What About Mary Kay?

Elle-small[Elle:] The members of the Anti-MLM Coalition joined together to expose the truth and lies in the multi-level marketing (MLM) industry. As well as a number of anti-MLM allies, we also recognise the work of those who have been tirelessly spreading the word on their chosen MLMs of interest, often long before our group was formed.

We created this website with the aim of being a useful resource page for all things anti-MLM. We’re united in a common mission, with a variety of specialities and knowledge.

If you’re not familiar with this scheme, you may have heard it referred to as “one of the largest direct sellers of advanced skin care and on-trend color in the world.” I’ll give you a very brief overview (with credit to the Mary Kay Wiki entry).


Founded way back in 1963 by the late Mary Kay Ash in Addison (TX), Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc. is a United States-based seller of cosmetics that uses the MLM model to distribute its products.


The late Mary Kay Ash [Wikipedia]

Today, Richard Rogers (co-founder and son of Mary Kay Ash), serves as the Executive Chairman, with David Holl serving as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mary Kay recruits independent distributors (referred to by the firm as “beauty consultants”) to sell products directly to people in their community. According to the country selector on their website, it operates in “more than 35 markets on five continents” including Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Mexico and China, to name but a few.

Mary Kay’s product range includes skincare, makeup, body & sun creams, fragrances, gift boxes and “men’s grooming”. According to their website, their bestsellers include the Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, and something they call the TimeWise® Miracle Set® (includes a cleanser, moisturiser, sunscreen and ‘night solution’).

Signing up

To get started as a Mary Kay consultant, you’ll need to part with $100 USD / £99 GBP / $85 CAN to obtain the ‘Mary Kay® Starter Kit

The website says it is “packed with“:

* Retail-sized products to demonstrate with friends at parties.
* Samplers to share with your potential customers.
* Business Supplies and Literature with easy-to-learn sales tips.


Mary Kay® Starter Kit Bag

Consultants also have access to “…your very own Mary Kay® Personal Web Site, your digital personal assistant myCustomers®, the Mary Kay InTouch® website just for Independent Beauty Consultants, the Mary Kay® Virtual Makeover App, eCatalogs, social media tools and more!

Whew, a virtual makeover? Very generous.

It also appears that consultants gain access to “print tools” such as Mary Kay’s “Applause® magazine and makeup application guides” and “the quarterly issue of The Look catalog and new product fliers are available.”

I can only assume that the consultants will need to print out these tools with their own time and expense, or pay for printed catalogues, as the likes of Younique and Avon do. To further elaborate on this, former Mary Kay “beauty consultant” Kayln Brooke says: 

“…I had to spend more money than what the starter kit required. There’s the additional business cards, MK website, and a credit card processing program, among other incidentals…I was strongly encouraged to buy a significant amount of inventory. A great deal, for sure, but again, more money. I declined…”

[Source: “I was a Mary Kay Consultant for 9 Days“]


Applause® magazine

Mary Kay distributors can make earnings from two potential revenue streams: from direct selling to customers, and of course, from a commission based on sales made by their recruited downlines. 

According to the Wiki, “Mary Kay consultants earn a 50% gross profit on products sold at full retail price” known as Earned Discount Privilege. In respect of this ‘privilege’ Brooke says: 

“…my first order came in. I was ecstatic! But when I tried to submit it, that 50% discount I had been promised wouldn’t go through.

Note: the fine print. ‘A consultant must place a $400 retail order every 3 months to maintain active status and receive her Earned Discount Privilege’. (The 50%)

Funny. No one mentioned that. So, I went ahead and coughed up more money toward inventory to secure my discount. I was currently almost $500 in the hole, and I had yet to place that one order…”

[Source: “I was a Mary Kay Consultant for 9 Days“]

Like with most MLMs, Mary Kay distributors sell the products through a party plan, pop-up boutiques, or online using private ‘VIP groups’ that they have set up on Facebook. 

Mary Kay’s Animal Testing Stance

It must be mentioned that at the time of going to press, Mary Kay remains on Cruelty-Free Kitty‘s list of Companies That Test on Animals.

Although this is stated on Being a Responsible Company: “Mary Kay does not support animal testing” and “is a strong advocate of utilizing alternative methods to substantiate the safety of our ingredients and products“, there is unfortunately a significant hitch.

As mentioned earlier, Mary Kay has a presence in China.

“…We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to do so on our behalf, except when absolutely required by law...”

Why is this a problem?

“…Because animal testing is required by law for foreign cosmetics selling in China, [Mary Kay] forfeited their cruelty-free status in 2012. They’ve also been removed from PETA’s cruelty-free list…” says Cruelty-Free Kitty.

So as it stands, they cannot truly be cruelty-free. To keep up-to-date with this matter, we highly recommend following Cruelty-Free Kitty and Ethical Elephant

Where can I learn more about Mary Kay?

When it comes to all things Mary Kay, there’s one place in particular who comes to mind.

Step forward, Pink Truth.

Connect with Pink Truth


After seeing thousands of women fall victim to false income claims, misleading marketing materials, and flat-out lies about the business opportunity, one woman decided to do her part in warning consumers about Mary Kay.

Pink Truth was started on July 4, 2006 as “Mary Kay Sucks,” and quickly became the fastest growing and most widely consulted resource for women in and out of Mary Kay Cosmetics.

The site began to take a lighthearted, yet critical, look at the Mary Kay “business opportunity.” As the readership exploded, the site became more focused on providing a wealth of information to Mary Kay women around the world.


[Source: marykay.com]

In November 2006, the site made the switch to the name “Pink Truth” to signify its commitment to information-sharing about the truth of multi-level marketing companies that prey upon women. The focus has been (and continues to be) Mary Kay Cosmetics, but other pyramid schemes and MLMs are discussed as well.

The founder of Pink Truth believes that Mary Kay is a product-based pyramid scheme – “many people at the bottom of the pyramid must buy significant amounts of products so that those at the top can get the big commission checks, ‘win’ the cars, and go on the fancy trips.

Speaking of cars – have you heard of the infamous Mary Kay Pink Cadillac? Pink Lighthouse has this write-up about their Car Program.


[via Pintrest]

“…This is common with multi-level marketing (MLM) companies such as Mary Kay. They depend upon an endless recruitment of new people who purchase inventory packages, in order to transfer wealth from the bottom of the pyramid to the few at the top…”

Key articles and discussions include:

There is a huge wealth of information on this site, and we highly recommend it as a comprehensive anti-MLM resource point.

The current mission of Pink Truth is to provide information to consumers, first and foremost. In addition, they provide “a place for sharing opinions and experiences of current and former Mary Kay consultants and sales directors“. Whether you are a current sales director or consultant, former independent sales force member, or potential Mary Kay recruit, Pink Truth hopes to help provide you with real information about Mary Kay Inc. Read Mary Kay’s official stance on Pink Truth here.

Here are your social media links:

Web: pinktruth.com
Twitter: twitter.com/realpinktruth

If you have a Mary Kay experience you would like to share, please contact the site owner at pinktruth@gmail.com.

Other Useful Anti-Mary Kay Resources


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