Mary Kay is Not a Business

pyramid-scheme-mlmWe get the same comments from Mary Kay supporters over and over: Mary Kay works when you do, don’t steal someone’s dream, it’s not a get rich quick scheme, it is a business and you have to treat it like one…

The sad fact, however, is that Mary Kay is NOT a business opportunity. Even those who are making money at the very top of the company are not doing so because they are running a business. They are “making money” because a scheme (often called a pyramid scheme) takes money from those at the bottom and transfers it to those at the top.

Those hugely successful women (and a couple of men) are “succeeding” only at duping people into joining Mary Kay Cosmetics and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on products they have almost no chance of actually selling for a profit. More than 99% of people who participate in multi-level marketing lose money. So all these “successful” women are doing is luring others into an “opportunity” to part with their family’s hard earned money.

Are you hoping that you can join Mary Kay to earn a little extra money in your free time? Or are you praying that you will be one of the lucky ones who will go on to make the big bucks? Either way, your chances are almost zero.

And what do you have to do to earn money?

  1. Try to sell overpriced products (for the level of quality) to friends and family. You’ll have to heavily discount the products in the hope of making some sales. That cuts into any potential profit you may earn.
  2. Build up your inventory, because you’re taught to believe that you “can’t sell from an empty wagon.” You will be told that women won’t buy if you don’t have products on hand, because they want their stuff immediately. Not true! Have you ever heard of shopping on the internet? People order products online by the millions, and *GASP*… they wait for the products to arrive. You don’t have to stock Mary Kay products to get women to buy. And chances are that even when you do have inventory, you’ll constantly need to place additional orders for items you don’t have on hand. While stocking that [largely unsellable] inventory, you’ll incur interest charges on the credit card used to buy it and you’ll tie up your family’s money in products that are regularly discontinued or revamped (so you’ll need to order the new stuff!).
  3. Spend hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to sell the products and recruit people, including paying for: samples, supplies, gas and auto expenses, events,etc.
  4. Try to recruit new marks into the Mary Kay scheme using deception. You will be taught to omit certain important information from the recruiting talk. You will be asked to claim you’re successful and making money, even when that’s not true. Your potential recruits will be shown your director’s “high check,” but not given important information like the amount of that commission that had to be paid back to the company when recruits returned products, or all the business expenses that deplete that check to almost nothing. You will be asked to claim that women in Mary Kay earn a full-time income with part-time hours.

So if Mary Kay is not a business, then what is it?

It’s not a social activity. I know, I know. When those opposed to multi-level marketing point out that 99% of people lose money, a common response is that “women join MK to have fun!” Wrong! There are plenty of free or low-cost social and volunteer opportunities. If women need or want to have fun, they don’t have to join Mary Kay to do it.

So what does that make Mary Kay?

It’s a very cleverly crafted scheme that has been perpetrated for 50 years. It is a company that convinced the general public that it “helps women.” While promoting that fantasy, it actually harms women and their families. It uses a product that appears to be legitimate as the front for the scheme…. Mary Kay can claim they’re not a “pyramid scheme” because they have a legitimate product that can be sold for a profit. They don’t tell you that your chances of profiting from product sales are extremely low.

The executives and owners of Mary Kay Inc. are getting rich, as are a tiny handful at the top of the pyramid. And everyone else is losing money in a sham that they thought was a chance to own their own business.


  1. Iescaped

    Agree with you 100%. And if anyone in MK cares to disagree with this, then I suggest that they go to YouTube and look at all the motivational videos put out by SDs and NSDs. They all start the exact same way…. So when you are feeling negative about your business because you haven’t reached the sales goals or recruiting goals…. I too have had times in my business where I was working really hard and still missed my goal….!!

    What!!! I thought that stuff just flew off the shelf if you worked your business!! And why so many motivational videos about not reaching a goal after working so darn hard??

