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Mary Kay, Inc. operates as a multi-level marketing and direct sales company in the cosmetics and skin care industry. The company is named after its founder Mary Kay Ash, who created the company in 1963. Mary Kay's son, Richard Rogers is the chairman.

Mary Kay created the company when she was passed over for a promotion while working at Stanley Home Products. She wrote a book to help assist women in business and that book became the business plan for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay is based out of Addison, Texas. Its main manufacturing plant is located in Dallas, Texas. The company also has a manufacturing plant in China.

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The Good

  • Average Startup Cost
  • High Commission Rates
  • Rewards for Top Beauty Consultants

Average Startup Cost

Mary Kay sells cosmetics typically at in-home demonstrations and online websites through independent distributors the company calls beauty consultants. Individuals can become beauty consultants by purchasing a Starter Kit Bag for $100. The bag includes samplers and retail-sized Mary Kay products for in-home demonstrations.

High Commission Rates

The Starter Kit Bag also includes marketing and sales brochures, and DVDs that contain company and product information and tips for making money right away. Independent beauty consultants earn up to 50 percent commissions on product sales as well as commissions on sales efforts from others they recruit as independent beauty consultants.

Rewards for Top Beauty Consultants

The beauty company is well-known for its signature reward it gives to its top sales representatives: a pink Cadillac. Mary Kay Ash first purchased one of these cars in 1968. The Cadillac was repainted pink to match the color blush Mary Kay Ash had in her compact at the time.

The car served as a mobile advertisement for the beauty company ever since. Mary Kay gave away five of these cars the next year to her top salespeople and has continued to give away cars like them every year since. The cars are offered to the distributors as two--year leases.

Independent beauty distributors may also purchase the cars for themselves, but they can only resell them to certain authorized automotive dealers. Plus, the pink Cadillac is not the only car that independent beauty consultants may receive as incentives for business success from Mary Kay.

Independent beauty consultants have earned the use of automobiles such as a Chevy Cruze, a Toyota Camry, Ford Mustang, BMW, and a Chevy Equinox. Consultants may also opt to receive monthly cash compensation instead of leasing a vehicle. Cash compensation amounts range from $375-$900 monthly.

The cosmetics company appears to be a legitimate business opportunity that can be quite lucrative for individuals willing to work hard and put in a significant amount of time in order to be successful.

The Bad

  • Legal Issues
  • Tests Products on Animals
  • Commission Eligibility Requirements

Legal Issues

In 2004, Mary Kay Cosmetics was the defendant in an interesting case concerning workplace rights for independent contractors. The plaintiff, Claudine Woolf, was fired from being a director because her unit had failed to achieve sales quotas for three straight months.

The reason she failed to meet these goals was because she was suffering from cancer. The judge originally ruled in the plaintiff's favor and it marked the first time that rights in the workplace could be applied to individuals contracted independently.

The decision was ultimately reversed. In 2008, Mary Kay filed a lawsuit against Touch of the Pink Cosmetics. Touch of the Pink is a beauty website that sells products from Mary Kay independent consultants at heavily discounted prices.

Mary Kay accused Touch of the Pink Cosmetics for interfering with their business sales volumes by purchasing and greatly discounting this cosmetics inventory and for using the Mary Kay logo in a deceptive manner to the general public.

In 2009, Mary Kay sued Pink Face Cosmetics for trademark infringement and for the same issues it had with Touch of the Pink Cosmetics.

Tests Products on Animals

The company has issues with animal rights activist groups regarding the testing of its products on animals. After tremendous public pressure, Mary Kay Cosmetics officially ceased these practices in 1989.

However, the company returned to testing products on animals in 2012 when laws in China required animal testing to be performed in order to do business in the country. The company was officially removed from PETA's list of businesses that do not perform animal testing due to Mary Kay's breaking of a signed agreement between the two organizations years earlier.

Commission Eligibility Requirements

In order for independent beauty consultants to maintain their eligibility for commissions and bonuses, they must first activate their eligibility with a minimum $200 purchase order.

Then, they must continue to place a minimum $200 product purchase order every three months. If you do not order $200 worth of products within a year, your contract as an independent beauty consultant will be terminated.

This may be difficult for individuals starting out with limited income and little to no sales and marketing experience.

