Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme? Why You Should Stay Away From Arbonne


If you’re under 30 and on social media, chances are you’ve come across Arbonne. The Arbonne MLM company is one of the most popular multi-level-marketing schemes in the world right now, and hundreds of thousands of young women are taking to Instagram and Facebook to promote this incredible ‘business opportunity,’ with promises of ‘financial freedom’ and being able to ‘be your own boss’ and ‘make money from your phone.’

Sound familiar?

Many multi-level marketing companies like Arbonne use phrases like these in their sales pitches social media posts all the time, and it’s easy to see why – who wouldn’t want to own their own business, work from anywhere in the world and never have to worry about money?

It sounds incredible. It also sounds too good to be true, and you know how the saying goes – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


I have written before  about MLM schemes (if you are unsure of what multi-level marketing is then you should definitely check out that article out before this one) and why I believe that they are a crappy business model, but the most common question that I see online is ‘Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme?’ (or whichever company they’re interested in) which is often met with defensiveness and frustration from people working in MLM schemes.

With this in mind, I decided to do a deep dive into Arbonne, one of the most popular MLMs, in order to find out whether or not Arbonne is a pyramid scheme and just how much money you can make selling Arbonne.

As I always say, this one will be a long one so I suggest you make a coffee (or pour yourself a glass of wine) and get stuck in.


Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme? Why You Should Stay Away From Arbonne


What is Arbonne?


Before we dive in any further, let’s start by establishing what exactly Arbonne is.

Arbonne International is a multi-level marketing company (also called network marketing) that sells cruelty-free beauty products. It was founded in Norway in 1975, but by 1980, Arbonne co-founder Petter Morck set up its international headquarters in Irvine California. Since 2018 it has been owned by worldwide health and beauty brand, Yves Rocher.

Arbonne markets itself as a health and beauty company and sells products including makeup, nutritional supplements, haircare products and skincare.

It claims that all of its products are totally vegan and use the best ingredients that money can buy.

They say that these high quality ingredients are the reason why Arbonne products are so expensive (they actually have a section in their FAQ titled ‘Why is Arbonne so Expensive?’ which I find a little odd).

Arbonne do not have brick and mortar stores selling their products. Instead, the products are sold online through their ‘distributors,’ who advertise on social media, using the products themselves and making videos showing off how well the product works.

arbonne hun
– Inserts random stock image of skincare here –


In addition to making commission from selling products, the distributors make money by recruiting others into the scheme. Every person that they recruit becomes part of their ‘downline’ (with the recruiter being known as the ‘upline’), and the distributor also receives bonuses for every person they recruit, as well as for every person that their downline recruits and every item that their downline sells.

Thus, the more people you recruit, the more money you make as you begin to reap the benefits of the passive income generated by your downline. In theory your income source can just keep on expanding, the more people you have in your downline (hence, multi-level marketing).

Popular MLM companies include Avon, Monat, Beachbody and It Works!


What is a pyramid scheme?


A pyramid scheme is a business model that recruits its members by taking an initial investment from them and promising to pay them for enrolling others into the scheme, rather than supplying investments or selling products. As members of the scheme increase, recruiting quickly becomes impossible and so most members are unable to profit from the scheme or even make their initial investment back.

The Wikipedia diagram below illustrates just how unsustainable this business model is – after just a few levels of recruitment, the scheme would have recruited everybody on the planet and there would simply be no-one left to recruit!


Why are pyramid schemes bad?


Isn’t it obvious? Pyramid schemes are designed to benefit those at the top while making it impossible for those at the bottom to succeed. They sell people a dream, promising that ‘anyone can make it!’ even though statistically this is impossible.

The more people ‘pay to play’ (invest money into the scheme), the richer those at the top of the pyramid get, while the others never end up making their initial investment back.

You actually have better odds of making money gambling than you do investing money into a pyramid scheme.

As a result, pyramid schemes are illegal.

pyramid scheme


Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme? Let’s take a look.


Arbonne distributors often find themselves having to defend themselves against the accusation that Arbonne is a pyramid scheme.

Many people who are anti-MLM like myself flippantly refer to ALL MLMs as pyramid schemes, provoking defensiveness and even anger from those in the companies.

Now, I’m going to start by being petty and saying look – if you are constantly having to defend your company against claims that it is a pyramid scheme, it’s probably a pyramid scheme. I don’t know anyone in any other line of work that has to continually say ‘hey – my company isn’t a pyramid scheme!’ because, well, they aren’t trapped in pyramid schemes.



