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

Losing Money on MK Inventory

Mary Kay products are so easy to sell! They just fly right off the shelf! It’s not even really like selling… you just share the products and people buy them. Except they really don’t. It’s almost impossible to create a viable retail business in Mary Kay or any MLM. (By viable retail business, I mean can you support yourself on retail sales alone.)

The prospects for selling the inventory you have on hand are so dismal, that women are willing to lose money to sell products to liquidators. Sure, Mary Kay has a program whereby you can return anything you bought in the last year for 90% of the wholesale price you paid. But anything older than that and you’re stuck with it. What are women to do? They build up thousands of dollars of inventory, adding a couple of hundred dollars here and a couple of hundred there. I shudder to think of the millions of dollars of products that are sitting in basements and garages and will never be sold.

One woman is trying to sell her inventory on Facebook Marketplace, hoping to get $1,250 for a lot of products worth over $2,000 wholesale. That’s a 37.5% discount off wholesale pricing. And she says that the price is the amount she still owes on her credit card for that inventory. She further said has “already lost out on thousands of dollars.” We can only guess how much inventory she had that she sold at a deep discount on wholesale prices.

Remind me again what a great business Mary Kay is? How you buy something for $1 and sell it for $2, and therefore have all the profits? Unless you can’t sell it (which is most people who get involved in MLM) and end up losing thousands of dollars.



  1. CarolAnne

    explain why anyone would pay $1250 for someone’s old expired crap. So sad this stuff just ends up in landfills. I wonder how much a high end person has in dollars they’ll never recoup?

  2. Parsonsgreen

    This consultant didn’t want to put in the WORK, She should have listened to the FREE training she got at her weekly sales meetings. I bet she never went to leadership, career conference or seminar. If she had gotten 30 faces in 30 days this would have been a breeze. Does she always look SHARP when in public so she could offer the opportunity to anyone? Facial boxes take minutes to make and local businesses love to help other small business owners. Warm chatter everyone!!! Make people feel important!!! JUST WORK. Don’t forget the tax deductions! Thr sisterhood! It’s what I’m doing and one day it will pay off.

  3. BraveandFree

    What’s left of mine is going in the trash. I thought about taking some to a local women’s shelter but another former consultant told me her local shelter wouldn’t even take her old stuff because they’re overloaded with so much donated makeup and skincare.

    Funny story, and I kid you not…when my director was notified that I was sending my inventory back, she offered to hold a skincare class for me to help sell because she could help me make “double what you’ll get from MK!” I didn’t even respond. Someone please tell me how that was even going to be possible?

    1. Charles

      Wow. The world has become so overrun with leftover Mary Kay products that not even the womens’ shelters will take them. That means no tax deduction that would have at least partly recouped the money you spent on these unsellable products (very partly and assuming you itemize your deductions which about 80%+ of taxpaying Americans don’t). And this is just Mary Kay we’re talking about – wonder how badly overrun we are with the unsold Avon and Arbonne.

  4. Heather

    This photo has products in it that are over 20 years old — the pink and silver compacts and the blue Terme d’Sola body wash/lotion (back right corner). I remember the UPROAR when the compacts went from pink to silver to black magnetic ones. My unit was pisssssssed. I was, too, because I had to sell off that stuff and prep for all of the new crap.

    She’s going to have a very hard time unloading all of that at the price she wants. It won’t happen.

    1. hatespink

      At the pink/platinum time, my director pushed me to get inventory. I hesitated, something didn’t seem right.

      The very next month, platinum compacts came out. I walked away right after that.

      SHE KNEW it was changing and she was going to let me buy something that would be outdated. Of course, it was all for her benefit.

  5. Char

    “Looking for a Mary Kay consultant or someone willing to start Mary Kay……”

    That’s funny, and what a terrible idea. Why?

    #1. MKC won’t move new product out of their warehouse.
    #2. Upline won’t make money off a new downline order or new recruit’s order.
    #3. The consultant won’t get pyramid ordering credit for goals and ranking.

    All that “inventory” is now useless to the MLM con game. It only originally served as a vehicle to transfer money WITHIN the game. Any resales to non-affiliates are incidental and not a part of the “success plan”. (See #1-3) The reselling business aspect is simply a story to workaround being an illegal product-based pyramid scheme.

