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

Losing Money on Mary Kay Inventory

Mary Kay products are so easy to sell! They just fly right off the shelf! It’s not even really like selling… you just share the products and people buy them. Except they really don’t. It’s almost impossible to create a viable retail business in Mary Kay or any MLM. (By viable retail business, I mean can you support yourself on retail sales alone.)

The prospects for selling the inventory you have on hand are so dismal, that women are willing to lose money to sell products to liquidators. Sure, Mary Kay has a program whereby you can return anything you bought in the last year for 90% of the wholesale price you paid. But anything older than that and you’re stuck with it. What are women to do? They build up thousands of dollars of inventory, adding a couple of hundred dollars here and a couple of hundred there. I shudder to think of the millions of dollars of products that are sitting in basements and garages and will never be sold.

One woman is trying to sell her inventory on Facebook Marketplace, hoping to get $1,250 for a lot of products worth over $2,000 wholesale. That’s a 37.5% discount off wholesale pricing. And she says that the price is the amount she still owes on her credit card for that inventory. She further said has “already lost out on thousands of dollars.” We can only guess how much inventory she had that she sold at a deep discount on wholesale prices.

Remind me again what a great business Mary Kay is? How you buy something for $1 and sell it for $2, and therefore have all the profits? Unless you can’t sell it (which is most people who get involved in MLM) and end up losing thousands of dollars.



  1. Roo2

    But the sad part is, who would buy that? Any kaybot would rather place the order to get car qualified, to stretch, or whatever. And we all know they already have a closet full anyway. Just saw a new director IG post that said inventory sale at 30% to make room for new inventory. Who would do that. Only in Mary kay

  2. Rachel Proctor

    This is actually something I’m struggling with. I decided to post it on my Facebook page and posted the prices I was selling for (at cost, 50% off). Immediately someone I knew from another area of my life who recently started MK was sending screenshots to a director and I’m getting inboxed about my breach of contract because I “can’t post my prices on my FB page” per the policy I signed..she says.

    So I took it down.

    That director suggested I make flyers and take my liquidation sale off Facebook or use as gifts for others or do a Facebook party. WHY would I want to keep “working the business”? I quit the business.

    So, my question is..how much trouble do you get in for trying to sell your stuff and advertising the 50% off “sale”? Is it really a violation? Will I be sued?

    What does everyone else do to get rid of thier leftover stuff? Any insight is appreciated. I’m very much stressed about this whole thing and very angry at being told to continue to “work” my inventory.

    1. TRACY

      It is true that doing this is against your agreement. From the 2018 agreement:

      “I understand that display or sale of Mary Kay® products in or to public, retail or service establishments of any kind (including internet retail or auction sites) is prohibited under the terms of this Agreement. I agree that I will not (directly or indirectly through any intermediary or instrumentality) offer for sale, or facilitate the offering of Mary Kay® products for sale through such establishments or websites (including, but not limited to, eBay and Amazon). I understand that the obligations in this paragraph survive the termination of this Agreement.”

      Mary Kay has sued people in the past to stop it. Your risk of this is probably low, but you should be aware that it has happened. You’re allowed to sell your stuff person-to-person, but not with the help of sites like eBay or FB marketplace.

      1. Rachel Proctor

        It was just my personal Facebook page. It wasn’t Facebook marketplace. It is so frustrating. I feel like I’m just stuck with this inventory 🙁 I sure hope nobody sues me over the $59 I sold off my own personal page. So, essentially, the business model is for consultants to buy lots of inventory and then lock them down so it’s almost impossible to sell it. Unbelievable 🙁

        1. BestDecision

          I personally sent every bit of mine back to MK and got a refund. Way faster and more money than you could sell it for. Call them and ask for Repurchase Department (Yes, they have that many that necessitates an entire dept devoted to it!). They’ll walk you through getting your money back.

        2. TRACY

          My recollection is that you’re only allowed to post certain types of promotional messages to social media. You are allowed to do the “standard” posts that MK gives to the entire sales force. An actual offer to sell the products is not allowed. Don’t quote me on the specifics of how that works, but that’s my recollection.

          1. enorth

            I heard a SSD say in a video that you can, for example, talk about how much you love the MK charcoal mask, but there is to be no “call to action” to purchase the mask from her.

    2. Anonymous

      I know that you can return any unused products that you purchased in the last 12 months to the company, and they will refund you at 90% of your cost. I read that if you do this, you can’t sign up to be an consultant again (but I saw a lady on YouTube who said you could, but it’s harder).

