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

How to Make $100,000 a Year as a New Director

It never ceases to amaze me how recruiters, sales directors, and NSDs make up numbers and pretend they’re reality. This piece has circulated for years. It’s from retired NSD Cheryl Warfield, who claims it’s pretty easy to make $100,000 per year as a new Mary Kay sales director.

She doesn’t mention how most directors struggle to make minimum production each month.

ells women they can make $100,000 a year as a brand new Mary Kay sales director. With minimum production, the sales director is making about $14,000 a year in commissions. (And the many who miss minimum production every other month are making even less.) THAT is the reality in MK.

Cheryl uses a little Mary Kay math to come up with her $100,000 figure, and of course, she pays no attention to the fact that the sales director has expenses that must be paid out of that fictional income!

She claims that you can earn $113,280 as a sales director if you’re willing to work Mary Kay full-time.  Here’s how Cheryl says this works:

  1. Personally sell $1,000 per week, which is 7 to 10 faces and 10 reorders = $2,000 profit per month. She forgets discounts and other expenses, which means the gross profit on your product sales is probably $1,500 or less.
  2. Do 30 faces and 30 interviews each month, and 10 customer calls per week = 2 to 5 recruits per month w/ average initial order of $1,000 = $5,000 production. Yikes! Interview everyone? And continuously pester your customers to recruit? And that average initial order is completely made up.
  3. Get your unit to do 40 interviews per month = 7 to 10 recruits with $1,000 order each = $10,000 production. 15% to 25% of people interviewed will sign up and all will order $1,000? Doubtful.
  4. Work with 5 to 8 key people and the new people to squeeze $8,000 wholesale production out of them each month

Add up all the production $2,000 personal + $5,000 personal recruits + $10,000 unit recruits + $8,000 ongoing unit = $25,000 total wholesale per month.

Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Add up all the commissions, volume bonuses, and recruiting bonuses and that sales director would have gross income of $9,440 per month (according to the chart) or $113,280 per year.

It doesn’t go unnoticed that the chart uses “best case scenario” numbers. (i.e. 7 to 10 recruits with $1,000 wholesale each equals $10,000 production rather than $7,000 to $10,000.)

Could a new director, in theory, gross $100,000 in her first year? Sure. It is possible, but almost completely unlikely. No matter how hard she works, the numbers and the MLM structure are not in her favor. There are very, very few sales directors in Mary Kay grossing more than six figures. And once you take out business expenses, the personal, spendable income is far below that.

A unit at $25,000 wholesale per month would do the $600,000 unit club. How many units are doing that much or above? Very very few. Do you think it’s because those sales directors don’t work hard enough? I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of sales directors in Mary Kay who put in 40 to 60 hours a week religiously, yet never achieve these levels of success.

I know there are many directors who are using handouts like this to help recruit. This is the type of false income claim that is pervasive in Mary Kay. I say that these claims are false, not because they aren’t real for some. But they are false because they aren’t real for the vast, vast majority of Mary Kay sales directors, and they know it. Yet, recruiters are making their victims believe that this is reality for many.

Let’s make up some numbers with the belief that they could possibly be true someday, and flaunt them as reality. That’s dishonest, and they know it.


  1. Char

    “Production” – Yet another MLM word that implies a positive connotation. The applicable definition here:

    Items purchased from MK by customers dubbed consultants.

    Call the customer a consultant, call their purchase “production”, tell them they are business owners in a great opportunity. BOOM, sell $1000 worth of product instead of a tube of lipstick. Brilliant Mary Kay! There’s a sucker born every minute.

  2. Mickey2942

    My friend invited me to a facial party the other day, with plenty of wine for everyone. It was not MK, but another MLM. Just for having the party, my friend was going to get a “discount”, she only had to pay $200 for her makeup.

    The young gal selling, had a new baby, and met her “friend”, who sold her the demo kit at the pediatrician. It made me sad. That was the real sale. Probably $500 or so to start her own business. $500 she really doesn’t have. Probably sold on the idea of how much she will make while being a full time SAHM.

    1. Char

      Your post reminds me of two things:

      1) Going shopping and buying a $200 item at 50% off. Coming home and saying I “saved” $100 today. No mention of course that I spent $100.

      2) This has been on my mind for a while. I get the feeling that MK, a supposedly Christian company, somehow shames SAHMs. Shouldn’t we be celebrating their value? And the moms shouldn’t sell themselves short for all they do and contribute.

      I get that there can be a need for a double income, and I don’t begrudge business women at all. I just get the feeling that MK is suggesting that IN ORDER TO FEEL valuable, you need to be “in business”. Thoughts?

      1. I agree. It is very strange. Like I am not “living my best life” running my own “business” and being a “bossbabe” if I’m a homemaker or stay at home mom. Another thing that is interesting: I got both sides of the argument. Some women asked me the moment I got pregnant if I was getting rid of my art studio. ??‍♀️??‍♀️

    2. farmallqueen

      That’s unfortunately how it usually goes. This also happened to me. Bought $1800 inventory package for Mk because I was told it would quickly sell itself (which ended up being around $3000 debt after other “business expenses” also went on that card). I could not afford that! Never even broke even on it and had to bust my ass and pinch pennies to pay off the remainder. As a SAHM it was hard. I just wanted to make a little extra so I could contribute but ended up putting my family in debt. NEVER AGAIN.

  3. cindylu

    I was looking forward to being a SAHM. My single supervisor conned me into becoming part of this mlm/pyramid scam. Single women, SAHM, women on welfare, those with a career and happily married caring women. Fortunately the lying has become more brazen and can be discovered on line. Highest paid checks from years ago, co pays on pink cars and no where to advertise. In my unit, I doubt if a single woman was actually making minimum wage and that was decades ago.

    1. MSgt K

      I’d like to see ANYONE do this legit for a single month, let alone month after month! The propensity is just not there. I don’t even calculate the hours needed to do the above to see if it was even realistic…then calculate expenses and IRS taxes to see what the hourly wage would even be! You for sure wouldn’t have a life or time for family!

  4. Juliet Marotzke

    So she’s assuming you recruit two TO five new team members to get the bonus for that [I think?], then a commission off each of the FIVE people she is clearly assuming sign up and get minimum 1000 inventory.

    So she truly realistically expects that out of 60 new members for the year, NOT ONE will send back the inventory [if they even buy it], but if they DO all buy 1000 minimum, what is the amount of commission that would have to be deducted from the returned inventory for one person who quits? And then does the director have to pay back the bonus she mentions too?

    Guess money packs a wallop cause no way could I sleep at night.

  5. coralrose

    This is very off-topic, I apologize, but I thought you ladies would have a good answer. What non-MK eye makeup remover do you recommend? Almay for sensitive eyes makes my skin sting. Neutragena and micellar didn’t actually remove my mascara well.

    1. Laura

      Clinique take the day off, the one in a bottle which looks the same as mk (has the 2 layers). 😉 You couldn ´t tell them apart! And I must say…It would be nice to put togehter a dedicated article about mk “dupes”. Can be a struggle to many to find substitutes for some products that they won ´t buy anymore but actually really loved. This clinique eye makeup remover is genious, I hope you agree 😉



  7. BestDecision

    I love how Cheryl says profit is the same thing as income. No, NSD, it is not. Unless you are committing a crime and don’t pay taxes or if you have no expenses. Either way, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.

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