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

How to Talk Your Friend Out of Mary Kay

We often get the same question from family and friends of someone who has fallen victim to the Mary Kay Cosmetics scam: How do I talk my friend of of Mary Kay? If the friend, husband, sister, mother, etc. is coming to us with this question, it’s likely that they have already talked to the new consultant and received a lot of pushback.

The new Mary Kay consultant has probably parroted talking points from her director: there will be people saying negative things about any company, I don’t need to stockpile inventory, I can work as little or as much as I want to, it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, and so on…

If your loved one is determined to try Mary Kay (at least for now), what can you do to talk some sense into her? It’s a sticky situation because if you are too forceful in your negative comments, she may avoid you all together. So here’s a different tactic from our member MLM Radar. See how this might work for you…

My BFF was in the same box with another MLM. I tried the approach of being her business coach.

  1. Set a stop-loss deadline. Small businesses which are successful are taking in enough income to cover their current expenses within 6 months. (Debt repayment comes later.) Can she agree to look at her situation in six months and walk away if she isn’t making enough sales to cover her current expenses?
  2. To make a sale you’re going to need to make home presentations. You need to book two to hold one. You need to talk to 10 to book one. After you’ve called all your family and friends you’re dealing with people you’ve barely know. You may need to call 20 new people to talk to one. Do the math and you may need to call 400 people every week to book two appointments. Where are you going to get the phone numbers? Did you get any new numbers this week?
  3. How many hours have you spent on the phone this week trying to schedule home presentations? How many appointments did you set? You can’t count phone calls from your director for training and motivation. Your director isn’t a potential customer.
  4. You have to sell to 3 or 5 before you find one who may be interested in being a recruit. But since you both have the same circle of friends, are you willing to give up half the people who are your future customers? The only reason to recruit is that you have more customers than you can handle yourself. Do you have that many customers? Should you be even thinking of recruiting (“sharing”) if you don’t have enough sales to cover your current expenses?

When I tried this approach it didn’t take long before my BFF got frustrated. Her director, of course, kept trying to feed her the “dream.” At that point my BFF had to make a choice between her director and me. It wasn’t an easy choice for her, but she did decide that she valued my friendship, and that trying to sell/recruit me was not an option.


  1. MLM Radar

    Thank you Tracy!

    The TLDR version:

    Be supportive of small business in general, but only in ways that cut through the pink fog.

    She’ll hear your words. She may not listen very well, not right away, but if you keep the communication line open she’ll still hear.

    It’s tax time. Perhaps this is a good time to download an IRS Form Schedule C and talk to her about tracking business expenses.

    1. TRACY

      I like the idea of making objective goals… a certain amount of sales, a certain number of parties, etc… and a point at which she agrees to stop the bleeding. When she (inevitably) fails to meet those goals, it’s time to call it quits. The catch, though, is she will say she didn’t work hard enough and needs another chance to do the work. So then you make a drop dead goal again and hope she follows through with quitting when she fails to meet the goals the second time.

  2. Enorth

    “objective goals”

    Except consultants pursue “pink” goals, such as Star Status, Red Jacket, Director, front-row seating at a luncheon, car, trips, etc. Those goals cost the IBC even more money. And she’s so busy chasing the goals, she doesn’t realize – or care – that she’s bleeding money.

    Achieving the pink goals does provide lots of envy-baiting photos: Here I am in my ill-fitting Red Jacket, kissing the bumper of my not-so-free car, or acting silly at Universal Studios. And you’re not.

  3. Char

    A good strategy by MLM Radar, and hopefully it works.

    Having said that, we shouldn’t underestimate the MLM scammers and them covering their bases. It is no coincidence faith, belief, dreams, and hope are the main part of MLM. These principles are very powerful and persuasive. Take for example if I were to ask a Christian to focus on proof, math and science. None of that matters to them because their indoctrination heavily overrides critical thinking. They’ll insist on faith, and they’ll look at me like I’m the Devil. It’s the exact same problem when trying to present facts to an MLMer. That’s why MLM companies push faith, belief, and dreams first.

    Occasionally, you do succeed in reaching the person. You never know what’s going to click in their brain. I think that’s Radar’s point. Keep presenting or encouraging facts, and eventually they might see the facts revealed on their own.

    “When I tried this approach it didn’t take long before my BFF got frustrated. Her director, of course, kept trying to feed her the “dream.” – There you have it.

    1. PeachyNotPink

      @Char – While I get what you were trying to say with your analogy, you might want to rethink it.

      I’m a Christian and I am very much capable of critical thinking. I also believe in science and math – since I’m an accountant, I better believe in math! And my father, also a Christian, is a nuclear scientist.

      Yes, I know MK relies very heavily on fake Christianity, but disparaging the intelligence of someone just because they believe in God is pretty low.

      1. MakeupLover

        I agree with PeachyNotPink– I was offended also with the analogy @Char stated. It is obvious that she has a low opinion of Christians or their beliefs. I just wish that she can make her arguments without belittling or demeaning Christian faith.

