Is Mary Kay Recession Proof?

Written by SuzyQ

I attended a conference far far away in another state and it just so happened that there were mostly women at the conference.  And because we are women, there was make-up touching-up going on from time to time.

And guess what?  No Mary Kay products anywhere.  Now granted, I did not accompany every woman to the bathroom, but those who were on my bathroom schedule were observed applying lipstick/gloss.

Notice, I said, we were applying lipstick and gloss in the bathroom.  NOT AT THE TABLES.  I never understood that practice.  Talk about inappropriate social behavior, but, that’s another myth, “Mary Kay women are classy and professional. “

I digress.

Mary Kay is not recession proof.  Make-up is, but Mary Kay isn’t.  Women use make-up, even in these hard economic times, to boost their spirits.  You can see people in the make-up aisles in grocery stores slipping an eye color or a lipstick into the cart along with their other purchases.

There is a huge difference between a Cover Girl purchase and a Mary Kay purchase.  It is much easier to justify Cover Girl or L’Oreal than a miracle set or a fancy mask.  Mary Kay is not any better, it is just more expensive.  Those who have money will continue to buy Lancome, Estee, Clinique and Chanel.  Those who don’t will spend $3.99 on a HUGE jar of Jergen’s face cream at WalMart.

And guess what?  It’s pretty good stuff!  Not fancy, but it works.

And the anti-aging stuff?  The 94 step MK skin care system with all the supplements? They don’t work.  Really.  I am being objective here, and have really done some research.

What DOES work is good genes, avoiding the sun, and not aging.  Learning how to apply make-up makes a difference, and we are all familiar with the extensive training we get in MK so we can teach people how to apply make up.

So, for those of you in the pink fog… you are in hot water insofar as your “business” is concerned.  Mary Kay delivers over-priced under-functioning products.


  1. Muppet2171

    Totally random, how long ago did they actually receive the Good Housekeeping seal (assuming it’s like the highest love check…they got it. Isn’t it impressive? No, don’t ask when that was…)? I’m guessing it was back when home parties were still cool…

    1. pinkvictim

      My wife uses the GHS as some kind of evidence that everything MKult is A-OK! Pffft.

      After a company applies to GH for an evaluation the product is tested at the Research Labs. The GHS is given only when the Labs verify that a product is effective and meets the claims made by the manufacturer. Any product can get the GHS, as long as it is effective and meets the manufacturer’s claims.

      It is not an indication of quality or ranking of any kind.

  2. BestDecision

    The 2008 recession hit our businesses HARD,and I didn’t see it go back up through the day I left. If people are really wanting inexpensive makeup, it’s drug store brands that have lipsticks far cheaper than MK.

  3. Shay

    Also remember MK justifies their prices because “Estee Lauder Is Expensive”
    Honey… Estes Lauder spends BILLIONS on advertising.. MK does not.. PLUS.. MK products are cheap and Estée Lauder products work..

  4. morningstar

    The gifts with purchase include for Lancôme, Clinique, Estee Lauder, etc. have enough products (creams) to keep my skin in great shape. And all is needed is a small amount. The MK time wise repair is really a substandard product. Also bear in mind the NSDs rely on facelifts, cosmetic plumping via dermatologists and use the types of product lines I mention above. We have seen the seminar pictures of what products Ms Mayfield uses. These women are not true to the MK brand and why should they- can you imagine how boring it would be to use the SAME line for 20-30 yrs. It is all a con game.

  5. Jamming Berry

    We just got an Ulta in my area and I LOVE walking around looking at all the products. Yes, some of the items are just as pricey as MK: The brushes and perfumes for example, but the selection is HUGE. I can get 5 lipsticks for ~$15 and while I may not use them all up, it’s cheaper than 1 MK lipstick for $18! Is MK worth it? It claims vitamins and minerals etc… in that $18 lipstick, but if I wash my face etc… every day, is that needed? The colors are not any more special or unique.

    1. NoNoNo

      Plus Ulta has coupons that come out, you can use manufacturer coupons on their “drugstore” section (Loreal, Covergirl, etc.) AND they have a rewards program for even more savings! I’m pretty loyal to Sephora, but there is an Ulta super close to where I work, and I love that I can grab pretty much any beauty product I need there.

  6. Peaches

    Recession proof my Aunt Fannie’s Fanny.

    Thousands of dollars of credit card debt, a cleaned out bank account, not being able to make monthly bill paying obligations and card board cartons of a product which sells it’s self is the epitome of non-recession proof.

    Let’s face it; If you sell Mary Kay, you are letting yourself down and you are in great financial trouble.

  7. CuriousLurker

    As someone who has dived deeper into makeup trends over the past year, I can say that none of the 7 beauty gurus on social media (youtube, instagram) that I follow have ever referred to Mary Kay. It simply doesn’t have a strong brand reputation among the trendsetters.

    That being said, I do think some of their products are very good and worth the price (for me, the mascara and eye-makeup remover). But I will admit: I purchase these items from Amazon or Ebay for the cheaper price than through a consultant.

  8. SuzyQ

    I am such a good cosmetics consumer at CVS that they are giving me lots of coupons. I like using them, and I also like how my skin looks. I can’t believe I fell for this so many years ago.

    *update… another conference this year. No MK stuff anywhere.

  9. Did Pink

    I remember 21 years ago going to the ‘Career Breakfast’ to see the highest paid women in America.
    Bridgit Briddle (her NSD was Christine Peterson) stood up in a too-tight expensive suit with way too much makeup on and said ‘facts’. One of her facts was- in recession times liquor sales, cigarettes, and cosmetic sales do not go down. See- MK is recession proof! Sure people still smoke. Yes, they still buy liquor, but as the past one showed- not the good stuff. Cosmetics? OK, yes they do but you are not going to survive on your co-worker’s
    pitty purchase of a lipstick.

    1. BestDecision

      One of the flaws that make people attack MK’s business model is recruiting, which goes down in recessions. When a family is tight on money or has a lay off, they’re not going to SPEND more money to hopefully make more money. Unit production and Director commissions are directly tied to new Consultant orders, so the bulk of our revenue as Directors was from the very thing that deceased when the economy tanked.

      Yet, my income has increased after I left MK and returned to my former career. Unlike my Senior and everyone I know in MK, I’ve since gotten promotions and title changes and am not stuck in the same place.

  10. Laura

    Yea – and think about how I “had to” sell Mary Kay for even bigger price – in Finland Mary Kay costs a lot more. For example a True dimensions lipstick costs 32,2euros which is 40.28USD. And a miracle set costs 242.08USD and a repair set 372.21USD. Crazy, huh?

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