Multi Level Marketing Skincare: Miracle Products or Misinformation?

Unlicensed, Untrained "Specialists"

To become a partner, representative, or distributor for a multi-level, direct, or network skin care company, no skin care training is required or given. Company training for these companies involves mostly sales and business training, not skin care.

Multi Level Marketing Skincare: Miracle Products or Misinformation?

Knowing how the product actually works, what it does to the skin, what ingredients it contains, and what skin type it's best for, is far more important than how many dollars you can make for signing up as many people as possible, or what kind of car you could win. There are dozens of these companies, Mary Kay, Arbonne, Nerium and Rodan and Fields being some of the most common. Obviously not every company is the same and not every representative is the same. There are dedicated, educated, licensed sales people in the mix, but they are a minority.


The majority of licensed estheticians and cosmetologists have a very real disdain for these companies. Many of these representatives hound licensed professionals, especially estheticians, to join their companies with their referral, providing them with a very large second level client base. Getting new representatives "under" you in the pyramid is the most effective way to build income in multi-level marketing companies. Estheticians and cosmetologists with established, loyal client bases are tempting targets. I've experienced harassment myself from representatives that want me to sell for them, and heard many stories from licensed professionals who have "friends" who will stop at nothing to convince them to sign up.

Fake Before and After Photos

One of the most frustrating parts of these products it that the representatives have no problem using makeup, lighting, Photoshop, and camera tricks to fake their results. See a full description of these tricks in my Nerium post.

Apparently this lightening product takes away shine like foundation and fills in your brows, too!


Accurate Analysis

Licensed professionals spend a long time in school studying the health, physiology, diseases and care of the hair, skin, or nails. Passing a State Board exam and practical is required to obtain a license. Most states require continued education to maintain this license. This knowledge and experience is crucial to knowing which products to recommend to whom.

These skin care lines are generally very one-size-fits-all. The basic training these representatives get is which product lines are for dry, oily, combination, acneic, or mature skin. There are generally given very basic information on these skin types, relying on the client knowing which skin type they have. There are many conditions and diseases that these representatives simply aren't trained to recognize.

Dry vs Dehydrated

There's a huge difference between dry skin, which lacks oil, and dehydrated skin, which lacks water. It takes a proper skin analysis to tell the difference, something these representatives are not trained or licensed to do.

Clog Prone and Acneic

Not all acne is created equal. Recognizing the difference between pustular acne, cystic acne, and comedonal acne is crucial in recommending treatment options. The wrong kind of acne treatment can make existing acne far worse and can cause permanent scarring and discoloration.

Knowing when to choose salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, when to choose between chemical and physical exfoliation, when to use anti-inflammatories, and how to hydrate and moisturize skin without causing further clogging is essential.

Sensitive, Reactive and Rosacea Skin

Delicate skin needs delicate care. Knowing specific ingredients and how they affect sensitive skin is crucial. The phrase "safe for sensitive skin" has no legal requirements. Just because it's fragrance free (which is literally the only difference between a bar of Dove soap and a bar of Sensitive Dove soap) does not mean it's proper skin care for sensitive or reactive skin.

Knowing the difference between for sensitive, reactive, rosacea, and couperous skin will drastically change the ideal treatment options.


Pregnant women's skin requires very specific attention. Using certain ingredients, for example peppermint, sage, or salicylic acid, are dangerous for pregnant women. Dealing with melasma, or pregnancy mask, requires training and knowledge.

Contraindications and Allergies

Dealing with contraindications and ingredient allergies, especially with reactive skin, is essential to being an effective skin care specialist. Knowing that an aspirin allergy contraindicates salicylic acid is just one example of crucial knowledge that is not taught to these representatives.

Product Strength and Efficacy

These product lines very often contain the same ingredients and same strengths of drugstore skin care, but for much higher price tags. (After all, the money to pay for these cars and vacations has to come from somewhere.)

Professional skin care is made from much higher quality ingredients, at higher concentrations and higher strengths. The companies that create these products want them to be used by people who know how to use and recommend these products correctly. These products are only sold to licensed professionals because their misuse can create a higher risk of adverse reactions.

Test Their Knowledge

If you're considering purchasing or joining one of these companies, make sure to do extensive research. If a representative has approached you, ask them exactly how their product works and what it does to the cells of the skin. If they can't explain it without reciting the company's words, or simply giving you a premade pamphlet, be wary. Consult a licensed professional you know and trust about that particular company. Research reviews online.

Representatives: Get Licensed

Of course not every product recommendation is going to cause adverse affects. Not every representative is just in it for the money or independence.

If you're a representative, and you truly have a passion for skin care, and not just sales, become a legitimate skin care specialist and get an esthetician license. Not only will you learn about the skin, but you will gain a level of expertise that will help you in your business, if you choose to keep selling a multi level marketing skin care line once you've used and learned more about professional strength products.