      2. TRACY

        I am skeptical that the intent was to be offensive. I think it is more likely that it was ineloquently stated. I *think* Char was trying to say something along the lines that if you told someone to prove the existence of God using science or math, it would be impossible. Religion necessarily relies on faith.

      3. Char

        (I’ll leave the subject with this rebuttal)

        I’m not disparaging anyone’s intelligence. It’s when we chose to ‘use’ our critical thinking skills. I’ll be the first one to admit I haven’t always used them; and probably still don’t do it often enough, but I think I’m reasonably intelligent.

        The point was about initial pushback and then presenting facts like Radar’s suggestions. If a person is heavily brainwashed, you’re going to get pushback. The person will no doubt be offended – or perhaps bored. That’s doesn’t change the facts.

        I am not comparing the good things in Christianity, or any religion, to bad multi-level marketing. I am not belittling the Christian faith AT ALL. That was just the example I used since I know it best. I am questioning the principle of accepting faith as fact and letting that completely influence us – like multi-level marketing does. The correlation is undeniable and it’s not religious troll-baiting. Faith is a major part of executing the MLM scam. Certainly in the case of MLM, look how detrimental it can be.

        “You don’t have to agree with Christianity to recognize that MK’s twisted gospel is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what Christianity teaches. That’s not a pro or anti Christian statement. That’s an anti Mary Kay statement.”

        FWIW, I agree with that statement.

        1. PeachyNotPink

          @Char, for the record, I actually like your “in you face” approach when comparing MLM’s to real world examples (drunk driving, thieves, etc.). It is such a clear, blunt way to cut through the BS, and I greatly appreciate that.

          I think Tracy put it nicely when she said you didn’t mean any harm, but made your point inelegantly.

          Please know that there are no grudges or bad feelings on my end. Unfortunately, one of the hazards of electronic communication is the reader may interpret what is written in a completely different way than the write intended. I think that is what happened here.

    2. MLM Radar

      Char is entitled to his opinion about religion. The rest of us are also. But whatever our beliefs, Pink Truth is NOT the forum to make broad statements for or against religion in general. (@Char, please tone it down.)

      Please, ladies and gentlemen, let’s resist the urge to engage in religious troll-baiting. This isn’t the place.

      The difference between making broad anti-Christian statements and voicing our opposition to MK religious teaching is this: Mary Kay takes Christian teaching and twists it until it’s unrecognizable. The “health and wealth” prosperity gospel, as preached by Mary Kay NSDs and Directors, is about shutting down critical thinking. Mary Kay’s twisted religion is just an indoctrination tool for manipulating your money out of your wallet. I would oppose Mary Kay’s twisted religion just as much if they were distorting Islam, or Buddhism, or Atheism, or Secular Humanism.

      You don’t have to agree with Christianity to recognize that MK’s twisted gospel is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what Christianity teaches. That’s not a pro or anti Christian statement. That’s an anti Mary Kay statement.

    3. Lazy Gardens

      Char, I know some very devout Christians who are also very capable scientists, and some atheists who believe strongly in quackery, alien abductions and getting rich quick. So whatever your beef with religion is, you are letting it get in the way of your message that MLMs are NOT a sustainable business model.

      1. TRACY

        I don’t think it’s a beef with a religion. It’s a comparison. Belief in a religion require faith in something that cannot be proven with science, etc. MLM tries to exploit similar feelings and beliefs.

      2. Char

        I wholeheartedly agree about the scientists and the quacks. The operative word being believe, and that was my point exactly. Yes, MLM is not a sustainable business model. I guess I’m honing in on WHY THEN do people fall for it? What tactic do the scammers use to convince people? This matters when attempting to stop this fraud in the future. Since Mary Kay openly admits it uses faith, it seems like an entirely relevant topic. Having said that, I can count on two hands my posts pointing this out versus the many, many posts I’ve made about the business model itself. I stand by the relevancy, but am aware of the Kaybot hypocrisy when belief is involved, and expect pushback on the occasions I point it out.

  4. Jetta

    I wrote the initial post on the discussion board triggering MLM Radar’s excellent response. My dear friend was a masters level registered nurse with a high-powered, well-paying career as a trainer before becoming disabled. Her mother had just passed away when she finally joined up with MK. She was discouraged and vulnerable. One of the most reprehensible aspects of these predatory MLM schemes is that they take advantage of people when they are at their lowest, in addition to the appeal to faith.

    All of this said, I did ask her to be very careful about tracking expenses, including the value of her time. I also mentioned that the IRS does not allow unending losses to be claimed year after year. Sadly, I don’t think I can coach her any further than this, as we are both in our sixties now and she is strong-minded, as am I. Besides, although she needs money, I think the boss babe mentality appeals to her (she has had entreprenurial leanings). I also think she is participating in large part for the sense of belonging and to get out of the house. Hopefully, this will all run its course and our fifty year friendship will remain intact.

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