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

Wealth For a Few at the Expense of Many

Written by Cindylu

I was recruited into Mary Kay by a hard working supervisor from my job about one year after we stopped working with each other. She was someone I really trusted.

When I first attended a MK meeting, I was drawn in by “ Faith First, Family Second, Career Third.” I was making a career change so that I could be a stay at home mom. My sales director met with my husband and alarm bells were set off. Right from the start my sales director was all about the bling.

She bragged about her Pink car, the prizes she had received and that Mary Kay was giving her the opportunity to buy a huge new home. She also had a husband earning a significant amount. (I know now that HE was paying for her dream home.) She had a room filled with MK products but refused to trade products with us.

Right away my sales director convinced me that I had to go to Seminar. A few months later I traveled with many other women and headed for Seminar. When I arrived at Seminar we were in a huge hotel where I got to share a room with three other total strangers. I got up extra early each morning so I could quickly use the restroom and get dressed. I put my make up on in a public restroom down the hall so other women could get ready.

When I first arrived at the Seminar conference centre there were three MK cars in the lobby. That day was a blur of motivational talks by various directors. There also were vendors selling MK products, books etc. Another cash grab. We had to pay for everything including our meals. The MK way included a caste system whereby the ordinary consultants got the worst seating and food.

Everything the directors spoke about was vague and mysterious. I waited for someone to actually tell me just how you sold these products. I also waited for someone to actually teach me some real makeup techniques. Instead what I got were directors that boasted about having met Mary Kay Ash. They talked about the pink in her mansion. Two of them gloated over having purchased designer shoes that were close to one thousand dollars. I heard all about the diamonds, the trips, and the cars.

That evening hundreds of women crammed into a theatre where we waited for the directors and NSDs to show up. It seemed that once again the focus was on extraordinary wealth and profit. The whole event was set up to be like some kind of Academy Awards production. The vaunted NSDs were paraded on stage like they were celebrities. We were shown a short video about this year’s trip, diamond jewellery, gifts and cars. It seemed that the gospel of prosperity was being preached.

We then had all the accolades presented. There was a throne for the Queen of sales complete with a sash and presentation of flowers. There were new directors who were waltzed across the stage in their brand new director suits. There were newly minted Red Jackets paraded across the stage. We were all clapping, cheering and crying when we saw these hard working women being honored.

What a night. What an extravaganza. There was a lot of talk about dream trips, being independent and what a wonderful opportunity this MK dream was. There were NSDs who crowed about their $40,000 a month earnings. Naturally the NSDs that were talking were in the original founders Emeritus club. Once again I listened intently. I heard all about growth, cars, prizes, etc.

I also heard one NSD shouting across to others that her unit had done it the right way. It seemed that there was a huge concern that other directors and NSDs were finding ways to cheat their way to the top. I did not hear exactly how they had become NSDs.

And then…..

Immediately after seminar a brand new director quit. I found that odd because she had been so enthusiastic about MK on our way to Seminar a few days before. Months later we drove in my director’s pink car to Career Conference. My NSD had set up some kind of motivational and self help forum. We were tasked with designing t-shirts for our team. There was the prerequisite “Pink Cadillac Song” and the “Hot Hot Hot” song and of course we bonded as women without the NSD being any part of this scenario. She set up an ice cream parlor. Our NSD was aloof and did not join us for many of the events.

We were asked to dress down in jeans and our t-shirt design. The NSD dressed up in an expensive dress. We were made to feel like the second class citizens that we were.

Our NSD spoke about how frustrating being in MK had been. She had built up and lost many units over the years. She spoke about the annoyance of having her pink car towed from the driveway. Eventually though her cold-hearted fixation on wealth prevailed. With direct help from Mary Kay Ash herself, this NSD was able to convince many women to join her unit. At this conference she spoke about making a million but essentially losing a million too before finally making it for real.

