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

Mary Kay Bankrupted Me

mary-kay-bankruptcyWritten by Francine

I was a Mary Kay consultant for two years and it financially devastated our family. We literally declared bankruptcy and I humbly and ashamedly want to express that we NEVER, not in ten million years, thought we would ever be in that position.

Although it is embarrassing and although I am ashamed to write this I feel that it needs to be written so please do not judge me when you read the next sentence because I fully take all responsibility for my own stupidity and my own recklessness in listening to and following the cult of Mary Kay.

When I stated that I never thought we would ever have to declare bankruptcy it is because my husband and I were 29 years old and had $170,000 in cash savings. We were on our way to living that elusive American Dream and we were doing it well. To be honest, a lot, but certainly not all of that money went to Mary Kay. When I was diagnosed with a very severe case of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 26 I found I was unable to continue working as a pharmacist due to the long hours on my feet and the sheer stress of the industry (being a pharmacist seems mundane and easy but in reality it is an incredibly stressful career that made me question my own ethics at times).

I had been purchasing Mary Kay from a friend for years and when she found out that I was unable to continue working as a pharmacist, she recruited me. Looking back, I realize that she was probably quite delighted when she saw a nearly disabled and extremely depressed new prospective recruit and that thought alone makes me literally, I mean literally, dry heave. The Mary Kay tactics are at best unethical and at truth demonic.

However, at the time that I was recruited, I was simply in a state of severe depression and was open to anything that would allow me to feel that I was contributing to my household in some way. I needed a purpose and unfortunately my recruiter saw MY vulnerability as HER opportunity and I, in my stupor, was initially very excited about becoming a Mary Kay representative.

I feel it is important to share that I did in fact ask all of the hard questions because it all seemed way too good to be true. My mistake was that I listened to the nonsense that was provided to me as the “answers” (now I realize this was all scripted dialogue) to my questions, and, as idiotic as it sounds and as foolish as it may seem, I believed her answers.

Skip to one year later and although I made a few sales, I ultimately fell for the “profit-level” scheme and routinely ordered way too much inventory in the sadly mistaken and foolish assumption that I would first be able to actually sell this crap and that I would secondly be handsomely rewarded for my sales. I was rewarded for my sales in the form of worthless merchandise and fake jewelry. Oh, gosh I forgot to mention the fabulous plastic “designer bag” and the 25 plus Mary Kay pins that I received and was simply far too embarrassed to ever wear.

Finally something had to give and the day after my mother passed away I was informed that I should seminar. I finally broke. Please understand that by broke I mean that I almost broke my NSD’s legs. I am not an unintelligent female and I hold a doctorate so I know from my own personal experience that Mary Kay can bamboozle anyone. Wealthy, poor, attractive, intelligent, mediocre, average, fabulous, smart, dumb, ANYONE.

Although I take full responsibility for my own stupidity and my own reckless spending on these worthless products, I cannot help but realize and understand that I did just as many people do. I was drawn into the pink haze as others are drawn into religious cults, unaware they are being manipulated despite their own intelligence and reason. It is no different than Jonestown or the Branch Davidians. I (and many others) was promised friendship, wealth, camaraderie, and support but received only ruination of my finances, relationships, self-sufficiency, and, most tragically, my happiness.

If this company were to really think about their methodology and if the big wigs were to look into a “soul mirror” or maybe even just stop and breathe and decide to be honest about this catastrophe they purport to be a legitimate company, I know in my soul that they would be ashamed and horrified by what they simply MUST know they are doing to ruin women’s lives and ruin entire families. If they are in fact actual human beings I cannot help but think that they must feel some shame and some hatred for their deeds. They must know that Mary Kay is a dangerous pyramid scheme .

What is so tragic about the Bloody Mary scheme is that I fear it will continue to trump any other pyramid scheme in the history of this world by continuing on with their saccharin chatter and their “assurance” that there exists “no risk in just trying it out for awhile”.

I hope that anyone who may stumble across this post will take it as a cautionary tale and if I can prevent one other person from falling into the hell that is Mary Kay cosmetics then my life will not have been in vain. As intense and as dramatic as that sentence may seem it is my simple truth and I mean every word of it.


  1. Brainwashednomore

    “I fully take all responsibility for my own stupidity and my own recklessness in listening to and following the cult of Mary Kay.”

    I know that you think this is your fault. That’s what we were told. If we fail, is our fault. However, a friend brought you in and love bombed you. Gifts, friendships, applause. Happened to me too. Mk has decades of experience honing their lies. You trusted your friend to tell you the truth. It’s easy to say that we’re at fault. However, they know what they’re doing. They know how to manipulate really well. And it starts at the moment you meet mk. I understand.

