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This is probably one of the most controversial reviews I have done so far and I’m nervous about posting my Arbonne reviews.
I feel like all of us at some point have either personally known someone who has sold Arbonne, or have been approached by someone who does. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been messaged on Instagram by someone selling Arbonne, inviting me to start my own business and join them.
I always just decline these message requests on Instagram until relatively recently. A woman called Christa (Instagram username ca16cp) messaged me and I accepted. I chose to accept her message because she mentioned my blog, and did not lead with Arbonne.
Before anyone starts reading this and clicks off because they think I am affiliated with Arbonne, I’m not! I am not part of Arbonne, I do not sell the products, I don’t have a discount code, and I have no obligation to write anything positive. I was sent some samples from Christa a few weeks ago, just to try out the products. I clarified with her that there was no obligation to say anything positive, or any obligation for me to purchase anything, before I accepted the samples. I also explained that I don’t view Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) positively, but I was still open to trying some of the products.
The main reason I accepted these samples was because I was curious, I’ve never seen anyone talk about any products from Multi-Level Marketing companies who wasn’t affiliated with that company and already distributing the products. Whether this is Arbonne, Lipsense, Nu Skin, Younique, or countless others, I’ve never seen a review from someone who wasn’t trying to sell the products – so of course they’d be positive!
Since I received multiple different product samples, this review is part one of three, reviewing different products from Arbonne.
Before getting into the review I want to explain what Multi-Level Marketing is, and who Arbonne are. I’ll then go into the claims of the product, and my experience.
This blog post is going to be quite long, and I think it’s important to go in depth about MLM before talking about the product. Please do read it!
What is Multi-Level Marketing?
*Please note, this is my personal understanding and opinion of what Multi-Level Marketing is, based on reading various articles. This is not necessarily fact, I’m only human and may have some information correct. If you believe anything to be correct then please leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make your own decision about companies and do your own research to form your own opinion for sure*
Multi-Level Marketing can also be referred to as Network Marketing, or Referral Marketing. It works through recruiting a group of people who don’t have fixed salaries, these are the individuals who are messaging you or approaching you. These individuals are usually referred to (or refer to themselves) as ‘distributors’, ‘consultants’, or other similar terms.
These individuals make money one of two ways:
- By selling products to customers (therefore they’ll earn commission).
- By recruiting individuals to join their ‘team’ under them. They will then make a commission from the products sold by individuals working under them.
Another name, with negative connotations, given to Multi-Level Marketing companies is ‘Pyramid Schemes’. The pyramid part of the name is given due to the fact that the recruitment process throughout the company means that the staffing structure creates a pyramid.
For example imagine you start a company by yourself, you are the top of the pyramid, you then recruit two people, they’re the tier below you, each of those two people recruit two more people below them, and so on. The top of the pyramid is still the same (it may be more than one person), but the staff below continue to expand, creating a pyramid looking structure.
The reason why Multi-Level Marketing companies have bad reputations, and are often branded as ‘Pyramid Schemes’ or ‘Scams’. Is because the majority of people who get recruited into the business either don’t make any money, or operate at a loss. Usually there is a sign up fee, so you’re already beginning in a negative. The only way to join the company is to be recruited under someone, so you’ll need to provide them with a percentage of any sales you make, this acts as an expense on top of any others that the company may have. Whilst you can make some money from product sales, the main source of revenue is to recruit people below you, who will then recruit people below them, etc.
There are quite a few different articles that cite how few people truly make money through MLM companies, this one states ‘On average, one in 545 is likely to have profited after subtracting expenses and 997 out of 1,000 individuals involved with an MLM lose money (not including time invested)’. Another indicates that 99.7% of MLM participants lose money. A 40 page FTC document further breaks down how to calculate the the odds of profiting through MLM and draws a similar conclusion using Nu Skin as an example.
Even Arbonne details how little money might be made in their own promotional materials. Their ‘Independent Consultant Compensation Summary’ shows that Independent Consultants, which is what the majority of people are, make on average £470 annually. Yes, £470, PER YEAR. Even the top 50 in this group only make £2,711 a year. That averages at £225 per month. The bottom 50 Independent consultants are shown to make on average £34 a year. You can see the full breakdown of the earnings of individuals at Arbonne here but don’t just look at the top number, look at the grid as a whole.
Obviously some people do make money but it takes WORK, and the dream that you think you’re getting through working with MLM just isn’t going to be a reality for the vast majority of people. You really need to put the time and energy in. If you go by that grid alone, depending on your circumstances you’d probably need to be a mid or top earner in the ‘Area Manager’ tier to live off of your Arbonne income. It’s shown that only 7.9% of all Arbonne consultants make it to that level, and it takes roughly 19 months. Up to that point you’re probably going to need another job to support yourself, which will take up a lot of your time, time that could be used to build your network.
The reason why ‘Pyramid Scheme’ is a negative way to describe MLM companies, is because there are some differences between the two (despite some people not agreeing) and operating a pyramid scheme is illegal in many countries. Pyramid schemes are usually concerned with only getting your own money, it’s not really about the product. Additionally, this article by the Balance provides a really useful checklist to identify whether a company seems to be a pyramid scheme, or an MLM company:
- ‘Are you required to “invest” a large amount of money up front to become a distributor? This investment request may be disguised as an inventory charge. Legitimate MLM businesses do not require large start up costs.
