False Earnings Claims in Mary Kay

One of the most frustrating parts about Mary Kay Cosmetics is the deception during the recruiting process.

“Doesn’t this look eeeeeeasy????”

“All you do is squirt and smile! Squirt and smile!”

“I just know you’d be great at doing what I do!”

“Unlimited earnings, full-time pay for part-time hours, replacing your income…”

There are literally hundreds of standard lines that the scary Mary Kay ladies use to draw women into the pink bubble. Typically, they downplay the time and effort needed to sell Mary Kay products, and exaggerate the amount of money earned from Mary Kay activities.

Here is a typical flier that makes all sorts of exaggerations about your Mary Kay business. Oh wait! These numbers are possible, aren’t they? Well of course they’re possible. The problem is that they’re presented as the average, when there isn’t even any credible market research to back up these “averages”.

The claims include:

  • At each skin care class, there ranges 3 to 6 people (an average of 4). That may be true. The unfortunate reality, however, is that skin care classes with guests are very hard to book and hold.
  • The average sales are $250 per class. With 4 people, that would mean each is spending over $60. That is not the average. Not by far. Oh sure, you’ll hear of the person who had a $1,000 class with four people. But it’s not the average, and neither is $250 per class.
  • We retain 85% of our customers. Really? And exactly where is this documented? And how does one define a customer? As someone who bought once? As someone who buys regularly? How regularly? I don’t know of anyone in Mary Kay who has that high of a retention rate.
  • The average reorder per customer each year is $200 when they are introduced to additional products to sample. Really? $50 per customer, per quarter? Again, I don’t know anyone in Mary Kay who has that high of an average.

So all of thse things are presented as facts, and then the sheet goes on to use lower numbers. Why lower numbers? If they’re the average, then let’s use ’em! In the end, the claim is made that with:

5 classes per week, you’ll profit $48,347 per year

4 classes per week, you’ll profit $38,748 per year

3 classes per week, you’ll profit $29,061 per year

2 classes per week, you’ll profit $19,375 per year

1 class per week, you’ll profit $9.687 per year

Doesn’t that all sound fantastic? Gosh, just a couple hours a week to do 1 class, and you can make nearly $200 profit per week! Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The fact of the matter is that Mary Kay takes much more time than a couple hours a week, even if you’re only doing 1 class a week. The fact is that you’ll likely make much less that the projected numbers even if you are able to book and hold as many classes as you want to have.

So what’s my beef? This sets up unrealistic expectations from day one. And it’s simply not true.


  1. Iescaped

    Let’s look at some reality with a little fiction mixed in.

    Let’s say you were able to have one party on a weekend for a few extra bucks in spending money. And for the sake of argument let’s play pretend and Bee-lieve that all your subsequent parties can come from bookings off that very first one! Of course we all know that this happens just about as often as a large meteor crashes into downtown LA or NY.

    So off you go every Saturday or Sunday to spend a few hours at a skin care class. From the time you start to get ready until the time you are back home and UNPACKED you have probably spent closer to 6-8 hours as long as you are not driving very far! Wait? What?

    Yes, you are not just figuring the actual “class” time, but the pack the car, get yourself pretty (no one wants to see you straight from housework, gardening and laundry!), drive there, set up, have class, fill orders, take orders to fill later (why does someone always want that ONE item I don’t have even though I have $4,000+ wholesale on my shelf?), pack up, drive home, unpack car, possibly fill order from shelf and/or place order to replenish stock and fill orders. And at some point, you will have to deliver the products (of course that doesn’t take any REAL time, right?).

    So let’s say that at every weekly party you average $300. Well, it cost $150 in product (plus shipping and tax) so at the very most you can expect to walk away with $150 for that one party. But wait, that sounds good because even at 6-8 hours of work you might figure that you have made anywhere from $18-$25 per hour!

    Not so fast princess, the only reason why you had that party in the first place was because you were told to give that Hostess $100 in FREE products, so right there that party cost you $50.

    Okay, but that is still close to $12-$16 for my one party on the weekend. What? No?

    Yes, sweet pea, No. Why? Because most everything is extremely overpriced in MK, and now some items even have expiration dates on them and sometimes to get it gone you have to sell it for under the 50% mark-up! Oh my the horror! And if you have bought any samples to give out, the cute bags for party favors (oops, did I forget to mention that not only does the Hostess get $100 in FREE products, but her friends want freebies too!)

    All of that comes out of your pocket!! So pretty soon, that $150 in “profit” has been whittled down to maybe $75-$85 if you are lucky.

    Not bad for one day per week, but the only problem is that you will never have 52 parties per year unless you are able to book over 200! What?

    Yes, in another area of your MK training you will be taught that only 1 in 4 parties hold, so to fill that one Saturday slot you will be putting in a lot more time. And by the way, that time comes out of your “profits”!!

