THE BEAUTYCOUNTER BUSINESS STRUCTURE: What is direct retail and the MLM rumor?


One of the questions with which I’m most frequently confronted seems to be extreme skepticism about Beautycounter’s business model. Usually in the form of a question, such as, “Wow, so it’s basically like a pyramid scheme?”, or  the classic, “Are you, like, an Avon girl?” One of my favorites would have to be, “Wait, so it's an MLM? I’ve heard such sketchy things about those kinds of scams!”

To be entirely frank, I get it. 

I used to have the same negative connotations when I would see girls promoting weight-loss shakes on Instagram, holding Tupperware parties at friends’ homes, or shamelessly self-promoting a new beauty product in a massive email or text blast. 

After two years’ worth of work with Beautycounter, initially asking myself these same questions…

I’m happy to report that Beautycounter is, actually, factually, NOT an MLM.

To the whole “pyramid scheme” accusation… Pyramid schemes are illegal. Am I, a neurotic, type-A, hyper-sensitive, suburban white chick prone to illegal activities? Well, maybe that description belies the truth I’m trying to get at but, to answer for you, NO, I do not engage in illegal activities. I would be deathly terrified of even tying my Converse shoe strings together and throwing them over a telephone wire, let alone engage in an illegal pyramid scheme. Come on, people…

I REPEAT — Beautycounter is NOT a traditional MLM.


Beautycounter is direct retail, meaning you are not required to purchase product through a consultant, like me. You can purchase Beautycounter just as you would from any online shop, or through our strategic partnerships with J Crew, Goop, and occasionally Target, as well as our new brick-and-mortar shop in Soho, Manhattan. 

We rely on this multi-channel business strategy, and, most importantly, we are not required to recruit to build a thriving, successful business. 

Take me: Although I have an up-line, mentors and other consultants whose team I joined when I signed up, I actually have NO other consultants in my down-line or a team of my own. That’s right, I am, essentially, a one-woman act and have built a thriving, shockingly successful business without even recruiting a single other person in nearly two years. I didn’t even realize this was a novel occurrence until my mentors pointed it out and praised me for it. I do love the idea of recruiting people to join my team because I know how badly our mission needs more voices and passionate advocates, but it’s truly not necessary. 

Many associate Beautycounter with MLM’s because, as a consultant, you have the opportunity to build a team under you. We have no monthly sales quotas to fill, we, and our clients, are not required to purchase any minimum amount of product, and our compensation works as, essentially, the same structure as any department store sales’ staff would by earning commission. 

Now that we’re on the subject of corporate compensation, let’s try to glean some perspective. 

When you purchase from a chain store, i.e. Nordstrom, Macy’s, Barney’s, TJ Maxx, CVS, you’re helping contribute to the retirement of the millionaire or billionaire CEO (I see you, Kylie J). When you purchase from a small business owner (i.e., Beautycounter consultants like me!), you’re helping pay for that family’s groceries, you’re paying the electric bill, you’re paying student school loans, you’re paying for that individual person’s livelihood. 

In short, Beautycounter empowers women to be entrepreneurial, providing them the chance to make a significant income while simultaneously making a significant social impact, both through our personal health advocacy efforts and political advocacy work on Capitol Hill fighting for industry reform. 


The concept and stark difference between MLM and direct retail businesses was outlined very clearly in this Huffington Post article: 

Watch this video that does a fantastic job of answering the question, “But is Beautycounter one of those MLM/pyramid schemes?”

Then, I also suggest reading this very non-biased, well-researched article on Mamavation about the best MLM companies, based on ingredient safety (hint… Beautycounter scored the most outstanding ranking!)

I think it’s important to note that there are MLM Beauty brands listed on Mamavation’s article that rank very poorly, in terms of health and ingredient transparency. Rodan + Fields, Mary Kay, Avon & Arbonne, in particular, are frequently referenced to me by friends and acquaintances as Beautycounter’s competition. To this I say… I WISH we could consider them competition, because it would mean they upheld the same standards when it comes to consumer safety.

