February 21, 2022

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme? Or A Legit Beauty MLM ‘Road to Riches’?

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You might be here because someone told you about this opportunity to work from home and you’re a bit hesitant and you thought…

Is Mary Kay a scam? To lessen your headache… no, Mary Kay is not a scam.

But the question would be, is this a legit opportunity to make money from home and leave your full-time day job?

This Mary Kay MLM review will answer that question in an accurate, detailed, and factual approach. This way, you can easily come up with the right informed decision.

Mary Kay Review

The overview and rankings

Name: Mary Kay

Founder: Mary Kay Ash

Type: Cosmetics, Skin Care Products MLM

Products (Including Pricing): 50/100 ($52)

Success Stories: 50/100

Price To Join MLM: $100 starter kit + $75 monthly

Minimum costs for year 1 = $1,000

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Logo

What to look for in a MLM:

  • Low start-up fee & maintenance cost
  • High-quality affordable products
  • You don’t have to carry inventory
  • An affiliate-like system 
  • Generous compensation plan
  • Company is in the early momentum phase

Mary Kay Pros

  • Proven history
  • Positive product reviews
  • Global brand
  • Upward trend

Mary Kay Cons

  • Expensive products
  • Hidden monthly expenses
  • Pyramid scheme in disguise?
  • Saturated market
  • Only 1 in 200 members earn over $30k a year


Mary Kay is an MLM company selling skincare and cosmetic products.

They also have an affiliate program where ordinary people can become members and sell their products to earn commissions.

Make Time Online Rating: 45 out of 100 

Recommended: No

What is Mary Kay?

Mary Kay is a Multi-Level-Marketing company that manufactures skincare and cosmetic products.

The company was founded by Mary Kay Ash in 1963 with just an initial investment of $5,000.

It started out as a small beauty shop in Dallas that only has 9 products and 9 employees whom Ash called beauty advisors.

Now, they’ve grown to being one of the biggest and well-established MLM cosmetics companies with more than a million beauty consultants and sales members around the globe.

Here's a 4-minute video about Mary Kay...

Who is Mary Kay Ash?

Mary Kay Ash is an American businesswoman who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics. She had a fortune of $98 million during her death.

As of now, her company has more than $1.2 billion in sales with around a million affiliate members in 30 countries.

She is also considered as the mother of all MLMs as she was one of the first people to use the business model.

She died in 2001, but her legacy continues as her son, Richard R. Rogers, now runs as the executive chairman of Mary Kay Cosmetics.

Is Mary Kay a pyramid scheme?

No, Mary Kay is not a pyramid scheme.

The members of the MLM can still make money by simply selling their beauty products without recruiting people.

But a better question to MLM companies like this is… Is Mary Kay a pyramid scheme in disguise?

What is a pyramid scheme?

A pyramid scheme is a company or organization which promises their members monetary payment for recruiting people into the company.

Recruitment is prioritized instead of selling the company’s products and services.

A lot of countries have already banned companies like these because not everyone can earn inside a company that is only paying its members to recruit people into the scheme.

Look at this Wikipedia diagram below to know why this is the case...

Members who are making the most money inside the company must recruit people to experience this “business opportunity.”

But based from the diagram above, it’s clear to see that not everyone can make money inside a scheme such as this as you’d eventually run out of people that you can recruit.

Here’s a 5-minute video below which will help you spot these “pyramid schemes in disguise.”

Success is rare with Mary Kay

It’s very challenging to achieve success in an MLM company such as Mary Kay.

Did you know that 94.5% of Mary Kay members lose money? 

92.3 Percent of Members Lose Money in MLMs

This happens because Mary Kay, just like other MLMs have a mandatory sales quota, which means that their members will only stay active and be eligible to receive commissions if only they sell a certain number of products monthly.

If they are unable to reach the quota, then they have to buy their own products just to stay active.

Well, that’s what causes them to lose hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars every month.

We’ll be digging deeper into the Mary Kay income disclosure later in this Mary Kay review.

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How does Mary Kay Work?

Mary Kay is an MLM company which manufactures and sells cosmetic products.

They are one of the pioneers of direct selling, which gives them an advantage over other MLM companies.