Once again everything was vague with regards to exactly how she made it to the level of NSD Emeritus.  There was a lot of hype and rah rah enthusiasm. Directors spoke about Mary Kay Ash as though she were some kind of saint. My directo spoke about how many directors visited MK’s home and debated whether or not she had gotten any plastic surgery including a facelift.

It felt like I was with a bunch of directors who had an exaggerated focus on wealth and social position. Slowly but surely the Bloom was off the rose. MK had lost its freshness or acceptability.

My NSD stood in front of the room and invited us to have our photo taken with her. She handed us tiny empty boxes which she pretended were somehow imbued with the power to be successful just like her. Anywhere else she would have been just an ordinary woman with a superiority complex. At this conference she pretended to be extra ordinary and superior to everyone in the room. A

ll the talk about MK being faith-based and training being free were exposed as nonsense. Every woman that attended this gloat fest paid for the entire extravaganza. Not too long afterwards I got quite sick and got absolutely no help from anyone within MK. A few months later I finally woke up and quit this controversial money pit for good.


  1. Char

    “I got up extra early each morning so I could quickly use the restroom and get dressed.” –

    You mean you don’t like pooping in a small hotel room with a bunch of strangers? Lol

    So the next time readers see a gaggle of MK consultomers at a hotel, hopefully that image comes to mind.

    (You know how smoking cigarettes isn’t cool anymore? It never was safe and the cool image was a marketing trick by the Tobacco industry. Now, we have those ugly people commercials with dope sticks hanging out of mouths made to dissuade people from harming their health while giving them the truth. The anti-MLMer movement sometimes is a version of that. It’s casting a wide net to get them all “off the streets”, and it’s not being mean or jealous as so often accused by the perps.)

    Faith, belief in something without facts, is what con men bank on. No wonder it’s first in the MK motto, and it’s probably the only thing MK is honest about. Focusing on facts blows the whole thing out of the water.

    Mary Kay was definitely shrewd, and she built a business empire on lies where the very victims she scams idolize her.

  2. NayMKWay

    The dissonance between words and actions is astonishing. “We’re all about empowering women,” they say, as the low-level IBCs are shoved into nosebleed seats well away from their elite leaders, and fed crappy food while watching their “superiors” munch on slightly better food (while pretending it’s delicious to fan the flames of jealousy). Is it empowering to have everyone dress down so they don’t look as nice as the Queen BEE? To be cajoled to stand and applaud and fawn all over whomever happens to be strutting across the stage?

    The “empowering” line is just another broken promise; just another lie. I remember Daniel Helou trying to put a positive spin on the atrocious turnover rate at seminar:

    [Sent: Friday, August 17, 2007. Lots of drivel about taking delivery of their pink Cadillac, and all its buttons and new-car smells. Then this…]


    Over half of those “fortunate ones” from the year before had either dropped out of MK or decided one seminar was enough. How Helou can spin that as something positive beggars belief.

    Sorry. I mean it beggars BEE-lief.

  3. raisinberry

    Great article. Great responses!

    One of the things that contributes to this nonsense, you have to remember, is that part of MK culture is the inability to share anything that is negative. I’m kinda shocked that your NSD even shared losing a pink car or losing a million… NO MK WAY!

    They hook women in on all the hope and possibility they personally can believe in and the way they KEEP them, is through pretense and silence. Ultimately all the Directors are unaware that most of them are financially struggling, making co-pays, or doing the every other month production leap frog. God forbid you’d ever SAY anything out loud like that!

    The constant hype is hard to defeat, when you are trained to blame yourself for not doing all that you could have to find new recruits or dial for dollars. You COULD have stalked the 24 hour Walmart to find Miss Right, don’t cha know….

    So while the NSD’s parade their lifestyles and riches, you will consistently be made to compare yourself…your lack to their abundance…and so, your state of mind is manipulated into a constant state of neediness that only rising to the TOP in MK can fill. It’s quite the emotional trap…which I think explains why normally good decent women, lose themselves until that moment where the pink bubble bursts by a pinpick of truth.