But enough of the sass. Let me be serious. It is easy to look at Arbonne on a surface level say, well how can Arbonne be a pyramid scheme? First of all, pyramid schemes are illegal. And second, they sell products! Arbonne are just a beauty company who believe in a different way of marketing!

Not so fast.

While Arbonne’s rules may be carefully crafted to appear like a totally legit multi-level marketing company, it is possible that they may still be operating an illegal pyramid scheme in practice, exploiting loopholes in order to skirt around the law.

When you are trying to figure out whether an MLM is a pyramid scheme in disguise, you should always follow the money.

is Arbonne a pyramid scheme


Investigating whether Arbonne is a pyramid scheme


How much money can you make with Arbonne?


Arbonne reps often brag about their lavish lifestyles and ‘financial freedom,’ and the Arbonne website itself promises to give you the ‘freedom to live the life of your dreams’ and ‘your own successful business.’ 

However, is this really attainable with Arbonne? I had a look at Arbonne’s income disclosure statements to see for myself, and the numbers paint a pretty grim picture.


Arbonne in the UK

arbonne income disclosure


In 2018, Arbonne had 21,000 Independent Consultants in the UK but according to Arbonne themselves, only 12% of Arbonne Consultants each month earned any money from Arbonne. This means that out of 21,000 people, only 2,600 made ANY money with Arbonne.

The income disclosure statement below shows only the 12% of Arbonne reps who made any money at all. These reps are known as ‘active consultants’ by Arbonne, but that term is misleading as it implies that the person is not actively trying to sell products and work rather than the truth, which is that this person probably is putting in the work but is not making any money.

Let’s break these numbers down.

  • Of 21,000 Independent Consultants, 88% (18,400 people) earned nothing.
  • 7% (1544 people) earned £42 per month, or £503 per year.
  • 3.7% (777 people) earned £167 per month, or £2004 per year.
  • 0.9% of Arbonne Consultants (that’s 190 people) earned £909 a month, or £10,908 a year.
  • 0.3% (just 70 people) earned £3445 a month, or £41,340 a year.
  • 0.08% of people (18 people) earned £12.366 per month, totalling £148,392 per year.


Now, these numbers alone are pretty shocking, but let’s dissect this even further.

The 88% of people who made no money in Arbonne would have actually lost money because you have to pay to be an Arbonne consultant. Now, while most people would (quite rightly) say – ‘huh? You have to PAY to work? What the F?!’ Arbonne reps would point out that actually, they own their own small businesses and any small business owner has to invest money into their business.

mlm or business opportunity


Now, it may be true that small business owners invest money into their businesses, but not only do people working in an MLM do not own their own businesses, but only 39% of small businesses owners lose money compared to 88% of Arbonne reps.

What’s more, according to the Office for National Statistics, a person aged 25 and over who works 37.5 hours a week on the New Living Wage will earn £265 a week after Income Tax and National Insurance.

This means that only 88 Arbonne Consultants in the UK earned above the National Living Wage in 2018.

88 people.

The other 99.6% of Arbonne reps either earnt less than the National Living Wage or actually lost money due to the amount that they invested in Arbonne (more on that later).


Arbonne in the US

arbonne income disclosure


In 2018, there were 174,385 Arbonne Consultants in the US.

  • 83% (that’s 144,586 people) earned nothing.
  • 11.4% (19,866 people) earned $70 a month or $840 a year.
  • 4.1% (7224 people) earned $321 a month, or $3852 a year.
  • 1% of people (1806) earned $1531 a month. That’s $18,372 a year.
  • 0.34% (602 people) earned $5987 per month or $71,844 a year.
  • 0.178% (301 people) earned $21,711 a month, or $260,532 a year.


Unfortunately, Arbonne has not provided full income disclosure statements from 2019 (I wonder why), but they did say ‘A typical Arbonne participant in the United States earned between $120 – $502 in 2019 in earnings and commissions.’

This is $2 – $10 per week, not taking into account any money that they have sunk into the business.

You can read a more thorough analysis of Arbonne’s 2019 Income Disclosure Statement here.

On their website, Arbonne feature testimonials from Arbonne consultants raving about how Arbonne has changed their lives and helped them build ‘global businesses.’ However, in the small print, Arbonne admits that ‘The Arbonne Independent Consultants featured have achieved the rank of Executive Area Manager, Regional Vice President or National Vice President.’ 