Aside from that, they also offer regular people the opportunity to work from home by availing their products at discounted prices and selling them at retail prices.

It’s like a win-win if you look at it at first glance… But it’s not as simple as that because Mary Kay is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing cost by letting their members do all the promoting and advertising from home.

Before seeing if this is really the case, let’s learn more about...

Mary Kay products

It is important that you know the products that the company is selling before you dive straight into it.

If possible, you try them yourselves so you get a better understanding of it. But if not, then you can basically research about them.

I’ve prepared a quick presentation of their products just to help you know what you are putting yourself into.

Here are their most popular products:

  • Mary Kay Botanical Effects Skin Care ($58) - A facial wash that evens out your skin tone and removes freckles, pimples, and dark spots.
Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Product
  • Oil-Free Hydrating Gel ($75) - A makeup base that ensures your face’s skin stays hydrated the entire day. This helps avoid pimples and skin irritation because it acts as a barrier between your skin and makeup.
Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Product 2
  • Mary Kay TimeWise Night Treatment ($52) - Slows down the aging process by removing wrinkles, evens skin tones and makes your skin healthier. It’s a night treatment cream that you apply before sleeping.
Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Product 3

But know that there are a multitude of other brands out there that are offering a very similar range of offerings.

There are even hundreds of MLM companies which are offering the same products just like:

All of them say that they are different and that there’s something special about their brand that makes their products better than the competitor. But in reality, all of them are just offering the same opportunity.

So, if that is really the case, then what makes Mary Kay special?

Mary Kay Timewise Miracle - flagship product

Cleanses, hydrates, and exfoliates your skin giving you a younger looking complexion.

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Product 4

It also smoothens skin imperfections and gets rid of wrinkles and acnes. It’s priced at $98.

Check out this 3-minute video about their products...

Can you make money with Mary Kay?

Yes, but to tell you frankly…

It is very hard to make money from Mary Kay.

There might be a very few people that earn, but it’s only slightly higher than minimum wage.

They are also extroverted people who just keep selling the products to everyone they know, be it their family, friends, or relatives.

What’s more is that their income report show that hardly anyone is making good money from Mary Kay.

How to make money with Mary Kay

There are 2 ways that you can make some money from Mary Kay:

  • Sell products to earn commissions
  • Recruit people and earn downline bonuses

Note that you can earn bonuses from the sales of your downlines and not just by simple recruiting them.

It’s a smart move for companies like Mary Kay because this saves them the hassle of being labeled as a pyramid scheme.

So, before diving into the Mary Kay compensation plan, let’s see if...

How much does it cost to join Mary Kay?

You need to pay $100 for the Mary Kay starter kit to join the company and be an affiliate member.

Becoming a member means that you gain 50% discount on all products, which you can then sell at retail price.

Mary Kay monthly cost

To stay active and remain as a distributor, you must sell at least 70 PPV every month, which is equivalent to around $75. 

The costs for 1 year are...

  • $100
  • $75 x 12 = $900

Minimum costs for year 1 = $1,000

And this is before you add up all the other additional costs such as training on how to sell the company's products, marketing, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Mary Kay compensation plan

It still bugs me that MLM companies make their compensation plans confusing and hard to understand. Well, Mary Kay is one of those…

But don’t worry because I’ll do my best to keep this simple and straightforward…

There are 3 ways that Mary Kay is going to pay you:

Direct Sales

Earn 50% profit from every product sale that you make.

You have the privilege of purchasing that at wholesale price and selling the products at retail price.

Downline Sales

Earn 4% commission on the sales of your downlines.

The more commissions you earn, the better chances you can increase your rank.

Team Building

Earn $50 to $3,000 bonuses depending on the rank that you are promoted to.

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Compensation

Or you can check out this 0-minute video below to know more about the compensation plan.Don’t worry if you’re confused with all that… MLMs just love to use fancy terms and complicated names so that there’s loads of ways you can earn good money from the company.

When in reality, there are just 2 things to do:

  • Sell products
  • Recruit people

And you might also have noticed that 2 of the 3 ways to get paid is by requiring people to recruit?

You can check out this 11-minute video below to know more about the compensation plan.

Or you can view the full Mary Kay income disclosure here.

Is Mary Kay a scam?

