Welcome to Just the FAQs, a dedicated site designed to answer commonly asked questions about Mary Kay. Whether you're a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, a prospective Independent Beauty Consultant, a customer or simply a visitor, this site provides clear and easy access to important information about the Mary Kay opportunity and the founding philosophies upon which the Company was built.

We've chosen a few topics to get us started, but keep in mind, this is just the beginning. Stay tuned – we'll be adding more topics in the weeks ahead.

I've heard about a "gold ring test" that supposedly demonstrates the presence of lead in lipsticks. Is that test reliable?
No. The so-called "test" has absolutely no scientific validity and, in reality, is nothing more than urban legend. Mary Kay does not use lead or lead-based ingredients in its lipstick or in any of its other skin care or color cosmetics. Because lead occurs naturally throughout the environment, however, there are trace amounts of it in most consumer products, including most lipsticks and other cosmetics. Any naturally occurring trace amounts of lead in Mary Kay lipsticks or other of the Company's products are well within the daily safe levels of exposure as established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

With regard to the so-called "test" mentioned above, the dark substance that appears during the test is really oxidized metal from the ring itself – just as your silver turns black when exposed to the air for a long time. A dark substance is released when you polish your silver, which is the same thing that happens in this so-called test. The appearance of the dark substance has nothing to do with the presence of lead.

Ingredients that Mary Kay uses in its lipstick meet all requirements for cosmetic ingredients. Mary Kay performs thorough, ongoing reviews of its products and ingredients and works closely with our suppliers to ensure the safety of all ingredients. We have been a recognized leader in the area of product and ingredient safety for many years and steadfastly stand behind the quality and safety of our entire product line. Mary Kay® products are safe, and you can continue to use them with complete confidence.
Do Mary Kay lipsticks contain lead?
Mary Kay does not use lead or lead-based ingredients in its lipstick or in any of its other skin care or color cosmetics. Because lead occurs naturally throughout the environment, however, there are trace amounts of it in most consumer products, including most lipsticks and other cosmetics. According to the American Council on Science and Health, potential trace amounts of lead occurring naturally in cosmetics are not harmful to the consumers who use those products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have set daily safe levels of exposure for adults, children and pregnant women. Any naturally occurring trace amounts of lead in Mary Kay® products are well within the limits established by the FDA and EPA.

Ingredients that Mary Kay uses in its lipstick meet all requirements for cosmetic ingredients. Further, Mary Kay performs thorough, ongoing reviews of its products and ingredients and works closely with its suppliers to ensure the safety of all product ingredients. Mary Kay has been a recognized leader in product and ingredient safety for many years and stands behind the quality and safety of our entire product line. Mary Kay® products are safe, and you can continue to use them with complete confidence.
I recently came across an online encyclopedia with information about Mary Kay Ash and her Company. Is the information about Mary Kay in online encyclopedias accurate?
While the Internet has provided an unlimited opportunity for the free exchange of ideas, unfortunately, there is usually no system in place to verify the accuracy of information posted in such online forums. It is virtually impossible to monitor and correct such postings because, in many cases, the information changes from day to day, as various participants edit the entries anonymously.

Some online encyclopedias describe their format as "free content." That means anyone may post an article, and anyone may edit that article. In other words, these online encyclopedias are written and maintained by readers who are making numerous changes each hour to any one article.

Although participants are sometimes asked to provide references when they edit articles, this free exchange of ideas results in constantly changing text and a lack of consistency that can compromise the accuracy of these online encyclopedias.

Naturally, the most reliable source of information about Mary Kay is the Company itself, so if you have questions or concerns about something you've read online, we encourage you to consult this Web site, any of our other Company-produced materials or, perhaps most helpful, the books Mary Kay wrote herself: Miracles Happen; You Can Have it All; and Mary Kay On People Management.
How much money can I expect to earn as an Independent Beauty Consultant?
The earning opportunity associated with a Mary Kay business is certainly open-ended; however, it is impossible to guarantee that a particular level of income can be earned. The amount of money you may make as a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant will depend upon many factors including your personal goals and the amount of time and effort you choose to invest in your business. Many Independent Beauty Consultants operate their businesses on a part-time basis with the goal of meeting short-term financial goals – such as the purchase of holiday gifts for their families, to pay for a family vacation, school clothes or tuition for their children. Meanwhile, others decide to build their Mary Kay businesses to the point at which it becomes possible for them to quit their jobs and pursue their Mary Kay businesses full time. The bottom line is that how much you earn in your Mary Kay business is strictly up to you. So in the words of Mary Kay Ash, "Set your goals and hang on to them until they are a reality. You've got to believe it before you will ever see it. Whatever the mind can perceive and believe, you can achieve!"
What are the sales and marketing approaches that will help me be most successful in a Mary Kay career?
Mary Kay made it clear that she did not like pushy salespeople. While tenacity and perseverance are certainly important qualities for success in any sales-oriented business, we have found that the most successful Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants approach sales and recruiting by consistently applying the Golden Rule; using their own good judgment along with a loving and caring spirit. As a result, when making decisions about your sales and recruiting activities, we always recommend that you put yourself in the other person's shoes, remembering to treat them only as you would want to be treated. As Mary Kay often said, "You have a wealth of influence, and everyone you meet forms an impression of you by your words and actions. So make the Golden Rule your way of life."
The Mary Kay Business Opportunity: What Does It Really Take to Succeed?

