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

Mary Kay Prizes Not Worth the Effort

Written by sadnpink

During the course of my time in Mary Kay, I never missed being a star consultant. I believed that I deserved those nice gifts they were giving away each quarter, and I managed to accumulate quite a few. It wasn’t until I resigned as a director and returned my products that I came to realize how little those prizes really were worth.

My statement indicated that for the entire year my star gifts were valued at a whopping $49!!! Wow…. that said a lot right there. I had been a consistent Emerald that year which means I did a LOT of ordering. I earned a pink blender….which broke within two months and rusted out at the base. I earned a gadget which would take an electronic genius to operate and did not work well even when it did operate. In short, the gifts were cheap.

Perhaps the only thing really worth the effort was the luggage set that I earned, since I needed a new suitcase. The quality was good, and when I went to sell it, a friend asked me why I would want to sell the luggage since it was well made. She said, “After all, you bought it each quarter.” It was then that I had some clarity

That’s right! I bought every single star prize. I paid for it through my orders. Certainly the company was losing nothing on the gifts.

They are dangled in front of us as “must haves” and unfortunately, many of us pursued winning them.

It isn’t just the company that gives out cheap gifts though. Sales directors and NSDs also give out prizes that come at little or no cost. I remember receiving a special unit ring from my SD. It was a pretty amethyst ring with a gold band. I wore it proudly and many people remarked about how pretty it was. One day, however, I noticed it turning green in the back. So when I went to seminar, I decided to check out the vendors there and see if I could find a similar ring.

Imagine my shock when I came upon that very ring being sold for all of $4! Later, when I became a director, I was told that we should never spend much on unit prizes for our consultants. The vendors sold pins, bracelets, rings and other pretty baubles for $4 to $6 per piece. In some cases, it was less, and the quality was not good either.

So tell me…. Why did we work so hard to earn something so cheap it could be a prize in a gum ball machine? Somehow, we just had to get that star each quarter so we could struggle to get it attached to the ladder pin. The gem stone was so tiny as to be totally insignificant. In reality, none of the prizes or gifts were worth all the hard work and time we spent trying to do Mary Kay.

Lest you think that only sales directors give out cheap gifts… think again. NSDs also give away cheap items too. At one year end banquet, my NSD gave a bracelet to each of her directors. Within two days, mine had turned green. I was horrified because my NSD told us that she shopped specially for these thank you gifts. The next day, while at the Vendor’s area, I found that bracelet on a rack for all of $2.25. I was so glad to know that my efforts and support were so greatly appreciated.

Even the GREAT seminar award program leaves much to be desired. The diamond rings are not the highest quality and the diamond bumble bees are not either. Then, if you decide to return product and leave MK, you will have to pay for that ring or diamond bee if it was earned during the year you left. So, once again, you just bought your own prize!

In all honesty, there is nothing given to us out of the kindness of Mary Kay Inc’s heart. They cover themselves very well financially. We are the ones that are foolish for pursuing these inexpensive gifts. We sacrifice family time, our faith and every spare moment so we can achieve what? A $4 pin or ring?

If anyone feels the need to have a “bling bling” ring, please just go out and buy one for yourself at one of the vendors. They can easily be found on the internet! It is cheaper, less time consuming and when it turns green, you can always pick up another one for the same price.

Don’t sacrifice the precious time you could be having with your family. Don’t go into debt trying to earn gifts that are low quality and not worth the effort. In fact, the best gift you could give yourself is to not get involved in MK to begin with!


  1. PurpleH

    My NSD’s area email once included a screenshot of the “special prizes” she was offering for some challenge with the name of the supplier visible in the corner. I was able to look it up before she realized the mistake and edited the promotion. The ring was something like $2.75 and the earrings were $4.00 from a Chinese bulk dealer.

  2. enorth

    ” I bought every single star prize. I paid for it through my orders.”

    I was just perusing a SSD’s 9/18 newsletter. Only one woman earned a 13% “love-check”, which was for $621. But in reading the note below, I saw that — to be eligible to earn the 13% — she had to place a personal $600 wholesale order.

    1. MLM Radar

      “Hisssss… Don’t worry. You’ll sell it. Hissss.”

      Um, no. It won’t sell. Worse, when the person under you who placed the Star order returns it, you’ll have to return that $621 commission and STILL be stuck with $600 in product you can’t sell.

      But let’s not talk about that. It would be negative.

  3. SAH

    I always thought the prizes were so cheap for what had to be spent. I never got how other consultants were excised about the credit to buy the office supplies, a SMALL credit at that. $1500 to be a star and youre gonna pick the $10 credit?