In other words, these success stories are from people who are part of the top 1% of all Arbonne reps. Not exactly representative of the experiences of 99% of reps, is it?

Taking all this into account, perhaps the original question should really be ‘can you make money with Arbonne?’ rather than ‘how much money can you make with Arbonne?’

Arbonne mlm


How much money does Arbonne cost to join?


As I mentioned above, the figures in the income disclosure statements do not take into account money spent by the consultant on expenses and products. In the small print they say ‘These figures do not represent Arbonne Independent Consultants’ profits, as they do not consider expenses incurred by Arbonne Independent Consultants in the promotion of their businesses…’


So, how much does it cost to run your own Arbonne business work for Arbonne?


It is difficult to work out the exact costs of working for Arbonne because they tend to keep them hidden. I almost drove myself mad trying to figure out how much I’d need to initially invest to work for Arbonne. Arbonne say that the first thing you need to do is pay a registration fee of £30 and place an order of Arbonne products that totals 150 QV.

This registration fee buys you a ‘Welcome Kit’ that includes a ‘Product Lookbook (presumably a catalogue of Arbonne products, which you can see for free on the website), Welcome Letter, Success Plan (this is Arbonne’s compensation plan which you can see for free online), a Discover Arbonne Brochure, Consultant Resource Guide and a Healthy Living Brochure.’ 



Now, I don’t know about you but to me that seems like quite a lot of money for a product brochure and some pamphlets.

As for how much 150 QV is, it remains a mystery. The general consensus online seems to be that 1 PQV point (Personal Qualifying Value) is the equivalent of 1 USD. If PQV is the same as QV then, you’d need to spend 150 USD on Arbonne products in order to join. That said, I couldn’t find anywhere whether PQV equates to the same amount as QV, and even the PQV that I could find was only for Arbonne US. I couldn’t find  Arbonne UK figures anywhere.

Ugh.

is Arbonne a pyramid scheme


Not only must you must create an Arbonne account (give Arbonne your contact details) before the price of the Welcome Kit is displayed, but even then, the amount of product that you must buy to reach the 150 QV target is not revealed. 

I went as far as creating an account and filling up my basket but even then, I was not shown how much QV the products in my basket added up to – in order to see the final amount that I would have spent, plus shipping costs, I had to enter my card details – now, I didn’t do this of course but I’m including this just to show you that Arbonne are shady as hell and will do anything to keep their costs a secret.

In fact, I didn’t even get to see the Terms and Conditions of shopping with Arbonne until I’d given them my email address and home address. Yikes.

If you’re confused at this point then trust me, I FEEL YOU. The bottom line is that it seems impossible to find out how much money you must invest into Arbonne in order to be a distributor for the company.

If all of that isn’t enough to put you off, then just know that your costs don’t end there.

anti mlm


You are encouraged to purchase ‘business tools’ such as sample kits and marketing packs. The prices for these are not listed anywhere on the Arbonne website but I did find an Arbonne US promotion online that said that the ’Share Arbonne’ pack (a pack containing catalogues and product samples) was 49 USD if purchased with the Welcome Kit and 56.90 USD if purchased separately.

You are also given the option to add two ’Special Value’ packs at £170 each, a ‘Cosmetics Pack’ at £511 and a ‘Business Pack’ at £999. You do not get to see what these packs contain.

arbonne mlm


How much does it cost to run an Arbonne business?


So, we’ve established that the costs of even signing up to Arbonne can be pretty high, but of course that’s not all – this is an MLM of course.

Something that any anti-MLMer will tell you is that the best customers of any MLM are the distributors.

MLMs manage to avoid being identified as pyramid schemes because they sell products. 

HOWEVER.

Who is buying the products? Is it the general public, or is it the distributors themselves?

With Arbonne, every consultant must spend a certain amount of money on Arbonne products every month in order to ‘remain active’ and earn any commission.

In other words, you pay to play.

pyramid scheme
Source: r/antiMLM


Sure, you don’t HAVE to buy the products. Nobody is going to hold a gun to your head. But if you don’t spend the allotted amount of cash on Arbonne each month, you will not be eligible for any commission from your sales, and so you will be working for free.

And how much is this minimum amount?

Well my friend, I’m glad you asked!

