Bamboozled by Mary Kay

WARNING: This is an extremely long post! I’ve been debating whether or not I should post about my recent experience with Mary Kay, only because it involves someone who I met recently through the Boston Makeup Group. On one hand, I don’t think I’m interested in doing any business with her – she has called me a few times since our meeting –  so if I post this and she reads it, then it’s really no sweat off my back. On the other hand, if she reads it and feels embarrassed, then I’ll feel bad because that really isn’t the intent of this post. After some tossing and turning, I’ve finally decided that I should post about this only to warn other women who are approached by Mary Kay representatives, and I’m going to leave her name out of it. For those of you who know me personally, you know I have no problem being brutally honest.

The Invitation

As you know, I recently started a meetup group for beauty and makeup enthusiasts in the Boston area. I’ve been struggling with getting enough resources for the group – I need a space to host events/meetups, food, and obviously I need to think of subjects to base the events around. So, when I received an email from one of the members saying they had some studio space and would love to host free meetups, I was more than willing to meet her. She asked me to come to her studio that night for a free makeover:

“You will experience our Indulge Pampering which includes a 3-step hand spa, 2 step lip treatment, ultimate facial with microdermabrasion experience, PLUS a mineral color makeover! You are welcome to invite along any others you might like to join you – friends, family, co-workers, etc. And its all free :)”

I decided to bring my friend along to join in the fun. I mean, free makeovers and facials? Don’t mind if I do! I’ve had an extremely challenging last couple of months, so this “Indulge Pampering” seemed like just what I needed at the time. You would think that the words “Indulge Pampering” implied that you would be pampered and taken care of by a professional. Right?

I could not have been more wrong. When we arrived, we were rushed into a small room where other women were sitting around large conference tables, plates of product samples and mirrors in front of them. I immediately started wondering what I’d gotten us into. I sat down, already wary of the night, but since it wasn’t exactly easy to get there I thought I might as well just get it over with. There were droplets of product samples in front of me. They were numbered 1-10 and there wasn’t any information about the products or their ingredients nearby, so I was already a bit annoyed. There were probably about 20 other women in the room.

The Pitch

A tall blonde woman walked in and said she was a sales director for Mary Kay and she started telling us about her job. She asked us if we liked getting free cars, making our own hours, and getting to speak about makeup for a living. She said that since she started working for Mary Kay, she has been able to quit her day job and she’s doubled her previous income.

Then, the sales director said something that really caught my attention in a negative way. She said that one of the sales women under her employ especially benefited from being able to make her own hours because her husband had recently been diagnosed with stage four terminal cancer. It was good that she didn’t have to work regular hours because she could now spend time with her dying husband. For those of you who know me, you know that cancer is a subject that particularly hits close to the heart for me. I immediately didn’t like this lady. Another family’s experience with cancer is not a selling point for you to get a group of other woman to sell makeup. It’s an extremely personal and horrifying experience that you completely just put on blast for your own benefit. That was not okay with me. I thought it was completely shameless and borderline disgusting that she had the nerve to try and spin that angle.

Another thing that was kind of off-putting for me was the fact that these sales women insist that we’d be doubling our income by selling Mary Kay products. Isn’t it a little presumptuous to assume that every woman in the room makes less than a certain amount of money? I’m only saying this because in the beginning of the session, they had us fill out a questionnaire and one of the questions asked how much we currently made. My salary was not even among the choices, and the highest value was still a good $20k shy. The whole pitch is that you’d be doubling your salary from the comfort of your own home. I already do have the option to work from home, and I make enough money as a web designer and developer. Shouldn’t you maybe figure out your demographic, rather than waste my time and yours?

I wanted to leave, but for the sake of Ingenue Coquette I decided I should at least try the product samples in front of me.

