scamrisk logo

Is Mary Kay A Pyramid Scheme? (2024 Update)

By: JosiahDec 11, 2023Network Marketing
Is Mary Kay A Pyramid Scheme? ([year] Update)

Mary Kay? Pyramid Scheme? Who Is Virginia Sole-Smith?

We’re pretty sure the name Mary Kay rings a bell. Of course, it’s been in the cosmetic business long before most of you have been born. Mary Kay Cosmetics is not something to sneeze at — it holds almost the same prestige as the big names in the cosmetics business. Think L’Oreal and Sephora.

It’s another one of those making money online businesses that is centered around selling a saturated membership that supposedly makes you money by selling marked up products.

It is promoted by people who have every incentive for you to join the company or buy products from them.

It’s supposed to show you how to become a “6 figure network marketer” but most members don’t make money promoting other products.

That’s just the truth…you won’t get rich off a crappy $6 commission

If you want to build passive income, (at an average of $1,500 per sale PER MONTH), check out our #1 recommendation here.

And while we have to be honest for this review…


This Mary Kary review has been thoroughly researched with information and testimonials that are available to anyone in the public. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.

  • Established Company
  • Decent Compensation Plan
  • Focus On Recruitment
  • Expensive Products Are Hard To Sell

Why Listen To Us

My name is Josiah, and this is my Dad, Joel.why listen us

Together, we make up the team here at Scamrisk.

If you’ll let me bother you for two minutes, I’d like to quickly explain why I’m even here writing this review.

In early 2020, I had just graduated from college & had no real career prospects.

I knew I was destined for something more, but I had no clue how I was going to make it happen.

I had this sinking feeling in my gut all the time… like the “big man upstairs” had accidentally given me the version of life where I’d be mediocre forever, instead of the one where I was, ya know – happy & fulfilled.


I had fiddled around with some different online businesses in college:

Some random MLMs, a bit of affiliate marketing, a (failed) dropshipping store or two, all the usual suspects.

Even my dad had been involved in MLMs back in the day… selling knives & other random nonsense people (probably) didn’t need.

All I really wanted was to find something that was going to actually work for me.

Maybe those things had worked for others, but for me it all turned up a fat “0” in the bank account department.

So I searched! And searched… and searched… and searched…

And eventually, I somehow stumbled upon a program that promised to help me build an income online (read about it here if you’re curious).

I didn’t really want to be “rich”.

The thought of making a reliable $5K per month & not having to worry about clocking in to a 9-to-5 ever again was all I needed.

Sure, there were people in the program doing high-6 and low-7 figures per year… but that wasn’t what I was out for.

I just wanted to provide freedom for myself, and if I was lucky, take my family along for the ride.

Fast forward a few days and a few phone calls & I was enrolled!

Here’s the first “money making website” I put up:

why listen us gif

I built that site in 2020, and it still makes me $1,500 per month. It’s a basic 5 page website I built based on a template the program provides.

The best part to me? My dad and I get to do it all together!

So between the:

  1. Ease of reaching $5-$10K per month in income online

  2. Straightforward-ness of the system to do it

  3. Fact that I get to do it w/ my family

Is why I recommend local lead generation as my #1 business model for making money online.

Sure, it takes some work and dedication – but anyone that tells you that there’s a business out there that requires no work is selling you a lemon.

I’m not saying you need to sign up for the same program I did, but I would definitely recommend giving the business model a peek!

Chances are you heard about Mary Kay because someone - a friend or family member - introduced you to the company. Maybe you attended an online workshop or webinar, or maybe an in-person information session.

Your head’s probably spinning. This might be the first time you’ve heard about a real way to make money outside of a typical job.

So first off, congratulations!

You’ve just entered a whole new world...the world of making moneChances are you heard about Mary Kay because someone - a friend or family member - introduced you to the company. Maybe you attended an online workshop or webinar, or maybe an in-person information session.

Your head’s probably spinning. This might be the first time you’ve heard about a real way to make money outside of a typical job.

So first off, congratulations!

You’ve just entered a whole new world...the world of making money on your own terms.

However, you came in through the wrong door.

Because Mary Kay is - plain and simple - an MLM. Throw whatever fancy name you want on it...multi-level marketing (MLM), network marketing (NWM), direct sales, or anything else, it’s the same concept:

You pay some money upfront for the “opportunity” to sell products.

The products are typically low-quality but with high price tags (because fancy labels and stuff).

You’re told that the key to building your own successful business is selling these products to friends and family, and getting them on a subscription (so you get “monthly recurring revenue”).