    1. NayMKWay

      I’d like to second Brainwashednomore’s message: Francine, do not be too hard on yourself. The scams being played by Mary Kay and a host of other MLMs have been honed to perfection. They all know the right buttons to push to manipulate their victims. They even preprogram you to blame yourself when it all goes pear-shaped with carefully crafted thought-stopping cliches like, “Only failures quit and only quitters fail.”

      These people are monsters.

    2. LittlePinkFlags

      Brainwashednomore: “a friend brought you in and love bombed you.”

      This. Was it just my craving for attention or did I have enough without MK? I thought she wanted me on her “team” and I was personally selected, somehow.

      1. Lazy Gardens

        The successful MLMers learn how to make a hole in your life and position their cult/MLM as the way to fill it. They CREATE dissatisfaction – you might be happily working, caring for your family, enjoying weekends and they make you want MORE and their product is what you need.

        1. Jen

          I came across this website to learn more about the philosophy of Mary Kay.

          I signed up about four months ago as an Independent Sales Consultant, but I never spoke about the business opportunity – yet to figure it out.

          I signed up because I liked the product and wanted the discount for the skincare products. I got recruited because I was out of work, diagnosed with high brain pressure, and depressed. My friend recommended the business to keep me busy.

          She failed to mention the need to scale up and the need to purchase your inventory. And after signing up, I realized the only good thing was the discount. I only buy products when I need to for personal use. I don’t store inventory.

          The friends I had before I joined don’t pick up my calls anymore because they assume I’m all about Mary Kay.

          My director must be tired of my lack of Mary Kay Enthusiasm.

          So glad I came across this blog because I started blaming myself. I was not doing enough to succeed.

          1. TRACY

            Please remember that when you buy products for your personal use, you are financially supporting a company that abuses women. There are lots of great products on the market, and I’d encourage you to buy from a company that does not use the MLM scam method to sell products.

  2. BestDecision

    I’m starting to have some hope. My Director averaged only $266 wholesale on the new Consultants’ orders that came in last month. Maybe people are figuring it out. Maybe they’ve smelled what she’s trying to do, and they aren’t coerced to order more.

    For perspective, we were taught at DIT Week to count on $1,000 wholesale production from each new unit member. If we added 5, that would equate to $5,000 production added to my existing unit.

    $266 in production is NOT going to build a trip or Area. May reduce her chargebacks, but that’s it!

  3. Kristen

    I’d like to add that the reason intelligent people fall for Mary Kay is because the manipulation is targeted at emotions, not reason or logic. Like many others, I was in an emotionally fragile state when I got sucked in. I’d love to read a survey about the circumstances women were in when they joined.

    However, the flip side is that even if you use logic and reason, Mary Kay presents a new recruit with a bunch of lies, so either way, you’re screwed. It’s just that the emotionally fragile won’t look too closely at the extravagant promises because they aren’t functioning at 100%.

    1. BestDecision

      Agree completely! No friends, money, or time? “That’s why you NEED MK!” Stories of cancer, abuse of God and scripture everywhere. They tapped into my needs and filled it with BS. I was lied to from Day 1 and couldn’t imagine someone who read the Bible, attended church regularly, and talked so much of living for God would LIE and later CHEAT their way in MK.

    2. I was recruited during a job fair during the Base Realignment and Closure years of the late 1980s … and terrified about what I was going to do.

      I fell for every bit of the love-bombing as well … and was guilted into ordering way more inventory than I needed by a director and recruiter who didn’t want me to know that their income depended on my wholesale, not my retail.

      I’m glad I got out when I did.

  4. strix nebulosa

    Are these hardcore Kaybots really human? I imagine them like the fembots in Austin Powers, except in those hideous director suits. Someday, one of them will have a mechanical breakdown and expose her metal innards at Seminar.

  5. Lazy Gardens

    “I know in my soul that they would be ashamed and horrified by what they simply MUST know they are doing” – they KNOW and they do not care. They are sociopaths and grifters.

    You were exploited by a professional coin artist during a time when you were especially vulnerable – they promised you what they knew you wanted to hear, even though it was a lie.

  6. Mountaineer

    I’m so sorry to read how you were affected by MK. Please know that we are proud of you for acknowledging your mistakes and are fully in your circle when it comes to the rest of your life. I hope you continue to find support and enlightenment on “the other side”. Godspeed my friend.

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