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

The Attrition Justification in Mary Kay

Written by Raisinberry

The higher up a person in the Mary Kay pyramid, the more she is exposed to the failed reality of a Mary Kay business. Since that goes against her programming, she looks for reasons to justify her continued endorsement of the Mary Kay opportunity. The problem seen with clarity is that if Mary Kay was all it was cracked up to be, how come in 6 to 7 weeks, the company warns sales directors to pump up their newbies or lose them?

Within 6 months, the typical director doesn’t even recognize her unit members at her unit meeting. If a beauty consultant or sales director questions this, she is handled with a trump card, used by the top 2%ers that can neutralize the stench of doubt better than a can of Glade. This trump card is so effective, and goes completely unchallenged in the world of Mary Kay, because it appears to be so business like and authoritative.

Every time a director wanders closer to recovering her conscience, questioning the practices of Mary Kay, this card is pulled, and this card has kept the true believers mired in denial. No one need ever evaluate why so many women are so ineffective in Mary Kay… why so many women never make any money… why so many women give up and go home, and why so many women “turnover” and over and over as their recruiters keep hunting the earth for their replacements. It’s attrition. Just simple attrition.

It’s completely normal in the minimum wage work place. So common among dieters who fall off, health club memberships that are never used. That’s all it is, and you should expect it. It’s the way of humanity. But it is also why you are so special! You never give up. This card played covers all challenges. Not only have the problems associated with Mary Kay been neutralized and explained, you have been flattered and praised. You are good for another 3 months of orders or at least ’till the next hype-it-up event.

So how accurate is this analogy? Is attrition, this “normal” designation of job turnover, an acceptable reason why women give out on Mary Kay? Why do people quit anything?

Is it reasonable for sales directors to massage away any sense of guilt over who they recruit and how much they lose in money spent on events and inventory, when “attrition” is the real culprit?

According to one study involving extensive interviews with HR directors at 30 companies, the classic “quitter” notion indicates how little real understanding employers have of why employees leave. The attrition rate shakes out in his poll like this:

Reason for exit

% of respondents



Supervisor or line manager


Compensation & Job Profile


Now since multi-level marketing members are independent contractors, and have more freedom to come and go, you might think the attrition rate wouldn’t apply, thinking employees are different than independent contractors. Their reasons to hold on to and conduct meaningful work are not. Some believe employees work to not be fired, but that is not what research shows.

Likewise, independent contractors have much more emotionally invested in producing meaningful work, since no one makes them do it; it is a statement of their skill and commitment. Simply said, the independent contractor has a great deal invested in the ownership and success of their endeavor, so much so that they are less willing to give up on it.

If anything, the “attrition” excuse would seem to be least applicable to the independent contractor. So what do workers really want? They want to be fairly compensated within an organization where good work is rewarded and appreciated, while having a sense of being part of a larger meaningful whole. They want pride in their company, and future opportunities. Both really want the same things.

In the HR poll, the “employee” who answered the poll rarely saw themselves as a quitter who just wanted to leave. The main culprit in attrition was lack of adequate compensation and job profile, with the supervisor or in our case, sales director being a 38% factor!

Attrition happens because what the worker wanted in compensation never materialized, and how the job was described turned out to be less than ideal…both in terms of job requirements and job status. As we have pointed out time and time again, a career path consultant never knows what she is in for as she climbs the ladder of debt. She never expects to have to stalk at shopping malls, or be mocked in business circles by those who understand MLM for what it is.

If this research is any indication of the overall hopes and dreams of the average worker, then the excuse Mary Kay’s NSDs and top directors use to justify the tremendous turnover of consultants is hogwash, and an indictment of the false claims used at the recruiting interview or guest event. Furthermore, by using the misdirection tactic of attrition, the basis for women leaving is never examined.

Mary Kay’s NSDs want the workhorse directors to believe that over 50% turnover is routine, as routine as going off a diet or failing to show at the health club. They do this because they can not afford for the “business” of Mary Kay’s pyramid scheme to be exposed for what it is: empty promises. The attrition excuse helps the directors blame the recruit and never look closer at Mary Kay, itself, while deceiving themselves with the praise of never being a quitter.