Unfortunately, like most people who get taken in by these types of schemes, you’ll quickly discover that the well runs dry faster than you imagined.

After all, they make it sound really simple. “Just get 5 people you know onto this magic widget, and things will just grow from there.”

And in your head, you think “How hard can it be? I know plenty of people, 5 will be easy.”

But then you do it, and you realize people look at you like you’ve joined a cult. You’ve become “that person”, who joined an MLM, and is now trying to sell questionable products or services to everyone they meet.

It puts a strain on your relationships, and you end up stuck between two worlds.

But it’s not your fault. These companies spend millions of dollars each year figuring out exactly how to brainwash and recruit people. And that’s why we’re here.

To help you find a better way before it’s too late.

So, what if there was a way you could build a passive income stream that’s actually passive?

An income stream that doesn’t require:

  • Inventory
  • Selling to friends and family
  • Selling to strangers
  • Recruiting people
  • Dealing with questionable products that weigh on your conscience

An income stream that brings in consistent revenues every single month (from a couple thousand dollars to well over $10,000)?

An income stream you could actually build in your spare time, and grow as large or as small as you want to, without having to spend hours a day chasing, selling, or managing anything?

If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out Digital Leasing. 

TESTIMONIAL - Still Getting Paid

This is nothing like MLM, and that’s probably a good thing.

However, if you’d still like to know more about Mary Kay, keep reading.

Mary Kay does come with some very helpful information to make money online and land some massive commission checks…

However, network marketing as the business model is getting a little saturated for the average person.

At the end, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Mary Kay's products and multi level marketing in general.

And most importantly, I’ll show you the exact system I used to build my own internet marketing business to over $40,000 a month in mostly passive income.

This system made me swear off network marketing for good, because it uses some of the same skills but in a much more powerful and profitable way!

But more on that later.

For now let’s hop into all things Mary Kay!

Mary Kay Company Quick Overview:

The company was founded by the late Mary Kay Ash in Texas in 1963. It is a US-based seller of cosmetics that employs the MLM business model to sell its products.

Mary Kay Company Quick Overview

Richard Rogers serves as the Executive Chairman to date. He is also the co-founder and Mary Kay's son.

David Holl serves as President and Chief Executive Officer.

David Holl

Mary Kay signs up independent distributors also called beauty consultants to sell and distribute products directly to people in their circle.

The company runs on five continents with over 35 markets. To mention but a few, Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, China, and all the way down under in Australia.

Mary Kay products

Mary Kay products

Mary Kay’s product range includes makeup, of course, skincare products, body & sun creams, fragrances, and even “men’s grooming”.

Their bestsellers are the Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover and the TimeWise® Miracle Set®. It includes a moisturizer, a cleanser, sunscreen, and a night solution. The aforementioned Mary Kay products are the popular ones.

Is Mary Kay an MLM?

Yes, Mary Kay is an MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) company that manufactures and sells cosmetic and skin care products. Mary Kay has been in business for many years and their beauty consultants are considered to be pioneers in the beauty industry, which gives them a good edge over other MLM companies.

Mary Kay an MLM

Some reviews say that Mary Kay is definitely not into affiliate marketing nor does it look like that it is offering services for an affiliate program.

As mentioned earlier, Mary Kay Inc. is an American privately owned multilevel marketing company.

So right off the bat, Mary Kay is upfront that it is a brand that sells cosmetics and beauty products through a network marketing structure.

In MLM businesses, the beauty consultants of Mary Kay sell and distribute the company’s products directly to those within their communities.

These beauty consultants are not employees and thereby do not receive a salary. The business model has been the object of criticism recently.

Several media outlets have investigated multilevel marketing companies and their get-rich-quick plans and services. They deemed it troublesome and somewhat akin to the pyramid scheme structure.

According to Direct Selling News, Mary Kay was the sixth largest network company in the world, with a wholesale volume of a whopping $3.25 USD billion in 2018.

That’s a huge amount of income in the highly competitive beauty industry and can definitely be called a million-dollar business. Perhaps that qualifies them to be considered a cosmetics giant.

When Mary Kay Ash founded the company, she probably never thought she would sell those skin creams like crazy!

Pink Pyramid Scheme rumors

is mary kay a pyramid scheme

However, despite the tremendous success of Mary Kay, the rumor mill is rife with stories about the company being a pink pyramid scheme.

So, is Kay a pyramid scheme? And is it true that this company founded by Mary Kay Ash with an initial investment of $5,000 USD is not really about empowering women or giving services to them or offering business opportunities but more about leading women into what is called a pink pyramid scheme?

