Debunking Some Mary Kay Myths

Written by DupedByPinkFriend

If you are here at Pink Truth today for the first time, and you are reading this because you want to know all the facts before you sign up, you are already ahead of the game! You are doing exactly what an astute businessperson must do before beginning a new venture: you are researching the product, the market, and your competition. You are attempting to gather information to help you make an informed decision.

However, as you are attempting to reduce your risk by researching the Mary Kay “opportunity”, you are going to hit a brick wall, and here’s why: Mary Kay Cosmetics is a privately held company. It has no public investors who require the reporting of real numbers with legitimate proof.

MK does not track retail sales, so the numbers that are published are skewed. When you read that MK does billions of dollars per year in retail sales, understand that these numbers refer to the amount of sales in products to their own sales force! They really have no idea how much is actually sold to real customers, nor do they care. In order for MK to make money, they must continue to attract new recruits and pressure them to buy.

So, what does all of this mean to you? It simply means that what you are told about this company is very likely not the whole truth, and if you are starting a business based on falsehoods or partial truths, you are dooming yourself to failure at the onset.

What’s worse, because recruiting fresh meat is vital to their own prosperity, MK allows their sales force to “stretch” the truth, imply benefits that don’t materialize, use manipulation tactics that encourage you to make emotional decisions, and do everything in their power to keep you from seeing the reality of their flawed business plan.

Whether it is a really “sharp” woman who looks to be successful, or an excited friend or relative who is telling you how wonderful the Mary Kay opportunity is, just know that they may be either lying, or unknowingly repeating the lies that they were told. Here are a few “selling points” that you may hear, and the realities behind them.

“Be the boss and CEO of your own business!”

No, you will not “own a business”. You will merely be a representative of MK with many restrictions on who you may sell to, and how and where you may conduct your “business”. You will be told how you may advertise, also with many restrictions. You can be terminated at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

If you decide to quit working, you can’t “sell your business”. You will give up all of your customers, and lose all of the time and effort it took to build your customer base. There is only one thing that you will get to keep: the debt that you likely will have incurred in building your “business”!

“We are a sisterhood – we don’t compete against each other.”

Unfortunately, there is huge competition. First of all, you will be pushing products in an already saturated skin care and cosmetics market flooded with other good brands at more reasonable prices. Secondly, another thing that MK is not required to publish is the number of MK consultants that are in your area. It is not until you start trying to get customers that you will hear, “My mom is a MK consultant,” or “My sister in law just signed up, and I’m buying from her,” or “My neighbor is a personal use consultant and everyone in our neighborhood gets together a couple times a year to put in an order,” or ” I buy my products super cheap on eBay.”

The truth is, MK consultants are everywhere, and they are going to be going after those same few women who haven’t yet been accosted by a desperate MK consultant, with a sour taste in their mouths for the whole MK agenda.

So, yeah, it sounds good on paper, but it does not represent the huge obstacles you will face.

“The products just fly off the shelf!”

Uh, three words: no, they don’t. When compared to other products, MK falls short. The quality is not as good as many other, cheaper products. Women enjoy trying many different brands, and they appreciate the fact that they can walk into a store and buy whatever they want without being hounded to buy more, or listen to recruiting scripts. More and more women just buy online from a company that, again, doesn’t pressure them to join their salesforce. And many women have serious reactions to the ingredients in MK products.

“Our products are on trend.”

Wrong again. MK seems to come out with their versions of the latest must-haves much later than other companies. When they finally introduce their version, women have already found another brand that they love. If you have loaded up on the new products just knowing your customers will adore them, they will likely sit on your shelves, gathering dust, while your cash is tied up in those products just sitting there, not flying anywhere. If you used your credit card to buy those products, your credit is tied up, and you are paying interest on that gathering dust.

“Work when you want to.”