    1. Popinki

      I had the same thought. Any active MKonsultant will already have their own pile of useless stuff they can’t sell, and any wannabe consultant will be manipulated into ordering brand new stuff so that it’s the newest and on-trendiest and bestest (until it gets phased out 3 months from now) so that her recruiter gets that fat commision check.

      1. Colleen

        Literally the only thing that might happen is if a consultant has a customer dedicated to a specific item – Suede lipstick or the old decolletage cream and doesn’t want to have to order a minimum order to get what she needs.

      2. Colleen

        Literally the only thing that might happen is if a consultant has a customer dedicated to a specific item – Suede lipstick or the old decolletage cream and doesn’t want to have to order a minimum order to get what she needs.

  6. Data Junkie

    Nothing in the Mary Kay corporate business plan includes selling to retail customers. If Mary Kay wanted their consultants selling this stuff, the prices and incentives would be totally different. For starters, the “wholesale” the consultants pay would be just over Mary Kay “cost”. That would allow the consultants to actually sell at a competitive price (after their retail markup).

    But Mary Kay’s business plan is to make money off the consultant, who is the true customer of Mary Kay. They really, truly, honestly couldn’t give a rip what happens to the inventory after the consultant purchases it.

    The consultants provide 100% of the cash flow for everything in Mary Kay. They have no other revenue source. Retail purchases play absolutely no role. Anyone who believes otherwise has been bamboozled.

    1. Charles

      Forgive me if this has been addressed on the site before, but those supposedly sizeable “commission” amounts you see in the Applause magazine, are those coming from what the consultants really sold and assuming they always had a 50% commission (I don’t know how the magazine would know that and how they can assume it’s always a 50% commission) or is it just amounts that consultants ordered from Mary Kay and the magazine is making the ridiculous assumption they’re going to sell all of it for twice as much? I just don’t get that part of it. I thought Mary Kay really doesn’t know how much the “consultants” make from selling their products and even pleads ignorance on the topic.

      1. Heather

        Those commissions are based SOLELY on what is ordered. MK does not track what is sold, and they really don’t care to track what is sold. If they did, they would see how abysmal sales really are.

        1. Charles

          Solely what is ordered by the person listed in Applause magazine’s downline, right? So if somebody (call her Jane Doe) who recruited a bunch of others now has five people in her downline, and these five people collectively order $ 50,000 worth of the crap, then Jane Doe gets recognized in Applause has having had $ 25,000 worth of commissions, even if not a single lip gloss is sold? Do I have it right?

      2. Data Junkie

        Here are some oddities about Mary Kay (that contrast with most other MLMs): Consultants without a down-line do not get commissions. Their only hope of making money is to sell at a margin (above the price they pay to Mary Kay for product).

        The next is eligibility. After the starter kit, a consultant cannot get that 50% off wholesale price until she’s made $225 in wholesale in a quarter, at a cost of ~$250 after Mary Kay charges double retail taxes (yes, consultants pay double retail taxes). So if she gets a bunch of orders, but it does not meet these minimums, the consultant has two choices: hold the orders until she gets enough orders to meet the full $225 minimum (and make her customers wait), or make up the difference by ordering product for her own stock. You can guess what most consultants do.

        To stay eligible for the discount throughout an entire year, the consultant is on the hook for a minimum ~$1000/year outlay, whether or not she sells a single thing.

        This $225 ($250) eligibility also applies to consultants with down-lines. If the consultant is not making these quarterly orders personally, she is not eligible for commissions on purchases made by her down-line consultants. She must commit to sending at least $1000/year to Mary Kay to keep her eligibility. And one $5000 month of personal purchases does not carry over. The next quarter (and the one after that) still requires another $225 order to stay eligible.

        Whether or not you plan to build a down-line in Mary Kay, you must personally commit to spending at least $1000/year to be eligible to make money. That is true whether or not you have or plan to build a down-line.

        Would consultants agree to all of this if they knew that the $130 starter kits is just the tip of the iceberg? How about their spouses?