How true is that? How can a company that is over half a century old suddenly turn dubious? Let’s dig further.

What is a pink pyramid scheme?

What is a pink pyramid scheme

A pink pyramid scheme is mainly a way of exploiting the salesforce.

Under this business model, the company’s sales staff is encouraged to purchase the products and then sell them to their customers.

For many of the consultants of Mary Kay, the financial returns are often minimal — which is really far away from the huge income that the company claims that women can earn by selling their products.

That’s why many people often ask is Mary Kay a pyramid scam or is Kay a pyramid scheme?

Pink Pyramid Scheme Report of Virginia Sole-Smith

Virginia Sole-Smith posted this report to share her experience with Mary Kay.

Her report is entitled "Pink Pyramid Scheme - How Mary Kay Cosmetics Preys on Desperate Housewives."

In the report, Smith elaborated on how she encountered Mary Kay products and became involved in the business.

She detailed how members were pushed to sell the products.

She also mentioned that this business is not for the faint of heart.

Other reports show that in spite of the claims that Mary Kay earns an annual sale income of $3 USD billion, its salespeople are in debt with boxes of unsold facial creams, lipsticks, and what-not.

Quite a few of them earn some profit, but most of them don’t.

It looks like the sales director gets the bigger slice of the pie and the sales force just gets the crumbs or none at all. You can’t blame people if they wonder if Mary Kay a pyramid scam or Kay a pyramid scheme.

Now a business where only a few individuals earn decent money while the rest pay to play does sound a lot like a pyramid scheme.

The Federal Trade Commission tells apart between recruiting salespeople to sell a product, which is of course, ideally legal, and making money exclusively through some kind of fees for participation, which actually isn't.

A fee is somewhat unclear but the FTC has charged some multilevel marketing companies with using pyramid schemes.

Mary Kay denies it and claims that it is just a simple business model where a person signs an agreement directly with the company, buys the products at a wholesale price, and peddles the product to her customers at a suggested retail price.

The profit is hers to keep. It is basically the person’s choice on how much product she wants to buy from the company and sell to the customers.

mary kay pyramid scheme

It should also be clear that Mary Kay does not use affiliate marketing as claimed by others.

So this brings us to the next question—

Is Mary Kay a Makeup Pyramid Scheme?

Scam or Legit

So, is Mary Kay a scam?

Not technically. You can make money with this program, but it’s definitely not as easy as the company makes it sound.

There’s a ton of work to be done upfront, no real guarantee of success, and - most importantly - the actual commissions are pretty small.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with front-loading the work and making the money later.

But if you’re grinding it out for 3 months and then your reward is a $50 commission, it’s not really worth it.

What if, instead, you could do that same 3 months of work (in your spare time), and your reward was a $500 to $2,000 payment that came in every single month?

And what if you actually didn’t need to wait 3 months? What if you could get started today and have your first payment in a week?

And what if you could double it next week?

Well, that’s the power of Digital Leasing. 

And, unlike an MLM, you can legitimately do this from anywhere. It’s a true lifestyle business.

Your laptop and an internet connection is all you need.

Some of the most successful students in this program run their entire 6-figure businesses from:

  • A camper in the middle of the woods
  • A beach chair on the water in Mexico
  • A small villa in Greece

TESTIMONIAL - Saying Goodbye To Our Jobs

They’re able to travel around, living their lives first, and focusing on their income second.

Because even if they stop working for an extended period of time, the money keeps coming in.

So adventure, memories, and experience are the top priority.

And they never have to worry about how to pay for the next trip, or consider asking for time off.

If this sounds more like the type of life you want to lead, just click here to find out more about Digital Leasing.

How does one join Mary Kay?

To get things underway as a Mary Kay beauty consultant, you’ll need $100USD to acquire the ‘Mary Kay® Starter Kit.’

It comes with retail-sized products to show to friends at parties, samplers that are allocated for your would-be clients, and business supplies and brochures with sales tips.

Mary Kay distributors can earn income through two methods. One, from direct selling to customers, and two, from a commission based on sales made by their downlines.

According to one review, Mary Kay consultants can get paid up to 50% gross profit on products when they sell them to customers at full retail price.

This is what they call an earned discount privilege. However, if you look at the small print or particulars, you will be led to ask the following pertinent question —

Can You Really Make Money Selling Mary Kay?

At first, the company mentions in the fine print that in order to receive the hefty 50% gross profit, which is also known as earned discount privilege, one needs to place a $400 retail order every quarter to sustain an active status and get qualified for it.