In order to remain active with Arbonne, you will need to generate 150 PQV worth of product with your Arbonne account each month. PQV is basically a points system, and in the US, for every $1 you directly spend on Arbonne products, you will earn 1 PQV. Thus, you need to spend $150 on Arbonne products every month to earn any commission on sales you make. 



You can even set up a standing order of $150 per month to ensure you keep your active status.

I’m not sure that I know anyone who spends $150 per month on beauty products. While I’m sure that those people do exist (and it is very possible to spend so much money if the products you buy are as expensive as Arbonne products!), it certainly isn’t the norm to be spending that much. This answers the above question then – Arbonne’s biggest customer is their own distributors!

Now, there is a way to reduce your spends – by signing people up. 

anti-MLM
Source – r/antiMLM


For every person that you sign up underneath you, their purchases also count towards your PQV. 

If you don’t manage to recruit anyone into your downline then tough cookie Karen, you’re going to need to flash that cash. 

This is also another sneaky loophole that Arbonne exploit – pyramid schemes pay people to recruit others. Arbonne gives you ‘cash bonuses’ and increases your commission. 

You also get promoted by recruiting others. Not a DIRECT cash reward, but definitely a financial incentive to focus on recruitment rather than selling shampoo. 

So, while it isn’t technically doing pyramid schemy stuff, it’s also definitely doing pyramid schemy stuff if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down.

anti-MLM
Source: r/antiMLM


Living the Arbonne life


In addition to the required amount that you HAVE to spend to remain active in Arbonne, there is also a whole lot of money that you are ‘encouraged’ to spend. 

Arbonne encourages all of its consultants to ‘live the Arbonne life.’ 

This means use Arbonne products, showing your audience how great your Arbonne makeup is, how energised you feel using the Arbonne ‘fizz sticks,’ how your morning skincare routine looks when using all of your Arbonne products etc. Your upline will encourage you to make Instagram or TikTok videos of you using the products, and from a marketing perspective, this makes sense – social media influencers sell products by showing themselves using the product.



Celebrities get paid millions to endorse products because if we see someone we know and trust recommending something, we are more likely to buy it.

The catch is that influencers, brand ambassadors etc. actually GET PAID to do all of this AND THEY ARE NOT PAYING FOR THE PRODUCT. 

Arbonne Consultants must purchase the products in order to advertise them and ‘maybe’ earn some money.

I cannot roll my eyes enough at this – what person in their right mind would do this?! 


You should also know that Arbonne products are not cheap. An Arbonne eyeshadow pallet retails for £50. A can of hairspray costs £24. 

Of course, Arbonne reps get a discount (35%) on any products that they buy, but when the markups are so high, are they really getting a discount or are they still paying over the odds for what many reviews claim is a mediocre product?

In fact, Arbonne actually tells its reps not to go bankrupt (gee, how generous), but to ’spend enough that you feel uncomfortable’ which they say will be a great motivation to work and earn your money back.



The technical term for this is the sunk cost fallacy. This means that the more money you sink into something, the longer you are likely to stick with it to make it worth your while.

This roughly translates to:  ‘I can’t quit now – I’ve spent so much time and money building my business!’

And this is how they get you. The more money you invest in Arbonne, the longer you stick around, investing more time and money and so on. 

It’s an endless cycle.

is arbonne a pyramid scheme


Earnings vs. Investment


Remember earlier when I outlined the shocking lack of earnings for Arbonne Consultants? 

Do you remember how, in 2018, 83% of Arbonne Consultants earned nothing and 11.4% earned $839 for the entire year?

Let’s take a look at those people who were actually earning anything with Arbonne.

If we take the minimum amount that an Arbonne Consultant has to spend each month in order to earn any commission from their sales, we get the following:

150 per month X 12 months = 1800

So, therefore every Arbonne Consultant must spend AT LEAST $1800 per year to make any money.

So then, the largest percentage of people who ‘earned’ ANYTHING with Arbonne (Independent Consultants) made an average of $839 for the year.

839 – 1800 = – 961

So these ‘earnings’ are actually a LOSS. The people in the bottom of the chart did not MAKE A PROFIT of $839. They LOST $961.

District Managers earned an average of $3851 in the year 2018.

With the above maths, 3851 – 1800 = 2051, so 4.1% of active consultants earned $2051 in a year or $171 per month.


