Facts, opinions, and the real story behind Mary Kay Cosmetics.

A Display of Courage By a Pink Truth Member


One of our members was so intent on getting the word out about Mary Kay in her community, that she contacted the newspaper of a college campus, and they printed her opinion piece. You have to see the actual article here (large file) because it just looks so cool in print.



Here's the text of the story. I'm just so impressed by this display of courage, especially in light of how vicious the women in Mary Kay can be to anyone who dares say anything negative about their beloved company.

It all began in July of 2004, a year after I graduated college. I signed up for Mary Kay during a restaurant promotion and “won” a drawing for a complimentary makeover. She left me with a recruiting video to watch and said that she’d give me a free lipstick to watch her video and give her my honest opinion.


I heard a self-made millionaire talk about the Mary Kay Career Opportunity and what it’s done for her family and herself. Confident, rich and proud, she talked about how flexible it was. I thought, I can do this! I’m going to be a beauty consultant, make some extra money, pay off my $2000 credit card debt and be my own boss!


I excitedly purchased my $100 starter kit and then scheduled a Business Planning Session with my director. At the session, she told me that if I was serious about this business, I’d need to invest at least $600 and highly encouraged me to start with much more than that to help me succeed. “It’s so much easier to sell something you have on hand rather than having to go back and place your order with Mary Kay Corporate after you’ve made the sale with your customers,” she said.


I truly believed you’ve got to spend money to make money. I didn’t think of my initial investment as “debt.” I thought of it as an investment in my future! This woman had earned a "free" car in MK, so she was proof that this company worked. She offered to do my first show to help “train” me. Within my first week as an Independent Beauty Consultant with MK Cosmetics, I had already spent over $2200 for inventory and start up costs.


I was excited but very scared. I had invested into an inventory of product that I had no experience selling. I didn’t know much about skin care or makeup artistry. And, my biggest fear was that I didn’t know where I was going to get the customers or how I was going to sell it all.


No matter what I did, I was barely making any income. My sales were low, expenses were high and I didn’t even seem to notice the debt on my credit card doubling and quadrupling. Yet my business skills were improving and my sales were getting much higher! I was even starting to recruit some team members! For the next two years, going to Mary Kay meetings was encouraging, and I started to believe the saying “Fake it ‘til you make it.”


I continued to learn everything I could, working as hard and fast as possible. I put together a huge “Training Manual” that covered what I was using and learning in my own business. No one else in Mary Kay that I had run across offered something like this as a resource and I thought it would solve every problem that I had run into.


About this time that I started realizing how out-of-control my debt had become. Each month I consistently found myself borrowing more from the credit cards, sort of doing a balancing act. I don’t know how many times I crunched the numbers and looked at how many selling appointments it would take for me to hold each week, realistically, to allow me to stop going further into debt. I decided to file bankruptcy.


At that point, my credit card debt was above $50,000. At that time, my minimum payment was $1000. I struggled with the decision to file bankruptcy. I wanted so desperately to be successful and knew that a bankruptcy would certainly give people the wrong impression about my success in Mary Kay if they knew about it. My debt was “discharged” in November 2007 and I was more determined than ever that I’d finally be able to make it work!


I was always taught that 60 percent of the money I collected was supposed to go back into the business to replace the products sold and to allow extra room for business supplies and sales tax and the other 40 percent was treated as “profit.” I eventually had to admit to myself that my business expenses were eating up almost all of my profits! So, I wrestled with this challenge, and I couldn’t come up with any expenses that I’d be able to cut if I still wanted to offer something I was proud of and something that was appealing to my customers.


Mary Kay claims that we have no quotas to meet. As a brand new Beauty Consultant, there is an immediate quota enforced. She cannot get the consultant discount unless she orders $200 or more. In order to earn a car or become or remain a director, there is a $4,000 per month wholesale quota to maintain!


I went to my Mary Kay Monday night meeting on Feb. 25. I brought a guest who seemed excited about the "Career Opportunity.” I knew she wouldn’t have the resources to afford anything other than her starter kit. I also knew that she had very little chance of success without the additional supplies that she would need that didn't come in her starter kit.


Then I was invited to come out in front to sit at the “head table” to be recognized for my weekly sales. I moved $543 in retail product. Sheryl Peterson says something along the lines of, “So once you put money back to replace the products you sold for the week, you made about $271.50! And you worked how many hours at your selling appointments, Karen?”


I looked at my sheet and told her “six hours.” So, $271.50 divided by six hours, equals about $45 per hour! “How many of you here could get excited about $45 per hour!”


At our meetings, we are recognized for our hours put into “selling appointments” only. Time on the phone booking appointments, coaching hostesses, training with team-members, meeting with potential recruits… all of those hours do not count toward our weekly “hours.”


Here I was, in REALITY, struggling, post-bankruptcy… without making a profit myself… What a lie! I felt slimy. And now, Mary Kay Corporate has told me that even though I’ve decided to quit Mary Kay, I cannot stop advertising to my customers for another month! Oh well, I’ve already invested over $41,000.


What’s another hundred or so to send a letter to each of my customers thanking them for their support and kindness in my blind and misguided Mary Kay adventure and encourage them to choose another brand of cosmetics that does not support deception and greed in the future? It’s an expense I’ll be happy to pay to spread the word about Mary Kay Cosmetics!


To get information about selling your inventory back to Mary Kay Corporate, please call (972) 687-6300. Don't make the same mistake I did.

What a great story to share with all the college students who could potentially get sucked into the pink vortex. Thank you for sharing it with us too!


