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

You Cannot “Promote Yourself” in Mary Kay

One of the big selling points used by Mary Kay recruiters is the ability to”promote yourself” as fast or as slow as you want. The idea is that you “decide” you want to move up and make more money, and you are in control of that. You just work more, and voila! You are suddenly a team leader, and then a future director, and then a car driver, and then a sales director.

As with almost everything in MLM, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Sure, it sounds great to say that all you have to do is work harder and you’ll move up. But that’s simply not the case. MLM is a special beast in which almost everyone loses money, no matter how hard they work. The system is rigged against you.

Look no further than sales director Maria Elena Guandarrama, who was featured in a recent issue of Applause magazine. See her feature below. She has been a sales director since 1995… 22 long years. And she is only a senior sales director, which means she has 1 or 2 offspring sales directors.

How do you work at a company for 22 years, and essentially never move up? Again, it’s the insidious nature of MLM. You spin your wheels over and over, likely telling yourself that you just haven’t worked hard enough. Meanwhile, Maria Elena likely has little money saved for retirement, and she is certainly not getting any retirement benefits from Mary Kay.

With about 13,000 or 14,000 sales directors in the United States, most of them are sitting in the same boat… sales director or senior sales director struggling to make production each month. The dream is to become a national sales director, and everyone has their plan for “working smarter” and recruiting the right women so they can move up quickly. The lie is that “anyone” can do it. Anyone can’t, as evidenced by the fact that there are currently only about 222 NSDs in the U.S.  That’s less than a 2% chance of a sales director becoming a national sales director…. and an even smaller percentage when you factor in all the women who become sales directors and then lose their units.

You can’t promote yourself whenever you want to in MLM. No matter how hard you work, the odds ar stacked against you. You are at the mercy of others and whether they want to sign up as as consultant and buy an inventory package. The idea of just “working the numbers” is nonsense. Fewer and fewer women are interested in holding MK parties, and therefore it’s harder to recruit too. More women are reading sites like Pink Truth before they sign up.  The MLM model was bad for distributors to start with, and it’s only getting worse.


  1. Has anyone ever created a list of those rated as ‘top producers’ of the top 10 MLM companies, time each top producer has been with their MLM and with estimated or actual pretax earnings for each? I see that this information takes a bit of time to uncover but it would be helpful to use in comparing with regular ‘gainful’ employment with similar skillsets.

    1. MLM Radar

      Somehow I don’t think the two would be comparable.

      The chief “skill set” of an MLM “top producer” seems to be the ability to manipulate people against their best interest while exercising few ethics and little conscience.

      The chief skill set of sales personnel and sales managers at legitimate companies is the ability to grow a satisfied customer base and generate repeat business.

    1. MLM Radar

      Well, to begin with, when I checked eBay just now I found 259,200 listings for Avon, with 70,186 in Health and Beauty. That alone tells me something is S.E.R.I.O.U.S.L.Y. wrong.

      There are only 49,460 listings for Mary Kay (which is the lowest I’ve seen in a while). I’m not sure what that drop in MK listings means, but I do know that Mary Kay Corporate has been pretty aggressive recently about threatening people with lawsuits for selling on eBay.

      1. Wow, that’s alot of listings for Avon items. ‘Found alot of vintage Avon on eBay including vintage fragrance containers in the shape of Wild West style guns, cars, wildlife etc.
        ‘Not sure if Avon has rules against selling online when someone is a distributor. The only way I think the MK eBay sellers could get sued would be for MK co. to buy an item off of each reseller,receive the item and then cross check the sender’s address against their MK directory of active reps. since they would be bound by an MK consultant/distributor agreement that would have some clause in it against eBay etc. reselling.
        PS:’Just checked the DSA site re:Avon and it appears ‘New Avon LLC’ (a subsidiary of Avon/NYSE AVP is a member http://www.dsa.org/forms/CompanyFormPublicMembers/view?id=531F4C0000004A . Will try to figure out if DSA changed their requirements to the concerns of Avon Corps.’ ethics concerns in their prior DSA exit letter.

Comments are closed.