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

$4,000 Sold and No Profits

Written by Cathy

I am not new to reading Pink Truth but this is my first time commenting. I was a consultant for 6 months and became very discouraged by my experience.

I will admit that when I first started to read PT I thought that this can’t really be all truth. My family runs a business and I know that sometimes dissatisfied employees will exaggerate their grievances. After a few months in MK, I found myself relating  to these stories.

I have used Mary Kay since I was a teen and have used the Timewise skincare for over 10 years and have been happy buying MK from a good friend of mine for the past 12 years. Never once did she bug me, hound me, or ask me to become a consultant. I actually asked her about it because my kids were getting older and I was looking for something fun to do. She, after all, had been in MK for 15 yrs and seemed to enjoy it. Even my mom and husband thought it would be good for me to do this. Not saying this to brag but I am thin, blonde and attractive and was told this would be easy for me to sell MK because I look so young for my age. I signed up! For the first 4 months it was great! I bought the $1,800 package (with cash not credit) and was queen of sales most weeks and was a “rock star” according to my director. I guess you could say my “warm market” was working well for me. I only sold to two people who found me through my website so most of my 40 or so customers were people I knew. I told my director up front two things:

  1. I will not go into debt to run my business.
  2. I will not warm chatter.

She assured me that I would be fine not doing those things, and I never did them. I was involved with our very successful family business for many years and we ran debt free. I know something about running a business and thought Mary Kay would be an easy way to make some “fun money.” I may be one of the few who go into MK really not needing the money but just wanting something fun to do, and the bonus of getting the products I loved at half price.

But after 6 months, this is what I found:

  • I was a star consultant for the first two quarters. In that time I had close to $4,000 in actual sales. By the time I  bought product, attended meetings, career conference, extra class supplies etc I am shocked to say I had only $59 left in my MK account. No debt, but no money either.
  • I had no team members and no one was interested in even hearing about being one.
  • Although my calendar was full the first four months, by month 6 I couldn’t get anyone to book or buy. I did get some reorders but that was only after I ran a special.
  • I did everything my director  told me (minus the warm chatter) and still no new leads. Wore my pin everywhere (not one person asked me about it), sent over 20 samples and flyers with a gift certificate to all my neighbors (one order), attended all meetings, posted on social media, got referrals (not one wanted a facial when I called… my friends were even reluctant to give me names). I wasn’t able to get anyone to do a party. They were fine to place an order but did not want to host a party. I even tried a 1/2 price hostess shopping spree to try to get parties, but had no takers.
  • My director (who lives in a different town) came to see me a few times to “help” my business. All she wanted to do was get my friends to come over and do “practice interviews.” I never did it. I knew why she wanted to talk to them and I would not put them in that position. My director (different from my friend I bought from) was also the same person who told me that she makes all this money and supports her family but when she has came to town she asked if she could just stay with me. She asked to stay with me when she didn’t even know me. If she was so high up in MK and making all that money, why did she have to ask to stay with a stranger and not a hotel? (I told her I didn’t have a guest room or space ).
  • My director often ran contests for nice prizes that NEVER seemed to be won by anyone.

I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t possibly make any money a Mary Kay. I could of course could recruit and get more money that way but I couldn’t possibly look at someone and say “Yes, do this! I have made money!” I did it debt free, but still I only had 59 bucks to show for it after 6 months of effort!!!!

I decided to call it quits because I wasn’t going to make any money even after “doing it right” and following the instructions they gave me.

This is just my two cents from someone who was not one of those “not working her business” or “just bitter.” I did all I could (and more) to work my MK business. My friends told me they just found it easier to go to the drug store or department store. I get it.


  1. NayMKWay

    Thank you, Cathy, for sharing your experience.

    $4,000 in sales in two quarters is an average of about $154 per week, which is darned good by Mary Kay standards. Anyone who has been to many Mary Kay meetings can attest that very few hands go up when the Director asks “How many sold $150 or more this week?” But even her Queen+of-Sales performance netted Cathy next to nothing. This is the reality for almost everyone at the bottom of the pyramid: you cannot make any money just by selling product. The prices are too high and the shopping experience too much of a hassle for most customers to abide, and the expenses gobble up whatever meager profit you may achieve.

    I would hazard a guess that nearly all Pink Truth Critics who write in to tell how they make a few hundred per month selling Mary Kay (and having fun with their new BFFs) are kidding themselves. Otherwise they would realize, as Cathy did, that they were barely breaking even, if that.