- If you do have to pay for inventory, will the company buy back unsold inventory?Legitimate MLM companies will offer and stick to inventory buy-backs for at least 80% of what you paid.
- Is there any mention of or attention paid to a market for the product or service? Multilevel marketing depends on establishing a market for the company’s products. If the company doesn’t seem to have any interest in consumer demand for its products, don’t sign up.
- Is there more emphasis on recruitment than on selling the product or service? Remember, the difference between multilevel marketing and a pyramid scheme is in the focus. The pyramid scheme focuses on fast profits from signing people up and getting their money. If recruitment seems to be the focus of the plan, run.’
As far as I’m aware, Arbonne is a MLM marketing company (but some representatives will push to get you to work for them). Whereas, a company such as Nu Skin, operates more like a pyramid scheme. I’m not saying that to dismiss Nu Skin, I’m sure there are some representatives who genuinely love the product/company and are not operating in that way. However, Nu Skin has been investigated by the FTC and paid millions, on more than one occasion, due to being suspected of running a pyramid scheme. They were also sued by China, for the same reason, and paid $47 million as a settlement. There are many other settlements that Nu Skin has made with US States throughout their years operating, you can find many through a Google search. On the other hand, I couldn’t find the same for Arbonne. The only article I could find was this one but he didn’t link any court documents. On the FTC website I did find that Arbonne settled to pay $30 million in 2008 over claims of a cold and flu tablet they sold, the court cited it as deceptive advertising. However, I couldn’t find anything about them being questioned as a pyramid scheme.
If you want to see if companies have been investigated by the FTC, you can search for the company and see the court documents on the FTC website here.
Who are Arbonne?
The following description has been taken from the Arbonne website:
‘The idea to provide skincare products that are unparalleled in quality and effectiveness was developed in Switzerland in 1975, when one man, Petter Mørck, together with a group of leading biochemists, biologists and herbalists, set out to fulfil his vision and founded Arbonne.
Arbonne skincare products, based on botanical principles, came to fruition in the United States in 1980 and are now shared throughout the world by a growing network of Arbonne Independent Consultants. Building on these same founding principles, the product line has since grown to include both inner and outer health and beauty products that are unparalleled in quality, safety, value, benefits and results.’
‘It’s a Long Story Mascara’ Claims
On the Arbonne web page for this product, it has the following description:
‘Life is an epic tale – start telling it with your eyes. High-performance lengthening mascara helps create the look of ultra-dramatic lashes with major longitude. Clinically tested and formulated to be water-resistant and longwearing.’
There’s also a ‘meet the product’ page that has more information about the key features of the product, the key ingredients and benefits, as well as clinical study information.
Overall Product Thoughts
I was only sent a sample so of course this tube doesn’t reflect what the full-sized product looks like but I still quite like the packaging. Also in the pack I was sent, Christa wrote that the wand on this mascara is the full-sized wand so it would perform the same as the larger version. I do quite like this type of wand.
The first thing that struck me about this mascara was the smell. It smells kind of weird, not bad, but just odd for a mascara. Typically the mascaras I use don’t have a scent so I was a little taken aback.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by this mascara. It is super black and lengthens and separates my lashes really nicely. It doesn’t add as much thickness or volume to my lashes as I typically like, but it still works wonderfully. I’ve used this on multiple occasions and it’s always lasted all day, it doesn’t fade or flake. Despite saying it’s water-resistant, it doesn’t hold up as well as my usual mascara when it comes to water. Sometimes I shower with my makeup on and when I got out, this mascara was all over my face. However, staying on during the shower isn’t really a make or break for me.
The issue that I have with this mascara is the price. It retails for £31 which is considerably more than my current mascara, the Marc Jacobs ‘Velvet Noir Mascara’ that retails for £22. Although the Marc Jacobs one is hands down the best mascara I’ve ever tried, £22 is pretty steep for a mascara, so the fact this one is £31 is just mind blowing to me.
I did ask the consultant who gave me these samples why the products were so expensive and she said it’s because of their high quality and the fact their natural. Whether or not you think that justifies the price, you’ll have to decide. Personally, for me, it doesn’t.
Overall, regardless of the fact that Arbonne is an MLM company, I do like this mascara. It doesn’t provide the thickness or volume that I can find in my Marc Jacobs mascara, but it’s definitely better than many mascaras that I’ve tried. Unfortunately, I can’t get past how expensive the product is. If it were cheaper than my Marc Jacobs one I would maybe consider getting it once my current one ran out, but the fact that it’s almost £10 more expensive, and doesn’t perform as well, means that it isn’t for me.
I’m so sorry for how long this post is but you’ll be pleased to know that you have reached the end! I really hope that you enjoyed reading my honest thoughts on the Arbonne ‘It’s a Long Story Mascara’. If you did, then please give this a quick like. Additionally, be sure to follow my blog if you think that it’s something that you’d like to read in the future – I have two more Arbonne reviews coming!
Check out my previous posts!