Nope. You will be working when your customers want you to. When you sign up, you may have visions of being able to stay at home to raise your kids, with customers dropping by to buy products, and you being there to welcome your husband when he comes home, in a clean house with a great dinner prepared. The fact is, daytime usually involves hours and hours of phone work, trying to get bookings for skin care classes and facials. You will be hearing lots and lots of, “No, I’m sorry, I’m just too busy,” or “My friends are too busy,” or “I just don’t have the money – don’t call me, I’ll call you.” Or you’ll be leaving messages, because most women are at work. You’ll hear yourself pleading with them to return your phone call, many times over.

And when, oh joy! You finally get a booking, guess when it will typically be? During working hours? No, it will be on a school night, or the weekend. So when you are told that this is a perfect opportunity for women who want to stay home with their kids, don’t believe it! This party plan worked “back when”, but today, when so many families must rely on two incomes, it is plainly outdated.

“You can earn a little or a lot – YOU make the choice! And Mary Kay is all about choices!”

Not true. It doesn’t happen just because you choose it to be. If you want to make a little money on the side, here is what you will face. Products are overpriced. The use up rate is different for each product, so if you sell the whole skin care line the first time, as she runs out of each product your customer will probably just make do with what she has, your products and others, until she finally uses up that last drop. By then, she will have realized that she doesn’t see much difference in her skin without those specialty products. IF she reorders, she’ll just get the basics next go around.

You are going to have to carry samples of every product that Mary Kay has to offer. Get out your Look Book, and just see how many products there are! Now multiply that vast number of products times about ten samples of everything. Wow! That’s a lot of samples. And wait till you see how much those samples cost!

Oops, sorry, you won’t get to lay eyes on those exorbitant prices until AFTER you become a consultant. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be buying those Look Books too. And take a look at all of the supplies that your consultant used when she did your facial. And the cosmetic carriers. And the free gifts she gave you. And the pretty plastic bags that it all came in. And how about the sales slips she wrote your order on? The delicate tissue paper that made you feel so special? The thank you notes that meant you were getting personalized service? Those are just the some of the expenses that you can see.

There are so many more that you can’t see, but they all add up to VERY little profit. So yeah, you might be able to earn a “little” extra spending cash, but it will take a long time until any of that “profit” is yours. And in the mean time, you are spinning your wheels, losing valuable family time, and becoming stressed out to the max. So, yes, you make the choice.


  1. BestDecision

    So true about working nights and weekends away from family! No one gets together during the day, so you’re forced to sacrifice time away from kids and loved ones when they’re available.

    I lost so, so much time to MK.

    1. TRACY

      I will be forever confused about the “at home with my children” narrative that MLM bots continuously promote.

      a. If you’re doing appointments or events outside of your home, you’re not home with your children. These out-of-the-home commitments take A LOT of time.
      b. If you’re at home and constantly on the internet or phone “working your business,” … then you are not caring for your children.

  2. Neverpink

    SO TRUE about MK being behind on trends consistently. Sheet masks, anyone? I can buy a 12 pack of them at my local Asian grocery store for $14. It’s a well-establish and well-reviewed brand (My Scheming, if you’re interested).

    MK’s sheet masks are so exorbitantly expensive. Why would you pick MK? You’ll be accosted to join, you might “have to” host a party… and then you pay more! Why go through all the hassle?

  3. J

    Great post!

    It really is important to understand that mk isn’t invested in the tracking of consultant sales. They don’t track them period. Consultants are their customers; inventory orders from consultants are their whole business.

    Also, with many of the National Sales Directors stepping back from mk and pursuing other careers, it’s clear that the US market will experience the same, abrupt, shutdowns as Australia. Those women weren’t given a heads up from corporate. They were just suddenly without a ‘job’.

    This is not a company that empowers women, it preys on them.

  4. Samsquatch

    I am a lurker around here because MLM’s really interest me and as a former military wife I saw WAY too many military wives fall for the MLM B.S. I actually had another military wife try to recruit me to LuLaRoe shortly before my husband retired in 2018. I was actually buying LuLaRoe leggings at cost from frustrated “consultants” in Facebook groups at the time.

    Anyway, my husband and I moved to Kentucky two years ago and one my husband’s family friends has been trying to get me to talk to the Mary Kay lady in his town about becoming a beauty consultant. Never mind the fact that I am a former truck driver who doesn’t wear ANY makeup!