Don’t forget that NONE of these take into account additional expenses such as:

  • Registration fee ($49)
  • Sample pack ($49)
  • Any additional sample packs and ‘business tools’ purchased throughout the year
  • Any additional Arbonne products that the consultant purchased in order to keep ‘living the Arbonne life’
  • Any travel expenses, hotel costs, conference tickets etc. (Arbonne hosts a yearly conference in Las Vegas).


You get the gist.

arbonne mlm


Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme in disguise?


The number one argument made by people in MLMs against pyramid scheme accusations are ‘but pyramid schemes are illegal! My MLM would have been shut down by now if it was a pyramid scheme!’

And yes. Pyramid schemes are illegal.

However, what many MLMs manage to do is to carefully word their terms and conditions in a way that skirts around legal loopholes. They end up functioning as a pyramid scheme and either evading the law entirely, or bamboozling people for long enough that they can avoid running into lawsuits.



In order to work out whether or not I believe that Arbonne is a pyramid scheme in disguise (I don’t want to get sued so I must stress that all of this is my opinion), I am going to try and answer four questions:

How do you make money with Arbonne? (Is there a focus on recruitment?) If the answer is yes then Arbonne meets one of the criteria for being a pyramid scheme.

Do you have to pay to work for Arbonne? If the answer is yes then Arbonne meets one of the criteria for being a pyramid scheme.

Does Arbonne use loopholes that allow it to function as a pyramid scheme? If so, what are they? The answer to this will be my opinion based on the research that I have conducted.

Has Arbonne ever faced legal issues related to this issue? Self-explanatory.

So, let’s dive in.


 How do you make money with Arbonne?


The main thing that sets pyramid schemes apart from ‘legitimate MLMs’ (I have doubts as to whether any MLM can be legitimate but that’s another story), is the product.

This dates all the way back to the 1979 case of Amway vs the FTC. After 4 long years in court, Amway was found to be operating a legal business rather than a pyramid scheme. This ruling came down to technicalities in some of the wording in Amway’s paperwork, which has come to be known as the 70/30 rule.

The 70/30 rule means that 70% of a company’s profits must be made through retail sales of a product selling rather than recruitment. If the scale is tipped then the company could be accused of being a pyramid scheme.

This means that as the company’s focus is not purely recruitment, they can flirt with the idea of being a pyramid scheme without ending up in any legal trouble.



A big focus with Arbonne is definitely on recruitment, or on signing people up to the ‘Arbonne life.’ This video by Emily Leah shows two Arbonne babes bragging about how ‘people think we sell makeup – have you guys ever seen us sell makeup? Has anyone ever bought any makeup from us? Probably hardly anyone.’

They go on to say ‘you guys CAN buy products, it is [sic] there as a second income stream […] but what we do is bring people in, share a business concept and mentor people in their business. We’re business mentors basically.’

If this isn’t admitting to being a part of a pyramid scheme, I don’t know what is.

anti-MLM
Source: r/antiMLM


Arbonne reps get huge bonuses and promotions from recruiting other people to join their downline, and the more people they recruit, the more passive income they stand to make. If you can get a one-time commission from someone buying a lipstick from you or a lifetime of commission from another person’s sales (and recruits), it’s a no-brainer.

Why would you even bother selling products when selling the ‘business opportunity’ is so much more lucrative?

Now. That isn’t to say that Arbonne reps don’t sell products at all. You can make money selling Arbonne products to the general public. Whether or not you choose to is up to you. 

Arbonne does not release any of its data as to how much of its profits are derived from selling products to the public, and so we cannot say definitively how they square up on the 70/30 scale as far as retail sales are concerned.



What we can say is that if every Arbonne consultant is spending at least $150 per month on product, it is highly likely that it is the consultants themselves and not the public, who are Arbonne’s main customers.

However, a company cannot worm its way out of pyramid scheme allegations by pointing out that it does still sell products, even if they are to its own distributors.

You must be making 70% of your profit from retail sales to the general public, NOT interior sales from your workforce.

But ah! Arbonne doesn’t have a workforce – they have independent contractors who are not ‘employed’ by Arbonne.

I don’t know about you but this certainly sounds like a loophole to me…

It sounds like Arbonne likely does make the bulk of its income from sales…to its independent contractors. Sneaky, sneaky.

So, Arbonne has met one of the criteria for being a pyramid scheme.

mlm or pyramid scheme


Do you have to pay to work for Arbonne?


YES, YES, and YES again for anyone at the back.

You have to pay well over a thousand dollars every year to work for Arbonne. What other job actually makes you pay to go to work?! 