The Bottom Line

Overall, Mary Kay Cosmetics can be a lucrative and legitimate business opportunity. While the company is geared more towards the success of women in business, there are plenty of men who are also independent beauty consultants within the company.

It is also a good business opportunity for individuals with little to no sales and marketing experience. Mary Kay provides extensive training in this area when compared to other multi-level marketing and direct sales companies in the health and beauty industry. It is better suited for an individual with a middle-class income, as the company requires a high level of product purchase in order to maintain eligibility as an active independent beauty consultant.

The company offers great discounts on its products and plenty of incentives and bonuses. Here are the positive aspects about Mary Kay:

  • The $100 starter kit is somewhat pricey, but provides retail-sized products to demonstrate at parties, samplers to share with customers, and resources containing easy-to-learn sales tips.
  • Mary Kay is primed at providing women with the ability to become sales experts, offering workshops and career development seminars.
  • An extensive online support network through Mary Kay In-Touch, for members who have purchased the starter kit.

Here are the negatives about Mary Kay, which makes entry into a sales network difficult:

  • Sometimes, distributors are asked to pay a $2 to $5 weekly fee to their area sales director.
  • The cost of placing orders can be high, making it difficult to make an overhead.
  • Mary Kay distributors have to largely depend upon family and friends to sell products before gaining a significant foothold in their market.
  • Many of the career development workshops are emphasized as being "optionally mandatory."
  • Some reviews painted the picture that children are not welcome at Mary Kay career development events.

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User Reviews

Star Rating

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31 Reviews

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bailey jo
October 14th, 2019 Orem, UT

Quality makeup with great options. They are very easy to work with on their marketing team and I love their customer service.

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Anonymous
October 10th, 2019 DETAILS
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I purchase my moms morning and night cream for a friend that sells Mary Kay. She swears it keeps the wrinkles at bay.

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ave
October 10th, 2019 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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There are some products from Mary Kay that are my staple in my make up drawer. I love their make up remover and mascara. They also have the best CC cream. I like their customer service and are very helpful if I need to return anything or need and exchange.

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Jaime
October 2nd, 2019 American Fork, UT DETAILS
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Some of my favorite skin care items are from Mary Kay. They have a system that comes with a face wash, zit cream, and toner that works so well!

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Joy Hill
October 1st, 2019 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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I really like the products, but I don't like the idea of having makeup parties all the time. I think the consumer is over that and they'd rather just buy their stuff online.

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Madison Scott
September 23rd, 2019 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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Mary Kay make up is awesome. However, when it comes to face mosturizers and wrinkle creams it comes up short to competitors. I have tried many and although this is good there are better out there.

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Kristiane R Durfey
September 9th, 2019 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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I have been a Mary Kay user for over 10 years and I really love their make-up. Their mascara and powder foundation are my favorites. They are a little higher in price than I would like to pay but I haven't found another product that I like that is cheaper. The lip gloss is good stuff too.

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Brooklyn May
July 11th, 2019 Logan, UT DETAILS
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Great make up company, not the greatest skin care company. I love the make up especially the blush. It’s so good and goes on great!

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Breanne Stanko
July 8th, 2019 Logan, UT DETAILS
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Great make up company. Love the eye shadow colors and blush. Not too expensive can be pricing but it is always easy orders and you get very high quality stuff.

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Terra Stanko
July 8th, 2019 Hyrum, UT DETAILS
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Mary Kay has such awesome make up! I am always ordering from them and I have never been disappointed. I love their mineral powder foundation and their eye shadows. Great pricing on everything you get form them. You will not be disappointed.

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Whitney Stanko
June 28th, 2019 Smithfield, UT DETAILS
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Great makeup, love their product. Lots of colors and variety of make up selections. Acne treatment and face washes aren't my favorite. They don't work as well.

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Rosann Stanko
June 27th, 2019 Logan, UT DETAILS
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I love MaryKay products. The fragrance free products really don’t have a fragrance and I’m able to use them. The catalog is easy to use and I like receiving it in the mail so I can decide ahead of time which products I need to reorder. I was impressed recently that my consultant arranged to have another consultant present several of the new colors and let me try them to see if they were compatible with my coloring. Some of the products are a bit pricey, though.

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Emily Walker
June 10th, 2019 Provo, UT DETAILS
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The product is actually very good but most of the time the sales people are very pushy. Because of this I often do not buy from them. If they weren't so pushy I would probably buy more often. Plus it is very expensive.

