How Can I Help My Friend See the Truth About Mary Kay?

A concerned friend of a Mary Kay consultant requests advice from the Pink Truth community:

A former close friend of mine is a relatively new MK clone. This was after having tried other MLM schemes that crashed and burned. I found Pink Truth while looking for answers about the addictive quality of MLM, quality of the products they push, and what seems to be the victimization of women by women (i.e. I believe only a small percentage of men could be counted upon to say, “Hey, Joe, why don’t you and the guys come to my house, have a couple beers, and listen to me drone on about overpriced XXX and how YOU can be part of this opportunity!).

My question is, Is there any help for my friend until she is broke, alienated, and stumbles upon PT for herself? The answer seems to be No.

I’ve spent a lot of time combing your site and finding it heartbreaking. Husbands who watched their darling brides turned into Kaybots, helpless to stop the madness. Kids who see mom sweat out the MK “business” for decades only to find themselves without resources or retirement stability. And former victims of the Pink Fog, finally emerging with amazing awareness and blossoming sense of self-worth.

How do I get my friend to stop scouring my Facebook feed for “acquaintances” that she can start bugging? What do I say to her husband, who literally told me that the pink boxes that flood their home are what she seems to need “because you can’t sell from an empty wagon?” Gulp! How long can one keep smiling when she says that a “famous make up artist” came to her seminar and said “she only uses MK because it’s the best!” (“What do you suppose that artist says at a MAC meeting?”, I wanted to ask.)

I’ve used MK in the past and didn’t find the quality any different from a hundred other brands. Is it the religion angle that makes it more attractive? How do you take someone who has never been particularly faithful and turn her into a scripture-quoting, skincare-pushing bot? I’m both alarmed and amazed by this process.

Is there anything that can be said to a smart, beautiful, funny friend to wake her from oncoming nightmare? Or do we all just watch and wait?


  1. ShatteredPinkCaddyDreams

    As a former MK bot myself, when the money versus time aspect started to show and the reorder business was ok but not life sustaining, I started to see what was going on. Add that to the fact I had some health issues and only 2 of my Mary Kay friends showed up to visit me. This is when the fog broke and never returned. Hopefully your friend will see the alienation and return her inventory.

    1. Relieve

      I would love to send my friends one good article so they can WAKE UP. They continue month after month put in orders. The Director could not afford her apartment she moved in with her daughter’s family, she also lost her Cadillac the unit is going down slowly. The Director keeps telling her unit she will be a National. She is 64 years old. Has the qualifications change for National?

  2. raisinberry

    Can you just tell her that a tremendous amount of former consultants are trying to warn new recruits and that there is one simple thing she can do to research the facts. Ask her Director to see her schedule C. It is simply accounting information on her mentor’s business, and not an invasion of privacy. Wouldn’t anyone buying a new business want to see the P&L statement of someone in that business, selling them on that business, claiming to be successful?

  3. IPreferPurple

    I know it might seem cynical, but you could, perhaps, pull together a “tools for your new business” kit for her? A sheet to track expenses (with many of them pre-included, like gas, inventory, packaging, samples, business cards, etc.), a sheet to track inventory against revenue (i.e. I started with 4 Timewise lotions, at a cost of $X to me, and I’ve sold one at a price of $Y, and given one away, so my average profit per item for Timewise lotion is Z), a time sheet, and a summary sheet? You can present it to her in a supportive way, and encourage her to use it. While it’s painful to look at those numbers when they’re not going well, it’s what any business has to do to succeed. In this case, the numbers aren’t likely to ever work in her favor, but this way, it’s not that anyone is against her, if that makes sense?

    1. MLM Radar

      Before I go on, I also had an MLM-addicted friend. I though I’d persuaded her it was all a scam, then she got hooked by yet another MLM recruiter who played her like a fish until she was reeled in again. My friend actually bought into the idea that MLM was a ministry. God was guiding her to help downtrodden women to get financial freedom through MLMs, so they couldn’t possibly be scams. I was flabbergasted. It was like dealing with an addiction, and my friend had a big “G” for Gullible carved into her forehead. I wound up losing her as a friend, and this was one of the causes.

      That out of the way, what you’re suggesting is something any sensible business owner does: keep track of income and expenses so that business tax returns can be properly filed. This argument didn’t work on my friend, who refused to see the obvious, but maybe it will make a difference with yours.

      Something to keep in mind is that if you’re spending more than you’re earning, that is bad. Period. MK will spend all day talking about how business losses are a great tax deduction. They’re lying.

      Here’s the deal: If you’re in the 15% tax bracket and earn $1000 after ALL expenses, you pay 15% in tax (plus 15.3% self-employment tax). The remaining $697 you keep. Done. You come out ahead $697.

      But if you’re in the 15% tax bracket and you think that increasing your tax refund because of Mark Kay losses is good, it’s because you’ve been lied to. Every $150 increase in your refund means you lost $1000. You get $150 of that loss back. The other $850 is gone forever. Buh-bye.