    The truth is, even when you are good at MK, you’re not.

  4. Neverpink

    Is it the brainwashing beforehand that makes IBCs want the obviously-worthless not-diamond rings like in the picture? I always wondered about that.

    They tout sparkles and bling and “diamonds”, but when you see pictures, it looks like cheap costume jewelry you’d find for $3 at Claire’s. Is it the brainwashing that makes this cheap jewelry appealing?

    1. Char

      I think MLM has all the reasons covered:

      1) The count on the poorer demographic not knowing that all diamonds are not created equal. Color, clarity, cut, and size, all factor in to its value. It’s not just the cumulative amount of carat weight, but many haven’t a clue.

      2) All MLM companies parade “lifestyle” as their hook. It’s human nature to want to improve our situation and they dangle that FAKE carrot like no other. MLM is “for those who have to buy their silver”. (Old snob saying)

      3) For those who don’t really care about material things, they’ll say you’re helping others.

      Bunch of scumbag con artists. Most of them are faking the “lifestyle”; and those few who actually achieved it, they scammed the money off their poorer victims.

      P.S. Can’t believe I’m so late to this party, but Netflix has “Betting on Zero” Herbalife/MLM expose available. I watched it yesterday. It’s a must see for all Mary Kay consultomers, former and current. Has it been discussed here yet?

      1. Lazy Gardens

        “all diamonds are not created equal. Color, clarity, cut, and size,”

        The tiny little ones are called “spit” in the diamond trade when buying them, and “Pavé” when selling them.

        1. Char

          I find this conversation relevant to MK because the jewelry stores can also be misleading shysters. It’s not that jewelry with small crap diamonds can’t be pretty, wearable, and sentimental if it’s all the gifter could afford and was given in love (an entirely different matter and to be cherished); it’s how the store markets the diamonds that gets me.

          I just saw a commercial for a diamond tennis bracelet 1 Carat total weight for $499. I’d rather have a CZ one that shines clear than carbon filled grey/yellow “diamonds” that you barely see. But, they bank on the “diamond” label and people not knowing any better.

          I think it’s no coincidence that MK dangles those pave setting, spit “diamond” rings as something grander than they actually are.

          I know Mary Kay can target the young and/or less affluent communities. I hope that by reading here, they sometimes learn other things too.

          Herbalife “Betting on Zero” has got me freshly riled.

          1. NayMKWay

            I remember a TV ad from years ago for diamond stud earrings for the low, low price of only $19.95! (plusshippingandhadling). I had to laugh out loud as the model proudly displayed these genuine “point two-five point diamonds!” Clearly, they were targeting an unsophisticated audience who didn’t know what “.25 pt.” meant.

            A point is 1/100th of a carat, or 2 milligrams. I have a ring with three 2-point diamonds in it, and they are barely visible to the naked eye. It must have taken one heck of a spotlight to make something 1/8 that size to show on screen.

            1. Neverpink

              It makes me thankful that I have no interest in diamonds, nor any interest in MLMs. I’m sure diamonds are being touted as the “bling of choice” because we as women are socially conditioned to think they’re the best thing ever (and by “social conditioning”, I mean commercials and media). I wonder if something other than a diamond would be the “bling of choice” if diamonds were not as coveted as they are now?

              I mean, I myself am not a diamond expert. I do know the basics like cut, color and clarity will definitely determine how expensive the diamond is, but even I can tell this MK jewelry is costume quality at best. It just LOOKS so cheap. It makes me sad that MK is banking on IBC’s ignorance on this topic (through no fault of the IBC, I’m sure).

              MK probably buys this stuff dirt cheap, maybe for pennies, and then underlines, bolds and italicizes DIAMONDS in the hopes that IBCs clamber for it…

              And by “clamber”, I mean “put tons of inventory on their credit cards” for it.

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