Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme? Over 90% Fail But Insider’s Reveal Truth…

Arbonne MLM Review- Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

Chances are someone (probably a friend or family member) has just introduced this amazing “work from home” opportunity to you and now you’re wondering “is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?”

How do I know?

I’ve been in your shoes before and I seriously considered giving it a go.

But there was this niggling feeling in the back of my brain that made me do a lot of research, just like you are doing right now!

This honest Arbonne review, with videos, will expose the truth about the MLM company with the pros and cons laid out in one place so that you can make an informed decision.

I’ll also show you exactly how I now make 4 figures a month from home.

Arbonne Review- The overview and rankings

Name: Arbonne International

Founder: Petter Mørck in 1975 – started in the USA in 1980 (90 out of 100)

Website URL:

Type: Health and Beauty MLM

Products (Including Pricing): 50 out of 100

Success Stories: 20 out of 100

Price To Join MLM: $79 registration fee + ~$150 “monthly auto-ship” + $30 annual membership (40 out of 100) Rating: 50 out of 100 (check out my #1 recommendation, 97 out of 100)

What To Look For In An MLM:

  • Low start-up fee & maintenance cost– ❌
  • High-quality products – ✅ (but expensive)
  • You don’t have to carry inventory – ❌ (you will if you set up the auto-ship)
  • Generous compensation plan – ✅
  • An affiliate-like system – ✅
  • Company is in the early momentum phase – ❌

Arbonne pros and cons


  • Long company history (over 40 years!)
  • Possible to use the internet to help you sell & market the products (you can scale this)
  • Member of the Direct Selling Association
  • Accredited by the Better Business Bureau
  • Focus on personal development


  • Expensive products
  • Expensive monthly costs- sell around $150 worth of products (you’re encouraged to buy this amount) every month to stay active
  • 90% of active consultants earn less than $3,500 a year
  • 99% of MLM distributors lose money
  • You’ll be encouraged to sell to your friends and family
  • Standing orders means you will need to stock up on products
  • Not in any momentum phase
  • Rewarding people that recruit instead of people selling products
  • Their ex-holding company went bankrupt in 2010

What is Arbonne?

Arbonne is a health and beauty Multi-Level-Marketing company that started in 1975.

They sell a wide range of products including makeup, nutritional supplements and shampoos in a range of countries.

Arbonne’s mission is to transform lives through pure botanically based ingredients in scientifically tested products.

It’s a movement for healthy living inside and out.

It sounds like a great mission really doesn’t it?

You can find out more in the 2-minute promotional video below…

If you’re like me you’re probably still a bit sceptical after this fancy salesy video.

So you’re probably wondering…

Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?

No, Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme.

It’s possible for consultants to sell Arbonne’s products and make money from doing so.

But here’s the hidden truth…

You can only make good money if you recruit more people into the company.

What is a pyramid scheme?

A pyramid scheme is when a company recruits members by promising them payment for recruiting more members.

Technically speaking pyramid schemes do not sell any products or services.

They are illegal in most countries because they are unsustainable and impossible for everyone to make money. Just see the diagram below…

Diagram from Wikipedia

So even though Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme, it is possible for MLM companies to be a “pyramid scheme in disguise”.

This Arbonne review will dig into this a bit more later on, but for now, you can educate yourself on what to look out for in this short video below…

Watch it on x2 speed if you are in a hurry!

How does Arbonne work?

When I was on a skype call with a friend who was encouraging me to join the MLM program, he did a great job of explaining this.

Basically, Arbonne creates awesome natural products and sells them.

But rather than having to spend thousands of dollars every month on advertising they have “independent consultants” who market the products for them.

These consultants get paid a commission for every product they sell.

It’s a win-win!

Who owns Arbonne?

Yves Rocher, a worldwide cosmetics and beauty brand, owns Arbonne today (acquired Arbonne in 2018).

But it was founded by Petter Mørck in 1975 and moved to the United States in 1980, with the headquarters now located in Irvine, California.

They both have a love for natural products and a pretty clean history (from what I could find online).

What countries does Arbonne operate in?

Arbonne is still expanding into new countries. But as of today, they operate in 7 countries:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Poland
  5. Australia
  6. New Zealand
  7. Taiwan

It opened in Poland in 2014 and Taiwan in 2016 so you can see they are still growing.

So let’s find out more about the…

Arbonne products

There are a lot of products sold at Arbonne!

