Commentary on fraud, scams, scandals, and court cases.

The Continuing Mary Kay Cosmetics Con

mksucksMy most popular post on this blog is Mary Kay Cosmetics: Destroying half a million women a year, and with good reason. Each day, thousands of women are searching for information on the Mary Kay “opportunity.” Until a few years ago, the only information they could find was produced by the Mary Kay Spin Machine.

Almost five years ago, women started speaking out about Mary Kay on the internet. My site Pink Truth is the most visited “anti-Mary Kay” site around, and each day, we have thousands of visitors to the site.

The reason why Pink Truth is telling the “other side of the story” about May Kay is because the company’s success depends so heavily on half-truths, long-running myths, and outright deception. Of course, Mary Kay Inc. isn’t directly involved in these deceptions, but they’re aware that their representatives are telling tall tales in furtherance of Mary Kay domination of the world. We want to give the rest of the story at Pink Truth!

Representatives are notorious for telling lies like “Mary Kay is Taught at Harvard!” and “You can start your own business for only $100!” and other fairy tales.

Below is an excellent example of how women repeat untrue things about Mary Kay ad nauseum, and those who hear these lies are none the wiser. Without sites like Pink Truth, they’d have no way to debunk these myths and find out the truth. This comment was left by a visitor to this site:

WOW! Funny how this article is supposed to “educate” women to make a good decision… but yet it says NOTHING about what Mary Kay is founded on: God first, Family 2nd, Career 3rd… I know literally hundreds of women who bring in tens of thousands of dollars a month, who have travelled around the world for free, and whose husband retired in their 20’s or 30’s and stayed home full time with their family BECAUSE of their wives’ MK careers. I know mothers who get to be at every soccer game, every PTA meeting, and anything else BECAUSE of their MK careers. I can’t even begin to list all of the things I find wrong with this “article” What an amazingly one-sided, narrow-minded, un-researched blog.

This woman claims she knows hundreds of women bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month via Mary Kay.  That is a flat-out lie, and here’s the data to prove it.

Every month Mary Kay puts out a publication called Applause, which is the promotional magazine they send out to consultants. In that magazine is a rundown of the top commission earners in the company. This data proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that hundreds of women are not bringing in tens of thousands of dollars a month in Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Here are two pages from the December 2009 Applause Magazine. These pages show the highest earners at the level of National Sales Director (NSD) and Sales Director (SD). I added up how many women made $20,000 or more (that’s tens plural, right?) in commissions for the month of August 2009, which is what is presented in the December issue.

NSD – 40 women at $20,000 or more commission
SD – 0 women at $20,000 or more commission

What if we get rid of that plural — tens of thousands — and just look at who made $10,000 or more:

NSD – 143 women at $10,000 or more commission
SD – 24 women at $10,000 or more commission

But wait! The Mary Kay supporters may say that August is one of the lower earnings month for all of the pyramid participants! In that case, let’s take a look at June 2009 earnings. That is always the highest earning month, because the upline is putting extreme pressure on the downline to buy more and more product to “help the team” achieve a goal for the end of the fiscal year (June 30).

Here are the two relevant pages from the October 2009 Applause Magazine. The women making $20,000 or more in the highest earning month of the year for Mary Kay representatives:

NSD – 97 women at $20,000 or more commission
SD – 7 women at $20,000 or more commission

Again getting rid of the plural and looking at who made $10,000 or more:

NSD – 185 women at $10,000 or more commission
SD – 227 women at $10,000 or more commission

What do these numbers tell us? That the commenter’s claim that hundreds of women are making tens of thousands of dollars each month with Mary Kay is false. In the best month, 104 women made $20,000 or more. That’s not hundreds of women. In a regular month,40 women made $20,000 or more.

Even if we lower our standards and look at those who made $10,000 or more in a month, we only have 412 women in the best month, and 167 in a normal month.

You think that sounds impressive? Well remember that these figures are gross income. All of their business expenses have to come off that figure. And don’t let anyone convince you that the expenses are low. At this level of the pyramid, the expenses are high.