The Pampering

Here’s where the “pampering” started – if only “pampering” meant being rushed and told by another woman to put products on your own face in a way that you would not normally wear your makeup. First we were asked to clean any previous makeup from our faces using a moist towelette. I was already kind of horrified, because I feel like taking off my makeup is an extremely personal ritual for me every night, and now I’m in a room with 20 other women I don’t know, in extremely harsh fluorescent lighting; not to mention I had a pretty bad breakout on my cheek at the time. Then, we were told to apply product #1 – a cleanser – to our faces, followed by an exfoliating cleanser which constituted as the “microdermabrasion experience” that the MK rep had mentioned in her email. Then we moisturized and used eye cream, etc. Another MK rep, who was directing us in our product application, boasted that their moisturizer was full of beneficial vitamins and organic ingredients. I asked which vitamins and organic ingredients those were, and she didn’t know. I definitely had a WTF moment there.

Finally the makeup application started. Again, I was sitting there wondering what part of this had anything to do with “Indulgence” or “Pampering.” Did these people know the definition of  either of those words, or even the word “Makeover?” We were told to apply primer to our faces. I decided to try and loosen up a little and participate in the experience rather than outright being a negative Nancy about it. I raised my hand to ask a question about whether the primer was oil or silicone based. No one knew. When we were told to apply foundation to our faces, I asked if the foundation was water, oil, or silicone based. No one knew. How do you sell makeup and not know anything about what you’re selling? They asked me if I was concerned about allergies or specific ingredients that I’ve had a bad reaction to. I said no, I just wanted to know what the heck I was putting on my face! One of the reps rolled their eyes at me and walked away. Here’s why I asked those specific questions – if the primer is oil or silicone based, and the foundation is water based, then the products wouldn’t work together. Oil doesn’t mix with water, and silicone is designed to repel water. Basic chemistry. Did any of the MK reps know this? Probably not.

The Makeover

I’m going to admit that the foundation looked pretty nice on me. I might have went home and purchased it, if I hadn’t had such a bad experience at this thing. The mascara wasn’t too bad either, although the smell was a little off to me. The colors of makeup that they gave my friend were not flattering on her. And they made us use the products in a way we would not normally wear our makeup. Here’s a tip for all you MK consultants out there: not all women have the same eye and face shape. She walked away extremely unhappy with the way she looked. I think she’d still look gorgeous if someone splattered manure all over her face, but that’s besides the point. I could understand how unhappy she was. They didn’t supply bronzer and the blush they had me try was really not my color either. I actually took some bronzer and blush from my purse and applied it right there – one of the MK reps gave me a disapproving look, but idgaf. I walked in looking perfect, and walked out of the place looking like trash.

I will not be doing any business with the MK consultant who originally reached out to me. I don’t think it would be a good idea to host meetups at their studio’s location because it’s a bit out of the way and the space is too small anyway. I’ve been ignoring her texts because I really don’t want to encourage her to think that I was at all pleased with what she got me into. If her idea of being a good sales person is to mislead her customers into attending what they think will be an evening of spa pampering, only to find out that they would be spoken down to and directed to put products on their faces in which the “professionals” knew nothing about – she should really find a new method of sales. If she had just told me directly that she’d like me to try out some of the products and consider selling them myself, I would have been more open to the experience… except for the sales director’s shameless exploitation of another woman’s personal and agonizing experience of losing her husband to an incurable disease. I might have been open to buying and reviewing some of Mary Kay’s products for Ingenue Coquette but that really pissed me off.

If you are a Mary Key sales rep, then I encourage you to find out more about your products before you ask your customers to try them. Be open and honest with your customers – don’t try to sell too hard the way the sales director did, basically telling us that we should start selling Mary Kay makeup in case our spouses or children get cancer and we want to spend more time with them. Let your products speak for themselves!

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  • Aprill Coleman

    June 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm
    Reply

    eek! The whole story is horrible! I've never dealt with Mary Kay and this makes me not want to. Sorry for your experience.