Unfortunately, these brands do not provide ingredient transparency to their consumers, and any claims of their products being “healthy”, “nontoxic”, or “safe” (you can read my post on why these marketing label claims are totally irrelevant here). My Beautycounter team and I have collectively met hundreds of women who have started with these brands and eventually transitioned to Beautycounter once they realized their health claims were totally empty. Perhaps most tellingly, there is a lot of traffic that goes from Rodan + Fields to Beautycounter… but absolutely no consultants that switch from Beautycounter to Rodan + Fields. That speaks volumes to the legitimacy of Beautycounter over so many of these other MLMs, in my most humble opinion. 

This difference distinguishes Beautycounter from all of these MLMs, as well as nearly every single other beauty brand (or for-profit business, in general!): we lobby for greater regulation when it comes to the laws governing which ingredients are prohibited, along with requiring total transparency for any ingredients known to have, or suspected of, harmful or questionable effects on human health. 

Beautycounter is in a league of its own, not only for the rigor with which we screen our ingredients for the sake of protecting our consumers’ health, but for selling with a purpose that is equal parts personally empowering as it is political significant. I know Rodan + Fields, Avon and Mary Kay entice their representatives with sales incentives like a brand-new Cadillac, lavish vacations and sole monetary perks, but Beautycounter not only rewards its consultants financially, but socially.

This Refinery 29 article talks about how one of our sales incentives is inciting POLITICAL CHANGE: 

I challenge every person who reads this to point out another company that is fighting for MORE regulation in the very industry in which they are doing business to the degree that Beautycounter has. 

There is a reason why Maria Shriver gave honorable mention to Beautycounter amongst her list of prestigious “Architects of Change”. Because no other company or brand is innovating from the traditional sales strategy and disrupting the beauty industry the way that Beautycounter continues to.

The personal care market is, without a doubt, moving in the direction of clean beauty and we are leading the way. 

Please read this Fast Company article that praises our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, one consultant at a time: 


Beautycounter’s Founder and CEO, the inimitable Gregg Renfrew, had plenty of experience in the retail and beauty industry, consulting for big-names like Bergdorf Goodman, Oscar de la Renta and a slew of other heavy hitters. She’s close personal friends with top CEOs, heads of VC funds, and Hollywood’s elite. She had the option to sell Beautycounter in all the big department stores. So why did she decide on direct retail?

Because she wanted a company that served a purpose greater than itself, that went above and beyond serving its own interests.

As a strong female competing in the big business world, she wanted to empower other women to become entrepreneurs, to become business owners, to have the confidence and courage to be their own boss. 

Of all the fellow Beautycounter consultants I’ve met, I’ve met single, working mothers who struggled to make ends-meet and then gained an additional source of income that helped lift their family out of poverty. I’ve met stay-at-home moms who used Beautycounter to gain a separate source of income so that they could escape manipulative, abusive husbands and still provide for their family. I’ve met young college students who were able to pay off their student loans and debt through their Beautycounter business. I’ve met women who were incredibly well-off financially who regained their sense of self-worth and confidence by creating a thriving business that makes a social impact. I’ve met artists who were able to fund their creative pursuits thanks to Beautycounter as a side hustle. Perhaps more than anything, I’ve seen women who were exasperated by the demands of working a 9-to-5 office job, able to replace their salary with their Beautycounter business, who could now take the time to drive their kids to basketball practice, eat breakfast and dinner with their children, and not miss a single school play because they had to work.

In a society that pays women 75 cents to every dollar a man makes, a company like Beautycounter that compensates women fairly, consistently and appropriately for their work is a rare gem to come by. 

Beautycounter has taught over 40,000 women entrepreneurship. I could have spent 100K going to a top business school, which I strongly considered when I moved back to the States, or started my own business without any experience, guidance or tools. I took a leap of faith and instead invested in starting my own Beautycounter business, signing up as a consultant when I was still living overseas. Beautycounter has been my grad school, en education in running my own business and what it takes to become a female entrepreneur. My singular regret is not signing onto this business sooner! Actually, at our annual Leadership Summit in Minneapolis last July, I happened to meet a recent college grad who, upon graduation, went full-time into her Beautycounter business and made it her career. 

