This post contains an affiliate link for 100% Pure. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase. Know that I would not support a brand I didn’t 100% believe in. Ever.
Another Disclaimer: These are just my personal opinions.
Everywhere on the Internet these days, I’m seeing Beautycounter. And everywhere off the Internet, I’m also seeing Beautycounter. Some of my favorite wellness bloggers and other influencers swear by the stuff and promote it all the time. So, I became very intrigued. People I trust who create content that I love are promoting a product that claims to be clean and safer for the skin.
At the same time I began seeing Beautycounter all over Instagram, I began to see local influencers posting about these shake shops that were popping up around Cleveland. The names include: Lakewood Nutrition, Parma Nutrition, Beachwood Nutrition. Again, it was people who I trust that create amazing content promoting these shops.
The shakes look incredible. There is a huge variety of flavors, including birthday cake and peanut butter Oreo. The shakes are always filled to the brim and topped with tasty Oreo chunks or cake crumbles. There are also teas in a variety of interesting flavors, like Skittles and green gusher. On the shops’ Instagram pages, they describe themselves as serving nutritious shakes and energizing tea and coffee. The aesthetic of these shops is also very trendy and clean. And the shakes are under 250 calories. What could be better, honestly! All this being said, I was naturally interested in visiting one of these “nutrition” shops.
I’m still fairly new to the Cleveland area, and I love spending my time driving and driving around to a bunch of different places all around Northeast Ohio. What can I say, I love exploring! So, I decided to go to one of the new shops that opened near where I live, called Heights Nutrition.
Trying a Herbalife Shake Shop… Without Knowing It
I was really excited when I arrived at Heights Nutrition. I walked in and immediately was overwhelmed by the huge menu of flavors. Being a vegetarian, I try to avoid whey protein. So, I ordered a vegan peanut butter Oreo shake and a green gusher tea (you have to purchase both a shake and a tea, something I was surprised by). Then, whilst I was waiting for my drinks to be made, I noticed that the whole wall was filled with Herbalife products. And that’s when I realized- this was a Herbalife front.
I’d heard of Herbalife before. Herbalife has been around since the 1980s’, and it is a company that creates and sells dietary supplements, weight loss products, and sports drinks among other various “nutrition” products. This company is structured like LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Avon, and Beautycounter. In extremely simple terms, these companies rely on having individuals sell products to the public by word of mouth while also recruiting other individuals to sell the products. Typically, the person selling the products makes commission not only on their own sales, but also on the sales of those they have recruited. I’ll talk more about this later.
Herbalife is Practicing False Advertising
My problem with these places in Cleveland selling Herbalife products is that nowhere on these shops’ Instagram pages does it straight up say it is a Herbalife store. This is false advertising. And the owners should be more honest! Herbalife has a history of problems. The company has been sued for negligence and fraud and the products have been said to cause liver damage. There have been many more lawsuits other than the one that I have included. So, of course I would want a store to be honest about the products they are using. The shake and tea weren’t even tasty. The shake was watery and the tea didn’t even taste like tea. It tasted more like Splenda mixed with other sugar substitutes. I threw both drinks away immediately, wasting my eight dollars.
So, how does this relate to Beautycounter? It’s the multi-level marketing (MLM) business structure that’s more of a problem for me than the products themselves.
Is Beautycounter an MLM?
So Beautycounter claims to be “clean” and non-toxic. While Beautycounter’s products are more vigorously tested and contain less heavy metals than products of other beauty companies, they are not 100% organic, non-toxic, or sustainable. Being “all natural” means almost nothing these days. With food products, “all natural”, according to the USDA, only means that the food is minimally processed and does not contain artificial ingredients and preservatives. However, an all natural food may contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals. The same goes for cosmetics. Like any company Beautycounter has a variety of complaints, many about customer service. I’ve linked other helpful blog posts in this paragraph.
Beautycounter is doing a lot better than other cosmetics companies when it comes to testing and using less harmful ingredients. It’s the structure of the business that is problematic.
What is an MLM?
So, is Beautycounter an MLM? Yes, it is. MLM stands for “multi-level marketing.” This is a business structure that requires people sign up to be independent consultants to sell the company’s products. They make only a little bit of commission on the products sold, and consultants are often pushed to recruit other people to sell the products. Consultants make commission off of the sales of their recruits and more commission off the recruits of their recruits. This forms a pyramid-like structure in which the people at the very top are making money off the people at the bottom who are usually (96%-99% of the time) losing money.