The reasons for attrition are not found in the lack of focus, work ethic or drive of the individual, for the clear majority of individuals. It is found in the lack of results. When the sales person sells, simply stated, the results motivate the commitment to continue. But since consistent results are rare in Mary Kay, cheap bracelets, rings and ribbons are substituted. Hyped events and hoopla cause more misdirection and draw out continued effort, all the while platitudes and sayings keep the consultants trying harder and blaming themselves.

Lack of compensation and lack of full disclosure concerning what it would actually take to generate a living wage breed the frustration that the consultant feels. The longer she tries and fails, the more ridiculous she feels and the job status she thought she would enjoy (that she was shown as the directors paraded in front of her) slips away.

There is a reason directors are prompted to pump up new recruits during the 6th and 7th week! That is how long it takes them to figure out that what they were promised might not materialize. Is this the fault of the worker? Certainly not. And to blame her so you can massage your own conscience under the deceptive label of “attrition” is a con job of galactic proportions.

At the next Monday Night Success meeting, “If it is to be it’s up to me,” will once again become the chant of the brainwashed while the inevitable attrition that follows becomes the rationalization of the leaders. In an ethical company, attrition would be a problem to be resolved and fixed, because the loss in personnel and loss of training in dollars and effort would hurt the bottom line. But not in Mary Kay. Attrition is ignored. This reveals the fact that Mary Kay knows they aren’t training to avoid attrition, they accept that fact. When you know you can’t change the outcome, why would you bother throwing resources at it?

After friends and family, there isn’t much more to be gained for the gang of multi-levels to count on, in retail sales, and they know it. They need you to recruit, not sell, and replace yourself before you depart. So why train? Why change? Why work to stop attrition when so much more money can be gained by the next batch of new meat?

Sales directors never question the excuse and rationalization of “attrition” and never question that if Mary Kay was so perfect for all women to do, why would you lose anyone? At the recruiting event, the guests are assured that anyone can do it…”just smile and squirt,”  and when the reality hits, they are told that Mary Kay isn’t for everyone. Well, which is it?

It never occurs to them that if what they promised in their interviews actually happened, (building a retail cosmetics business) there would be no attrition because the independent contractor would be enjoying the success they were promised. Just smile and squirt is a far cry from the job requirements of a real beauty consultant, but certainly not from the one who only has to worry about selling to her mother, girlfriends and coworkers.

As mentioned, attrition is a problem that real companies work to minimize and to avoid excessive waste in training the wrong people for the job, responsible corporations tend to select trainees who have a skill set to succeed. Mary Kay does the opposite. Mary Kay throws a wide broad net at guest events, using the director lineup, each telling “I-stories” of various job backgrounds, claiming that selling is as simple as smiling and squirting, and anyone can do it. Then under the guise of not “prejudging,” Mary Kay directors are asked to look the other way on the obviously non-qualified recruits toward some more magnanimous idea of a woman surmounting her obstacles. Admirable.

Except that since there is obviously no real business in Mary Kay land, no real training, no real expectation to have a successful cosmetics store, this broad net will inherently leave the vast majority in the soon to be “attrition” net!

People who do not succeed, who meet with frustration about what they thought they would earn, how the job would be conducted, and how much status they would achieve, stop playing. People who were never sales people in the first place are set up to fail from the beginning. But as long as they can convince a recruit that she could have done better, and the only was to fail is to quit, she will not “close the door” by returning product. It’s a two pronged approach that is positively masterful.

If sales directors would just THINK. Just detox from the hype and think, they would see how set up they have been to churn out the fuel, deny the reality, carry on with the sayings and rhetoric, denying the actual facts and realize that attrition is a term used to describe a condition where what was promised was never delivered. And once they realize that Mary Kay has always known this is the way it all works, doing nothing to change it, in fact preserving it, perhaps the roll that directors play as fraud facilitators will finally become distasteful, and they will awaken and regain their souls. One can only hope.