They typically only fall into one of 5 categories though:

  • Skincare – Facial cleanser, sunscreen, eye cream, toner, etc.
  • Bath & Body – Essential oil, hand wash, lotion, lip balm, mask, etc. 
  • Makeup – Eyeliner, makeup primer, mascara, lipstick etc.
  • Nutrition – Protein shake, energy sticks (fizz sticks seem to be the signature product), snack bars, immunity booster, etc.
  • Hair – Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, hair serum, etc.

These types of products are actually very common amongst MLM companies.

Arbonne products

Here is just a small sample of similar MLM companies that I’ve already reviewed:

They all claim to have some special reason they stand out such as natural products or scientifically proven products.

But in reality, they are all offering a very similar opportunity.

How to make money with Arbonne

So the moment you’ve probably been waiting for!

Like most MLM companies there are really only 2 ways you can make money from Arbonne:

  1. Sell products and make a commission
  2. Recruit more people into the MLM program and earn commissions for the sales they make

Technically you don’t earn money directly from recruiting people.

You actually just receive bonuses from the sales these recruits make either for themself or to other people.

This is another way MLM companies avoid being caught out for being a pyramid scheme.

But real people like Cynthia and Michael Dagnall actually sued Arbonne for being a pyramid scheme in 2017. This case was settled in 2018 out of court to sweep the accusation under the carpet.

How much does it cost to join Arbonne?

On paper, it looks like it’s quite affordable to start.

To be honest when you compare this to most bricks and mortar businesses such as opening a restaurant it is very reasonable!

It costs $79 for the registration fee to get a basic starter kit with some training materials to start.

There is also a $30 annual recurring fee.

But you won’t have any products yet, and this is a business that is pretty much impossible to start without products.

So you can get a discounted value packs from between $270-$500 with a whole range of goodies for you to try out and use to market!

However, the costs do not stop there, which you may be led to believe from the person that introduced this opportunity to you…

Arbonne monthly quota- real costs & Arbonne Autoship

This is where I had to do some serious digging.

I even outright asked the person who tried to recruit me into the company what the monthly sales quota or monthly costs would be and this got totally sidestepped!

This honestly is not answered anywhere online either… so I got creative!

The first step by “detective Mike” (I’m not a real detective by the way!) was to find out what the monthly sales quota was to reach “qualified status”.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

It’s 150 PQV (personal qualifying volume) as you can see in the compensation plan.

But what does that mean in English aka real money terms?!

This is where it got really tricky!

Arbonne does not make it easy to find out how many dollars of products equals PQV.

So I went super creative… and watched YouTube!

By watching some YouTube videos of an Arbonne consultant setting up an auto-ship order you can see that her order of $463.20 gets her 502 QV.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

Monthly Arbonne PQV to stay active:

Simply put, you need 150 PQV = ~ $150

This means you will need to spend around $150 every month to stay “active” as a consultant.

Now we’re getting to the truth right?!

You can check out the YouTube video yourself if you like (but be warned, it’s pretty long and boring! I have put it to the right place to see the QV if you want though)

Just to put this in perspective you’re looking at a total cost of:

  • $79
  • $30
  • $270
  • $150 x 12 = $1,800

Total cost for year 1 = $2,179

Obviously, if you sell products you won’t NEED to spend this much. But the auto-ship certainly is recommended for EVERY consultant to make sure you “stay active”.

I also bet my bottom dollar the person trying to recruit you didn’t lay it out like this. And who needs $1,800 worth of makeup and shampoo each year?

Silly question… my wife obviously!

Arbonne compensation plan

So for some reason, MLM companies tend to make compensation plans more complicated than solving a rubrics cube blindfolded.

First of all, it’s important to get your head around some key terms if you truly want to understand what’s going on…

Key terms- Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

Once you understand that you only need to know that there are 4 ways you can earn an income from Arbonne:

  • Client commissions (15% for preferred clients or 35% for regular clients on SRP)
  • Overrides (commissions of the sales volume of your team, greatly increases as you get “promoted”)
  • Mercedes-Benz cash bonus (hire a white Merc if you reach Vice Presidents status)
  • Cash bonuses (for the team and personal sales)
Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

I could go into detail about all the bonuses and incentives you get at each “rank” (qualified status, consultant, district manager, area manager, regional vice president, national vice president). But this gets super confusing and you really don’t need to know this when you are starting.

You can find the full Arbonne compensation plan here.