    1. Kinzie

      As a child I did the very same thing for my mom and Grandma: Coupons for a back rub or extra cleaning, etc. Actually I would rather have that kind of thing than a ride in a stupid caddy. Heck, if I wanted a ride in a caddy I could just go to the nearest dealer and take a test drive! And I’d be driving it myself!

  4. Peaches

    I did like the “girlfriend” leather portfolio, wallet and card holder for an $1800 order. I also liked and still use a smallish black barrel style canvas purse and wallet with leather accents again for the same inventory amount. After a while, I realized that I could find the “consultant prizes” on eBay for a fraction of the inventory order price and I bought what I wanted if I wanted it. But then, I became disillusioned and broke. And I ended up giving away inventory to a womens’ homeless shelter. After all how could I sell it back to MK after a year … and that presupposed that I wanted to come back to a never ending process of ordering and not selling.

    1. MLM Radar

      What’s despicable is the dollar value MK placed on the prizes, which you learn when you get a surprise IRS Form 1099 requiring you to pay taxes on that amount.

      Good luck trying to get MK to lower that value! MK actually has a lot of women convinced that getting an overstated 1099 is good, because that’s supposedly an expression of what they’re worth. (Is that ring really worth $800? How would you feel if they said your prize was really worth $350, but someone else got a similar prize supposedly worth $800? You’d feel unappreciated. Solution: Everyone is told they got $800 rings!)

      An overstated IRS Form 1099 can be corrected when you file your tax return, but you need some strong evidence and usually the help of a tax expert. Proving your case may cost more than just coughing up the extra tax money.

  5. Data Junkie

    Thank you sadnpink. It think “Mary Kay Prizes Not Worth the Effort” is a great title, but doesn’t that apply to commissions as well? Such as “Mary Kay Commissions Not Worth the Effort”?

  6. enorth

    The latest prize is a five-day cruise in October for two to the Bahamas.
    To earn the cruise:
    -Minimum of $3,600 personal wholesale
    -Six Great Start-qualified new personal team members
    -Three personal first-time Star Team Builders
    -All by June 30

    1. MLM Radar

      The latest is a five-day cruise in the Bahamas at The Peak Of Hurricane Season! Because, you know, that’s when the cheapest fares are available. (Airfare and travel insurance not included.)

      Hope you remember to bring your rain poncho.
      Hope you can afford a rain poncho.

      1. enorth

        According to the announcement, flights are included. (But not baggage fees, and not transportation to airport.)
        I also wonder if MK will tell them which airports and airlines they have to use.

      2. Roo

        I have been trying to find the qualifications for that cruise for $3,600 you could go on a 7 day to non Bahamas islands and buy your self a new wardrobe and makeover at Sephora and still have money left over! I also like that even in the fine print, Mary Kay states they pay for the soda package only. Forget it if you want a mai tai by the pool or a pina colada. 5 day Bahamas cruise aren’t those given away free for just listening to a time share speil?

  7. enorth

    “5 day Bahamas cruise aren’t those given away free for just listening to a time share spiel?”

    Anyone who has been on a cruise knows you lose a lot of time embarking and disembarking. They’ll probably only leave port in the afternoon of Day 1, and begin disembarking very early on Day 5. So, it’s only three full days. Pack light.

    I saw a FB post that said, “MK is chartering the entire ship.” Not true, because I can go to the cruise-line’s website and make a reservation for that same trip. And the ship they’re traveling on has a max capacity of 3,800 passengers. Be prepared to stand in line for everything,.

    1. Char

      My area car dealer gives away a free 6 night cruise for buying a car, and actually does charter the entire ship. It’s 1.5 million dollars apparently, same ship, in December after hurricane season.

      “To earn the cruise:
      -Minimum of $3,600 personal wholesale
      -Six Great Start-qualified new personal team members
      -Three personal first-time Star Team Builders”

      Curious. How much does one consultant bring in to company (spend) for the 3 night cruise valued at $1200?

    2. MLM Radar

      Remember the bogus tax advice spewed by MK Directors? If you spend any time on the cruise vacation training or working your business you get to deduct the whole cost. Right. Mary Kay tax advice is just as bad as Mary Kay math.

      The cruise line should issue a warning to their other passengers: Big Mary Kay group on board. Be prepared to be targeted.

  8. Ann

    I was the would not dangle these prizes like the cruise in the front of their consultants or DIQs. Because it is about to be the end of a friendship. She keeps harassing me to have a party and get active to help her win the cruise. This is why I left Mary Kay I would not harass people to buy or signing up to sell.

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