And you might look at the 412 women in the best month making $10,000 or more and think that’s a big number. Remember that there are approximately 750,000 representatives in the United States. That means 0.05% (yes, a fraction of 1%) made $10,000 or more in the best month. 99.95% of the representatives did not.

And there are 14,000-15,000 sales directors in the United States, which are considered to be near the top of the pyramid in a prestigious position. Yet of those 14,000-15,000 women who are “at the top”, only 227 of them made $10,000 or more in commissions in Mary Kay’s biggest month of the year. 227 is a whole 1.6% of those top people. 98.4% of those women at the top are making less than $10,000 per month with Mary Kay.

So please, let’s stop the lies about the earnings in Mary Kay. Almost no one makes an actual living from Mary Kay, and even fewer make what might be considered an “executive level income.”


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  2. mary

    i just wanted to point out that you are publishing the commissions only. these consultants nsd(national sales director) and sd(sales directors) also are driving cars for free, earning wellness bonuses, selling the product, earning diamonds, pearls, and lots of great prizes which monetary values are not included. The women who “quit” Mary Kay are the women who don’t want to put forth the effort and time. This person includes myself. I know you are able to make money because I did. I just didn’t want to work for my money. Oh by the way how much do you make a month? I bet it is not close to $10 or $20,000 a MONTH.

  3. Tracy Coenen

    Sorry Mary, but those cars aren’t really all that “free” when you consider the business expenses related to operating them for business purposes. The diamonds… they’re junk. Not worth even 1/2 of what the company pretends they are. The “wellness bonuses” are spent buying health insurance. These women aren’t making the money they (and you) pretend they are.

    How much I make doesn’t matter, because I’m not trying to recruit anyone into what I’m doing. But I can assure you, I’m making more than almost all of the MK NSDs.

  4. Terry

    Here’s the thing. You, Tracey, were probably burned by the opportunity. Either because YOU didn’t put the effort into the business, or your unit wasn’t supportive in teaching you how to put the effort into it. You better have been a consultant at one time or another if you are putting these claims out there. The cars are free. If you don’t want the car because you are afraid they arent free, you can take a cash compensation of $375. HOw is that not free? Who cares if the diamonds arent high quality? We still wouldn’t have just gone out and bought them for our selves, because we women put everyone else before our selves, not because we can’t afford it. Yes, this is a BUSINESS! Every business has a startup cost. You have to invest money and time if something is going to be succcessful. My expenses becaus of office stuff and such were $250 not including the starter kit. Guess what? I have made that back and then some!!! And I have only been in it for 5 months! Stop being so narrow minded and one sided. This opportunity will not work for some simply because they don’t put in the effort, they have no confidence in themselves to get out there and sell the products, or they just suck at it. Others make their dreams come true through this opportunity!

    As for the comission statements you made. Mary Kay does not publish every single NSD or SD in their magazine. My Director earns an average of $5,000 a month in comission, and profits about $3,000 a month because she is still out there holding skin care classes and facials. Her comissions would be higher, but we have a small unit because of the area we live. I as a consultant, earn about $100 a month commission right now. I know it’s not much but remember I have been in this for 5 months, I have 3 team members, and my monthly expenses for office supplies and such, is less than that.

    So there.

  5. Tracy Coenen

    Hi Terry –

    No, I was not “burned” by Mary Kay. That’s a nice theory that gets thrown around a lot. I must have been a lazy loser who didn’t try hard enough, and so I lost money, and now I’m just bitter. No, no, and no. I did okay in Mary Kay, and the reason I write about it has nothing to do with my personal experience. It’s all about giving women the whole truth on Mary Kay.

    You say I’m one-sided… what about Mary Kay and people like you? They lie to recruits. They don’t tell them about any downsides of MK. THEY are being one-sided. I’m simply balancing it out. There are literally hundreds of websites that only tell the supposed good about the company (with lots of lies too!). When are they going to stop being so one-sided?