Perhaps even more impressive, Beautycounter allows each individual consultant to run their business to their own liking, whether that’s earning a couple hundred dollars extra spending cash every month or earning a six-figure salary as a full-time career, depending on how much time they choose to spend growing their own businesses.


What I’m getting at is that this business holds tremendous power in its ability to ignite social change in the spirit of women’s empowerment.  

We are so, so much more than a makeup brand. 

We are a social movement, a political movement, an educational movement, a health movement, a women’s rights movement; we are a human rights’ movement. 

Your purchase is a political statement, a vote for the world in which you want to live. 

A purchase with Beautycounter is valuable because it is a vote that supports each of these important movements and social causes. 

Can you imagine how we would be able to change the world if more CEO’s held themselves to such high standards for corporate responsibility? We would live in an entirely different world, one that prioritized the planet, peoples’ health, the community and social values above a bottom-line. 


I hope you’ll consider making the swap for safer products from a company that upholds the highest standards for consumer safety, the environment, and social activism. 

Aside from purchasing product, the best way to join our mission is to become a consultant yourself! We need more voices to progress this movement forward.

If you are passionate about health, ambitious, driven, self-motivated and passionate about making a positive impact, becoming a consultant could be a wonderful opportunity to serve a greater purpose while also earning a substantial financial compensation. 

When I found Beautycounter, I wasn’t looking for a job; it fell into my lap and I never could have predicted I'd be here, on the Internet, across Instagram, writing emails and blog posts about my love for the company and sharing my passion for its mission. I though of Beautycounter as volunteer service, an adult extracurricular that would maybe earn me a little something to make it sweeter. My work as a consultant has become not only my livelihood, but my passion and purpose. There have been many times early-on where I doubted its legitimacy, wanted to give up, was mocked ruthlessly by friends and family for sharing my love of this company. 

But I never gave up. I let the mocking I faced from so many people become my jet fuel to power my conviction to succeed. I persisted and am so fortunate to have a thriving business whose success I can attribute to myself and the women on my team who have generously supported me throughout the process, through all the ups and downs, on both personal and professional development levels. 

I see it as my duty to pay this blessing forward by offering any women with the slightest interest to contact me about becoming a consultant. I would love to share this gift with anyone else who desires to be their own boss and create their own schedule, to become financially independent, to serve a purpose greater than themselves and contribute to a worthy cause, all while having fun sharing products that they genuinely love and use. I would love to help more women improve their health and confidence by joining our mission!


There is an $85 enrollment fee, which includes your personal shopping website, training, marketing materials, and two hero products: our Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion and a sheer lipstick of your choice. You then have the option to purchase a starter kit, which are not required, but if you have the means I HIGHLY recommend taking the investment opportunity as you receive a significant discount, only available at sign-up. Starter Kits are truly helpful when it comes to hosting social events, dropping off product for family and friends to try, and otherwise sampling. I started with the cheapest starter kit possible, but within two months regretted not taking advantage of the major discount; if you can swing it, I would encourage you to invest in the largest kit you can manage!

As a consultant, after sign-up you receive a 25% discount off all retail pricing. 

The majority of consultants earn back their investment within their first month, something that I, as your mentor along with the rest of my amazing team, would actively assist you. We have training videos, calls, FAQ sheets, a support line, sheets, materials and scripts that you can print off and study. This truly is a business-in-a-box, and Beautycounter makes it easy!

Beautycounter consultants make 25% commission, minimum, with an opportunity to make up to 35% commission, along with other perks and bonuses. 

You do NOT need to be active on social media or even have an Instagram or Facebook account to make your business successful. I could attribute maybe 10% of my business to social media platforms, the rest of my business I conduct through emails, socials, messages and one-on-one meetings. Some of our most successful consultants also have never been on social media!

You can go to my Beautycounter personal website,, to enroll as a Consultant. You’ll enter your personal information, including routing and bank account numbers for direct deposit, search “Jessie Coleman” when prompted for who you’d like your mentor to be. I will soon after receive an email informing me that you’ve signed up and will reach out to usher you through the entire process of getting started. 

I can’t wait to see what passionate, driven, intelligent women reach out to join me and Beautycounter’s mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone and improve the beauty industry for all. 

Thank you for reading and please message me with any questions!!

Xx Jess