~ Hey guys! A lot of you have been asking me about my beauty routine so I wanted to hop on and answer your questions! I can also teach you how to be your own boss and get rewarded for telling people about the products you love!! ~
Or something like that.
We’ve all gotten that message from a friend, inviting you to join their team for a product they’re selling. The ugly truth about most of these is that they’re MLMs, which are super predatory on people looking for some extra money.
Multi-level marketing companies (also referred to as pyramid schemes) are infamous for preying on people that need extra money by making promises of how much top sellers in the company make. In December 2020, fundera released a short list with some MLM statistics, the major ones being that only 25% of participants return a profit and 52% of participants believe that the company’s representation on how profitable the individual participant will become is misleading and dishonest.
Some popular items are found in these companies, going by familiar names such as Avon, Monat and Rodan and Fields. Humans tend to be creatures of habit, so it can be difficult to branch out from that devil you know, even if you might know you could be using a better product.
MLMs are set up to make sure that the representative’s costs will exceed commissions. They rely on their non-salary sellers to make revenue without providing any other type of compensation like healthcare. While many department store positions do include commission, the full-time positions come with benefits and the sellers don’t have to put any of their own money into the product.
While I don’t have all of the answers (for most things in life) I have a short list here of some popular MLM products and alternate options that you can purchase at almost any beauty counter.
Break up with: Rejuvenique Oil Intense by MONAT
New fave: No 3 Hair Perfector by OLAPLEX
Monat has become infamous thanks to their class-action lawsuit from customers claiming hair loss while using their products. While it’s tricky to pinpoint the exact pieces of the formula that are causing this, one of the big three products is the popular Rejuvenique Oil Intensive Treatment, the other two being the accompanying shampoo and leave-in conditioner of the line. This is a lesson that sometimes “natural” ingredients aren’t what’s best.
Olaplex has been described as “like no other” as it works with their patented bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, a molecule that works inside the hair to strengthen and repair any hair that’s been compromised. You can either apply it in the shower as a mask to rinse out or you can use it as a hair mask. While your hair might need a bit more of the treatment as time goes on to see the same results, Olaplex is safe to use in the long term.
Break up with: Got You Covered Mineral Powder Foundation by Arbonne
Arbonne is a company that tries to focus on the idea of nutrition and skincare positively affecting how your makeup looks. While this is totally true, Arbonne falls short by using fear-based marketing to make it seem like you NEED their products if you want to be thin and healthy. They use those five fun buzzwords: pure, cellular, detox, unprotected (as in you are without the product) and cleansing. These are words that trigger an emotional response and sound just scientific enough that it gives an illusion of truth.
While their main issues are shown with the nutritional side, the hunt I had to take to find the ingredients for the aforementioned product was a little disarming. I had to find a third-party site that had them posted which gives the impression those “nontoxic” claims for the cosmetics don’t hold up.
BareMinerals prides themselves on simple, natural ingredients. In fact, the loose powder foundation is made with just five ingredients: Titanium dioxide for sun protection; zinc oxide as a colorant and stabilizer; and bismuth oxychloride, mica and iron oxides as colorants. As I mentioned previously, natural and fewer ingredients don’t always mean the product is better quality, but comparing five natural ingredients to a long (and partially hidden) list that’s difficult to get through, BareMinerals seems like the safer choice.
Break up with: LipSense by Sevengence
Yes, we’re all on the lookout for a lipstick that won’t budge, but LipSense is not the answer. There seemed to be a good chunk of time where they were ruling the game as there simply weren’t any other liquid lips that could match the staying power. The issues with LipSense lay in some problematic ingredients.
LipSense contains propylene glycol, which can also be found in antifreeze. Another red flag is the amount of alcohol denat which not only dries your lips, but can cause serious health issues if ingested. Their products also include fragrance/parfum which can also be dangerous if ingested.
NYX decided to try their hand at a dupe and it was a success, partially due to the endorsement it received from several TikTok users. While the gloss will rub off by the end of the day, the color is truly transfer-proof. From personal experience, I know it stays on; I absolutely inhaled a burger for lunch one day and the color didn’t smear. I know your next question will be if anything can take it off with it being that transfer-proof and don’t worry, an oil-infused makeup remover will take it off (I love Clinique Take the Day Off removers). Plus, it’s hard to beat the $12 price tag versus LipSense’s $20 tag.
A word of caution about these products with the “infinite” staying power—they tend not to be as good to your lips so I would recommend using those sorts of products sparingly.