Independent Sales Directors and Independent National Sales Directors talk about living their dreams, and you question just what it takes to get there. You may have heard them talk about the flexibility of a Mary Kay business and how it has enabled them to spend quality time with their families. They can enjoy such rewards as the use of a Career Car and monetary earnings that perhaps allowed them to give up their full-time jobs. How is it possible to have it all?

Make no mistake: These women have worked very hard to get where they are today. When people hear Mary Kay Ash's philosophy of "God first, family second, career third," they may misinterpret what she meant. Keeping one's priorities in balance doesn't mean you don't have to work hard or make sacrifices to be successful. What does set the Mary Kay opportunity apart from a typical corporate job, however, is that you have more flexibility.

Mary Kay Ash was known for being one of the hardest-working people you'd ever meet. As the founder of what she called the "Five O'Clock Club," her day began no later than 5 a.m. She chose to sacrifice an hour or two of sleep to achieve a jump-start on her day. Many Independent Beauty Consultants choose to join the Five O'Clock Club so they can accomplish what they need to before dropping their children off at school. On the other hand, maybe sleep is too precious to you, and you'd rather focus the bulk of your efforts during the second half of the day. Or perhaps you'd rather schedule your appointments around your children's activities, holding skin care classes while they are in school. Or maybe you prefer to work your business on weekends instead. The choices are limitless.

By contrast, in corporate America, odds are good your employer expects you to be at the office, at a minimum, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You probably don't have the flexibility to decide your own work hours. You might be lucky enough to work for a company that offers flextime, but nonetheless, it's rare you would be able to pick your own hours as you see fit.

As a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, you are your own boss, so you get to decide what time you begin and end your work each day. You determine your own schedule and the rate at which you want to climb the ladder of success. If your goal is simply to supplement the income from your full-time job, the number of hours you devote to your Mary Kay business will likely be relatively small. On the other hand, if you choose to replace and/or exceed your income from your full-time job, you should expect to put in longer hours in order to accomplish that goal.

The point is that you're free to choose your destiny. You determine the balance of faith, family and career that's right for you.

"Someone once said, 'Mary Kay is the best-paying hard work in the world.' I believe that we all have material wants and needs, so determine how your Mary Kay business can help you achieve them." – Mary Kay Ash

How much inventory do I need to purchase as a new Independent Beauty Consultant?

You've just purchased your Starter Kit, and now you are wondering how much inventory you should order to get your business started. The first thing to remember is that purchasing inventory is an individual decision – and it's certainly not a requirement for you to begin your Mary Kay business. We always recommend that you determine what activity level you intend to pursue in your Mary Kay business and then, if appropriate for your personal circumstances, invest in a level of inventory that supports that activity.

As you contemplate your decision, you may want to consider some of the reasons why Mary Kay Ash believed maintaining an appropriate amount of inventory was beneficial. Among other things, Mary Kay always enjoyed the instant gratification and excellent customer service she could provide a customer who wanted her skin care or color cosmetics products on the spot. She knew that doing so could help build a strong customer base and create loyal customers for life. She also believed that having inventory on hand could help an Independent Beauty Consultant feel more motivated and committed to her Mary Kay business.

If you choose to purchase inventory, you can always rest assured that there will be a multitude of Company-published materials available to you that contain excellent sales tips aimed at helping you successfully sell your products. You also have the opportunity to ask other successful independent sales force members, such as your Independent Sales Director, for tips and advice on selling Mary Kay® products. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh viewpoint to help you generate effective strategies for growing your business.

Finally, if you change your mind or decide that a Mary Kay business is not for you, you can take comfort in knowing that the Company will repurchase, at 90 percent of your original net cost, original and unused Section 1 products, provided such items were purchased by you from the Company within one year prior to return.

How often does Mary Kay introduce new products? How does that impact an Independent Beauty Consultant's business?

