.
    AND, to add insult to injury, the minimum order amount has increased, so it’s not just $400 retail / $200 wholesale anymore! It’s $450 / $225 now!
    When a personal use consultant thinks she can just order her own stuff and a few things for close friends or family without any hassle, she has been greatly misled and deceived! It is nearly impossible to plan 6 months ahead. Things get forgotten, things get used up too fast or too slow, heck, things can even get lost. Now what? Now you are stuck paying extra for things you don’t really need. Definitely much better off going the E Bay route…

  6. CaliforniaGal

    Hi gal friends, I agree being a Mary Kay personal use consultant is really silly. After I stepped down from directorship, I was basically a personal use consultant for 10 years.

    I had one fabulous customer. I had several friends who I gave 50% discounts to and charged full tax. Not really a smart way to run a business. Every year I had anywhere from $1500 to $2000 on my credit card. I ordered every other month and kept everyone happy. My friends and customer loved me.

    When I started reading Pink Truth and went back and looked my schedule C over. I was shocked. I had made$150. For that a tiny bit of money, I had to call and get the order together, store the tiny store that I had, and then deliver the stuff. Plus I put my orders only card. Of course, I was not in debt. But what a waste of time, effort, and money.

    When I decided to leave, I knew I had to find replacement products first. I didn’t want to “burn my bridges” until I was sure I could find better products. What a trip, not only did I find better products, but they cost less. Being in Mary Kay is just not in the best financial interests of me or my family!

      1. CaliforniaGal

        Hi gal friend, My dermatologist had me on CeraVe. This is a safe foaming face cleanser & moisturizer. Lasts a long time & inexpensive at Walmart or most drugstores.

        I found Aveeno tinted foundation with moisturIzer. Lip glosses were a variety of products. Right now I am using Revlon & it looks a crayon.

        I also use either coconut oil on my face & grape seed oil after showers.

      2. CaliforniaGal

        I was using dermatologist recommended CeraVe. Inexpensive, $13 lasted me 6 more or better. It’s available at Walmart or Walgreens. CeraVe comes as a foaming facial cleanser & a mmoistuer

        Then my PHONE friends introduced me to grape seed oil. Then Some one suggested coconut oil. I love these! I still use Aveeno tinted foundation with moisturIzer. Works well, is inexpensive & lasts a long time. There’s tons of great glosses, lipsticks in great colors. Hope this helps.

  7. StalledPink

    My director became a consultant for her 50% discount. She said between herself, her sister, and her mom she was able to maintain her discount. Then her JOB rearranged and she was out of her JOB. Her story to me was at that point her husband told her “she could not afford that stuff you use on your face” any more, so her director told her to do Mary Kay full time, directorship, she would always be able to afford it. Now a days she is struggling to move up in the business. I look at her and think…. it would have been easier to buy on e-bay the thousands of Mary Kay products listed….. after you found another real job with real benefits.

  8. Vancouver604

    I have tried Mary Kay and I didn’t find it to be any better than the drugstore brands. So why not pay less (sometimes even half the price or less) and get better quality stuff at the drugstore, when you need it, no waiting or paying shipping?

  9. Linda

    After 10 years as an IBC, I guess I’m one of the “lucky” ones, to have escaped relatively unscathed! No, I never struck it rich in MK (nowhere close!), but I am, apparently, one of the fortunate few who haven’t gone into debt for the sake of an inventory. However, I did spend $3600 of my savings back in 2007 on products (many of which are still on my shelves 7 years later!). Hey, I was #1 in my unit for wholesale that quarter, not to mention a Star Consultant, and I even got a nice watch to boot! I pretty much knew, going in, how it was set up because I’d used MK for years before I signed my own agreement, and knew several consultants back then, as well. I still thought I’d do well, because I had a “PLAN.” I purposely did not go for DIQ, because I knew all the hoops they had to jump through, and just thinking about it exhausted me! I really thought that if I just got a couple dozen really faithful customers who’d order each quarter, and each of them just refer 1 person per year, I could live on reorders & a gradual increase in customers. The last thing I would do was pressure people into buying. Therefore, I did no parties at all after the first couple of years. I also have not attended meetings or other events since then (those women act completely ridiculous with their stupid songs, slogans, etc.), & even when I did, I NEVER brought “guests” (poor things, they never even saw the ambush coming!) After all, it would be “selfish” not to share the MK opportunity with them! Funny how few consultants I know who have actually recruited anyone (over saturation of the market, perhaps?? The more sellers there are, the less buyers–hello!). I DID try to recruit 3 people (none of which panned out). Absolutely HATED making phone calls (lately, I’ve texted or placed flyers in mailboxes). COLD CALLING (are you nuts?). I would never even THINK of accosting complete strangers on the street or at the mall, etc. How ironic that MK emphasizes the “Golden Rule.” Is that how WE want to be treated? The frequent product/packaging changes drove me insane, and really frustrated my customers, too, and the “Last Chance” items in Sec. 1 of the order form were a joke, too. They were always gone when you tried to order them.
    Anytime I complained to my SD about low income, she’d advise me to purchase even MORE inventory & get on the phone. “BOOK! BOOK! BOOK! SELL! SELL! SELL! (If you call them, they will buy!) Oh, please!
    My customers didn’t seem to care if I carried inventory. They never complained about waiting a few days! (Contrary to what MK teaches!)
    So the last couple of years, I decided to do the minimal amount of effort with the least $$ spent on my part! I streamlined my business by only holding “stock up” sales after the Look book came out, with larger discounts, to discourage those annoying smaller purchases where the shipping cost was as much as the product ordered! I even made the deliveries!
    Incidentally, I don’t “hate” the company. I believe that MK was very well-intentioned when she launched the company. I’m sure she never dreamed how huge it would become! But I do believe it’s absolutely crucial to acknowledge that, yes, dishonest, unethical, & unprofessional behavior DOES exist in MK, just like in other MLMs ( & corporate America, in general!). It seems to run rampant in MK, though, so caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) (the “buyer” being the recruit). If you can make money following the rules, then go for it, but KNOW what you’ve signed onto. Writing this has been so cathartic (please forgive my rambling, but it helps bring me closure!). Love reading the posts of all the ex-Kbots!

    1. MLM Radar

      Maybe MK didn’t START as a manipulative shell-game company, but it sure turned into one a LLOOOOONNNGGG time before MK herself retired. She knew darn well what kind of a monster she’d created, she knew how she was abusing women, and she liked it that way.

  10. Roger

    I was married to a Marykay consultant and found out she was using my money to make her monthly quota. On her her MaryKay speech she would lie about having an engineering degree and that she was prior military which were utterly lies. I believed in what she did until I started to ask questions and when I caught her lieing she blamed me for not supporting her ( now she’s crazy and delusional ).

  11. Lisa

    Hi, I just purchased the starter packet but after looking into the cons rather then the pros (none really) I wanted to know if I can opt out and just keep my starter packet or will they make me pay full price for each item?

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