Mary Kay is Built on Lies

Written by PinkPeace

I’m a liar. Or more precisely, I was a liar — a big one. There are few things worse to be. You can’t trust a liar; everything she says and does is suspect. A liar ultimately only has her own interests at heart, and a liar is responsible for leading others into bad decisions.

I didn’t start out that way. Although I was prone to exaggeration sometimes, and could tell a little white lie, I know they were wrong and knew they were character faults that I should correct. I actually had contempt for liars and thought they deserved whatever bad consequences came their way.

In 1995, I was approached by a Mary Kay consultant who convinced me to take a look at a Mary Kay business for myself. I was a trusting person, and I based many of my judgments on what I perceived the character of someone to be. If she was honest and caring and had good intentions, I believed what she had to say.

I perceived my recruiter and director to be quality, God-following women, and I trusted them when they told me that I could make an executive income with Mary Kay, that I could do it very part-time, and that the company had only the best interests of its consultants in mind whenever it made decisions. I trusted that they had my best interests at heart, and only wanted me to succeed in a Mary Kay business, not make money off me and my orders.

So I signed my agreement, and was affiliated with Mary Kay for nearly 13 years, 11 of them as a sales director/senior sales director. I was a star consultant for 47 quarters, was on Queen’s Court of Sales three years, received five MK cars, and received numerous awards from my NSD, a #1 NSD in the Sapphire Division.

I was one of the most enthusiastic consultants and sales directors that you had ever met. Frequently people would even comment on my positive and bubbly demeanor: “Are you always this happy and excited?” Of course, I would tell them that it was because of my awesome career with Mary Kay.

Except that it was a lie. It was a lie for many, many years and it was a lie I kept on telling. And I’m writing this for Pink Truth readers and for lurkers who are having that sick feeling in the pits of their stomachs from telling and believing the MK lies over and over. I understand. I lied, too.

One of the very first rules you learn in Mary Kay, probably in new consultant orientation, is to “fake it ’til you make it.” Wrapped in that policy is the instruction that you NEVER tell anyone below you on the career ladder that you’re having trouble — you only tell your director or someone above you about your difficulties. And you only tell them out of earshot of anyone else, so you aren’t responsible for “discouraging” another consultant.

Now, “fake it ’til you make it” can be useful in certain circumstances. What it really means is to act confident in a situation where you may not have yet mastered your task or role. It is assumed that you’ll get there, and that your faking it is a temporary state of being. However, in Mary Kay,”fake it ’til you make it”; quickly morphs into “lie it ’til they buy it”; and it permeates everything about your business, then your life. Do any of these situations sound familiar?

  • Not telling your husband about: 1) signing a consultant agreement, 2) purchasing inventory, 3) going into debt for of your business because he doesn’t need to know all the details — he just wants you to be happy
  • Not acknowledging difficulties in booking, holding appointments, recruiting so as not to sound negative
  • Being taught to say “Unbelievable!” as a response to “How was your skin care class/facial/interview?”; when results were terrible
  • Always telling people your business is great, even when it couldn’t be worse, so they have a perception of you as a successful businesswoman and Mary Kay as a viable company
  • Firmly denying that Mary Kay is an MLM, even when there are many levels of uplines and the only decent money even remotely possible is through recruiting
  • Asserting that Mary Kay is America’s best-selling brand of skin care and color cosmetics, even when all independent industry data never even mention Mary Kay
  • Saying that Mary Kay is the best opportunity for women anywhere, even when you see friends of yours in other careers making more money and enjoying their lives more

Of course there are many more lies, and they only increase when you become a sales director:

  • You really can’t be considered to be a serious consultant without a full store of at least $3600 in wholesale products on your shelf
  • The products sells itself — your market is anyone with a face
  • The key to success is 3+3+3
  • You can make an executive income with part-time hours
  • The [new products/limited edition products/holiday products] are THE BEST — everyone will want them, and you’ll have to have a sufficient supply on hand
  • The market isn’t saturated
  • Anyone who wants to succeed in Mary Kay can — it’s simply a matter of doing the work so that the results will come
  • You can work this business around your schedule, and not someone else’s
  • It’s always better to be your own boss than to work for someone else
  • It’s God first, family second, career third — you can have a balance
  • You’re on-target for [fill in the blank]

God forgive me, as a director, I really believed these lies, and they became a way of life. I didn’t think I was lying, at least in the beginning.

I was a hotshot consultant who got my MK car in the first six months of my directorship, then became a director four months after that. I was selling the product and recruiting, and only signing two or three bogus consultants to finish up DIQ. Hmmm. Did I consider that to be lying? No, because my SD who I trusted told me that it was standard practice to sign a couple of non-consultant consultants, and that I’d soon recruit more to take their place.

