an esthetician’s open letter to MLM sales reps 

Dear (insert MLM) sales rep,
Hi. This is a little awkward but, there is something I have to say.

I can’t pinpoint or blame any one incident that brought me to this letter, but rather the metaphoric symphony of sales pitches outside my door. You are in multi-level-marketing. You are so excited about your new business venture and want to meet with me about how I would be perfect for joining your amazing team or at the very least tell me about the extraordinary (insert product here) that is one of a kind and I must have. I know you don’t think you’re doing any harm by reaching out. You even think it’s no harm to invite me to every event and message me to check in and see if ready for an amazing opportunity from time to time. You flood my page with promotions and speeches, so trust me, I’m not out of the loop. What you don’t know is how my eye twitches and I bite my lip in frustration every time.

I am a licensed, certified, full-time esthetician and have been for nine years. It means I live and breathe makeup and skin. To understand skin at the cellular molecular level, (well enough to know to say that.) means I understand ingredients, much more than just tea tree and chamomile. I can pronounce salicylic and spell hyaluronic. I know, in and out, skin types and skin conditions (yes there is a huge difference) from working with skin every single day. When I recommend a product it’s based on education. Education I received in my schooling that was like charm school, were my nails and lip liner were regularly checked. Schooling that was as serious as studying anatomy and as scary as accidentally having my eye pads soaked in rubbing alcohol instead of lavender. I took this seriously, I lost half an eyebrow. When I use my knowledge, it is a customized solution completing the treatment for the problems clients come to me for. This is my passion, my livelihood, my everything. Let’s be real, I feel like you are posing as me, giving advice you are absolutely not equipped to give: not with your speeches, your you-tube videos, or even your failed attempt to be a working esthetician. I get it, we are freakin cool. We wear white on Wednesdays and every other day unless we’re doing makeup or it’s the weekend when we are in all black. (Makeup is messy, black never gets dirty). But, you’re not us, and the very least you can do if you wont stop pretending, is stop having the balls to approach me while pretending.

My mother worked in MLM for most of her life, and was pretty successful in it, so I understand trying to do your best for you family. She however, was selling home décor after going to trade school for interior design. I actually became an esthetician after selling Arbonne for a literal minute as a teen and realized I had no business selling anyone skin care or vitamins. Of course a rep played on my love for skincare and makeup and asked me out to coffee about the exciting business venture she had for me. I remember sitting in a living room full of them listening to the head rep. She told a magical story of how she used some moisturizer in one foil sample and woke up the next day screaming to her husband about how all her wrinkles were gone! He used what was left and guess what? All his lines disappeared too!! Everyone in the room hung on their every word. They scared the shit out of me. I think I sold one bronzer then realized I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew I enjoyed the field of skincare and makeup so, I got an education.

What harm are you doing, you’ll say. Well, you’re spreading the bad experience of being sold on products that do not work or harm the skin, making my co-workers and I the clean up crew. People are scared! They are buying things that made their hair fall out or their skin burn off, it’s hard for me to talk them down from the pole they shimmied up, far away from the land of products. You don’t know this side though, because you never see these people monthly and examine their skin through a loop lamp after the sale. You actually think you’re doing me a favor. After all, your company is about to take over Estée Lauder and then the world. Please honk at me from your Diamond level earned Mercedes when you do. If that company, founded by dermatologists was so amazing, guess what they would have done? They would have made a professional line to be distributed by the professional eye. They would not use unqualified pawns trying to make a buck to build their empire. Or how about that poisonous plant miracle cream I get harassed about? The only cream I will ever need for every client in my spa? If there was such a miracle product, guess what? I would have had it already, sitting not only in my treatment room, but my bathroom sink at home. I know that there is no one product that can do what no other product will, I have worked with many professional lines and have always believed that any reputable product is good if it is correct for your skin type, skin condition, and is used correctly. This will never include a line were you have the opportunity to blindly sell to the public i.e. your friends and family. There is no one product that is cookie cutter to fit every single client either.

So what am I asking here really and truly? Do I want to bash you, no. Do I knock that you are exciting and have high hopes of bringing in some extra income even though 90% of MLM never make a profit? No. Whatever. I’m asking that you think of the professionals. If you are really serious, educate yourselves, go to esthetic school or take makeup classes and become certified to give advice. You will make much more in a professional spa setting if you have what it takes to do what you’re trying to do. Be a rep for a professional line and travel to salon and spas delivering real business promises. If you’ve never taken a real makeup class or put makeup on collectively a bride, a prom client, and just a regular color match for a makeover, STOP.  If you have never touched someone’s face in your life and just jumped into the world of actually cleansing and moisturizing your face yourself, STOP. Stop spreading lies about your company taking over the world and being the only thing you will ever need. Even I know that in an entire professional line of 60 products, there will be a client that needs something the line doesn’t provide. Stop regurgitating the crap you’re fed by your higher-ups to everyone else. If you’re reading off a note card at anytime in your exciting new journey, stop. It is not fair to the consumer that you are making them believe in a solution that you are not equipped to deliver. It’s not fair to yourself that you’re trying to perform a job you are not able to do. It’s not fair to my industry that has worked so hard and is proud of the service we deliver.