  • Pink Sith

    June 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm
    Reply

    Wow. That sods absolutely terrible. She definitely should had told you it was a Mary Kay pitch meeting before inviting you over. […] Read MoreWow. That sods absolutely terrible. She definitely should had told you it was a Mary Kay pitch meeting before inviting you over. I'm sorry that they used the "cancer factor" to justify why this is a great product to sell. That's not appropriate and could have been worded a different way to achieve the same impact. I think you should tell the woman that you no longer wish to have contact with her because you did not like your experience. She has no idea why you won't return her texts, and won't try to change her behavior if she isn't given some constructive feedback. Read Less

  • Pink Sith

    June 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm
    Reply

    Oh. I forgot to add. I think it is shameful that the product reps didn't know the ingredients of their products. They should know […] Read MoreOh. I forgot to add. I think it is shameful that the product reps didn't know the ingredients of their products. They should know the bare minimum at least. Like water/oil/silicone based. Read Less

  • Cosmetically-Challenged

    June 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm
    Reply

    I used to sale Mary Kay and I quit because of the way they tried to make you push the product. They actually have very […] Read MoreI used to sale Mary Kay and I quit because of the way they tried to make you push the product. They actually have very nice products, especially their skin care line. They fall flat on the makeup, some of Avon's goodies look better. However, the director makes money if the people under them make money, and I think that's where they lose focus. I tried to give my customers a good experience, I let them try different products, I showed them how to make the product work for them and definitely didn't follow the "script". I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. Read Less

  • Beauty Thesis

    June 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm
    Reply

    Wow, that is all kinds of horrifying. Personally, I'd forward the post to the rep and suggest she forward it to her director and explain […] Read MoreWow, that is all kinds of horrifying. Personally, I'd forward the post to the rep and suggest she forward it to her director and explain why you're not interested in working with her or her space. That is not how you move product or inspire loyalty from potential customers. I would imagine MaryKay would be horrified, even if only for the public's response. Read Less

  • Kimberly Hannah

    June 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm
    Reply

    That is disgusting behavior by a beauty company. You held yourself well, I would have been a raging lunatic. I really hope the company and […] Read MoreThat is disgusting behavior by a beauty company. You held yourself well, I would have been a raging lunatic. I really hope the company and the individuals involved see this! Read Less

  • Quinn Ryan Smith

    June 3, 2012 at 2:33 am
    Reply

    Oh wow. My mom sold MK for a hot minute, years back. I remember when we hosted a pampering party at our house and the […] Read MoreOh wow. My mom sold MK for a hot minute, years back. I remember when we hosted a pampering party at our house and the sales Rep that came to help her rubbed me the wrong way. It was so obvious she was more concerned with selling product (even if it was unnecessary and superfluous for the consumer) than developing relationships and making sales based on what was actually needed. Smh... Read Less

  • Michaela Williams

    June 3, 2012 at 8:56 am
    Reply

    Wow! That's so pushy, unprofessional and skeezy sounding. Brands like Mary-Kay, Avon etc can't afford having their sales reps behaving like this, it just puts […] Read MoreWow! That's so pushy, unprofessional and skeezy sounding. Brands like Mary-Kay, Avon etc can't afford having their sales reps behaving like this, it just puts me off buying from them, especially given their rep for high-pressure sales tactics. Read Less

  • Raging Rouge

    June 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm
    Reply

    Wow. I was once invited to a "pampering party" too, and while it was a disappointment it wasn't a hard core sales pitch like […] Read MoreWow. I was once invited to a "pampering party" too, and while it was a disappointment it wasn't a hard core sales pitch like this! Sorry you had to sit through that! Read Less

  • Jo Jo

    June 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm
    Reply

    This is so horrible. How can one use someone grief to promote / market their products...that is so disgusting. She should be evaluated by higher […] Read MoreThis is so horrible. How can one use someone grief to promote / market their products...that is so disgusting. She should be evaluated by higher authorities. Read Less

  • JaTeen Shelaniece Kraft

    June 25, 2012 at 5:17 am
    Reply

    I just attended a "pamper/spa" afternoon with MK today and guess what, Cancer was mentioned in one of the Sales Director's little speech too. […] Read MoreI just attended a "pamper/spa" afternoon with MK today and guess what, Cancer was mentioned in one of the Sales Director's little speech too. Her father's brain cancer and how she had time to spend with him blah blah blah. I feel stupid that I fell for the hype and will admit that I just signed up to sell and at the time it didn't occur to me that the Cancer woman was using it as a sales pitch, I just felt empathy for her. But now that I've read this and other's statements at pinktruth.com I was a sucker for only about seven hours. They should have kept me as a loyal customer instead of trying to trick me. Now I have to start all over looking for a makeup provider, but not until I use up everything that comes in my fantastic starter kit! Read Less