In fact, she and others told me the story of Rena Tarbet addressing new directors at DIT, making a joke of “Raise your hand if you have grandma in your unit. It’s okay, look at all of those hands! Just make sure you go home and replace her with a real consultant!” I mean, Rena was a godly woman, and if she said it was okay to recruit grandma, it was.

For me, the worst lies as a director came from the disconnect between the Mary Kay party line and my own personal experience. Even though I was considered as a director to be in the top 2% of all women in the company, I was making far less income in Mary Kay than in any of my previous careers. I was never in a pink Cadillac, but I always was in a director car, so you would have thought that level of unit activity would have been enough for a decent income. And that’s what I led everyone to believe. But of course, that was another lie.

Any director who is finally honest with herself will tell you that she lies all the time to her consultants to make them want the position of directorship. You are NEVER to let on to a consultant that being a director isn’t the very best position to strive for, even when it’s draining you, your family and your bank account, not to mention your integrity.

So why did I lie for so many years?

I lied because I wanted to believe that there truly was an ethical company out there that had women’s best interests at heart. I lied because I needed women to believe the MK was the greatest opportunity ever and want to join my team. I lied because I was embarrassed that I had been taken in by this company. And I lied because, through Mary Kay, lying had become an insidious pattern in my life. It was second nature, and I hadn’t even realized it.

And then it finally hit me that I had to stop the lies. I had to stop pretending that I still liked being a director, that directorship was providing me with an executive income, that worrying about MK 24/7 wasn’t tearing me up inside. I had to stop telling lies all day long about my business, even though honesty seemed to be more difficult. So I left directorship. I found a wonderful job that pays twice as much as I ever made as a director, with mind-blowing benefits, a great work environment and all kinds of other perks that make my job a dream come true.

But the very best part of leaving directorship and being an active consultant is that I HAVE STOPPED THE LIES.

Jesus said in John 8: 32 “The truth will set you free.” And I have never felt so free in all my life. It’s as though for the first time, I have finally given myself permission to be honest in everything. Of course, I’m honest about the truth of Mary Kay. But I’m also honest about smaller things, because now I’ve seen the power that truth has over lies. I made the commitment to be honest and authentic in everything, and it has changed everything for me. No more little white lies, no more exaggerations, not more “forgetting” to mention something.

It took me about a year to realize what a profound difference a life of honesty ws, and what a change it made in all my personal relationships, especially my marriage. 13 years of lies is a tough pattern to change. But I am happier now with my life than I believe I have ever been.

Ladies, Mary Kay is built on a culture of lies. It’s time to let go, get out and be women


  1. Kristen

    Thank you so much for your honesty. ☺️
    I wish I’d been able to read this 20 years ago. It is important for you former SDs to come forward because it’s easy to believe the glamour image that SDs present.

  2. Linda

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is something you often hear from people high up in mlm companies that they were manipulated into manipulating others so in that way I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself because you did what you were trained to do.

  3. J

    What a strong person you are; it really takes a solid foundation to talk with that much truth. One of the most powerful posts I’ve read on here.

    I think it will help a lot of the ghost guests. Those who read this, and it’s the final blow to their dam. Their wall of stifling and suffering in silence busted through.

    This is a safe space to say “I’m really uncomfortable that I’ve developed a habit of pre-selecting individuals I interact with based on my assumptions of their wealth.”

    It’s also a safe place to say “I haven’t made significant money in a long time. I have some peaks, but the valleys are deeper and wider. I don’t want to keep pushing my family into financial ruin.”

    And finally, it’s a safe space to say “I don’t want to do mk anymore, and I might need some help in order to leave.”

  4. BestDecision

    The April Applause is loaded with facts of the ship sinking! Here’s a few for the record:
    —Only 8 NSDs are on target to do Inner Circle. Normal is 13 or more.
    —NSDs Stacy James and Dacia Wiegandt are NOT on target for Inner Circle. *HUGE*
    —Only 4 Consultants earned their car in December. In the entire country.
    —The top 400 units in the country for December wholesale production included one that ordered about $13,000 wholesale (actual $28,857 retail). Not even Cadillac production and in the top 400.
    —The top 400 Director commission checks for December include a $7,110 check. Subtract taxes and her expenses, and you easily see “executive income” is nowhere nearly being reached by the top 400. This also means all the other thousands of Directors made less than $7,110 gross commissions. That is less than $85K/year before taxes and expenses for the bulk of Directors.
    —Only 21 Directors nationwide qualified for Cadillac in December. Multiply that as an average of all 4 quarters for 2 years, and you’ve got <175 Cadillacs on the road.

    Just the facts. Pretty obvious if you quit refusing to look at them.

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