Break up with: Glimmersticks by Avon
New fave: 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil by Urban Decay
When I asked people for the brands they thought of when I said the phrase “beauty MLM” Avon was the most popular answer. The brand is certainly a smaller offender in comparison to some others on this list, but it’s an MLM nonetheless.
Another makeup staple is a good, creamy eyeliner you can count on. Glimmersticks are a popular option and Avon customers award them great marks. However, the very first ingredient is cyclopentasiloxane, which has been associated with skin and eye irritation as well as some toxicity.
Urban Decay tends to boast their vegan products when they can and with the exception of 12 of the shades, their 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil holds up. While these pencils almost cost twice as much as their Avon counterpart, the pencil can be used a few different ways beyond being a traditional eyeliner. The other plus for the pencil is it contains many hydrating ingredients like Vitamin E and Jojoba Oil.
Break up with: Touch Spray Foundation by Younique
With a fast-paced world and products becoming even simpler to use, the idea of a spray foundation seems like it would be a hot commodity. Younique released their Touch Spray Foundation following in the footsteps of Dior’s version and while Younique’s price tag is a little cheaper, the quality is lacking as well.
The main red flag for Younique’s is that it’s formulated with Macadamia Nut Oil, so anyone with a nut allergy should NOT use the product. Younique’s infamy stands more with the false advertising surrounding their Moonstruck 3D Fiber Lashes. The product was labeled as being made with 100% Natural Green Tea Fibers. The mascara was misleadingly marketed as having all-natural ingredients, which was found not to be the case, resulting in a class-action lawsuit. While the lawsuit does not involve the foundation, it raises red flags for the brand in general.
Dior’s Air Flash allows for buildable, custom coverage. The foundation is sprayed with a unique micro-diffusion system. It provides a 12-hour wear and is waterproof. You can achieve a smoother-looking complexion by either spraying in a Z motion directly on the skin or (what I personally recommend) spraying the pigment onto a brush.
Break up with: Lash Boost by Rodan & Fields
I know this one’s going to ruffle a few feathers. Rodan & Fields is well known for their skincare, their lash serum specifically. Rodan & Fields has actually faced a class-action lawsuit about the serum with customers complaining of adverse side effects inflicting irritation and swelling. Dealing with the suits has reached the point where in July, the company’s insurer announced they no longer wanted to represent the brand. It’s also another product that’s not safe for folks with a nut allergy as it contains almond extract.
Along with GrandeLASH’s serum being one-third the price of its Rodan & Fields competitor, it also works with more natural ingredients. L-Proline, one of the main ingredients supports healthy and fortified lashes. Hyaluronic acid adds moisture to the lashes to prevent breakage. The other key ingredient, Vitamin E, supports lash health.
Break up with: Perfecting Concealer by Mary Kay
New fave: Radiant Creamy Concealer by NARS
Mary Kay is a brand that makeup wearers have always been familiar with. It’s almost like everyone knows someone who sells Mary Kay—we even used it for our makeup when I was in show choir.
Admittedly, Mary Kay is one of the lesser offenders. The only real legal trouble they’ve seen is a back and forth with Ulta over their similar foundation match applications. However, it still stands that Mary Kay operates as an MLM, requiring consultants purchase at least $225 in inventory every three months.
Their concealer is one of their most popular products and a fantastic alternative is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. Currently sitting as the number one concealer in the U.S. the concealer has a buildable coverage while providing a moisturized, illuminated look. It’s sweat and humidity resistant with no alcohol in the formula.
Break up with: Nail Polish Strips by Color Street
New fave: Gloss Polish Nail Strips by Dashing Diva
One of the more popular companies in the past few years has been Color Street. Following their release in 2017, the nail stickers were seen on almost everyone’s nails. Jamberry was its only competition and it seemed like a perfect option for anyone who wanted to look like they just left the salon, but simply didn’t have the time to sit and wait for nail art to dry.
The first thing to catch the eye is the fact that Dashing Diva is almost half the price of Color Street. Both see about the same wear, but Dashing Diva has been shown to chip less frequently due to a tougher formula than their MLM counterpart. Removal is the other big difference, with Dashing Diva accommodating to the “on the go” wearer even more. The nails are removed by simply peeling the sticker off, as opposed to needing nail polish remover, so you can save time with removal as well.
So when someone pops in your DM’s with a “hey girl!”-esque message, politely turn it down and grab one of these products instead.