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

A Great “Why I’m Quitting Mary Kay” Letter

Anyone thinking of leaving Mary Kay but going back and forth… this letter may help you. The ex-consultant wrote it in response to a customer who asked why she quit.

I applaud the courage of this consultant for being so up front about everything she dislikes about Mary Kay. What a great reality check about Mary Kay and all the reasons why the company and its plan is misleading and unethical…

I’d be happy to chat with you about this. It was a difficult decision, and I’ve been kicking it around for about six months. There were several factors as to why I decided that Mary Kay wasn’t for me. In a nutshell:

1. I don’t like sales. I just don’t. I tried to get by this for a couple of years by focusing on the “I’m just teaching a skin care class” and the “I’m helping women” mentalities, but the reality was, it always felt like I was selling product. The product itself is great, I think, and if I could have just built up a customer base and been the retailer for my clients, without having to actively go out and find new customers and try to “upsell” my current clients, I think I would have done okay.

2. I don’t like recruiting other people to be MK consultants. It’s true that MK is a dual-level marketing company, not a pyramid scheme, but I do think there is a fair amount of smoke and mirrors involved, especially in the “big picture” that sales directors and national sales directors are always pitching. They hype this “pink bubble” dream of being a stay-at-home mom and still earning a decent income, but in order to do that, you really have to put the business before the family, even though they tell you that you don’t. If you want to earn the “big bucks,” you have to recruit other women to sell, and you have to keep them motivated to continue to order and sell and build their own teams. It just doesn’t feel right to me, and I think there are many, many other ways that I can help women achieve their true potential.

3. I don’t like that the company changes the product line on a frequent basis. Part of the corporate strategy is to front load new consultants with product–they do this by offering bonuses on a sliding scale based on how much money you spend on your first order. As a new consultant, I did a small order to become active and I probably would have been fine if I had just stuck with that amount. But I felt a lot of “push and pull” pressure (e.g. “you should have a full store” but “you don’t have to, it’s entirely up to you, but really, if you want to treat this as a business, you should have a full store”) to up my inventory. After about six months (four? I’ve lost count and I’m too lazy to go and look it up), I decided to get a credit card and buy my “store” with that. I let my sales director choose what would be in my store, thinking that she had five years’ experience and would know. Big mistake. As you know, the northeast part of Cincinnati is not a very diverse area, and half of the product she put on my shelf was for women with african-american skin tones. I think I’ve had three black clients in the 100+ women I’ve seen over the years. That left me with a lot of product that I couldn’t move.

Additionally, in order to keep their consultants ordering, the company rolls out “new” product lines very frequently. Since I joined, I’ve practically the entire product line turn over. I’m not exaggerating! Everything offered by the company has changed once (or even twice) since I joined, and it’s impossible to keep up. It’s too much product to move and then to restock so that you are “current.” Who wants to buy old product? This is a marketing strategy on the corporate level to keep the company in the black and making great profits, but as a lowly consultant, it just translates into frustration

I would advise your friend to know exactly why she is getting into the business, and to keep that goal in mind once she signs her agreement. The sales directors have very persuasive ways of making their agendas your agenda, and as long as you decide how much money you are going to invest initially and stick to it, it’s not a bad way to have a good discount on a great product, meet a few people and make a little (stress on the LITTLE) money. The idea of having a huge income on a few hours a week is a sham, in my opinion.

The hardest thing, I think, and this comes back to my not liking sales in general, was that once I met people and they became my clients, I wanted to give them my discount. I wanted to let them get the product at wholesale. The idea of making money off of my friends and family became somewhat repugnant to me after a year or so in the business. But in order to be somewhat profitable and to cover all of the other expenses that aren’t so apparent when you initially sign on (advertising, marketing, mailings, conferences, prizes, giveaways, etc), I had to charge more than cost. I absolutely hated that.

Technically, until I return product to the company, I can be a personal use consultant if I order $200 wholesale/year at a minimum. That’s not a lot, and I would certainly spend that on myself for skin care and color in a year. If I didn’t have these shelves full of product gathering dust and a monthly credit card payment on a balance that I keep rolling to 0% apr credit cards, I probably would have stayed on as a personal user and ordered product for clients, friends and family and passed it on at cost. But I went another route, and now I’m trying to pay the piper, as it were.

Lots of learning. I have made two great friends whom I never would have met if it weren’t for MK, and I have to believe on some level that that’s part of the reason I was “meant” to find the business opportunity.

If you want to read some other interesting perspectives on MK and on multi-level marketing companies in general, www.pinktruth.com is an interesting source. I don’t agree with everything that people have said, but I do think there is a lot of truth to it.

I really enjoyed getting to know you and meeting your family. Thank you so much for being a great customer. If you have any other questions or want to discuss this further, you know how to get a hold of me!


  1. Formykids

    Just once I would love a clear explanation of what the ?!:?!: Dual Marketing is and how it is different from Multi Level Marketing. Talk about smoke and mirrors. Direct sales is the sale of product directly from the distributor(IBC) to the customer. As soon as you earn commissions on people you recruited and they in turn recruited, it adds layers or levels, period…….multi LEVEL marketing. This blatant dodge of an indisputable truth is beyond Trumpian. It’s like to be in the Pink Fog you have to have a disassociative disorder.