Or if you’d like to have a visual overview you can watch this 15-minute video (it’s actually pretty good compared to other MLM compensation videos I’ve seen)…

Is Arbonne a scam?

No Arbonne is not a scam.

It sells legitimate products that people want to buy.

It also pays consultants commission for any products they sell and bonuses for more consultants they recruit into the MLM company.

Just because a “work from home” opportunity is legit it doesn’t always mean it’s right for you. The rest of this Arbonne review will help you decide if you think this opportunity is right for you or not.

Just to be fully transparent with you, I am not a distributor myself and I do not endorse it in any way.

I have researched the website, testimonials and information on the Internet to get to the bottom of what this program genuinely does. This is because I have been burnt from programs just like this in the past and I want to prevent others from making the same mistakes. If you’d like to learn more “Ways to Spot an Online Marketing Scam” then click the highlighted text.

Related content:

Arbonne: What I like

Here are some of the things I like about Arbonne…

Key Terms:

  • Black Hat Methods – Using lies and unethical methods to make someone buy something
  • White Hat Methods – Being honest and genuine to help people make informed decisions about purchases
  • Pyramid Scheme – recruits members via a promise for payment from referring others to the service rather than providing a product
  • Affiliate Marketing- Connecting a customer to a product they are looking for and receiving a commission for doing so
  • Red Flag – A warning sign

#1 Long company history

It started in America in 1980. Any company that has been running for 40 years must have some credibility to it!

And if Arbonne was a pyramid scheme then the FTC would likely have shut it down years ago.

Arbonne 1975

I really dug into the history and there are hardly any lawsuits against the company.

The only slight concern was when their ex-holding company, Natural Prodcust Group LLC went bankrupt is 2010.

Apart from that Arbonne has a pretty clean record!

#2 Use internet marketing

Every Arbonne consultant gets their own “ready-made website” when they join.

There is certainly some information about how to use social media as I know more about some of my Arbonne consultant friends lives than I do about my wife!

That’s a joke sweetie (in case you’re reading this!)

The above screenshot is an example of what the website looks like for each consultant (you can see this one belongs to Catherine Wilkinson).

This is another reason that suggests Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme.

#3 Member of DSA

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) ensures that direct selling companies (MLM’s often fall under this term as do network marketing companies) are being run legitimately.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

Arbonne is a member of the DSA.

That is good in case you were wondering! It’s another form of proof that Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme or a scam.

#4 Accredited by BBB

The Better Bussines Bureau has accredited Arbonne since 1989.

There are only 13 complaints against the company, which is actually a very good sign. Some poorly managed companies can have hundreds of complaints every year against them.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

This suggests the company is well organised, the products are easy to access (yes some MLM companies actually run out of stock!) and the customer service must be good.

These are all great signs for an MLM!

#5 Focus on personal development

This is my favourite thing about MLM companies.

They generally are quite good at encouraging people to better themselves and work on improving their business skills.

Arbonne actually has an annual event in Las Vegas to provide training (and entertainment) to its consultants.

You can learn more in the 3-minute video below…

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

It just looks like one big party doesn’t it!

The great thing is that you can actually earn a “paid for” trip there if you hit a certain sales quota for the year.

As far as I’m concerned, any personal development is a good thing and anyone that wants to work from home needs to improve themselves continually.

Arbonne: What I don’t like

There are a few areas of Arbonne that I’m not a fan of.

Some of these areas are hidden in plain sight and some I’ve had to do some serious digging to get to the bottom of it.

But in reality, I think everyone should be aware of these things before diving in…

#1 Expensive products

This is my number 1 red flag for any MLM company.

When there is a big mark up in prices compared to alternatives that exist in the real world this makes my “spidey senses” tingle.


Because it means that the company typically rewards recruiting rather than selling the products.

And that means the company is more like a pyramid scheme in disguise.

I personally use protein shakes so I’m using this as an example (because I know what to compare it to) but the product’s pricing is similar across the board…

$2.13 per serving at Arbonne
$0.95 per serving from (Arbonne has a 125% markup)

When a similar product (arguably worse in this case as Arbonne has less protein and more sugar per serving) costs over 100% more through an MLM company it becomes worrying.

No one in their right mind would choose these expensive products.

So how does Arbonne continue to make sales each month?

The answer lies in hidden truth #2…

#2 Expensive monthly running costs & stocking up

To stay active as a consultant you need to sell 150 PQV every month.

If you don’t do this you are removed from the commission structure and you won’t be able to make any money whilst you are suspended.