Lots of uplines (if you were in an MLM, an upline is the person who recruited you) say that it’s easy to recruit others, but in reality it is not. The pool is constantly shrinking as more people are recruited into different MLMs or come upon anti-MLM information (like this blog post). Because of this, MLMs frequently target vulnerable people. Examples are new moms, single moms, military wives. These are people who are looking for purpose and community, something that many MLMs promise. MLMs aren’t illegal, but pyramid schemes are. And MLMs are basically pyramid schemes with a product.
Is Beautycounter a Pyramid Scheme?
So, how do you identify a pyramid scheme? Is Beautycounter a pyramid scheme? There’s a lot to consider when coming to an answer.
I recently watched an incredible documentary by Vice on the MLM company LuLaRoe. It described the experience of three women who sold product for the company. It described how much money a person had to spend to start selling LuLaRoe, which was $5,000. And many women never earned any of the money back. How LuLaRoe and other MLM companies are structured is that the people at the top, or those with the most recruits, earn the most in commission. They are rewarded with cars, vacations, and other glamorous things (that aren’t actually free, by the way!). They also earn money from the recruits of their recruits.
It’s a cycle. And this cycle makes it virtually impossible for sellers without recruits or with very few to make back the money spent to start selling the product. LuLaRoe also targets stay-at-home moms as a way to make extra money for their families from home. LuLaRoe had multiple lawsuits filed against them and issues with quality that brought down even the highest making sellers, as described in the documentary.
Many MLM companies are pyramid schemes in disguise. A pyramid scheme is an illegal business structure in the United States and many other countries. So, what is a pyramid scheme? Participants make money by recruiting new participants. The business or promoter usually promises high earnings in a short period of time, questionable or illegitimate products or services are sold, and there’s a complex commission structure. The main goal is recruiting. Pyramid schemes are illegal because they will always collapse. It’s impossible to keep gaining participants, which makes the business structure unsustainable. The only difference between an MLM and a pyramid scheme is product. However, in a lot of MLMs (Beachbody is a great example), the products are irrelevant.
So, is Beautycounter a Scam? Is Herbalife a Scam?
I can’t flat out say whether Beautycounter or Herbalife are scams, especially Beautycounter because it is fairly new. Herbalife, because of the lawsuits filed against them, is more questionable. But the business structure is why I can’t recommend Beautycounter, though I haven’t 100% completed my research. Beautycounter is much less expensive to join than other MLM companies, which makes it a little more sustainable from a business perspective. There are also many, many positive reviews of the product- meaning that it’s legitimate. However, people do make money from recruiting other sellers and make commission if promoted to a higher consultant level.
Here’s a great post on Beautycounter as a business. I can’t personally speak for the products, but because of the business structure, I can’t recommend Beautycounter and don’t plan on purchasing from them. But all in all, I don’t believe the company and its products are a scam. I will say, though, that recruiting people by telling them how easy it is going to be to sell products and recruit people when in reality it isn’t is a scam. Then blaming the recruits for their failure by saying they just aren’t working hard enough? That all the promises you made about the “business” being easy are false? That sounds like a scam to me.
Green Beauty Alternatives
Here are some clean beauty companies that I love:
OY-L: luxury skincare products local to Cleveland- they are based in Akron, Ohio. They use all plant-based ingredients, besides honey. I am obsessed with their Face Wash. It is made with Manuka 20+ honey and essential oils, making it great for daily use. And, honestly, it’s the best smelling skincare product I have ever used!
Dr. Bronners: pure-castile soaps and organic lotion, hand sanitizer, lip balm, toothpaste, and other body products. I use their lip balm regularly. I also use the peppermint liquid soap to heal my tattoos and I’m obsessed.
Meow Meow Tweet: a super adorable, whimsical brand that creates small-batch skincare products. All of their products are made with organic vegetable butters and oils and cold-pressed essential oils. The brand is focused on giving back and reducing plastic packaging while also being vegan and cruelty-free! I use their Everyday Sunscreen and I’m smitten; it smells so good! I’ve also heard great things about their deodorant. Here’s another natural deodorant I adore.
And there are my unpopular opinions. Again, I am not trying to put down anyone that supports Beautycounter and other MLMs, or anyone that chooses to sell their products. These are only my personal thoughts!
Thanks for reading! Any thoughts on Beautycounter, Herbalife, or alternative brands? Leave a comment below!