    No, the cars are not FREE, and MK specifically tells reps they are not allowed to say they’re free. Why? Because THEY ARE NOT FREE.

    Shame on your director for lying about her income, and shame on you for repeating the lies. You’re right… not everyone is in the company’s magazine. Only the top people are, and your director of a “small unit” isn’t one of them. There is no way that with a small unit your director is making $5000 a month in commission. What you probably should be saying is that she gets consultants to ORDER $5000 a month, which would give her a commission check around $1000 or $1200 a month. That’s a far cry from the false numbers you’re spewing. And yes, I’ve been around the MK block. I know what I’m talking about. “Small units” don’t do the numbers you’re throwing around, so please stop the lies.

  6. Rimma

    Mary and Terry, you will get it someday, what MK really is! Fewer and fewer women are still loyal and believe in MK. MK doesn’t care for women, if the products are SO overpriced! The women have to shell out on overpriced lipstick and mascara, that aren’t of priced quality! Two of the directors in our region have lied about their income and success. Evil all around…

  7. Peter Camper

    Sad to see your disingenuous claims about tens and hundreds of thousands. Tens of thousands is ten thousand and one cent. Hundreds of thousands is one hundred thousand and one cent. Hundreds is more than ONE hundred.

    Seriously, stop playing games with the language. You’re not qualified and it only makes you look like a holy warrior. Use the language properly and make your point. MK is just another damn silly MLM scheme and deserves to be exposed as such. When you weasel the words to make yourself look more effective, you only come off like another damn silly Charlie.

    Keep the faith! Drop the hyperbole!



  8. Tracy Coenen


    I think your 4th grade math teacher failed you if you don’t know what “tens” or “hundreds” means. Here’s a little refresher…

    ten = 10

    tens = more than 1 ten

    2 = more than 1

    2 tens = 20

    The same goes for hundreds.

    hundred = 100

    hundreds = more than 1 hundred

    2 = more than 1

    2 hundreds = 200

    So yes, in order to know “hundreds” of women who make X, one would have to know at least 200 women who are making X. Indeed, if you know 101 women who make X, you do not know “hundreds” of women who make X.

    And in order to be making “hundreds of thousands of dollars”, one must be making $200,000 or more. Indeed, if one makes $101,000, one does not make “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.

    But of course, I knew someone like you would try to make this false argument, so I still looked at the number of women making six figures, and looked at whether there were 100 or 200 making that kind of income. I’ve got all the bases covered, and the numbers don’t lie, even if you don’t remember your 4th grade math.

  9. Peter Camper

    Pity your education didn’t include the use of English, Tracey. To run the risk of quoting the Fat One as an expert witness “Words mean something.”


    Pete, Calculus survivor, English master, RN, Certified twister of twits. . . and if the shoe fits, Tracey, don’t blame your bleeding out on it.

  10. Mellisa

    Okay, even if its just a couple hundred women that are making $10,000 A MONTH … it is still worth spending $120 to try. Here’s the thing, you cannot just sit at home and wait for the money to come. you cant get paid if you don’t get out and tell people what your doing!! If you follow what Mary Kay taught, you CAN become on of those women. you don’t have to buy a large inventory to start … your first party should get you your first order. It up to YOU and no one made you do anything

  11. Tracy Coenen

    Melissa – It is not just $120 to try to get to that level. The women at that level have spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to get there. Still worth it, you say, because they’re making so much now? There are thousands of women who also spent the tens of thousands of dollars and didn’t make it there. Now what do they do with all that debt?

    You might still think that this is okay… that it’s just the risk an entrepreneur must take. But this is not an entrepreneurial activity. The system guarantees almost everyone fails, and success in MLM is not correlated to hard work. In a normal business, you work hard, and your rewards are generally correlated to that hard work. In MLM, no amount of hard work will make 99%+ succeed in this business. You also need to be willing to deceive others, and you need a very big dose of luck and good timing, and then, you might have a fraction of 1% of a chance of making a living. MLM sucks.

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