At the very, very least, stop bribing me. I know you don’t realize you’re offending me, but you are. I’m trying to be a voice here for everyone that does my job. Normally, we laugh it off but I think the saturation of MLM and the confusion created falls on us, and enough is enough. We have a busy schedule waxing bikinis and performing extractions and lash extensions. At the end, we recommend products. That is OUR job. In my career, I have successfully sold over $100,000 of professional skin care and makeup with my education and trained eye as solutions to my clientele based on their skin type, skin conditions, and desired results. I monitor their results and adjust when necessary. I use lines that the professional industry acquire and have had extensive training in these lines to compliment my education. These are products I use every day personally and professionally. I have never sold a product from MLM skincare or makeup to my clients and sorry but, I never will. It wouldn’t benefit me, my business, or more importantly, the clients. There is no sales pitch in the world that will change my ethics on that. Not a free hostess gift. Not the opportunity to take down Estée Lauder. And certainly not a Mercedes.


The Esthetician, Makeup Artist, Beauty Blogger, hopeful cleaning crew retiree.

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More about Erika Lauren

Erika Lauren is a Boston born French girl spending her days as a workin girl and dog mom, and her nights as a nocturnal writer. She's a content creator for The Haute Mess, XOJane, and Email:


        1. Thank you SO much for this article. It’s like you literally read my mind. I have been trying to find the perfect words to say on a topic I am so passionate about, and you just nailed it. Thanks, again from a fellow Esthetician.

    1. Everything I have always wanted to say!!! AWESOME…insert tons of clapping

      1. Thank you Brittany! I am so happy to be a voice for you and everyone that feels strongly about this.

    1. This gives me LIFE! Thank you for saying what us esthes always want to say!

    1. BRAVA! BRAVA! Thank you!! I couldn’t have said it better myself!!

    1. The only thing worse is the esthetician I know who is trying to sell nerium to everyone she knows on Facebook, including me, even tho I regularly make post ridiculing it and, generally, the uneducated people selling it.

    1. This what what most of us estheticians have been trying to convey for years! Thanks for writing it perfectly!

    1. Ms. Lauren, I’m sorry to hear that your experience with the MLM industry has left a bitter taste in your mouth and I appreciate your honesty. But please do not perpetuate the myth that 90% of people that get involved in the MLM industry never make a profit. The truth is, most people that sign up as distributors do so to buy product at wholesale price and do not take the business seriously and therefore never make a profit. Because it is a business like any other, that takes educating yourself, learning new skills, and work. Another large percentage of people, still do not take it seriously, do not behave as professionals but want to generate enough income to cover the cost of the products they use. Unfortunately it sounds like most if not all of your interactions have been with people that fall into these categories. I understand your annoyance, but please do not perpetuate inaccurate information. 100% of professionals that I’ve met in the MLM industry, the people who understand that they are building a legitimate business, as a brick and mortar shop owner does, make money. The MLM industry worldwide creates more millionaires than any other industry and it generates more profit that the music and film industry.

      1. Dear anonymous. Unfortunately, the large percentages you reference to do make up 90%. Actually, experts put the number closer to 99%. 1% of MLM make a profit. The many people you speak of may very well make up this 1%. This is no myth, these are facts that you can look up for yourself. However, the purpose of this article does not lie in the interest of whether you can make money as in one of these companies or not… It is in the strong belief of my fellow estheticians and myself that these people are not equipped to try.

        1. 100%.

    1. I very much agree and thank you for stating our collective thoughts so thoroughly. Being in the skin care industry for, let’s just say a long time, it is very frustrating to experience the lack of knowledge by the consumer. I am always searching for ways to educate them about professional products and an at home routine, but it is a challenge! It will be a pleasure to share your article.

