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

Money Madness

Written by SuzyQ

I read with irony the new ordering contest and bonuses offered by Mary Kay on a regular basis. (They’re all the same. Nothing is “new” in Mary Kay.)

Order more and convince your team members to order more and earn a bonus, starting with $100. Order more and get a dollar store trinket. In previous days, I might have jumped all over this and in turn encouraged my unit to get on the stick with their team members.

In Mary Kay, money is real when you earn it. It is not when you spend it. When you spend it, it just means you entered some numbers off a credit card onto a computer screen, or wrote out a check from your Mary Kay account (with the Mary Kay Connections check).

Something happens to us with money in Mary Kay. It quite simply loses value. We think nothing of plunking down $30 to learn from a NSD, knowing full well she has nothing new to tell us. We drive for an hour or 3 and spend another $75, plus food, lodging and miscellaneous expenses for Career Conference. At the very least, $1,000 for Seminar and $1,500 for Leadership. Events are usually at least $10 to $20, and we may have to bring a wrapped gift (please, no discontinued product) but there is no charge for our guests. And Fall Retreats, Advances, Jump Starts, Mid Years, Boot Camps, Banquets, quarterly power-ups etc etc etc.

And do we learn new things at these events? Not hardly. We are told repeatedly that there is nothing new in MK… There is no magic… There is no secret… We just need to work the 4 point recruiting plan, exactly as it was taught by Mary Kay in our initial consultant materials. But we are also told that to go up, we must show up and show up we do. The money is irrelevant.

Which brings us to ordering. We order whether we are selling the product or not. We order to finish contests, get to $4,500 unit production, to get to $5,000 unit production so we can earn a $500 bonus, to finish the car, to finish a unit club, a NSD challenge, whatever. We order. We put the orders on one of several credit cards we have accumulated prior to our joining MK, hit send and off it goes. We will, of course, sell this product, and with the bonus we earn, we can pay that credit card off. No sweat.

We also spend a lot on prizes, websites, director suits, new shoes, wrapping paper, fake nails, and other related “business” expenses. Then, there is the occasional co-pay on the car (next month will be different) and some chargebacks (they were loans anyway, the price of doing business) and our checks shrink.

But we keep ordering products from MK. Who wants to be a 3 quarter star? How would that look to the unit? Four quarter star!!! Consistency club!!! So our inventory grows, but it’s a cash machine, so it’s OK. We are delighted when we sell a miracle set. We just made a tidy $102. Wow. It’s so easy. Then we sell a lipstick, and because we are so good, we upsell and get an order for a liner, too. There’s another $20 something. It’s all okay.

Except it isn’t. Credit cards tend to fill up when they aren’t paid down. That’s okay too, though, because the interest is a tax deduction. We bring newbies in with inventory… technically, the bigger the better, although we are most certainly not one of those front-loaders.

We begin to associate frenetic activity with income producing activities… and we are so busy. The days are full. The bills come in the mail, some of us hide them from other snoopy people who may live with us, and there is a brief period of panic when we see the total.

Money is real at this point… especially if our earned money isn’t enough to cover the minimum payment. But then we take a breath, trust that God will bless us, and call a customer for a reorder, and end up leaving a message, “Hi Alice, I will be in your neighborhood tomorrow, and just wanted to know if you needed any Mary Kay?

Bottom line… those who work your business the way Mary Kay “intended” will not relate. Both of you. For the rest of us, money, or rather lack thereof, becomes a huge issue as we come to realize that money does indeed matter, and it is in fact real, coming OR going. Earned or spent. Saved or squandered.


  1. Cindylu

    There is definitely nothing new 50 years later. Directors do not make executive income.
    The products do not fly off shelves. When even 20 year directors aren’t moving forward than the slogan “Fake it till you make it.”  only goes so far. We were also told: “Never, absolutely never, compromise your principles.” However right from the start my principles were often over looked. My SD convincing a woman to spend her grocery money. MK has indicated that “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. ” For sure except this company doesn’t truly care enough about its sales force to help in any direct way. (Including: Proper advertising in real magazines etc., stopping change products at the expense of their sales force etc). Supposedly MK postulates that: “Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist”. Considering the fake I stories I heard and the dishonesty of my SD and NSD, Honesty is not remotely essential in MK.
    Every silver lining has a cloud.
    People fail forward to success.
    integrity is the ingredient that will enable you to forge rapidly ahead on the highway that leads to success. It advertises you as being an individual who will always come through. Whatever you say you will do, do it even if you have to move heaven and earth.
    Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
    Recognition is the most powerful of all motivating techniques.
    Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ”Make me feel important.” Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in l