  1. Lazy Gardens

    In any normal business, too much turnover gets a close examination because it’s expensive. MLMs just shrug and say, “NEXT!” They have the churn factored into their plans.

    1. NayMKWay

      In a normal business, attrition costs the company money in training and other overhead, and they try to minimize it.

      In Mary Kay, attrition costs them nothing, and often MAKES them money, as the directors and IBCs hustle to sign up new people and milk them for large inventory orders. Fresh meat is more profitable than stale leftovers.

      Any moral corporation would look at the landscape and say, “This is not right. We need to change our ways.” But not Mary Kay. They just throw out the thought-stopping cliche “It’s just ordinary attrition” and keep running the same destructive scheme.

  2. Cindylu

    Lying really isn’t the best way to build a business. Whether the Director or NSD is convinced it’s about attrition, the IBC’s talk to each other. When I spoke with an IBC from another unit we quickly realized just how illogical it all was. We attended some of the same meetings. We saw that many Directors and NSD’s fabricated much of what they were doing. We didn’t have the web then but we did have other IBC’s and Directors who finally woke up and realized it was all a scam.

  3. Ruby Slippers

    Speaking of attrition…. So what is with these TOP trip earning Directors having a mass exodus from Mary Kay? Kelly Brock on IG Aug 28,2019 and Sept 2019 the trip… posting about it being such a great opportunity and the 5 months later posting she is leaving the business.
    Top earner Michelle Cunningham being All In at Career Conference with her “Do Life Big Future National Area” …. And now NSD Dacia posting on IG about getting a car other than Pink Escalade with her cash compensation….check out all her hashtags no MY MK Life hashtag…even though she says she’s still “all in ” with MK I can feel like sometihng might be amiss…so many ‘like it to know it posts’…etc.
    Also Kelly Brock did have a reference regarding a 10 year vision board she made and maybe she realized the futility of actually making it to NSD and how with all the new NSD requirements that it’s too much “long term sacrifice” for little gain.
    @Tracy @Best Decision ….any thoughts from anyone?

    1. MLM Radar

      Wait, what? You’re questioning the NSDs? For shame.

      You’re asking negative questions again. Take the karma skunk and go sit over there. You’re not supposed to bother yourself over that stuff.

      1. NayMKWay

        The Karma Skunk, because that’s how professionals treat one another in a business situation. The mind boggles at the silly pettiness of it all, and that anyone with any self-respect would put up with it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been in that kind of cult environment, but it’s really hard for me to comprehend.

    2. BestDecision

      You’re right, Dacia is looking suspicious. If she doesn’t get in trouble for violating her agreement with all the collaborating she’s doing with sponsors, it’ll be a huge deal for the whole sales force because she’s so visible.

      I remember Pam Shaw questioning whether she wanted to go for NSD because the odds are so stacked against them, and she was under the old NSD rules. Nowadays, I bet Kelly Brock and many, many others are doing the same. The hamster wheel no longer slows or stops in NSD Land.

      1. Ruby Slippers

        Also after reading a few of Kelly Brock’s IG posts around Sept 2019 when she was on top trip this year (I’m pretty sure she was) ….about how her husband HATED her business etc and didn’t want her leaving for events. Check out her IG posts around that date. She is still a consultant just stepped down. Was at the TOP of her game so to speak $ @ 6000+ commission. I bet if her husband went on the TOP trip & he hung out with husbands that took off any remaining pink fogged glasses.

        A) they either told him their wives had been trying to make NSD for years and years
        B) let him on to all the bogus orders and credit card debt to pull off TRIP at 1am on June 30th OR worse yet about on hold orders etc to give a couple extra days…and also
        C) maybe he gave her an ultimatum as Leadership and Career Conference were months away at that time and he was tired of her leaving the kids.
        Sorry for my run on sentences . Just had to get all my thoughts out.

  4. Cooling Off

    Michelle Cunningham was because MK told her to stop promoting her ‘coaching business.’ When she didn’t, she was terminated. I’m guessing the younger / newer NSD’s can find a better opportunity in other MLM’s.

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