      Another idea: Could you sell/donate it to other consultants that you know? Selling might be against the rules, but if you really need the money and the product is in good condition, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

      1. Char

        “Another idea: Could you sell/donate it to other consultants that you know?”-

        How would the consultant’s upline and MKC make any new money then? The name of the game!

  3. Char

    “Looking for a Mary Kay consultant or someone looking to start Mary Kay” –

    There really is no polite way to put this; the poor sap still doesn’t get how MLM works.

  4. enorth

    “Who would do that. Only in Mary kay”

    This also occurs in other MLMs. Distributors keep buying inventory to maintain their distributorship, to “rank up”, to keep their rank, to earn free products, or to earn trips and cars.

  5. Glad2beeout

    I did the buy back. I was only in a year so my original frontload order was included. Best thing I ever did. Such a relief to Bee done with it!
    Be prepared for your director to say anything to get you to not send it back. Ignore all attempts that she will use to contact you!!!!!
    Do what’s best you and your family. They sure as heck aren’t looking out for you!!

      1. Wild Collards

        OMG that Private Spa collection in the different colors: Embrace Romance, Embrace Dreams…ugh. They couldn’t give that stuff away.

        What saddens me the most is when these folks try to recoup their losses in full: no one is going to want old pink compacts (and there are a few in that photo) as well as the Signature line. She wants to pay off her credit card and I get that, but if she wants that crap out of her life she just needs to get rid of it, chalk it all up to a lesson learned, and move on. I think that would be the healthiest because I just don’t think she’s going to unload ALL of that product at once.

        Just from the picture alone that lady was in MK for a while because she has products from the last three color line changes.

  6. Mountaineer95

    This woman’s comment about how she has priced the lot based on what she needs to get for it (based on what she spent on it herself) is a great example of how so many people who join MLMs don’t understand actual sales and why they should never have “started their business” to begin with. Her logic is no different than her saying that she spent 1 million dollars on her MK lot, thus she will only (and firmly, haha) sell it for half a million dollars, fifty(!) percent off wholesale!). You can only successfully sell it for what the market will bear.

    You can’t go into any business venture without knowing (truthfully) what you can make by selling the product. What you can actually make is based on the market in your area and not at all based on some MK director telling you that you can simply sell it for double what you paid for it. There is a fixed amount of consumer dollars available to purchase this category of product, and what you can get for it depends on demand and supply. Sales 101.

    This woman is an example of someone who should never “started her own business” since we can see that she is delusional in thinking that she thinks she can sell the lot for the amount she NEEDS to get for it and not the amount that her market will actually allow. Just Bee-lieve and it will happen! Someone will pay your asking price for this lot!

    1. Wild Collards

      There was this same discussion over on a going out of business lue la roe page over on Facebook. Many, many people were trying to unload inventory yet were still asking either full-price or close to full price or recoup their losses. The discussion was that if the consultant is trying to get rid of their product wouldn’t they discount it? Of course, no one purchased the full price leggings because people were looking for bargains due to the going out of business. One commenter said they would take an entire lot of 20+ leggings for $20, not the $250 the seller was asking for. The seller got really mad and the commenter was like, hey, all you do is post is how much you want to get rid of this stuff, I am trying to take it off of your hands. The seller replied, I am trying to make some money to pay some bills, to which the buyer said, your financial mishandlings are not my problem, or anyone else’s, so if you want this stuff out of your house so bad then you will discount it, especially the ones that were “lightly” worn.

      Yeah. That entire facebook page was a mess. Probably still is.

      1. Mountaineer95

        “The seller replied, I am trying to make some money to pay some bills, to which the buyer said, your financial mishandlings are not my problem, or anyone else’s,”

        That reminds me a bit of the familiar (at least in my neck of the business woods) quote, “a failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”.

        It’s like that the seller in your example has made a poor business decision, but she feels that she should, for whatever reason that she doesn’t share, be exempted from the financial responsibility that comes with her bad decision by feeling entitled to recouping what she invested. People who follow this train of thought are NOT “potential future executive national sales guru” candidates; instead, they are the very LAST people any of us would entrust our businesses to. Unless your business is an MLM…

  7. Emily

    So apparently I’m no longer an active sales consultant either as of July/August 2019-no orders of $225 retail/$450 wholesale placed in the last year- since July 2018,, which terminated my contract. I can’t sell my inventory back to the company (most of it is old and expired) nor do I want to use it if it’s expired. If I can’t sell it and haven’t been active for a year and a half, do I still have to file taxes on it even though I’m “out of business”?

    1. TRACY

      We normally do not allow tax advice to be given here, but since I own the site, I feel like I’m allowed to break the rules. If you sold any products in 2019, you must include that activity on a Schedule C when you file your tax return.

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