  • Lizzie Borden

    July 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    Reply

    Oh jeez, things are just getting worse and worse. I used to be a MK lady a long time ago, like 18 years ago. They […] Read MoreOh jeez, things are just getting worse and worse. I used to be a MK lady a long time ago, like 18 years ago. They had a booklet you could get from the company that listed all the cosmetic ingredients and explained what they were/what they did. If customers had questions I would look it up for them. If they weren't satisfied with that, I would call the company for more information. Also the standard at the time was to say "skin care class." It's wrong to imply that you're going to do someone's makeup for them, and then not do it. X( One big problem is that MK does not allow the consultants to touch the customers' faces or assist them in application. That was really frustrating to me. Unlike most of those girls, I know what I'm doing, and my hands were tied. I quit after a year. Read Less

  • Brittany Javier Craveiro

    September 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm
    Reply

    I TRULY appreciate this post.

  • Katie Bodray, Mary Kay Beauty Consultant

    November 13, 2012 at 3:40 am
    Reply

    I must say as a consultant for Mary Kay I am mildly horrified at the thought of using cancer as a way to build my […] Read MoreI must say as a consultant for Mary Kay I am mildly horrified at the thought of using cancer as a way to build my team. I have a firm belief that the products will sale themselves, I do not need to be pushy or make women try the makeup my way. Beauty and makeup are something that is very personal for people. I honestly just enjoy the time I get to spend with women sharing my knowledge of our products and offering them some tips and tricks I use in my daily beauty routine. Also, as a consultant I will go to pinktruth.com and read some of the stories/experiences posted there just to remind myself that I do not want to be like some of those "Scary Kay Ladies". My job is to help women feel better and beautiful, NOT pushed around and uncomfortable. Thank you for reminding me how I do NOT want to run my business! I am so sorry you had to endure that experience, but I promise we are not all like this. Read Less

  • Pattie Crider

    November 21, 2012 at 3:20 am
    Reply

    Not all Mary Kay consultants are alike! Nice post.

  • Jacq Shinde

    March 24, 2013 at 4:12 am
    Reply

    Sorry. But those that post stuff like this are just angry because they didn't make it. Sorry, if you don't make it to the top, […] Read MoreSorry. But those that post stuff like this are just angry because they didn't make it. Sorry, if you don't make it to the top, its not Mary Kay's fault. It's yours. Simple. Any job is what you make it. Mary Kay and other companies just give you the opportunity. So its your business to do what you wish. I sell Mary Kay, am I a director. Nope. However, if I fail at it, that will be on me. If I succeed, that will also be because I worked by tail off to make it. Nothing comes easy. people sign up thinking its going to be easy. Nope. Its just like any other job except we have fun! I love what Mary Kay has brought to me. So regardless if I make it or not, is up to me! Read Less

  • Hi Christina, I randomly came across your post and just wanted to add two cents as an MK director myself. I actually pride myself on […] Read MoreHi Christina, I randomly came across your post and just wanted to add two cents as an MK director myself. I actually pride myself on knowing what's in the products I offer my customers and have been complimented on my extensive product knowledge. (This information is readily available and presented to anyone who works with this company... I'm no savant.) As it's already been stated, not all MK reps are the same and I'm sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant experience. We are trained to put the customer's comfort first and actually provide above and beyond fantastic customer service. I'd recommend letting the director (or rep who is in contact with you) know how that experience made you feel-- maybe link to your blog post, so that they can learn from the experience and make positive changes. You are totally right in that the products should (and do!) speak for themselves. Women who fall in love with those first may be interested in learning more about the business side, (which is actually pretty fantastic) but it shouldn't be the other way around! Don't give up on all of us! ;) Read Less

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