    Welcome to the reality of Mary Kay Buttercup!:)

    1. coralrose

      What you describe was exactly my experience in MK, and why I got out! My sales director would always ignore those little facts (or maybe she just never truly did the math herself) and say “see, you made $300 in just 2 hours! Isn’t great to get paid what you’re worth?!”
      When I joined MK, I thought the “buy for $1, sell for 2” made great business sense, it was only later that I realized I was paying way too much wholesale, compared to what real businesses pay to make a real profit, and of course the retail price is so high that women won’t pay full retail.

      1. enorth

        “I realized I was paying way too much wholesale, compared to what real businesses pay to make a real profit, and of course the retail price is so high that women won’t pay full retail.”

        You’ve summed it up nicely.

        No need to ever pay full retail for MK. IBCs give discounts because they are desperate to move products; as a result, customers are trained from the beginning to never pay full retail. And eBay has thousands of MK products dirt-cheap.

        IBCs pretend to sell at full retail and pretend to be successful. Why? To recruit.

        The only thing that’s real is that MK Corp rakes in billions of dollars a year by selling products to IBCs, who are the real customers.

  2. Ellie

    I need some advise.

    I just signed to be a consultant less than a week ago. I was pressured to take the leap, and after reading several comments on this site, I’m really regretting that quick decision. The whole sales spiel was enticing and attractive, but I’m an introvert and really honestly hate going out of my way to make conversation. To be fair, I’ve always loved the MK products I’ve purchased for myself in the past, so I thought that it would be easy to sell products to my close friends, family, and coworkers? Is it possible to still be successful doing that?

    Is there a way for me to quit MK before I’m pressured to buy a ton of inventory?

    Please help asap.

    1. Iescaped

      How much money do you think your friends and family are going to spend?

      Unless you like talking to strangers about how you would love to come over to their house and pamper them and maybe some of their friends too, then GET OUT NOW!!

      Don’t even do it for your discount, because it is a trap and a scam.

    2. MLM Radar

      If you haven’t received the starter kit yet, or haven’t opened the box, just write REFUSED on it in big letters and take it back to the company that shipped it.

      Mary Kay will pay the return shipping costs and cancel your consultant number.

    3. Nor Quis

      I believe, you have 30 days from the day you hit the submit button to get 100% money back on your starter kit. You may have to most likely pay shipping out of pocket to mail back the starter kit.

  3. Hunter

    This totally hits the nail on the head for me. My former director JUST posted on fb that she was earning a “six figure salary” with MK.

    Keep in mind, she is still driving the same Cruz that she earned YEARS ago, and her unit has never made production without her topping it off.

    I private messaged her and said I doubted she made that much and if she did, I was sure her unit would be inspired by seeing her latest tax return, showing those six figure earnings.

    She never replied. Big surprise.

    1. BestDecision

      It’s impossible to be a Cruz driver and make more than $20,000/year. (And that’s being very generous!). Even Cadillac Directors usually don’t net $100K a year. Sorry, but she’s full of it. If she was really taking home that much, she’d at least be in a Cadillac and an extended Trip Director ($800,000 unit circle).

  4. Timewiser

    Yes Ellie! Just send it straight back!
    And I just had my offspring tell me that she was frustrated that I made money off her unit during my transition period of stepping down. Really?

  5. msdee

    I can’t stand seeing this! I wish I still have it but a week or two ago, our unit director sent us a flyer about how you can profit up to $18k on JUST skincare. The flyer she sent us all was absolutely hysterical and totally ludicrous.

    1. enorth

      There’s a social-media post going around attributed to NSD Andrea Newman. It says you can earn an extra $300 to $1,000 a month in 5-to-8 hours a week through your MK biz. It ends with, “What are you waiting for?”

      1. Timewiser

        I’ve seen that post too. There’s another one going around with a pie chart about not having enough time. And that one implies that you have 37% of your time with nothing. But nowhere in the chart does it say God or family, or, Heaven forbid, some downtime for yourself to unwind or relax. I hate how they make a cookie cutter out of everything and imply that Mary Kay is truly for everyone.

        1. BestDecision

          And this pie chart was created by the very people that haven’t held parties in years! It takes way more than “just 2 hours” to hold a party, and I got so sick of hearing other Directors and NSDs scolding their people for the simplest, yet necessary, things.

          When Pam Shaw preached about not watching TV but then has multiple TVs in her own home, including one in her kitchen, and then she has pictures of herself working out as her profile picture while having cutouts of fitness models all over her home, it’s so hypocritical. Down time IS necessary, but they won’t put that in a pie chart.

          Years after I resigned and the same crap is still circulating around and being preached. So sad.

  6. contemplating and out!

    And not to mention, if you a copy of your 1099 that they are legally supposed to provide, you have to ask for it in writing, but first get the 6-week-wait-and-see story. Total BS! mKcorpse told me they were granted an extension to send out tax documents and didn’t have to send them out until the end of March. Such lies.

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