  2. Cindylu

    “Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life” which quite honestly is contradictory. All the talk of integrity, enthusiasm, motivation or making others feel important don’t work. It’s fine to dream but the MK fantasy is unrealistic. Giving recognition just for ordering products is not honest but a huge deception. Tons of slogans and no actual useful information. Slogans, fake recognition and front loading don’t pay the bills.

  3. morningstar

    When money becomes an object such as MK preaches it is a red flag, and triggers addiction.

    I asked my mother years ago after I lost my quarters in Vegas ; within a NYC minute, “what happened?” she responded that the quarters become just things and my mind separates the idea that a quarter is money and can buy food.

    Thanks for a fantastic post today. This is buried deep into psyche MK – proclivity for getting people on the hook.

  4. raisinberry

    Brilliant Suzy Q. Spend any length of time in Mary Kay and you end up with no real conception of money, debt, profit or loss. Mostly because, no one ABOVE does either.

  5. May

    I wanted to share my experience with Mary Kay, this happened on July.

    Pardon my english since english is not my main language.

    So I got interested in buying three of MK product, I got to know this product by friend who recently become an MK beauty consultant and she was introducing this MK to me.

    She tried to recruit me to become a member or become MK beauty consultant, I refused from the beginning said I wasn’t interested. But because I wanted to try their product I decided to buy the botanic cleanser and mask and also the skinvigorate, she told me if I become a member I can get discount and saved money all I had to do is pay another Rm70 to become a member. Since I thought if I can saved money why not just join as member and get the discount and buy the products I want? She also ask me if I want to become beauty consultant and pay another extra Rm40, I said I’m not interested.

    I WASN’T TOLD if you become member you automatically become beauty consultant and had to pay another Rm40!!

    Since she’s my friend I TRUSTED HER!

    My only intention to become a member was because of the discount she knew this but why does she have to lie to me like this or not tell me the whole truth? Before she even sign me up as a member and got my discount, she ‘kindly’ ordered my products that I wanted to try by using her own money. And I had to pay her back later, and she buy it without the discount! What’s the used of me joining as a member to get that discount if at the end I had to buy without the discount? And all of this she told me AFTER she had sign me up as a member that she had accidentally ordered for me and I can only get that discount after I join their group course online! And I suddenly learned I had become MK beauty consultant too and had to pay the extra Rm40 which she didn’t tell me if you became a member you automatically become BC too!

    And after I join their courses online because of Corona they do it online, I finally get that RM200 discount but what’s this I had to spent minimum 350 points to used that discount. Why she didn’t tell me this? And then she told me first three months I have to buy MK products to stay active. She also offered to used my discount for me and ordered by using my discount since I didn’t need it since she had conveniently ordered for me earlier! WTF!! Why used me like this, I’m disappointed since I TRUSTED HER.

    Oh yeah, the thing that she said I only had to ordered ONCE for first three months to stay active is bull***, she later told me I had to ordered not ONCE but every three months! And minimum 120 points! And I check 120 points is around RM499.

    I said enough is enough, I won’t spend anymore. I’m glad I didn’t take her offer to let her used my discount after she cheat me like that.

    First I had to spent total RM388 for the product I’m interested to try plus RM70 as a member and additional RM40 as BC, and that without the discount. And then to not let the discount go to waste and used by her, I spend another RM465 after minus the discount. I would save a lot more without joining as a member and just buy the product at its retail price, all this because of my so called ‘friend’.

    1. BestDecision

      The reason she lied is because the truth wouldn’t have recruited you or made her money. They’re so desperate for growth that they withhold facts like “Active” status and minimum orders because they only want you as a number to count towards a goal.

      If you were being offered a real business opportunity that was thriving, would they ever talk about minimums and simple Active status? No!

      I spent over 10 years in MK and was a Director, so I can see all the tricks being used on you. Get out now!

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