Is Mary Kay an MLM or Pyramid Scheme? [Review]

Mary Kay is a well-known cosmetics company that has been in operation for decades. It offers an opportunity for individuals to become independent beauty consultants and earn money by selling its skincare and beauty products. However, the business model used by Mary Kay has raised questions and skepticism over the years, with some people labeling it as a pyramid scheme.

In this comprehensive review, we will explore what Mary Kay is, how it operates, its compensation plan, product quality, costs of joining, success rates, and whether it is a legitimate business opportunity or a scam.

What is Mary Kay?

Mary Kay is a cosmetics company founded in 1963 by Mary Kay Ash in Texas, USA. The company is known for its skincare and beauty products and operates using a direct sales and multi-level marketing (MLM) business model. Mary Kay offers individuals the opportunity to become independent beauty consultants, allowing them to sell Mary Kay products directly to consumers. The company has a global presence, operating in over 35 countries and offering a range of cosmetics, skincare, body care, and fragrance products.

Mary Kay Ash Founder of Mary Kay

Learn more: Best MLM Companies

Check Out The Best Alternative Here

How to Make Money With Mary Kay?

To make money with Mary Kay, individuals can follow two main avenues:

  1. Direct Sales: Independent beauty consultants purchase Mary Kay products at a discounted wholesale price and sell them at the suggested retail price to customers. Consultants earn a commission on the sales they make through direct selling.

  2. Building a Team (Recruiting): Mary Kay encourages consultants to recruit others into the business, creating a downline team. Consultants can earn commissions on the sales made by their downline team members. The more people a consultant recruits and the more sales their team generates, the higher their potential earnings.

Is Mary Kay an MLM or Pyramid Scheme?

Mary Kay is categorized as a multi-level marketing (MLM) company, not a pyramid scheme. The primary distinction between the two lies in their business models and core principles.

In an MLM, like Mary Kay, individuals can earn money through two main avenues: direct sales of products and recruiting others into the business. Consultants earn commissions on their product sales and can also receive bonuses based on the sales generated by their recruited team members. This multi-level structure is the hallmark of MLMs.

Conversely, pyramid schemes rely predominantly on recruitment with minimal emphasis on product sales. In pyramid schemes, participants are encouraged to recruit others who, in turn, recruit more participants, creating a hierarchical structure where the focus is on recruiting rather than selling tangible products. Pyramid schemes are illegal in many countries because they are unsustainable and result in financial losses for the majority of participants.

While Mary Kay does encourage recruitment as part of its business model, it also places significant emphasis on selling cosmetic and skincare products. This fundamental focus on product sales distinguishes it from pyramid schemes, which prioritize recruitment above all else. However, the perception of Mary Kay’s business model as overly recruitment-oriented has led to ongoing debates about its similarities to pyramid schemes.

Read more: Pyramid Scheme vs. MLM

Check Out The Best Alternative Here

Mary Kay Products Review

Mary Kay Products

Mary Kay offers a wide range of products, including makeup, skincare, body care, and fragrances. Here is a brief review of Mary Kay products:

  • Makeup: Mary Kay’s makeup line includes various products such as foundation, lipstick, mascara, and eyeshadow. Some customers have praised the quality and variety of makeup options available.

  • Skincare: Mary Kay is well-known for its skincare products, including cleansers, moisturizers, and anti-aging treatments. The TimeWise® Miracle Set® is a popular product set that includes a moisturizer, cleanser, sunscreen, and night solution.

  • Body Care: Mary Kay offers body care products like body washes and lotions. These products are designed to help customers maintain healthy skin.

  • Fragrances: Mary Kay also provides a selection of fragrances for both men and women.

While Mary Kay has a reputation for offering quality products, some customers find them to be on the expensive side. Additionally, as an independent consultant, your success may be influenced by your ability to market and sell these products effectively.

Mary Kay Compensation Plan

Understanding the Mary Kay compensation plan is crucial for anyone considering joining the company as an independent beauty consultant. Here are some key aspects of the Mary Kay compensation plan:

  • Direct Sales Commissions: Consultants earn a commission on the products they sell directly to customers. The commission rate is typically based on the total sales volume and may vary.

  • Downline Commissions: Consultants can earn commissions on the sales made by their downline team members. The more recruits a consultant has and the more their team sells, the higher their potential commissions.

  • Leadership Bonuses: Mary Kay offers bonuses to consultants who achieve leadership ranks within the organization. These bonuses can be significant and provide additional income opportunities.

  • Car Incentives: Mary Kay is famous for its car incentive program, where high-ranking consultants can earn the use of a Mary Kay career car.

It’s important to note that while Mary Kay offers various income opportunities, not all consultants achieve significant earnings, and success depends on factors such as sales skills, recruitment abilities, and dedication to the business.

Mary Kay Car


Check Out The Best Alternative Here

How Much Does It Cost to Join Mary Kay MLM?

To become an independent beauty consultant with Mary Kay, you will need to invest in the Mary Kay Starter Kit, which typically costs $100 USD. The Starter Kit includes a selection of retail-sized products for demonstrations, samples for potential customers, business supplies, and brochures with sales tips.

Additionally, to maintain an active status with Mary Kay and be eligible for commissions and bonuses, consultants are often required to place a minimum quarterly order of $400 worth of Mary Kay products. This requirement can add to the overall costs associated with being a Mary Kay consultant.