    Oh, that’s right, MK like any other Pyramid Scheme only works if you keep the masses Bee-lieving that their hard work will pay off right after they place that next order, or maybe the order after that, or maybe the Holiday Season order (because that is where the shopping really is), or it is for you in the NEW YEAR (of course with an order) to confirm your faith in MK and most of all in yourself……

    And of course this will continue forever (as long as you let it), and those collecting the commissions and of course MK will reach their goals on your back. Now don’t you feel special and great about that “business decision” you made!!

  2. Morningstar

    If you think you can sell this product line the way Mary Kay wants it done you are competing with amazon and ebay for sales on the product. MK wants you to peddle in low tech mode while the glut of inventory floating around the Internet competes with potential sales of that mound of inventory you have on hand. If you send it back to mk that will be the biggest sale of your mk career.

  3. “Mary Kay is Not a Business” but it is one hell of a criminal enterprise!!! Watch the CNBC Crime Inc. “Secrets For Sale” television show from a few years ago on the internet. That program shows just the very tip of what Mary Kay did to their former Executive National Sales Director – Gayle Gaston. Gayle had been extremely successful until MK’s President/CEO Amy DiGeso went after her in a power struggle. PROJECT ND/LA 125-002 was launched against Gayle by criminal enterprise spy firm Beckett Brown International a/k/a BBI. The ‘ND’ stood for Nichols Dezenhall, a PR firm now called Dezenhall Resources, described by journalist and political commentator Bill Moyers as “the Mafia of industry.” BBI was hatched and launched from INSIDE the U.S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Division by their Regional Supervisor Paul Rakowski just before he retired. Mastermind Rakowski ran BBI which did much of the security for Clinton’s second inaugural, protection for Charlton Heston, Norman Schwarzkopf, and other legal work. But BBI’s real specialty, which they hid totally from their outside investor – me – was illegal corporate espionage and racketeering. Break-ins, wiretapping, bugging, computer hacking, planting of moles, and other criminal operations were planned, directed and carried out by Rakowski and other retired high-level USSS agents, with help from former NSA personnel, Naval Special Operations, former and current state and local police. After Gayle Gaston was basically ruined by the BBI saboteurs and predators, to celebrate DiGeso and Rakowski together purchased an expensive waterfront home. A year and a half later they got married just as suspicious activities began to surface at BBI. We now know about MK ordering BBI to conduct extensive illegal spyops against a Mary Kay employee who was having an affair with John Rochon’s wife, another campaign against a Pennsylvania judge in a Rochon dispute, and plans – quite possibly carried out – to form a super secretive spy outfit owned by DiGeso, Rochon, Rakowski, and Dezenhall. Brand new evidence of shocking black ops against Gayle, daughter Robin Wright and Robin’s then-husband Sean Penn by BBI has just been found. I and another individual have been very forcefully threatened by powerful Baltimore law firm Semmes, Bowen & Semmes with ‘SEVERE CONSEQUENCES’ if we tell the FBI, the press, or anyone else anything about any of this. That law firm threw my case against Rakowski, as exposed last year by investigative journalist Christian Stork in the 9/30/14 “The Price of Shining Light On the Dark World of Corporate Espionage” and his 10/7/14 “Baltimore Lawyer Threw Own Client’s Case To Protect Bank-Robbing Banker From Scrutiny.” Some experts have called this the biggest corporate espionage scandal of all-time, and Mary Kay is front and center…

  4. If this was a REAL business opportunity, they wouldn’t be so fearful of the internet. Most businesses big and small have websites where their products and services can be viewed by anyone anywhere. It’s not expensive to purchase a domain where you can advertise your services and wares for sale.

    I can’t remember where I read it (I’m pretty sure it was somewhere here on this site), but doesn’t Mary Kay prohibit their IBCs from setting up websites as a means of getting the product out to market? It’s like selling out of the trunk of your car is the only acceptable way of getting product out there, especially since not everyone has the time or resources to be hauling their MK inventory around town for facials and deliveries.