No, Mary Kay isn’t a scam. The company is selling real and legit products and pays their members like they say.

But why are their reports of the company being a scam?

Well, that has to do with the disappointment they get when they realize that they’re losing more money instead of earning because they have to buy their own products if they don’t reach the sales quota.

That sure cleared things up, right? The remainder of this review is going to reveal the real facts of the company and will help you come up with an informed decision if it’s really 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 how to “Spot an Online Marketing Scam” then click the highlighted text.

Common positive reviews

Here are some of the common positive reviews that I found about its job opportunity based on what the clients say in Indeed...

  • "Enjoyed working there , everyone is so friendly and welcoming at the office , they do take care of their employees very well , very diverse culture in the company."
  • "Its what you put into it, is what you are going to get back. You can work around your job, husband, kids, pets, hobbies . . . just everything in your life. Or you can just do Mary Kay very part time, part time or full time. It's all up to you."

Common negative reviews

And then here are the common negative reviews I've also found in Indeed...

  • "When you get hired you think the salary is good until you realize the workload required. The salary was unsatisfactory for the work. There were good supervisors there but mostly the supervision was micromanaging. If you are a squared away officer, you will still get micromanaged."
  • "I was told by a supervisor that if no one was willing to stay for my shift, then I would be required to work my shift. That’s not reasonable to me. It’s very militant there, especially on second shift. Lots of responsibilities delegated to officers for fire system inspections, and other responsibilities. It seems intimidating at first but the knowledge was a benefit to learn. The company was great but the department has issues that need to be resolved."

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What I like about Mary Kay

Key Terms:

  • 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

Here are some of the best things that I like most about Mary Kay...

#1 Proven history

One of the best things that I like about Mary Kay is that they are considered as the mother of all multi-level marketing companies.

The company was founded back in 1963, and since then, they have been operating at full blast and full capacity, expanding around the globe and earning billions of dollars in sales.

With this, it’s safe to say that they won’t be disappearing tomorrow or anytime soon just like other MLMs.

It’s also a nice sign that Mary Kay is not a scam and the FTC hasn’t shut them down, which is completely very unlikely.

#2 Positive product reviews

There are a lot of positive reviews about the products sold by Mary Kay on the internet.

I’ve also had a number of family members and friends who have tried the products, and I should say that they were pretty impressed!

Here are some of the product reviews I have found…

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Pros
Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Pros 2

But take them with a grain of salt because they are most likely coming from Mary Kay affiliate members...

#3 Global Brand

Mary Kay is a reputable and established global brand that has been operating for more than 50 years.

If they were actually a scam, then they would have been shut down a long time ago. But not...

Also take note that being a member doesn’t just mean you’re selling their products, but you’re also selling their brand name.

#4 Upward trend

I also found out that Mary Kay is still taking the world by storm because many people are still searching for it. Here's what I found in Google Trends...


This only means one thing, and that you're going to have an easier time selling...

What I don't like about Mary Kay

And here are some of the things that I don't like that much about Mary Kay...

#1 Expensive products

If an MLM company offers overpriced products, then that’s a clear and big red flag that the company is most likely a “pyramid scheme in disguise.”

The focus tilts more towards recruitment instead of selling affordable and good products…

Well, Mary Kay’s products are decently good, but they’re just downright expensive!

Just take a look at these other beauty products that also come from reputable brands and have positive reviews...

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme: Cons

Mary Kay, just like other MLMs, didn’t just price these products because they have a rare and exclusive ingredient and material, but because they want to earn huge profits.

This is very true for Mary Kay knowing that you’re also buying their brand name...

#2 Hidden monthly expenses

You must sell 70 PV every month to “stay active.” This 70 PV of theirs is valued at around $70 to $80, which means you need to pay that amount if ever you are unable to sell the products.

It makes no sense to me…

Why do you need to maintain a sales quota when you’re just a member who needs to sell products? Well, something sounds fishy… a “pyramid scheme in disguise,” I should say?

The fact is… Mary Kay’s biggest market is their members who just keep buying their stuff hoping that they can earn thousands of dollars in a month by just staying at home.

#3 Is Mary Kay a pyramid scheme in disguise?

If you must spend $75 every month just to stay active, then there’s just one to make sure you won’t lose $75 monthly on overpriced cosmetic products… How? By recruiting people to be under you.