    1. I have read your article and I look at this as somewhat an insult. I say this maybe because you are a newer esthetician for I have been one since 1997 and not only have I educated for many professional lines I also owned my own spa and have worked at some of the nicest high end spas in Boston and also educated in them. And you are more than welcome to your opinion and some of the things you have said I value. But I guess I will challenge you to actually look into different lines because not all are the same look at why people may be selling these lines instead of knocking women, encourage them because if you are confident in yourself make other women confident. Although many people applaud how you wrote this I feel sad that you felt the need to degrade other lines or others peoples work or what they believe in. Come on ladies no one is better than anyone else and let’s remember we are in the service industry and that means we serve.Enough women look down on us and think they are better than we are let’s use these things to boost each other instead of taking each other down this industry is big enough for everyone ❤️

      1. An insult to who? To you, anonymous? If it insults you then I assume you are now selling a MLM line? If you read anything about me you would know I’m not “newer” and that I worked and received my education in Boston as well. I don’t know where in Boston you educated, but you sure as heck didn’t educate me! Never in this article do I bash any line fully. I’m addressing those who are unwarranted to sell it to the public. For you, being 20 years in the industry, should support that. So again, loud and clear, I do not support people pretending to be what they are not. I would not take medication from an unlicensed Doctor. I would not get my teeth cleaned from someone selling toothpaste. I will not support someone saying they are skin therapists trying to sell products to my clientele. Has nothing to do with feminism please don’t even go there on my page. This is my article, my blog, my career, and if you don’t like it, sorry. I’m not responding kindly to people trolling. If you work for a MLM company, you don’t belong here in my commentary!

    1. I am not in a MLM company but need to understand from your point of view how a person going into CVS or for that matter a department store to buy skincare products is any different than buying from someone who reps a line via a MLM company? I’ve never found anyone in any store that could tell me why one product is better than another or which would be best for my skin. In fact, I have had department store personnel behind the counter of well named brands sell me products that were horrible for me and they wouldn’t take it back when I tried to return it. And let’s face facts, most people buy their skincare at their local drugstore or department store. With all that said, I do believe that estheticians are a valuable source for those people who can afford to go. That they are professionals who take pride in their work (although I’ve had a few that tore up my face and left me red for days) and often suggest products to their clients. I just don’t think that anyone can say that all products that come from a MLM are bad, especially if the people who own the company are either doctors themselves or employ professionals who are trained in skin at the molecular level so that they know what exactly is needed in the creation of skincare products. A company who just employs chemists – yes, totally agree. It is clear that you are very good at what you do which is wonderful. My suggestion to you is to tell anyone who approaches you that you are not interested whatsoever in the company that they have presented to you. That you don’t believe that skincare should be in the hand of people who are not trained. I’m sure that given this info, they will back off (well at least I’d hope so). So back to my original question – what makes it any different if you buy skincare OTC vs from a person who has a MLM business?

      1. Buying skincare at a CVS is you making your own personal choice. No one is standing there telling you that this is perfect for your skin even though they don’t even know how many layers of skin we have or how a product works. Buying skincare at a department store where people have made a horrible recommendation to you in the past is the same problem as MLM… 99% of the time they are not estheticians and have never touched skin in there life! Even if they have a lot of company training, it is impossible to tell exact skin condition(s) (not type, condition) without directly working on the skin via analysis and extraction. I cannot make recommendations without hands on analysis. This is the problem with MLM, they have no skincare/ingredient education, experience, background 99% of the time and cannot make a recommendation through conversation. Example: have you ever thought your skin was dry so you bought a heavier moisturizer or was recommended one at a store and it made your skin breakout? You probably weren’t dry, you were dehydrated and needed hyaluronic acid (water binding) ingredients, not extra oil. This is the most common mishap and it can only be detected by GOOD estheticians. Even dermatologists have no real product recommendation knowledge. They will always either write a prescription or tell you to use Cetaphil. This is not a solution for the majority of the public. This is why my job exists. This is why I have an issue without someone trying to improvise my training as a fun hobby. And I hear your suggestions, of course that is what I do, I turn people down constantly in that manner. I wrote this for estheticians, not for the general public who can’t exactly relate. Think of your job and the reputation it provides you. Now think of someone you know waking up one day and joining a pyramid organization trying to do your job and contacting everyone on your social media blindly claiming they have the tools to do it better. Imagine this could damage the outlook on your profession and that it could hurt the general public. How would you and your educated team discuss this? I hope this all helps!!!

        1. Thank you for your reply. What I don’t understand is how do you know that these product lines are bad in terms of product ingredients? Just curious if you’ve ever taken a look at the ingredients and if they have clinical studies behind them. Wouldn’t it be good for you if indeed you researched them and found that the products are effective and do what they say they will? I’m assuming that you do this with any of the products you recommend and sell to your clients. Or is it that you feel that people without training should not be recommending solutions at all and hence never looked into any of the brands? Just curious – I’m one of those people who like to understand how people think.