Mary Kay Success Rate

The success rate in Mary Kay, as with many MLMs, varies widely among consultants. Success is influenced by factors such as sales skills, recruitment abilities, dedication, and market saturation. It’s essential to understand that not all Mary Kay consultants achieve substantial earnings, and some may struggle to cover their expenses.

Statistics on MLM success rates have indicated that a significant percentage of MLM participants, including those in Mary Kay, do not earn a substantial income and may even lose money. Success stories often highlight the exceptional few who have achieved high ranks and substantial incomes.

Mary Kay review on BBB


Mary Kay review on BBB



Check Out The Best Alternative Here

Pros of Mary Kay MLM

  1. Proven History: Mary Kay has been in operation for decades, demonstrating its stability as a company.

  2. Product Quality: Mary Kay is known for offering high-quality skincare and beauty products that have garnered positive reviews from customers.

  3. Global Presence: Mary Kay operates in over 35 countries, providing consultants with the potential for a broad customer base.

  4. Leadership Bonuses: Consultants who achieve leadership ranks can earn significant bonuses and rewards.

Cons of Mary Kay MLM

  1. Expensive Products: Mary Kay products are often perceived as pricey, which can make selling them challenging, particularly in a competitive market.

  2. Saturated Market: The beauty and skincare market is highly saturated, making it challenging for consultants to stand out and find a customer base.

  3. Recruitment Emphasis: While product sales are part of the business model, Mary Kay places a significant emphasis on recruitment, which can lead to concerns about pyramid scheme characteristics.

  4. Hidden Monthly Expenses: Consultants are required to maintain a minimum quarterly order to remain active, which can result in ongoing expenses.

  5. High Failure Rate: Like many MLMs, Mary Kay has a high failure rate, with a significant percentage of consultants not achieving significant earnings.

Is Mary Kay a Scam or Legit?

Mary Kay’s legitimacy as a business has been a topic of debate, with both positive and negative aspects to consider. On one hand, Mary Kay is a well-established multilevel marketing (MLM) company that sells cosmetics, personal care products, and dietary supplements. However, concerns have arisen regarding the way the company and its distributors have presented income opportunities.

A review by the Direct Selling Self Regulatory Council (DSSRC) found that some social media posts by Mary Kay distributors implied earnings claims not supported by company data. These claims included statements about the potential for significant passive income with a small initial investment, such as “$30 can earn 4-5 figure passive, residual income.” These claims raised concerns that Mary Kay distributors were promoting unrealistic income expectations.

Furthermore, past court cases and lawsuits, such as the Woolf v. Mary Kay Cosmetics case and legal actions against websites selling Mary Kay products, suggest a history of legal disputes related to the company’s practices.

While Mary Kay has taken steps to address the concerns raised by the DSSRC and clarify income potential, the fact that such issues have arisen in the first place raises questions about transparency and ethical marketing practices within the company.

In summary, while Mary Kay is not inherently a scam, the controversy surrounding income claims and legal disputes has led to skepticism and calls for greater transparency in the MLM industry. As with any MLM opportunity, individuals should exercise caution, thoroughly research the company, and critically evaluate income promises before getting involved.

Check Out The Best Alternative Here

Should You Join Mary Kay?

Deciding whether to join Mary Kay as an independent beauty consultant is a personal choice that depends on your goals, skills, and comfort with the MLM business model. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Sales Skills: Success in Mary Kay relies heavily on your ability to sell products and build a customer base. Do you have the necessary sales skills and confidence to do so?

  • Recruitment: If you are uncomfortable with recruitment or the idea of building a team, Mary Kay may not be the right fit for you, as recruitment is a significant part of the compensation plan.

  • Financial Considerations: Consider the costs of joining, including the Starter Kit and ongoing expenses to maintain an active status. Can you afford these costs, and do they align with your income expectations?

  • Market Saturation: Evaluate the level of competition in your area and the demand for beauty and skincare products. A highly saturated market can make it challenging to succeed.

  • Long-Term Commitment: Building a successful Mary Kay business typically takes time and effort. Are you willing to commit to the business for the long term?

  • Alternative Opportunities: Explore alternative business opportunities that may align better with your skills and financial goals, such as e-commerce, affiliate marketing, or other entrepreneurial ventures.

Ultimately, whether you should join Mary Kay or any MLM depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. It’s crucial to conduct thorough research, seek advice from current and former consultants, and carefully weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Additionally, consider seeking financial and legal advice to ensure that your decision aligns with your financial goals and obligations.

Check Out The Best Alternative Here

Is There A Better Way To Make Money From Home?

If you’re looking for a legit way to make money online, consider affiliate marketing with Wealthy Affiliate. It’s a trusted platform offering top-notch training and tools to build your affiliate marketing business from scratch. 

With affiliate marketing, you recommend products or services to people and earn a commission for each sale made through your affiliate links.

Wealthy Affiliate offers a free starter membership, a free website and training on search engine optimization (SEO) to help you start making money online.

But How Much Can You Earn with Wealthy Affiliate?

A 21-year old student from Wealthy Affiliate was able to earn $7,395 in just 1 week, which means he made more than $1k a day…all while using free traffic methods.

wealthy affiliate testimonial

Check Out The Best Alternative Here

Leave a Comment