• Kate Markovitz

Direct Sales, MLM, Pyramid Scheme + Beautycounter Opportunity: Honest Thoughts from a Consultant

Updated: Feb 27, 2021

I want to review the Beautycounter business opportunity from the inside.

I've seen a couple of reviews that are sharing their perspective from the outside. They are quick to make assumptions. I question how much they can know if they haven't engaged with the company directly (just as I cannot speak to other MLM companies that I have not been apart of... HOWEVER, I do have years of experience from the inside of other direct sales brands).

I also cannot take reviews seriously when they can't even spell the company name correctly. I've seen Beauty Counter, BeautyCounter, and more. Drives me a little crazy - I'm a Type 1 Enneagram if that means anything to you. ;) For the record, it's Beautycounter - one word, one capital.

Beautycounter: A disruptive safer skincare & beauty brand focused on 3 pillars: education, formulation, and advocacy.

Gregg Renfrew (CEO + Founder) set out to change the lucrative and secretive beauty industry. She wanted it to be powered by people (an independent base of consultants) and commerce (safer products) to create change quickly.

At first, Gregg also has a negative bias towards MLM, until she also looked at the model and thought "we can do this better, too."

Thus far, her methods have been effective as Beautycounter was the #1 Trending Beauty Brand in 2018, Most Innovative Company from Fast Company and Women Wear Daily's Best Performing Brand - Small Cap. These awards are in addition to being a certified B Corporation since it's launch in 2013.

If you think I'm going to give a glowing review just because I'm a consultant, please keep reading. It's important for me to be honest. There's much I love about this business and job, but like any position, I have some hang-ups and cons to share.


  • Beautycounter's Model

  • Multi-Level Marketing: Pros + Cons

  • Pyramid Scheme Discussion

  • Beautycounter Specifics: Compensation, Income, Cost, Inventory, Incentives, Training, Pros/Cons, etc.

What is Beautycounter's model?

Beautycounter's model is called direct retail, direct sales, or to direct-to-consumer (I've heard/seen all 3 mentioned). What does this mean?

You can shop with Beautycounter via multiple channels.

  • e-Commerce (online) - with a consultant or without a consultant

  • Friends & Family - consultant base

  • Retail storefronts (New York City, Denver + pop-up shops in Nantucket and other cities throughout the year) - credit to a consultant or without a consultant

  • Limited time Partnerships (Sephora, Target, J Crew, etc)

Is Beautycounter a Multi-Level Marketing Company?

Multi-level marketing is defined as "A sales system under which the salesperson receives a commission on his or her own sales and a smaller commission on the sales from each person he or she recruits to become a salesperson."

By this basic definition, the Consultant field of Beautycounter could be described as an MLM set-up. I receive 25-35% commission on orders from direct customers and 5-9% (or 0%) on team members in my downline. I do not receive a salary.

Pros and Cons of MLM-style


  • What you put in, you get out (with a good compensation plan).

You are in charge of your potential with this style of company. It may not suit people who are not going to stick to goals or push themselves (though you could ask your mentor for help), it's great for a self-motivated and hard-working individual. Many promise "the sky's the limit," and while that may be true in some regard, it will take a lot of work to get there. There is no such thing as a free lunch (see I was listening in Economics).

  • Freedom.

No punching the clock. No set work hours (unless you create them). This was huge for me. I need freedom in my job to accommodate my creative mind - I can work different aspects of this business based on my energy. This was also a PERFECT solution for me as I raise our daughter. I can be home but still, fit in work (which I wanted to do) in pockets of time! In general, I think MLM-style are perfect opportunities for moms who still want to have a job.

  • Flexibility.

If you want to ramp up your business and earn more one month, you can! If you need to take a breather and have something personal going on, you can take a step back for a month. Ultimately, no one can do your business but you (for better or worse!) During 2020-2021, I've had months of great growth and months of taking steps back to focus on our family (selling, moving, renovating, etc) and honestly pandemic burnout. I was still able to have my best year yet, despite the fluctuations in work hours, and I feel grateful for the work I put in years prior.

  • Discount on products.

In most companies that implement this system, consultants enjoy a discount on the company's products. While this is not always the case, the majority of people who sign up for this are doing so because they enjoy the products and want to shop with a discount on what they are already using.

  • Choose your mentor & coworkers.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. I chose my mentor because she is an entrepreneur, she's grown successful businesses, she understands how to do this work. I have women on my team who are similar to me - we all get along wonderfully. Not to mention the extended group of women I've come to know and admire. Total community over competition mindset.

Your team and mentor could just as easily be a con. If you sign up with the wrong mentor who pressures you or makes you feel like you have to spend more money than you are comfortable with or you fall into a negative crowd, this would miserable. However, YOU are in total control of this. Choose someone you want to learn from and a team that inspires you. And please, don't blame the industry if you make the wrong choice.