Deceptions Used to Recruit Women into Mary Kay

The success of multi-level marketing depends on recruiting. Products can’t be retailed to REAL customers in sufficient quantities, so MLMs depend on the recruitment of distributors who buy the products.

We know there is a very low level of actual retailing of the products. So how do recruiters divert attention from the fake business model and the financial failure of nearly all participants? They make misleading, fanciful promises to the recruits.

Some of the most common:

  • Unlimited (high) earnings – You can make much more money than you can in your current career. You will recruit and expand your team exponentially as they recruit. You will earn commissions on all of their purchases, and when you figure commissions, bonuses, and prizes, you will earn tons. And no one limits your earnings. You can earn as much or as little as you want, depending on how hard you’re willing to work.
  • Anyone can do it – No special skills needed. Not even sales skills.
  • Make money when you’re not working – You’re selling a consumable product. People will buy it over and over without you putting forth much work.
  • Earn residual income – You can make commissions on an ongoing basis from those you recruit (and their recruits too!). Your earning power is expanded beyond your own personal efforts. You are freed from wage slavery!
  • Early retirement – You can “retire” from your career. You can retire your husband from his career. Somehow, all the hours that you’ll put into MLM don’t count as work? You pretend you’re retire?
  • Independence – You have no boss. You’re financially independent. You decide how much money you want to make.
  • Free time – You’ll have flexibility with your time. You can stay home with your kids while still earning money. You can vacation instead of work.
  • Low investment – There is a low sign up fee, so there is no risk. Products you buy can be returned, so there is no risk!
  • No selling – You’re not really selling. You’re educating. You’re sharing. The products sell themselves. Why not just share about what you already love and use?

If it’s really so easy, so positive, and such a successful business model, why does nearly everyone lose money and eventually quit? Because none of these things are really true.

What other deceptions have you heard in the recruiting process?


  1. LD

    I love how you can “Make money when you’re not working – You’re selling a consumable product. People will buy it over and over without you putting forth much work.” but yet you are up for “Early retirement – You can “retire” from your career. You can retire your husband from his career. Somehow, all the hours that you’ll put into MLM don’t count as work? You pretend you’re retire?”
    So are you working or not? Lol. All the hours you are putting in from working you “business “ but you can stay at home and practically be on “vacation “? You can’t play both sides of the coin and win.
    When I told my “director “ I had too much to do- work, kids, church…. oh that’s when I should be working Mary Kay? Yea, because after 8 hours of my real job, I want to spend my sons basketball game trying to peddle makeup out of my bag.

      1. No To Pink

        I saw a woman ruin a successful hairdressing career this way. She started hounding all her faithful repeat customers to join her Mary Kay b s and they scattered like cockroaches when the lights get turned on.

  2. Shay

    I like “can I have a few minutes of your time” for the fake portfolio MK has. Or if you dare to give David’s Bridal permission to share your info with vendors, then you get a call from a MK rep pretending to want to do your makeup and then you end up at a recruitment session. Despicable

  3. MLM Radar

    I just started a new MK business and I’m inviting you to a free facial. (Um, I’ve known you for a long time and know that you have absolutely zero training in cosmetology. I’ll pass.)

    Won’t you please let this fellow come by your house on Saturday and demo his water filtered vacuum? I know you don’t want to buy, but he’ll get paid for just giving a presentation. (Waste of my time and his. Is his product so bad that he can’t find real customers?)

    Our makeup works best if you pair it with our skin prep and our cleanser. (The “sell you everything in the kit” approach. I already have an excellent acne free cleanser. It’s called soap.)

    I am a professional dietician and I found this absolutely wonderful line of healthy products I’d like to share with you. In fact the founder of the company set up a university where you can take classes in how to live a healthy life. (The founder’s previous healthy products company was sued and shut down by the FTC for selling fraudulent nutritional products. Not a lot of credibility there.)

    You’ll be joining the fastest growing company in the US. Here’s the Forbes Magazine cover story about him. (Real magazine article, flush with exciting graphs and high praise. Fast-forward 24 months and the company is in bankruptcy, with their star product banned by the FDA.)

    You don’t need customers. You can make money just by selling to yourself. (Last time I checked, nobody ever made money by buying products. You’ve got to sell them to make money.)

    We’re new in town and we’re hiring for all positions. (Bait and switch approach. I knew something was wrong when they had no interest in my resume. “Everyone starts in sales.”)

    I could go on and on…

  4. Megan

    Has anyone looked into how MLM’s literally prey on military wives? I married my (now retired) Air Force Sergeant husband in 2013 and from the beginning it literally seemed like every woman on Dover Air Force Base was involved in one MLM or another. Other wives attempted to recruit me all the time! Never mind that I had a decent paying job as a limousine driver that I absolutely loved.

    The Air Force sent my husband and I to South Korea and it was even worse over there. We were stationed in an area that was primarily Army and the base paper ran ads for the usual MLM’s: Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Avon, Young Living, etc. I got so sick of hearing the phrase “home based business” over and over again from the wives that I knew. I was working on a degree in accounting online so I always pretended that I was too busy to sign up for whatever they were shilling. Also, my autistic rear isn’t comfortable selling products in person and I don’t have any specialized interests that fit MLM’s.

    I am currently in the last 3 weeks of a BA in Transportation and Logistics Management with a concentration in Reverse Logistics Management. Fortunately I haven’t met any MLM shilling women in the Kentucky holler that my husband and I moved to last summer after he retired.

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