        1. Dear “Someone”. My name is shared. You can look up my licenses. That is how forward faced I am with my opinions. Please trust that I wouldn’t write such things without the information to back it up. That is my job. Of course I have looked into ingredients. It’s not just that. Here’s a few points to answer your questions. 1) any line can be good if it is correct for your skin type and condition(s) 2) you have to know you’re skin type and condition(s) to get a proper recommendation for any line 3) as my whole previous response displays, no I don’t think untrained people should be doing this. I went to school, took boards to be licensed in 3 states, and have done this full time for 10 years, I don’t think anyone in MLM compares with that. 4) without knowing these things, you cannot understand what you’re recommending to someone. 5) there’s a MLM line out there that’s main ingredient is N***** Oleander, a toxic plant that will kill you if ingested. They will not release their clinical studies for this line, why? Because it’s toxic.
          So, It’s more about the way they are being sold than them necessarily being “bad”. Now, I feel this had all been explained in my article clearly and I feel I have taken the time today to answer your questions as well as I can, without a hands on, face to face appointment. If you were an esthetician, who I wrote this for, it would be no question.
          If you are a curious consumer, you can appreciate the free advice and direction for best interest in your skincare journey that I have taken the time to give you, and as a dear cyber client remember to see a professional, be careful what you use on your skin, and be well 🙂
          However, if you are an MLM, which I sense that from you continuing to question my research and challenge my view on MLM lines (which if you didn’t sell like you said, you would have no reason to challenge me so strongly) and I’m going to let you know you’ve met your quota of comments on my article.

    1. Actually, I’m not in an MLM – just a person who likes to understand all sides of a situation. I call it a conversation to gain knowledge.

      1. If you were reading to understand rather than reading to react, then I truly feel you wouldn’t have these comments because they’re all related to either questions that are explained in my article or are statements challenging my credibility to verse my opinion. If you’ve truly gained knowledge I’m happy for that but this isn’t an open forum to go back and forth and debate on either.

    1. Hi I’m from Singapore and I chanced on your article when I was researching about this extraordinary (insert product here) line of facial care products from an MLM company. Best friend has been telling me how good the stuff was to contain ingredients to get that fantastic clear complexion. One day he broke out in red itchy patches and we found out it was sun damage – made worse by the high content of using the glorified AHA/BHA cream, without sunscreen the morning after. I’m not sure but isn’t sunscreen one of the most important skincare step that is advised by all professionals (estheticians and dermatologists before recommending AHA/BHA products? Why isn’t he informed as an MLM seller then?
      Anyway he is still currently trying to get me on board by recommending me their gentle cleansers which I feel isn’t pH gentle, (had to use pH strips to test the samples out, found out its a whopping 9 on the scale) So even though I’m not educated in skincare, I will still seek google for help especially when I’m at the dining table with him, to find reviews and product ingredient analysis before trying them out. Alas, I feel this friendship is so difficult, having to constantly hear him talk about products and cashback values from unknown companies like, all the time.

      I hope this article will reach out to more people and spread awareness about these companies and their products that come with no proper accreditation from the professionals.

      1. Hello!! Good for you for using pH strips to test it out! Yes our skin is slightly acidic at about a 4.6 pH so a 9 is very alkaline (soap like) and not good for the acid mantle. The reason that he is not informed about the need to use SPF like an esthetician and dermatologist, is because he’s not an esthetician or dermatologist :-/ I’m sorry you have to sit through those dinners! It can so frustrating when a friend or family member get sucked in. Keep doing your research and spread the word 🙂

    1. You are amazing. Love every single line. I hear we went to the same school, E.G. 2006 grad myself. I cringe every time I get a FB message of “hey can I have a minute of your time?” Sure, would you like to book a facial? Lol
      Thank you thank you

      1. Yes thank you so much! Oh how wonderful, I started the year after you! I bet you had Mrs Giammarco? Our recent conversation on this matter inspired me to write this article. So happy you enjoyed it.

    1. Absolutely awesome article and responses to an over active “Anonymous” MLM sales rep! Your calm demeanor is commended; ignorance deserves no uproar! Education and continuous life learning is key to all novices like me and relying on experts like you! It also helps if your daughter is a Lisenced Aesthetician!! Thank you for your well written remarks!

    1. I wished I could’ve shared this article a thousand times on Facebook! You are so awesome! This is what I’ve been trying to say just not as articulate as you! Please keep writing articles on this and Happy Holidays.

    1. I love this article, I have been an Esthetician for 17 years and am constantly going to continuing education. I own a full service salon and now there is a MLM haircare line. I want to start a movement to educate Estheticians and stylists to not sell mlm in their salons. We need to protect our professionalism and licensing. It’s a respect thing! I lost it on fb when I found out a couple of hairstylist last were selling a mlm product. So unprofessional.

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