MLM pyramid scheme

You then guarantee them that they can earn money if they are able to sell $75 worth of Mary Kay products every month.

If not, then they have to buy it for themselves...

#4 Saturated market

Like I said, Mary Kay is one of the first, biggest, and most popular MLM cosmetic companies.

It sounds like a good thing. But the thing is, this also means that you have a lot of competitors out there.

The fact that the cosmetic industry is already saturated, and you add in the many Mary Kay members out there, then for sure, you’re going to have a hard time selling their products...

#5 Only 1 in 200 members earn over $30k a year

You can see in the Mary Kay income disclosure that 99.9% of all members have an income of less than $20,378 annually.

What's worse is that 94.3% of the total member population earns just $100 in a year, all while averaging an expense of $1,400 per year!

In simple words, this means that only 1 out of 200 members make more than $30k a year!

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My opinion - Mary Kay

There’s no doubt about Mary Kay’s reputation.

They are one of the biggest multinational cosmetics companies in the world and they do offer nice products compared to other beauty MLMs.

But what do I think about the business opportunity presented here?...

The only way that you can make good money inside this company is if you recruit as much people as you can.

That means telling your friends, family, and any other relatives about this alleged money making scheme.

The simple fact is that the majority of these people are just going to lose money from Mary Kay.

Surely, that isn’t an ethical business model...

How I make passive income online

MLMs are not scams or illegal. However, I'm not a fan of them because of the restrictions to the expensive products you have to promote.

Once I learnt about affiliate marketing, I realised it's a far superior business model because:

  • You can promote anything you want and truly own the business
  • You never need to sell to friends and family
  • It's completely free to start

In 2018 I had no idea what affiliate marketing was.

But I went from a full time PE teacher to making a passive income online within one year...

Mike PE teacher to Passive Income Online

If you want to discover how I did it then check out this special video I created which explains exactly how. You can also get your free 7-day bootcamp to get started.

Make Time Online Income

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  1. Thanks for the article, as I’ve looked at ways to earn money at home and passive income joining up with an MLM has crossed my mind.  I probably wouldn’t be good at selling Mary Kay products as I’m a guy and don’t use the products.  What I’ve seen though, the most successful people using MLM are insanely active on social media, using the products everyday, talking about how much they are making doing it.  You really have to put your face out there on social media to make a go of it, but that is true for a lot of different methods of passive incomes.  Very informative.  Thanks!


    1. Spot on Shawn! The people that do the best are constantly on social media to “attract” other people into the business. 

  2. Hi

    I am constantly amazed to how many companies in the cosmetic and beauty industries rely on MLM to sell their products. It may seem genuine and not a fake, but it does not  mean that you waste your time of money on something to which you are unlikely to make  a return on your investment. I feel that people get duped into thinking that  because women will always want to be beautiful and it will sell but then why go through a third party? It is like building a dream based on shaky foundations.  I am not fond of MLM and will not waste my time on them. 

    Thank you for this informative article.


  3. Heloo, a big thanks to you for sharing this unbiased review in Mary Kay, beauty products are a top notch in the market.. I have basically seen a review in Mary Kay before but I must say this is rather straight to the point, it’s more detailed and well articulated. Well done. I so much agree with you that Mary Kay is a pyramid scheme in disguise, their cons are numerous. For anyone who wishes to earn well, Mary Kay is not a nice take.

  4. Hello there thanks for the review about this platform. It is an interesting to know that one can actually earn money by selling these products apart from recruiting others. I know this platform may have some flaws but considering the fact that one could actually earn a passive income through this platform I think it is worth it.

    1. Glad it could help. If you genuinely like the products then it may be worth it for you. If you are tempted I’d recommend trying them out personally first 

  5. Hey nice article you have there, your thoughts are indeed invaluable. Thanks for sharing such a timely information. I have been having some misconception about Mary Kay being a pyramid scheme for sometime now, having stumbled into this review. I now have a better perspective of  it framework. Since it is not a pyramid scheme, I will definitely do well to sign up as. Member. Warm Regards

    1. Yep it’s definitely not a pyramid scheme. But there is still a focus on recruiting to make money, which is why most people don’t make money from the MLM

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