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Melissa Farmer
June 7th, 2019 Littleton, CO DETAILS
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I have used the MaryKay Clearproof set. I thought the toner was kind of harsh but I love the face wash and moisturizer. I use it everyday. Overall, I like their products. I also think it is cool that they have consultants to help you pick out what you would like.

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Natalie Prestwich
June 6th, 2019 Taylorsville, UT DETAILS
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I have been using the Mary Kay Timewise line for over 10 years. I get compliments all the time on how nice my skin is (on my face) and I know it’s because of the Timewise! I got hooked when I could see a visible difference when I used the skincare on one side of my face and not the other. It is soft on my skin and leaves it feeling great all day. The product lasts a long time as well, which is nice. I would definitely recommend trying Mary Kay skincare!

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Liana
May 28th, 2019 Colorado Springs, CO DETAILS
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Their products are fairly basic and a little old school, but they also last a while and don't look cheap.

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BLF
May 20th, 2019 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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I have been purchasing Mary Kay products and make up for years. I especially like their eye make up remover and mascara. They also have a CC cream that I use that is really light on the face.

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Brooke King
April 23rd, 2019 Spanish Fork, UT DETAILS
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I have been using Mary Kay exclusively for 4 months. My skin has never looked so good. I love it! I am constantly getting stopped and complemented on my make up. The Mary Kay backs their products and will switch out or replace anything for any reason. They are great products at a great price. I got everything I wanted right on the spot.

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Kay
November 27th, 2018 The Bronx, NY DETAILS
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I love Mary Kay products. I’ve also worked (and still do) as a independent beauty consultant and made good money. It all depends on how much the individual is willing to put time and work into their business. I was not pressured in any way to place an inventory order. I used the money i made from sales to purchase inventory for me. I have not recruited anyone yet but I’m still able to generate money enough to pay bills. As long as I’m willing to work for it. This is not a quick get rich scheme, you have to put in work but you will see results. In which you will feel great to have accomplished generating your own money in which toubhave control over and not someone else. I love the company and their philosophy. I work a full time job with crazy hours and work my Mary Kay business on the side. The $225 every 3 months should not come out one’s pocket. It should be paid from the sales made by the consultant.

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Whitley Milby
August 20th, 2018 Hodgenville, KY DETAILS
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I sold Mary Kay for about 2 months. I had similar experience as far as pushy sales directors. I was talked into placing a huge inventory order which I was “rewarded” as a star seller for “selling” so much inventory. I didn’t sell it - I simply ordered it - I wasted nearly $2000 on products because I was told I needed it. I told the director I rather keep a small order - she didn’t care. Our “optional” meetings were mandatory. She talked badly about customers and other consultants that didn’t attend those “optional” meetings. She was rude and very hateful when I told her I sent my products back to be refunded - she tried to use scare tactics on me as far as never being a consultant again. She was after money. She got hateful with my mom because my mom wasn’t interested in selling MK. It was an awful experience. I would like to think if I had a different director it might have been better. I did make good money - if I hadn’t had so much tied into inventory - I might have actually made a profit (eye roll). Luckily, my husband helped me pay off the credit card she talked me into and I could get out quickly. Never again.

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Lynette Fowler
June 1st, 2018 Pleasant Grove, UT DETAILS
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I have been very pleased with their products and keep coming back for more. I really don't enjoy the Mary Kay parties very much because I feel obligated to buy if I go.

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Izabela
January 31st, 2018 Palos Hills, IL DETAILS
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I love Mary Kay!! I am Mary Kay beauty consultant for 8 months and I do not have to order every 3 months but I do, I order every month because I have clients for cosmetics! I do not lie my costomers about products! I think that cosmetics are not too expensive, $15 for mascara is realy too much?

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Cassidy Gundersen
December 19th, 2017 Orem, UT DETAILS
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Mary Kay is one of the original MLMs and while it has given many women opportunities to work from home and make a living from selling makeup, I do not think the quality is very good. The prices are also far too high.

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Lindsey
December 5th, 2017 American Fork, UT DETAILS
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I used to be a Mary Kay Independent Consultant. I think the products are good quality, but not high enough quality for the money they cost.

