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. Thank you PinkPeace, and congrats on your successful departure from the lying culture of Mary Kay!

    And I would be remiss if I did not respond to this…

    “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!”

    In what other business would you fake being a customer of your own company to make your business look better? In Mary Kay, such tactics are common, and help only those above you at a net cost to you.

    Imagine your kids are running a lemonade stand, and you require them to buy the lemonade they are selling, with their own money, every 15 minutes. Then at the end of the day you show them how much money they “made”, even though they were the only ones buying the lemonade!

    This sounds silly, but is exactly what MLMs like Mary Kay encourage their own sales force to do (the 15 minute purchases represent MLM qualifying minimums). Meanwhile they try to convince the sales reps that this type of “income” is actually business profit!

  2. “I found a wonderful job that pays twice as much as I ever made as a director…” Are you sure it’s only twice as much?

    • “Just replace her with real consultant when you get home” Sounds so easy, right. But if it was so easy, you wouldn’t have “recruited” grandma in the first place.

      That is a great analogy, data junkie!

  3. “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.”

    This statement hit hard. Why? Because it’s painfully true. We make lying part of who we are without realizing it. We had no idea how bad this was until we escaped the pink fog and opened our eyes.

    Like you, I have a career that pays more than twice what my highest MK year ever paid out. I have amazing benefits, paid-for conferences, certifications, and courses, as well as meaningful bonuses (cash and/or leave).

  4. You don’t have to answer this, but I’m just curious. Are you still servicing customers? I would assume after all those years you have many. My director always said the goal was to have 300 customers, which was literally impossible in my small town that had 4 directors. Anyway, congratulations on breaking away from the Pink Fog!

    • Hi Spunsilk,

      I did have a large customer base and I serviced my customers for about a year after leaving directorship so that I could sell off as much of my inventory as possible. I was still in the pink fog and I didn’t want to stick my senior sales director with a big chargeback. I didn’t hold any appointments, I didn’t participate in the PCP program, I didn’t go to any events, etc.

      That was so many years ago and I am still grateful that I got out!

  5. Dear Pink Peace, your bravery in laying bare your own past bad acts is so inspiring and encouraging! I used to marvel in wonder at AA meetings how people could speak of their pasts with head held up, making eye contact, all that, cause my shame over my own bad acts was so overwhelming. Shame perpetuates shame because of desperately trying to hide the truth, and it doesn’t matter what the “cult” methodology is, the dark internal results they lead to are all the same.

    As with the 12 step groups, I am so grateful to those who speak on their own struggles with maneuvering these huge pot holes in life, and all the different ways to get sucked into behaving against our own principles because the details weren’t obvious red flags. You earned your PEACE, that is for sure, and to take that pain, expose it to the light, and HELP OTHERS WITH IT — thank you. xoxoxoxo

  6. Bravo for being honest! Now if others will read and heed what you and others are trying to tell them….

  7. Man I knew it. I joined MK last year. I find my director uses scripture out of context all the time. She tells us we have to do positive affirmations and she believes in the Kaw of Attraction. All these things were red flags but I wanted to believe that it was true. Ugh! Now I’m stuck with inventory. I’m going to sell it off and get ou!
    Thanks for this!


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