But don’t worry Arbonne will help you out…

You can make a monthly “auto-ship” order.

Basically you can set up a standing order of $150 worth of products every month so that you remain active.


Re-read that last sentence.

That’s your answer to the question above. Arbonne continues to make money every month because of their biggest customer/ consumer… their own consultants!

The people recruited are the people that continue to spend obscene amounts of money on average products that you can pick up for a fraction of the price.

#3 90% of active consultants earn less than $3.9k a year

I mean the income disclosure statement says it all really.

90% of active consultants (not including the ones that lose money by quitting before they end up with an Arbonne store in their house and up to their eyeballs in credit card debt) earn less than $4k a year on average.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

You may be thinking, I could probably make it to the 6% that earn $18k a year and be able to live.

But that’s not profit!

This doesn’t even include their expenses to run the company (start-up and monthly costs).

Remember it will cost you a minimum of $2k a year to maintain this “business”.

#4 MLM’S success rate (1%)

The FTC studied over 350 MLM companies.

They found that 99% of recruits lose money.


Let me repeat that…

99% of MLM recruits LOSE money.

Do you see how that’s possible with the recurring monthly costs to remain “active”?

#5 Encouraged to sell to friends and family

This was the big reason why I didn’t join Arbonne.

Believe it or not, I like my friends and family.

But you will be encouraged from the word go to create a list of 100 people you know that could suit the Arbonne business model.

Read all of that paragraph and you can see you will actually be advised to contact:

  • Your address book
  • Facebook friends
  • Twitter friends
  • School friends
  • Sports clubs friends
  • School parents
  • Charities (seriously?!)

I don’t know about you but this doesn’t sound like my idea of an enjoyable, scalable or thriving business.

What will you do when you run out of friends and family?

#6 Not in the early momentum phase

Another thing I tend to look out for in MLM companies is whether they are in the “early momentum” phase.

It’s no secret that the most successful MLM recruits are the ones who “got in early” and helped to grow the company.

However, Arbonne is not one of these companies. It’s existed for dozens of years and you can see on Google trends that it’s plateaued in the number of people that search for it every month.

There are other newer MLM companies such as Farmasi which is a beauty company that offers reasonably priced products and is still growing in the USA.

#7 Rewarding people to recruit rather than sell products- insiders truth

With some of my digging on the internet, I came across this pretty honest review from an Arbonne consultant…

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme

She clearly is doing well at selling the products by using internet marketing (this is, without doubt, the best way to be one of the best MLM consultants).

However, her issue is that she isn’t moving up the “ranks” because she isn’t focussed on recruiting people. She simply loves the products and wants to sell them.

Lynne is one of the suckers to the system, which clearly only rewards those who actually recruit people into the program.

AKA Arbonne sounds like a pyramid scheme in disguise.

Related content:

My opinion – Arbonne

If you love makeup, shampoo and nutrition stuff and you’re ready to jump all into a business and dedicate your life to social media then this may be for you.

I usually like to leave something witty and funny like a gif to sum up my feeling about a “make money from home” opportunity.

But I stumbled across this amazing 5-minute spoof video, which pretty much does the witty part for me…

But seriously… do you notice how many of my concerns are covered in this video?

  • Not in the early momentum phase
  • You need to recruit more competition
  • Saturated market (there’s loads of other health and beauty MLM’s)
  • Recruit friends and family
  • Low incomes, and it’s not even all profit

But it’s not all doom and gloom amigo…

Is there another way to work from home?

Around the time when my friend introduced me to the Arbonne opportunity, I was looking for a legit side business to start.

I’d read a few books around online marketing and an online business just seemed to make sense.

But I had no idea where to start!

In September 2018 I found a step-by-step training program that claimed to have all the tools and support you need to start an online business in affiliate marketing.

I had no idea what affiliate marketing was.

Since September 2019, my income keeps growing every month and I’m actually taught real skills like how to build and scale an online business ethically to get free visitors from Google…

Make Time Online Stats

The best thing is that it’s completely free to start (genuinely no credit card required) so you can see for yourself if it’s something that may suit you.

Arbonne Review: The “MakeTimeOnline” final word

So is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?

Technically no.

But with the special benefits and bonuses only available to those that recruit more members and move up the ranks, it certainly has signs of being a pyramid scheme in disguise.

All the information you need to know about Arbonne is inside this review.

It’s now over to you to make an informed decision about if it’s right for you or not.

Keep changing for the better,


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