Like all the other networking companies in the cosmetic industry, Mary Kay distributors push their cosmetics and skin care products through a party plan or pop-up boutiques or online services using private VIP groups on Facebook or through a social media ad.

Consequently, there's a lot that comes along with Network Marketing that many people struggle with.

In fact, check out our Top 5 Reason Why Most Network Marketers Fail.

Now, don't get me wrong...

You can certainly make money with Network Marketing, but if you're gonna put in the amount of grueling work with this business model (which, trust me, isn't easy), you might as well bring in some REAL money while you're learning the ropes.

The program that helped skyrocket my online business to $40,000+ per month is so simple that making money really does become second nature.

How much commission do Mary Kay consultants make?

Mary Kay actually gives a generous commission for all products, as mentioned earlier— 50 percent.

This is a gross revenue percentage that doesn't account for marketing and business administration paid by the consultant.

Personal earnings or income will vary but an average beauty consultant who is eligible for commissions or bonuses can earn up to $5,569 in sales annually.

That’s not bad for Mary Kay’s consultants.

Again, if you look into the fine print, these numbers do not take into account the business or other related expenses.

How much do you have to sell to get a Mary Kay car?

is mary kay an mlm

Yup. it’s possible to get a Mary Kay car.

Beauty Consultants who achieve the status of Mary Kay Independent Sales Director or higher than that position can in fact earn the use of a Mary Kay career car or incentive travel.

According to their website, “as of December 31, 2019, 62% of the 485 Independent Sales Directors and Independent National Sales Directors participated in the Career Car Program and 42% attended an incentive trip.”

Speaking of cars — you guys have probably heard of the notorious Mary Kay Pink Cadillac? A flashy pink car will definitely appeal to an average woman.

A review says that this is typical with multi-level marketing companies like Mary Kay.

They depend on countless recruitment of new customers who buy inventory packages in order to bring more sales and wealth from the bottom to the top of the, well, multi level marketing structure.

It’s like a device to entice people into the business. So the following question persists…

Is MLM a pyramid scheme?

Is MLM a pyramid scheme

A lot of people call Mary Kay a product-based pyramid scheme — by that it means many people at the bottom of the pyramid must purchase remarkable amounts of products so that those at the top of the pyramid can receive fat commission checks — win a car and go on a flashy vacation trip.

However, to answer the question of MLM is a scam, let’s discuss the differences between the two.

Multi-level Marketing or networking is essentially a marketing strategy that employs selling products directly to the customers— most often by word of mouth.

The difference between this kind of scheme and a legal MLM program is that there is no actual product that is sold in a pyramid scheme.

So not all MLMs are pyramid schemes. As is true with any venture, your financial gain depends on your ability to sell products or offer services.

Be wary of any company that guarantees you cash for doing nothing. Odds are they are not being honest with you. It’s just a device they use to dupe people.

Is Mary Kay a Pyramid Scheme?

No, Mary Kay is not a Pyramid Scheme. It's a legitimate cosmetics company with a history of providing quality beauty products to their customers. Although recruiting salespeople is crucial to other Multi-Level Marketing companies, Mary Kay consultants can still make money without recruiting others.

Why is Mary Kay Not Dual Marketing?

Why is Mary Kay Not Dual Marketing

Mary Kay’s intention is to depart from being associated as an MLM. And they decided to call their business model a “dual-level marketing” program.

Mary Kay came up with that jargon and surely you ask,

What is dual-level marketing?

So the idea is that there are two sales of the product (company to consultant and consultant to customer) somehow means it’s this made-up term of “dual-level.”

If you look at it deeper, it simply is a multi-level marketing plan.

Perhaps it’s the reason for this next question.

Why is Mary Kay so expensive?

Mary Kay so expensive

Well probably because its products are of ordinary quality and are well, pricey or overpriced in most peoples opinions. Besides that, women have a ton of choices on the Internet and in the stores.

There's just no need to go through the hassle of looking up a Mary Kay consultant who will just probably try to sign you up as her downline.

Is Mary Kay a Global Brand?

Mary Kay a Global Brand

Technically, yes it is. Their brand products are being sold in over 35 countries across the globe. From the United States to China, Mexico, Russia.

Are There Alternatives to Mary Kay?


Yes, there are plenty of MLM companies to choose from if you want to pursue this business model.  Here are just a few:

What Is Our Top Recommendation For Making Money Online In 2024?

Digital Leasing

Our review team has spent months researching, reviewing, and vetting dozens of business models and thousands of programs.

While there may be no “perfect business”, the research IS conclusive:

Digital Leasing is the #1 online business model for those just starting out.