      And please don’t be thinking that you’ll recoup that $850 loss in year #1 by returning your inventory in year #2. That’s not the way the tax laws work. Remember how your state income tax deduction and refund work. If you deduct an expense in year #1, and you get part of that back as a refund in year #2 or #3, the refund is income when it arrives (and gets taxed as income).

  4. Barbie

    I don’t think that’s cynical at all. It would be giving her a better shot at running this as a legit business, and in the process, showing that that’s not realistic. If she follows it from the beginning and tracks everything, she’ll probably come to the realization that it’s not working sooner.

    It’s also a good way to support her without buying any of the crap she’s trying to sell. If you’re trying to help her run her business properly, she can’t argue that you’re not supporting her. That will help maintain someone on the outside, who she will need when she realizes the “opportunity” is not for her.

  5. ran4fun

    “Is there anything that can be said to a smart, beautiful, funny friend to wake her from oncoming nightmare? Or do we all just watch and wait?” … I sure wish there was cuz I would say it to my loved one!

    Here’s what NOT to say – anything negative, even if you say it nicely. She will turn you off so fast and never hear anything you say again. It will make her push harder to “prove you wrong”.

    The suggestions above about giving her tools to track her business expenses, etc. are a good idea. You would appear “supportive”. Also, make sure she knows all self-employed people have to complete the IRS Schedule C

    Good luck!

  6. BestDecision

    I personally fell for the lies. I believed Directors were making executive incomes, and I believed they’d never quote scripture and vow publicly to follow the Golden Rule and lie at the same time. It was when I really analyzed the Advance brochure (career path and rewards of each step) that I started to compute the math. NO DIRECTOR WITHOUT A CADILLAC IS GROSSING OVER $48K/year.

    The whole thing is simple math, but it takes courage to buck the system, speak one’s mind, and do it your/her way. And then it’s a massive amount of courage the higher you go to box it all up and resign. You face major criticism and, in my case, lies about why you made the choice.

    Glad to be out!

    1. MLM Radar

      The chargeback is equal to the commission and bonus the recruiter and director originally received on the original product purchase. There’s no gain and no penalty. It’s simply that they were paid a commission, and now they no longer qualify for that commission, so it gets reversed. They lose nothing. (The fact that the money went straight back to Mary Kay for car co-pays and “topping off” unit production is not your problem.)

      The person who loses is the hapless consultant, who gets only 90% of what she paid for those products deemed returnable.

      That said, the standard commission levels are 4%, 9%, and 13%. In addition, Directors who persuade their recruits to make “qualifying” purchases get additional bonuses for Star Orders, unit totals and other reasons. (Note that a “qualifying” order gets the recruits nothing, except some “free” products which will be subtracted from their refunds because they no longer qualify for the “free gift with purchase.”)

  7. bri

    Light up w her and then ask her if she thinks she has gone too far. Tell her to get the pink caddy out of her mind and to stop going to those silly meetings. Perhaps she just wants to be a part of something… possibly suggest becoming a part of a hiking club, book club, etc. I’m not saying the products are bad but tell her that its messed up to push that stuff onto your friends also, if she does keep doing this to her friends she will probably loose most of them bc they’ll think she’s constantly trying to sell to them. What she could do is offer the discount that she is getting to close friends. I mean who really wants to make money off of friends?? That’s kinda messed up if you ask me. If people ask you what product you are using and where they can get it that’s one thing but these mk make up parties are out of control. Yuk. Pink puke. Ew.

    1. Char

      “What she could do is offer the discount that she is getting to close friends. I mean who really wants to make money off of friends??”

      The “discount” isn’t really a discount at all. It’s retail – just not double retail. Yep, imagine charging friends double retail when they can buy it all day long on eBay for regular retail aka consultant price i.e. fake wholesale.

      But why enable MLMers to begin with? Why support pyramid scheme products and cult behavior? Why encourage MLMers to go down a road of financial loss? View it as tough love for their own good and don’t buy a thing.

    1. Char

      “This was after having tried other MLM schemes that crashed and burned.”

      Sadly, MLMers got their claws into her and brainwashed her. It is the particular cult teachings that sounds like the issue, and the products only play a minor role.

      She’s probably been convinced that multi-level marketing is an individual business when in fact it’s a negative act. It’s not a thing, business, or a product. It is something that you “do”.

      Examples of negative/harmful acts that aren’t fixable: stealing, killing, drunk driving, MLM-ing. They are what they are. MLM is short for multi-level marketing. Unfortunately, people tend to forget about the “ing”.

      Changing companies while doing the same thing is futile. To me, this is the single most important point when it comes to educating people about the scamming ways of MLMing – and saving them from another mistake.

      For some crazy reason, people think each company that employs the method of MLMing is different. Imagine “stealing”. Would it really matter where you are “stealing” from? MLM-ing has a 99% negative impact financially and is all based on lies. The other 1% that make money are just the best liars, hustlers, and thieves.

      We have to get the act of MLMing associated with the negative and harmful examples listed above to expose this method of scamming people.

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