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Kay
September 19th, 2017 CO

Mary Kay was a terrible experience for me. My director was extremely misleading. She told me if I wanted to succeed that I had to invest thousands in inventory and the best time to do that is during you intial investment. She told me that I needed to make a decision that night. She failed to mention that the company was redesigning the packaging and that my order would be the old products. She said if it didn't work out that the company would buy it back. She failed to mention all of the conditions. She also failed to tell me all of the rules about where and when you can sell. She made you pay to bring recruits to pizza night and then wrote the pizza she didn't pay for off on her taxes. She told me a bunch of lies and then during training would teach us how to lie to people exactly the same way she lied to me. She stole the only person that I tried to recruit and then left on Vacation when the poor girls boxes arrived. I went over to sort the stuff out for her because our director recruited her and then left her high and dry. I am not a competitive person. I just liked the products. Mary Kay is more about recruiting others that selling products. I lost a lot of money because I can't lie and manipulate people and still sleep at night. My director made a lot of money because she could. Before you invest in Mary Kay, make sure you know which type of person you are.

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Ally
August 3rd, 2017 Roseville, CA

I tried to be a consultant with Mary Kay with little success. To get started my sales director requested I purchase a large amount of inventory to have on hand for my parties. I really did not have the money at the time and was worried that I wouldn't be able to sell it all. My director told me I have 1 year to sell it and if I can't sell it then I can always return it and get my money back. So I put it on a credit card with the intent to pay it back as I made the money or if it wasn't working out then return it all and pay off the credit card. Little did she tell me that if you return your inventory you can no longer be a consultant anymore or ever again in the future. When my sales director originally approached me to become a consultant I was hesitant because I do not have a sales personality and I expressed this concern with her. She told me not to worry because you don't have to be good at sales to succeed in this company...that was a lie. While she was mentoring and coaching me she had me cold call people who I had barely met and tell them I was giving away free facials. I was uncomfortable with this approach because we are not giving away facials! If you think washing your face with a spray bottle and washcloth is a facial you are sadly mistaken. I told my sales director that I was uncomfortable saying this to them because it's basically a lie. She didn't like that very much. After a few more interactions similar to this I finally realized this really isn't the company for me.

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marie Dalton
July 21st, 2017

I love their products and have been using Mary Kay for 20 years so I decided to become a sales rep for Mary Kay. So far it has been so much fun! Love the positive upbeat energy of this amazing company.

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Megan Whipple
January 23rd, 2017 Plattsburgh, NY

http://www.peta.org/action/action-alerts/avon-mary-kay-estee-lauder-and-revlon-are-paying-for-tests-on-animals/ wish this along with other things in this article were more accurate. Much of it is not. I have no mandatory meetings, of course we discourage children at meeting (would anyone bring their child to meetings at work), you don't pay $200 out of pocket to stay active (it costs the consultant nothing if she works her business), I have more people than I can count to reach out to, never heard of a weekly fee, and there is NO renewal fees. If you work your business, your customer orders count toward that fee without affecting profit... which means it's not a fee.

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Deanna Plotke
January 4th, 2017

You are in business for yourself but not by yourself. It is a well established company for over 50 years that keeps getting better and better product wise and consultant wise!!

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Stacie Ayres-Ennis
October 19th, 2016

After losing my job in December of 2008, it was hard finding another job. I was given the Mary Kay opportunity the following month. I gave it very little thought. The consultant that had given me a facial contacted me again in February, because I had won a gift. To receive the gift she could bring it to me or I could come to a MK meeting to pick it up. Little did I know that that night would change my life. I agreed to become a consultant that night. Two days later I signed my contract, and planned my introductory party into the business. My Intro party wouldn't bring me many sales or bookings, but I worked hard as I could. Within two weeks I was working my business with a half of a full store and many rewards to come. I never had any issues with the company. I never tried to push product or the opportunity on anyone. I just loved all of my customers, when I met new people I let them know about my business, and would ask if I could talk to them about products or my business. Mary Kay was my only income for two years. I ended my business after two years, because it is work. Now, I am a married stay at home mom. After friends of mine have tried other affiliated marketing companies, they have run into so many problems. Bad training, no motivators, no direction , product issues, bad delivery schedules, companies mismanaging, etc. I never had these problems while being a MK consultant.

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Brandi Nelms
April 25th, 2016

Affordable products with higher level quality. Win win.

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