Whether you’ve never made a dollar online, or you’ve been in this space for a while but never really “made it,” Digital Leasing is for you.


1) It’s Flexible: got an hour a day? You can do this. Ready to drop everything else and dive in full time? You can do this. Yes, the more time you put in, the faster you see results. But even with a little time each day, you can move the needle in a Digital Leasing business.

And because this system is so flexible, you don’t have to constantly be working to make more money. It’s called PASSIVE INCOME because if you stop working, the money doesn’t.

Imagine taking 3 months off to just tour around Europe, rent a cabin in the woods to write a book, hike the Appalachian Trail, or live on the beach and surf all day.

This is only possible if you have an income stream that’s not tied to your time.


2) You Own & Control EVERYTHING: With MLMs and Network Marketing, you don’t really own anything. You have no control over the quality of products. You don’t even own your “team”.

Look at the fine print for most of the agreements folks sign when they join one of these companies. At any point, the company can change your commission structure, reduce your profit margins, or kick you out entirely.

With Digital Leasing, you own the assets, which means you have all the power and all the control.

TESTIMONIAL - Feeling Blessed

3) Little To No Startup Costs: It’s possible to get into Digital Leasing with zero dollars upfront. Because, using the strategies outlined in this program, you can get a client to pay you BEFORE spending a penny out of your own pocket...even before you do any work.

Even without getting paid in advance, you can have your first Digital Rental Property up, running, and generating profits for less than $100.

TESTIMONIAL - Scott Lead Gen

4) No Inventory: Alright, so most MLMs don’t make you buy the products and fill your garage with them anymore (unlike the good ol’ days), but you’re still in a physical products business.

And physical products always have physical limitations. Even if you don’t have to manage the inventory, you still have to deal with supply chain shortages that cause major delays.

Imagine finally landing your first customer, and then losing them after one sale because they had to wait 6 weeks to get their order.

With Digital Leasing, a 100% online business, you never even have to think about that risk.


5) Easy To Duplicate: Ok, here’s the best part: once you have your first Digital Rental Property up and running, you can literally DOUBLE your income with a few clicks, a couple keystrokes, and a single phone call (and you don’t actually need the phone call).

Remember: each Digital Rental Property is worth $500 to $2,000 a month in semi-passive income (over 95% profit). Every time you decide to create another one and increase your income, it gets easier.

Because you have more knowledge, more experience, more results, and more momentum.

If you wanted to double your income with an MLM, you’d have to double your customers OR double the average order size of your existing customers. And, guaranteed that’s a lot harder than a few clicks and a few minutes of your life.

TESTIMONIAL - Lance Lead Gen

6) Make Money Helping Real People: This part is what makes it all worth it. In an MLM, your “upline” might convince you that what you’re selling improves people’s lives, but deep down, you likely know that’s not true.

Most of the time, you’re either selling a dream or a poor-quality, overpriced product with a fancy label.

And that makes it pretty hard to sleep at night.

But with Digital Leasing, you’re actually helping people by solving your clients’ biggest problem:

Small, local businesses need more customers, and with Digital Leasing, you are unleashing a flood of happy, paying customers for these businesses.

You make money by helping them make money.

Not a big, faceless corporation either...a small business owner who’s using that money to put food on the table for their family, start a college fund for their kids, or take care of a sick parent.

Once you see how Digital Leasing makes a real impact in the lives of real people, you’ll sleep like a baby with a big smile on your face.


Now, the choice is yours.

You could continue browsing, looking at opportunities like Mary Kay which could one day make you money.

You could continue researching, never making a decision.

OR, you could take a look inside, consider what you really want, and join a program that makes your dreams a reality. At the same time, joining a community of over 2,000 successful students that are living life on their own terms thanks to Digital Leasing.

A consistent, reliable, semi-passive stream of income that doesn’t depend on you or your time to keep producing profits.

All while genuinely helping real people who are grateful and happy to pay for it.

If this sounds more like what you want out of life (or if you just want some nice side income), click here to learn more about Digital Leasing.

0 Responses
Leave A Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Comment *
Name *
Email *
Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment.

All site content, links and resources are presented solely for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical, legal, financial or tax advice. is free to use because we may earn a commission when you use a service listed on our site, however our editorial treatment of reviews, ratings and listings is equally impartial whether a link is paid or unpaid. Opinions expressed in reviews, commentary and articles are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Scam Risk. Screenshots, logos, company names & styles are IP, copyright and trademarks of their respective owners, used on this site for their promotion or editorial illustration.

Continued use of is contingent on acceptance of Scam Risk's legal policies

scamrisk footer logo