Inside the pink empire - behind the scenes at Mary Kay




Posted on November 1, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 7:37 AM

DALLAS — Every summer, thousands of Mary Kay independent sales consultants from around the world descend on Dallas like a swarm of pink butterflies.

Many dream of landing in the gallery of national sales directors at Mary Kay world headquarters.

"It's exciting to know that after 50 years, the dream that Mary Kay Ash had for her business is still alive and making a difference in women's lives around the world," said Cheryl Adkins-Green, the company's chief marketing officer.

Mexico is one of Mary Kay's largest markets. The markets may change, but the goods don't. The company's 2.4 million independent beauty consultants all sell the same products.

Did you ever wonder where Mary Kay products come from? They are created, developed, and packaged in Dallas.

During our visit, the assembly line workers were cranking out cologne, mascara, cleansers and moisturizers — but before you can get here, you've got to go back to the development lab.

That's where they're constantly mixing up new lipsticks, creams and lotions; chances are good they'll be pink.

"Right now, we are working on products that will be out in 2015-2016 as well as those that will be ready for you next," said Dr. Michelle Hines, manager of skin care research.

"Next" are the products rolling out today that will be in a customer's hands (or on her face) tomorrow.

The production is largely automated, but some things require hands-on attention, like the anniversary fragrance. Workers take care — in the lab, on the line and in the warehouse — with one primary concern:

"First of all, safety and quality are of the utmost importance to Mary Kay," Adkins-Green said. "We do more than a half million tests on ingredients, packaging and formulas, to make sure we are offering the safest, high quality products possible."

There's no animal testing on products produced in the United States, and there's concern for the environment.

"Not many cosmetic companies at all can say that they are zero-landfill," Hines boasted.

Mary Kay is also into recycling. It's just part of the plan to keep customers coming back, as they have for almost 50 years.


Social media is also an important tool for Mary Kay. The company recently rolled out a free virtual makeover that's already logged one million downloads.

They tried it out on me; you can check it out using a Web browser . There are also free apps available for Android devices and Apple iPhone and iPad devices.