    Apparently the whole town is really proud of her because she drives a pink Cadillac and wears “fancy” clothes around town. I keep telling him no because I know the Mary Kay tricks. I told him that I think that I will stick with my MA in Supply Chain Management and try to ply my skills in one of a number of logistics/supply chain jobs in the area that start at around $50K to $60K a year.

    He is one of those “traditional” men who thinks that women should be in traditionally “female” occupations. His ex-wife is a correctional officer at the federal penitentiary and he calls her a “matron”. Apparently the whole town he lives in believes the same crap. Talk about narrow minds on the narrow way!

  5. Heather

    “On trend.” “Work when you want to.” “We don’t compete against each other.”

    Those are three of the BIGGEST lies in MLM and in MK especially.

    Imagine my shock when I finally cleared away the pink bubble to realize a LOT of other companies out there have amazing products that ARE on-trend and, oh yeah, affordable. Don’t get me started on my love of going to place like Ulta where I can shop without being harassed and buy many different brands at the time. Plus their rewards system is really good. (Hellllooooo Harry Potter x Ulta collab purchased with points!)

    I worked all the dang time, especially after becoming a SD. I never could get away from it, even when I was supposed to be spending time with my family. I looked at every trip home as a way to sell and recruit and not enjoy the holiday or the summer break. I laugh in your general direction, MK, when you make idiotic claims like this.

    You’re right; it’s not a competition. It’s a catfight. Some of the women I *thought* were my friends turned out to be some of the most conniving, back-stabbing, bitchiest people I ever met. (And I now work in healthcare!!) They never, ever cared about how many people they hurt, stepped on, or crushed on their way up. When I made the decision to step away from directorship and then MK, those women ostracized me. I was seen as a leper who quit.

    Guess what? I don’t miss it. Not one bit. I go to work, do a damn good job, come home, and I leave work at work. I don’t compete with other nurses, and some of my best friends ever are from nursing school. (Nurses kind of congregate with each other, but it’s not in the cult-like MK way.) We might be catty and gross with each other, especially at the dinner table, yet we support each other in ways I never saw with MK.

      1. Heather

        When I first started on the floor as a new graduate nurse in October 2015 (yes, I’ve only been an RN for 5 years now), I didn’t make a whole lot ($21.50/hour). Fast forward 12 months later when I had gained >$2.50/hour to my hourly rate. Let’s fast forward again to travel nursing. I MADE BANK. Fast forward again to agency nursing where I made $70/hour. (My overtime rate was also ridiculous.) I’ve done some COVID crisis nursing where I work 48 hours a week, and my take-home after expenses and taxes was over $3100 PER WEEK. I work in our float pool at a level one trauma center and make a decent hourly rate AND I got a raise on 8/2 of $1.55/hour.

        I only have a $700/month car payment because I intentionally bought a Lexus. Oh yeah… I can afford that car payment, too, and I don’t have to worry about making production every month to keep it.

    1. BestDecision

      Her other chose to pass her unit on to her when she retired. It appears Linda recruited her not long before so that she could become a Director and absorb her unit.

      It’s exceptionally unfair to other Directors and the work they put in to build to that level. In my opinion, NSDs should retire, take their compensation, and leave the business behind to her Senior.

    1. BestDecision

      The Consultants in a newly retired NSD’s unit are dispersed among her first-line offsprings’ units. NSDs can disperse her personal unit at any time into her first-line units.

      I paraphrased this from page 30 of the Advance brochure (2019-2020 edition). Directors leaving MK forfeit their units up into their Senior Director’s unit, and their offspring Directors then move from second-line and become first-line to her Senior. My Senior received a handsome gift of production, commissions, and offspring when I left, and that made it even harder to stomach the way she’s ignored me and lied about why I actually left.

  6. coffee canuck

    MK was super popular here until Sephora came here! Then I fell in love with brands I never knew exsisted and give up my MK . Me and so many other consultants. Our director got really upset at us youngers for trying out new makeup and different brands. and we basically said that MK isn’t really that great when I can get better at Sephora, and get points for it.

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