Mary Kay Inc. is always looking at new products in order to keep up with current trends and be competitive in the marketplace. In a marketplace driven by innovation, it is critical to stay competitive by introducing new products. Targeted products, that treat special concerns and work along with our core skin care line, are introduced to the product lineup to meet needs that are expressed by consumers. Limited-edition color items are introduced periodically to reflect the trends of the season. Our core product lines are updated once every 3 to 5 years to take advantage of the latest innovations in skin care. And although we don't do it often, we occasionally update our packaging to ensure that we continue to stay on trend and keep our presentation current and fresh. Remember that we're in the fast-changing cosmetics business. Much like the automobile, fashion and consumer electronics industries, in the cosmetics industry, newness is what attracts customers to the brand.

The bottom line is that innovation is essential to remaining competitive in our market. While change may be uncomfortable at times, it demonstrates the willingness of both our Company and the independent sales force to deliver products that excite and address the needs and desires of their customers.

With respect to inventory, our goal is to communicate to the independent sales force any changes to regular-line products at least three to six months in advance. This allows for adjustment of their inventory levels and helps them make informed decisions in the meantime in regard to their product orders and needs. In addition, whenever significant changes are made, we share tips to help them manage their inventory in the months leading up to the changes.

What is a pyramid scheme?
Pyramid schemes are illegal operations in which compensation for representatives' activities is based primarily on recruiting, not on the sale of legitimate products or services. Typically, in a pyramid scheme, inventory is not repurchased by the company.

Companies operating such scams are not permitted to be members of the Direct Selling Association ("DSA"). Mary Kay and the DSA have strongly endorsed effective anti-pyramid legislation and enforcement. Many states, including Texas, have adopted effective anti-pyramid laws.

We encourage anyone considering a direct-selling opportunity to find out if the company in which they're interested is a member of the DSA, of which Mary Kay is a longtime member. Member companies pledge to abide by and uphold DSA's strict Code of Ethics. Included in the DSA Code of Ethics is, among other things, the requirement that the member company repurchase inventory from the representative at 90 percent of the original net cost. This is a key distinguishing feature that allows law enforcement officials to easily identify a legitimate direct-selling company.
Is Mary Kay a pyramid scheme?
Absolutely not. Pyramids are illegal. The following points concerning the Mary Kay marketing plan are of particular importance in distinguishing it from illegal pyramid schemes:

A. There is one wholesale sale (Company to Independent Beauty Consultant) and one retail sale (from Beauty Consultant to customer) of Mary Kay® products. There are no levels of wholesalers between the Company and the consumer through which products pass at varying discounts before sales. Thus everyone, whether Independent Beauty Consultant or Independent Sales Director (Sales Director of sales unit of Independent Beauty Consultants), purchases all cosmetics products directly from the Company at the same published wholesale prices for resale to consumers of their choice. Everyone has the opportunity to buy at the same discount irrespective of their status on the independent sales force career path.

B. Everyone recruited as an Independent Beauty Consultant is recruited to sell products at retail. Independent Beauty Consultants do not recruit others to buy products from them. All Independent Beauty Consultants are thus aware that all products purchased by them are for sale at retail to ultimate consumers (or may be returned to the Company for repurchase).

C. Every Mary Kay independent sales force member begins as an Independent Beauty Consultant with the purchase of a Starter Kit. No compensation is earned by anyone on this Starter Kit purchase. The products and sales tools included in the Starter Kit are designed to introduce a new Independent Beauty Consultant to Mary Kay and help her begin building her business. No "investment" is required and no status on the independent sales force career path may be purchased by the payment of fees or by the purchase of a given quantity of products from the Company or anyone else. There are thus no "sales" of "levels", "positions", "distributorships" or "franchises" by the Company or any of the Independent Beauty Consultants.

D. Elevation from Independent Beauty Consultant to Independent Sales Director does not involve the payment of any fee, rebate, premium or hidden discount of any kind to either the Company or anyone else. Elevation, at the election of any Independent Beauty Consultant, is based strictly upon individual effort and ability.

E. Any Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant who terminates her contractual relationship with the Company may return unsold products in original and unused condition, and these will be repurchased by the Company per the terms of the Independent Beauty Consultant Agreement at 90 percent of her original net cost.

F. The Company pays all commissions directly to Independent Beauty Consultants and Independent Sales Directors. The commissions are paid based upon monthly purchases and recorded on computer reports furnished with the commission payments. The entire marketing structure is based on and intended to foster retail sales to ultimate consumers. Commissions paid on any products returned for repurchase by the Company by an Independent Beauty Consultant terminating her Independent Beauty Consultant Agreement, pursuant to Item E above (i.e., products not sold at retail), are charged back to the commission recipient.