Arbonne versus Mary Kay: Which one is more natural?

Sheri says...I have been researching home based businesses. I really want to get into skin care/make up products. I am currently using Mary Kay and I am now looking into Arbonne. Which skin care line is the most natural and healthy for my skin and what business do women tend to benefit from most..Mary Kay or Arbonne or another skin care line I’m unaware of??? I’m just confused with so much information out there. Any help/suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks!


PS-I am all about being natural and using natural products. My current primary MD is a natural path doctor as well and I only take supplements at this time. I work at a nursing home and I see the effects of a stroke, heart attack, dementia and skin disorders/cancers. I want to be on the right track!

Left Brain Loves MLM (not):

The most challenging part of this question was finding ingredient lists for either Arbonne and Mary Kay products. [UPDATE: Since this post was originally published in 2008, it has come to our attention that Argonne has added ingredient lists to their website.] You Beauty Brains in training should always be suspicious of companies that don’t make their ingredient lists easily available on their websites. Are they trying to hide something? Maybe not, but this is sloppy and irresponsible. Consumers have a right to know what they are putting on their bodies.

Neither is Natural

Trying to pick which is more natural, Arbonne or Mary Kay, is like trying to decide which feels harder, pudding or jello. There’s really not much difference and neither of them are natural anyway.

After some searching (not easy), I found ingredient lists for products from both Arbonne and Mary Kay. First, Arbonne Tranforming Lift Formula.

Water, PEG-20 almond glycerides, glycerin, butylene glycol, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, palmitoyl oligopeptide, chondrus crispus (carrageenan), xanthan gum, glucose, cellulose gum, cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose, lecithin, tocopheryl acetate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl

palmitate, borago officinialis see oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, ascorbyl palmitate, panthenol, stearamine, hydrolyzed soy protein, glycine soja (soybean) protein, ruscuc aculeatus root extract, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ extract, pisum sativum (pea) extract, sodium hyaluronate thioctic acid, lactic acid, sodium PCA, polyamino sugar condensate, urea, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, betula alba leaf extract, trifolium pratense (clover) flower extract, symphytum officinale extract, nasturtium officinale extract, panax ginseng root extract, hypericum perforatum extract, carbomer, polysorbate 20, methylparaben, disodium EDTA, DMDM hydrantoin, diazolidinyl urea.

While they have loaded their product up with things like wheat germ extract, pea extract, and clover flower this doesn’t make them “natural”. There is nothing natural about Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Butylene Glycol or DMDM Hydantoin. This formula would fail any good granola crunching green group’s standards.

How about Mary Kay?

Mary Kay product: Timewise 3-in-1 Cleanser

Water, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Isotheral, Neopentanoate, Bentonite, Cetyl Dimethicone Copolyol, Octyl Pelargonate, Neopentyl, Glycol Dioctanoate, Myristyl Myristate, PPg-26-Buteth-26, Sorbitol, Sucrose, Distearate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Oleyl Oleate, Tocopherol, Comfrey Extract, Burdock Extract, Hops Extract, Yarrow Extract, Meadowsweet Extract, Hydrocotyl Extract, Coneflower, Extract, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethanolamine, Sucrose Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Carnauba Wax, Lactose, Methylparaben, Cellulose, Propylparaben, C9-15 Alkyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Lauramine Oxide, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Titanium Dioxide, Ultra-marines, Chromium Hydroxide, Green FD&C Red 4, D&C Red 33.

Natural? Forget about it. Only a natural newbie would be fooled by the greenwashing in this product. True green groupies would be aghast at the inclusion of Mineral oil and Propylene glycol in anything called natural.

This is not to say that neither of these products are good. Both appear to be formulated with some of the best technology available. I haven’t tried them, but they are likely to be high quality, highly functional products. But they certainly aren’t better (or more natural) than something you can get at the grocery store like Olay. They also aren’t more “natural” than a store brand like Burt’s Bees although even Burt’s “naturalness” is debatable.

Which Company Should You Work With?

If you want to know which to work for, I’d encourage you to read other people’s experiences of working for both Arbonne and Mary Kay. Be wary of anyone who is too positive or too negative.

My interpretation of these people’s experience is that it is tough to make money at either business. You have to buy your initial stock and then try to sell off all your product to get your money back. People do make money with both Arbonne and Mary Kay, but not many. They are both examples of Multi-level Marketing and these systems almost never make money for most hard-working sales people.

Multi-level Marketing Scams

For the most part, I find multi-level marketing (MLM) companies to be a bit of a scam. The good folks at Skeptoid explain the MLM problems nicely. Normally, a company pays you to sell for them. You get a salary or a commission and get compensated for your time. But in MLM companies, you have to pay the company for the privilege of selling for them. What a deal, not! And then you have to work hard to convert your friends and families into both customers and salespeople. Eventually, you will run out of people and your sales will stagnate and stop.

Start Your Own Business

If you are really interested in starting your own business, the first thing you should do is get the book Start Up Nation and head over to their excellent website. They provide all the steps you need to follow to get in business for yourself. My own suggestion is to start an online business because you can do all the work without leaving your house. Plus you don’t have to put up a huge investment as you do with companies like Arbonne or Mary Kay.

And if you want to start your own cosmetic line, find yourself a good cosmetic chemist and maybe they’ll help you start your own line.

Beauty Brains Bottom Line

Neither Arbonne or Mary Kay are more natural than the other. They use standard chemicals that everyone else in the cosmetic industry uses. Their business model is tough to follow to make any real money. And if you’re looking for a home business opportunity, these companies may not be the best choice for you either.

Do you have experience selling, buying, or using Arbonne or Mary Kay products? Leave your comments below.