    Mary Kay’s nominal 50% mark-up is generous by MLM standards, but it’s still not enough to earn anything close to minimum wage. No one at the bottom of an MLM makes diddly. That’s math fact number 1. Math fact number 2: Those at the bottom outnumber the rest of the pyramid combined.

    And that’s why we’re all pretty down on MLM-ing around here.

  2. Not a bot

    Their model doesn’t work. Nobody really wants to host home parties (covid makes this even more of a problem). Many people are gracious enough to help a friend, but very few people want to buy MK at full price with all the other options out there. People certainly don’t want to sell out their friends and give their numbers to a pesky MK lady who will harass them (I certainly wouldn’t do that to my friends). That has to be frustrating to invest that much time and energry and experience some success only to have nothing to show for it but wasted time. Also, most women with life experience know that MK or other MLMs are something they don’t want to do so it is hard to recruit.

    Also, am I the only person who finds the phrase ‘warm chatter’ kind of icky. Somebody talking to you and complimenting you with an alterior motive is creepy in general.

  3. morningstar

    And if you are fat old and ugly, the product still doesn’t sell.
    Not saying this to brag but I am thin, blonde and attractive and was told this would be easy for me to sell MK because I look so young for my age.

    I stopped reading today.

    1. J

      I agree, but I also agree that there’s an unhealthy obsession with appearance in mk land. And women who fit a cultural ideal are inappropriately gawked over like they’ll have a magic formula. “People want to be like you” “They’re drawn to you.”

      Meanwhile everyone else is staring down at their $7 skirt thinking “if I only looked like her, then I’d be successful.” “I need to look like I wear the product.”

    2. Mountaineer95

      While I’m supportive of pretty much everyone on this site, and I don’t think I’ve made any really harsh statements to anyone here (the Kaybots and ‘Friday Specials’ aside), I’d like to share what I gleaned from your post (and really, it’s not harsh, merely reiterating what you posted):

      You are:

      and Look Young For Your Age

      There is nothing wrong with any of that. Really, there’s nothing wrong with all of that, and IF it’s all true, more power to you. But this particular thread is not about how thin you think you are. It’s not about how blonde you may be. It’s not about how old you are. And it’s not about how attractive you might think you are. Frankly, none of those things are relevant to the initial post, nor do they add to the discussion. I’d suggest that such statements might be used to better effect in a different post or thread, when they may be relevant.

  4. Char

    Nice article Cathy. (Anything I write is meant to further expose the scam method known as MLM-ing.)

    “I have used Mary Kay since I was a teen and have used the Timewise skincare for over 10 years and have been happy buying MK from a good friend of mine for the past 12 years.”

    SOME FRIEND!!! Did that friend tell you you could buy on eBay cheaper, or that you could just sign up and get it for 50% off? Was she profiting off your friendship?

    Another workaround tip for MLM product consumers: Be a friend and tell your friend you’ll buy at their cost, so they can keep their status.

    MLM is an inherently flawed method. To rub salt into that wound, an MLMer’s target market is “friends and family”. Scam your friends and family. Disgusting.

    In the end, Cathy bought roughly $2000 worth of skincare/makeup product from MKI in six months. MKI, the real business, succeeded in selling lots of their product to her in a short period of time. Cathy then resold at double price to people that could’ve easily purchased it for half off. Ewwww.

    I just ordered a bunch of stuff DIRECT from The Ordinary. I can’t see myself reselling it to my daughter by doubling the price I paid. Ewww, again.

    Who ever thought profiting off friends and family was a good idea? Yet, this is ‘apparently’ MLM. It’s not really, as endless-chain recruiting your friends and family into a scam is what MLM actually is. It’s much worse than you thought!

  5. BestDecision

    When no one had $300 weeks in my unit, I always felt like Oz with a curtain & buttons to push to hide the truth from those attending that night. “Pay no attention to that fact. Nothing bad going on!”

  6. Enorth

    I don’t understand why Cathy struggled, when Chelsea Claytor Adkins’ FB page is proclaiming: “10 items away from having my biggest day in sales EVER.”

    What magic is Chelsea using? Whose magic is it? (It’s interesting she chose items rather than dollars to measure her sales.)

    1. Mountaineer95

      Hey, just putting this comment here a week after you posted yours to check in and see if Chelz did in fact sell that last mascara to hit her best day of sales ever. Lol.

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