        1. Mountaineer95


          Nothing but “pay to play”. I wish so much that every potential consultant could read your post and see these numbers clear as day. But the only people who want to share it with them are considered “negative”, like us. It’s so sad.

  7. NayMKWay

    I present to you all Exhibit A: the plea for a pity-buy by yet another MLM-er. She probably started her pretend-business the same way.

    At the beginning, it’s: “I’m trying to start a new business. Please help by spending a few dollars on stuff you don’t need.”

    Now it’s: “I’ve lost a lot of money. I need to recoup my losses. Please help me by spending a small fortune on stuff you don’t need.”

    What this woman fails to understand is what would-be buyers see in that picture. She sees her own financial loss; everyone else sees a table covered with junk.

    Appeals to pity-buys do not a business make. Yet MLMs everywhere sing the same tune: “Sell to your friends and family to get started, then ‘build your business’ from there!” It sounds so easy, but it’s a false premise.

    The MLM hucksters might as well be saying, “Dump some sand on the ground and build your home on top of it.” Now the house has collapsed, the money is gone, and she’s trying to get money for the worthless rubble.

    1. Char

      “Sell to your friends and family to get started, then ‘build your business’ from there!”—

      And what kind of person looks to profit off friends or family? Aren’t these the people we want to help get the best deal on something?

      “She sees her own financial loss; everyone else sees a table covered with junk.”—

      Upline saw dollar signs, sashes and tiaras. And she was kissing their feet……..back then. Go figure.

  8. Mountaineer95

    “ she says that the price is the amount she still owes on her credit card for that inventory”

    This kills me, because it shows just how little she knows about running a retail business. She chose this price because it’s what SHE needs to pay her debt; she must not understand that when you determine what retail price to ask for what you’re selling, you must consider WHAT A CUSTOMER WILL PAY for it. The market determines what you can sell it for, not what you NEED to get out of it.

  9. Enorth

    New Bern, NC. Saturated with MK consultants.

    This seller will be lucky to get a few bucks from a flea-market vendor. You know… someone with a box-truck who buys crap like this and sells from a folding table at flea markets and farmers markets. I have often seen these people selling MLM products that are obviously old.

    Thinking of joining Mary Kay? This photo is your future.

    1. Mountaineer95

      I used to go into a lot of independent retail stores for my work, and once I went to one that was nothing but shelves of MK, Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, and some other things I didn’t recognize. Most boxes were battered but most stuff didn’t even have packaging. It all looked so old. It basically was The Place Where Pyramid Scheme Products Go To Die. It was closed several months later.

  10. SuzyQ

    When I returned my inventory, I unboxed all of it because I knew MKC was reselling returned inventory as new. I lost money because of “Mary Kay Math.” I used Pink Truth’s inventory return form b/c MKC wouldn’t know I was returning inventory as a director and my senior director wouldn’t be notified to try to talk me out of it. My MK car was towed away with an almost empty gas tank, all of the windows open and the keys (only one set) on the driver’s seat. Bear in mind it took 2 tow cars b/c “they” needed drama? Whatever. End of story, once my stuff hit MKC, I got a call from them informing me that this might affect my directorship. I said ok. And my senior got a huge charge back from me as a surprise in June. That was sort of my favorite part after all of the lies she told me. So there’s that…

    1. Coralrose

      Re: MK selling returned product, when I was a new-ish consultant I got product from the company with a Sales Director’s name & address label already on it. I didn’t read Pink Truth then, So I didn’t know what to think of that & was very confused, but I just put my label over hers & called it a day. In hindsight, I wish I would have called the company & threw a hissy fit.

    2. Coralrose

      “It ‘might’ affect your directorship”? LOL. You think? 😆 You essentially told them “I quit” with your actions & that was their response? Good grief. They just can’t bee-lieve someone would voluntarily leave MK directorship and how awesome it is.

      I would like to hear more details of your quitting story, like your senior responded, any other ” lovely” quotes from MKC.

      At my first Seminar there was whisperings of a MK director who recently left to go back to her nursing job. There were rumors that “her husband wasn’t supportive”, which sounded to strange to my newbie ears: She makes executive pay for part-time hours! Who would not be supportive of that?! Now I realize exactly why she left.

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