    1. annamarie

      I recently had a friend from college try to recruit me. She gave me the whole spiel about MK. They do actually have websites for consultants to use as selling platforms, but if I remember right, it costs like $200 to start it plus a monthly fee to keep it running. I thought as an alternative I could have a strategy of marketing myself by distributing catalogs and business cards, but these cost money too! I quickly realized that it would be impossible for me to profit, especially since I knew I would never want to sell the products at suggested retail price (they’re not good enough to be worth the price, and no one would buy them at that price anyway since there are so many other consultants out there who offer some big discounts). I could go on and on! At the end of the day, I knew it just seemed too good to be true, and I was right.

  5. DanieGirl

    Thank you for all of the articles, you just saved me from beginning my “business” with Mary Kay….I thought I would be getting so much and have a wonderful time working with friends and family.

  6. ECL

    Very thankful to have found this website. It saved me as well from making the big inventory purchase that I was being pressured to buy. After reading several posts here I can see how so many of the misleading lines were used on me. I knew something didn’t feel right about it and this confirmed it.

  7. 9232

    I was very excited to start working with MK, but reading these articles, it’s on point! I bought the starter kit, and have a “pining”introduction meeting happening in a couple of day
    I couldn’t believe they said dress or skirt…Iike come on, dress pants are still very professional..
    … as well as planning my training in this coming week..

    How do I get out of it? I’m keeping my starter kits obviously, and I actually love the product..buying it but after seeing this site maybe not selling it!! At one point I was considering getting the 1800 inventory…and then the 1200… but I’m well aware that I don’t want to put up too much of my money as it’s hard earning it as is on a part time job I currently have. So then I was considering the 600 one…but I’m still not 100% sold on it..the lady I have been talking with is super nice and while I realize she earns money of me..she still took the time to teach me..and I’d feel bad…

    Would it be better to continue through the process with the pining and training but not get the inventory and stop there?!

    1. BestDecision

      I was a Director. I can assure you that not buying inventory will not stop the aggravation from those around you. Our paychecks depended upon big orders like those from new Consultants, so it is in her best interest to nag you until you order.

      Personally, I’ve found the quality of the products lacking compared to what’s out there now. After I resigned, I was like a kid in a candy store trying different brands because I’d been brand loyal to MK for YEARS. Tarte, Bobbi Brown, Benefit, Clinique, NARS…there are AMAZING brands out there and far better than MK.

      Since you’ve opened your Starter Kit, you can’t return it. Consider it a $100 shopping mistake and move on. Don’t reply to her messages, and she’ll disappear.

    2. Lazy Gardens

      “How do I get out of it? I’m keeping my starter kits obviously, and I actually love the product..buying it but after seeing this site maybe not selling it!!”

      Send her a text message saying you have changed your mind: “Continuing in Mary Kay is not in my best interest. Please respect my decision.”

      However, you also have to cancel your consultant number or she’ll keep hounding you to buy inventory, and may even buy it in your name if she’s desperate and dishonest enough (getting you to buy at least $600 qualifies her for cash bonuses and prizes and things, whether you ever sell it or not) . Send a letter to Mary Kay’s consultant services people and tell them to cancel the number.

      And if you “love the product”, buy it on eBay. You can get the stuff wholesale with free shipping from consultants who did order “the 1800” and are trying to salvage come of that money.

    3. MLM Radar

      What Best and Lazy said is right on target! Please listen well to them.

      The only reasons for MK “training” are to pump you up to buy more inventory, and make you feel guilty for not trying hard enough. The pin you get will be worth less than something on Claire’s clearance rack.

      Do NOT let yourself be fooled into thinking MK “wholesale” price is a discount. It’s not. The price you pay is really about twice the true wholesale price, because you’re also paying for all the commissions and bonuses MK is going to send to your recruiter, director, SD, etc, etc, all the way up to the “unit order” bonuses paid to your NSD.

      Except for shipping that is. In an MLM shipping is extra, it’s ridiculously high and you get to pay it all at whatever price they demand. Yes, shipping charges are a nice hidden cash cow for Mary Kay.

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