  1. raisinberry

    This is the kind of deception that woos the target into the pink bubble…that little upfront Director interview with the IBC that uses Mary Kay math on profits and hours spent. It is just a little white omission of all the facts, classic Mary Kay.

    With so many in Mary Kay, living a lie, and having to recruit through personal deception, you would think that the shame would eat them alive. Its Monday. All over the US, this evening at Success Night/Model Makeovers/Career Meetings/ more “guests” thinking they are “helping out a friend who needs to borrow their face” will be sitting in front of well trained personal manipulators, using the tried and true tactics that this writer points out. It never stops.

    What keeps them doing it, is denial, and a seared conscience. They are in survival mode…looking for that “racehorse” who will “go to the top”, driving wholesale production all along the way.

    Until she wakes up. And leaves. And the next one takes her place.

    1. LD3

      I found this site in January after being fed that “helping out a friend who needed to borrow a face” line. A friend of my friend’s mother-in-law hosted a ladies’ luncheon. Very nice lady, had a lovely time – and then she casually asked if I could be her ‘face model’ at an event next Saturday. She said she was just getting back into MK, and needed some models for her portfolio. It sounded harmless enough (not a “skincare class” or “facial” or “makeover” like I’ve heard in the past). I tried to say I was busy, but apparently this was a recurring event every Saturday and eventually I caved. I didn’t want to cancel and embarrass my friend or her mother-in-law, so I kept the appointment. My first red flag was the morning of, when she texted me to offer to drive me. Nice gesture, but I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could, so I declined…but she kept insisting! I stood my ground via text, and she finally agreed I could drive myself.

      I walked into a room full of women at circle tables, and was promptly shown to a seat with a little palette and a mirror and I finally realized what I had been tricked into. Ms. MK brought me a latte (I was kind of pissed, so I didn’t even offer to pay for it), and I was stuck in the middle of the room listening to the big rah-rah. At the end, we had to fill out some cards. I tried to get away with just my name, but she kept pushing. I filled in my address and phone number (she already had it anyway), but drew the line at my husband’s info or our anniversary (and no, she couldn’t call him to discuss gifts for me), and I was able to resist putting down any of my friends’ contact info, despite her comments about how she really wants to make Director again and that it could really help her out. Then the icing on the cake. As I was making my run for the hills, the presenter (who I also met at the luncheon and briefly mentioned my husband was in the military) asked if it sounded like something I was interested in. She didn’t give me a chance to answer, and enthusiastically introduced me to one of her unit members, who was also a military wife. She introduced me as someone who was just starting out in the military life…he joined right out of college and we’ve been in 12 years! I was insulted that she didn’t bother to listen at the luncheon; my friend and I had met through our husbands’ service 8 years ago! She just heard enough information to try and use the “fellow military wife” as a hook tactic. I still get some mailings and an occasional phone call that I send straight to voicemail, asking if I need more (any) product.

      Anyway, I did some angry scam searching and found this site and LOVE it. I have a friend who sells Arbonne, and it’s just kind of sad watching all of it unfold…and she’s one of the most unpushy reps ever! Thank you, ladies, for all your stories!

  2. Deflated Pink Bubble

    You know that old saying that if a person is happy about an experience they’ve had with a retailer they tell 2 people but if they are dissatisfied they tell 11? I’m wondering why this isn’t happening in Mary Kay. SO many women have gotten out but they are keeping the truth about this company to themselves. I can only hope that what we are doing here at Pink Truth is reaching some of those women who have left but remained quiet and encouraging them to tell 11 people.

    The woman who wrote this article is courageous. I can only hope that she is now part of PT!

    1. MK Taints the Color Pink

      It’s one thing if you’re a customer, it’s another thing if you actually sold theproduct. So many are manipulated to feel like failures. Also, once they find out the truth, I would think it is hard to admit to their friends and family that they fell for the scam.

    2. ananimis

      You are so right Deflated Pink Bubble. I know someone who has tried to recruit me and some of my family members. I and them won’t bite. She constantly says how wonderful it is. Won’t say anything about the bad side of it. I’m glad I found the Pink Truth, it’s good to see both sides of the coin, not just the pretty shiny side.

  3. Tigger

    I DID tell my SD about PT as soon as I discovered it. That was about 8 years ago. The group, save for one, still will barely acknowledge my presence and won’t even sell me a MK product.

    I asked one cons. if I could become her customer and she said she was too busy. When did a MK cons. ever become too busy to make a sale? A sale that I would drive to her house to pick up?

    The black-balling is horrific, and they kow it. It is the worst kind of blackmail. I live in a very small town. It’s so easy to tell someone to blow the whistle. Very difficult after you have done so.

    I don’t kow how these mlms can possible coninue the way they have for much longer. Classes/parties are becoming next to impossible to book and hold. This new generation is so NOT into doing things the way we did them.

    They live in a sound-byte world. MLM parties are a 2-hours long commercial/recruiting speil. Something’s gotta give, as they say. We are witnessing the death gurgle of mlm parties, along with the emergence of new business models. Want to know how to market? Just watch an hour of t.v. Those ads have to grab you instantly.

    I honestly don’t know how mlms can survive.

  4. Mommabear

    I wish I was as smart as she was. I drank the Kool Aid 23 years ago have been “personal use” ever since I left my Directorship. I found this site because I was about to place my obligatory once a year order and found out they discontinued the Velocity line. I was just searching to find out what replaced it and found this site. So…I am not going to place the order. I have until October, but I’ve seen my own story on this site too many times to keep blaming myself!

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