    1. Cooling Off

      Nobody who says it understands it either. It’s just what they’re taught to say & they’re too sold on the company & ‘opportunity’ to question it.

      It is multi-level marketing. I think because there’s product sales and not just recruiting going on they think they’re ok using that term.

    2. MLM Radar

      Very simply, “dual marketing” is the intentional re-definition of common terms, meant to mislead you into believing that what’s happening isn’t what appears to be happening.

      Other terms are redefined the same way:
      “Sales” doesn’t mean sales; it means 2x purchases
      A “face model” isn’t a model; it’s merely a way to persuade you to come to a “guest night” which isn’t about guests either; a “guest night” is about recruiting.

      We could create an entire dictionary of re-defined terms, but I think you get the idea. It’s just a subtle way of manipulating you.

    3. Lazy Gardens

      Genuine “dual marketing” is when two different companies get together for a joint sales promotion of their products that are normally consumed together. They share the cost of the advertising, create joint retail displays, ship out the

      hotdogs and beer or soft drinks
      Camping equipment and 4-wheel drive vehicles
      Swim suits and sunscreen

      (you get the idea)

    4. ran4fun

      The way dual-marketing was explained to me was – “everyone (IBC all the way up to NSD) buys products from Corp for the same price, then sells to their customers. This gives every consultant, regardless of “rank” the same opportunity for profit when selling their product.”
      It’s argued that the “commissions are paid out of Corp’s pocket, not the IBC’s pocket.”

      What is never considered is that the money in Corp’s pocket comes from the IBC, therefore, IBC purchases fund commissions.

      Additionally, SDs get commission on their own purchases, which reduce their net cost of product, which would give SDs a potentially higher profit from the sale of goods, so the playing field is not level.

      And seriously…IBC, Red Jacket, SD, SSD, ESSD, NSD, ENSD…I’m probably missing some, but these at least represent different levels of commission, right? How can anyone not see – MULTI-LEVEL???

      1. pinkvictim

        My wife bee-lieves the “dual marketing” lie wholeheartedly. She insists up and down that MKult is not MLM.

        About a year ago, she was agitated about her red jacket needing to be cleaned and wearing it to her friend’s Director debut; I asked her why she needed the red jacket… she said something like, “It’s what level I am.”


        (Her friend is no longer a SD – I don’t hear about her very much anymore.)

  2. MLM Radar

    Regarding the original poster’s comment. I have to disagree with the statement that this is a great product. In fact, I wholeheartedly disagree. I can find better makeup anywhere, at a fraction of the cost, except for the stuff marketed to kids as Halloween and Christmas “gift” packages.

    Once she escapes the pink cloud and tries a few other brands, I’m quite sure she’ll change her mind too.

    1. TRACY

      The way I like to explain it is that Mary Kay is Target/Walmart level quality at department store prices. I think MK products work for some people, and that’s great if they like them. But they’re overpaying in terms of the level of quality.

      However, even if people like MK products, I ask them to NOT buy them. Every purchase feeds the beast. I personally refuse to put one dime into any MLM scheme. I will not financially support these companies, no matter how good (or not) of a product they have.

      1. Coffee queen

        My big problem here is that I can’t find a foundation that matches my skin better than MK. I have tried many brands but in my small city is do not have access to Mac (which an American friend mentioned to me). So until I get to a MAC store and test their colours, I am Stuck using MK unless you can recommend aother line
        I found skincare that is better and cheaper but the foundation…. Not yet.

          1. CoffeeQueen

            I have heard….
            They are hard to find in my small city though (We do not have Sephora nor do we have a Sears anymore). I spend tons at Sephora when I travel but have yet to find a foundation (everything else is great) I am loving First Aid Beauty for my skincare

      2. Heather

        It’s the best acne cream I’ve tried and I’ve used the heavy duty stuff from my dermatologist. I also love Satin Hands. I quit using both just b/c I hate the way they prey on women.

  3. enorth

    “the money in Corp’s pocket comes from the IBC”

    I saw a FB ad for a Fall Advance where there’s going to be a “cash giveaway.” So, where does that cash-prize money come from?

              1. Tigger

                I’m guessing that if China (and any other foreign countries that currently house mlms) gets serious about evicting mlms, the moms will bribe them into allowing them to stay. Then, said mlm-bribers will declare how even foreign countries think they are wonderful. You will get the truth.

    1. BestDecision

      Fall Retreats. Now there’s another thing that made me so frustrated every year. You’d think Seminar would’ve been enough to get us through at least 6 months, right? No. Constant hype to keep a constant flow of production. For all those “future” areas!

    1. enorth

      “recruiting your competition”

      LOL And Harvard is supposed to be teaching this baloney?
      “I make 50% profit on all my sales! Why don’t YOU sell Mary Kay so YOU can be my competitor?”

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