Even a salesperson who works only on commission is not paying to go to work. Sure, if they don’t sell anything then they don’t MAKE money, but they aren’t losing money. 

A car salesperson doesn’t have to purchase a certain amount of cars each year to be allowed to sell cars! 

If you’re keeping count, this means that Arbonne has met two of the criteria for being a pyramid scheme.

arbonne meme


Does Arbonne use loopholes that allow it to function as a pyramid scheme? If so, what are they?


I cannot say with absolute certainty that Arbonne exploits legal loopholes in order to function as a pyramid scheme in disguise.

I am not a lawyer.

HOWEVER.

Do I believe that Arbonne use loopholes in order to get around being labelled a pyramid scheme?

Yes, I do.

Here’s why:

Loophole #1

MLMs have to make the majority of their profits based on retail sales to the general public. This does not include sales to people employed by the company. If Arbonne employed its distributors, chances are we would see that the majority of product sales are going to Arbonne distributors, not Becky Smith from down the street.

However, Arbonne distributors are not employees of Arbonne – they are independent contractors. This means that in the eyes of the law, they are not working FOR Arbonne, and can thus be considered members of the public when looking at product sales.

Loophole #2

Loophole #2 – MLMs have to show that they do not have a ‘recruitment focus.’ If Arbonne were directly paying distributors to recruit then we would probably see exactly that they do indeed have a recruitment focuses. What they actually do is give their reps ‘bonuses’ and promotions instead. Hmm…

There are probably more intricate loopholes that Arbonne is exploiting but you see what I am trying to say. Just because something cannot technically and legally be defined as a pyramid scheme doesn’t mean that it isn’t operating in exactly the same way as a pyramid scheme does in practice.

pyramid scheme
Source: r/antiMLM


Yes. 

In May 2017, Cynthia and Michael Dagnall raised a lawsuit against Arbonne in the Orange County Superior Court. They alleged that the company was an illegal pyramid scheme.

Part of the lawsuit stated that ‘Arbonne requires them to purchase start-up packages and pay annual dues, and the Arbonne system makes it a virtual necessity that the distributors purchase Arbonne products– lots of them. In return, the Consultants receive the right to receive compensation based in primary part on their recruitment of new Consultants (who pay fees, pay dues, and purchase product). Just like a classic pyramid scheme, the more new Consultants a Consultant brings in the Arbonne program (and the more payments those new Consultants make), the more money a Consultant can make.’

In  the end, a settlement was reached and so the lawsuit was dropped. 

This doesn’t mean that Arbonne was found not to be a pyramid scheme.

It means that Arbonne paid money to the couple to get them to drop the case.

Similar to how other totally innocent people like R Kelly and Harvey Weinstein reach settlements with their accusers…

r kelly meme


In April of 2020, Arbonne also came under fire from the FTC, who spoke directly to them, saying ‘Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) staff has reviewed social media posts made by Arbonne International, LLC, (“Arbonne”) business opportunity participants or representatives that unlawfully advertise that certain products treat or prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) and misrepresent that consumers who become Arbonne business opportunity participants are likely to earn substantial income.’

So ignoring the fact that Arbonne reps are claiming that Arbonne can treat Coronavirus (wow…just…wow), what the FTC is saying is that Arbonne representatives are making false claims that people are likely to earn a substantial income with Arbonne when, in fact, they are not. 

The FTC goes on to say that ‘Express and implied earnings claims must be truthful and non-misleading to avoid being deceptive, which means that claims about the potential to achieve a wealthy lifestyle, career-level income, or significant income are false or misleading if business opportunity participants generally do not achieve such results.’ 
This isn’t regarding whether or not Arbonne is a pyramid scheme, but it is definitely food for thought if, for some unknown reason, you are still considering signing up with Arbonne.


Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme? | Final thoughts


I think it’s pretty clear what my feelings are regarding whether Arbonne is a pyramid scheme or not.

Do I think that Arbonne meets the legal definition of a pyramid scheme and could be closed down by the FTC? 

No, I do not. 

Do I think that Arbonne is still functioning as a pyramid scheme by the manipulation of legal loopholes? 

YES, without a shadow of a doubt. 

Do I think that eventually the law will catch up to companies that are using these loopholes? 

Yes, yes I do. While Arbonne at present are not an illegal pyramid scheme, I firmly believe that the FTC and other relevant authorities are catching onto their tricks quickly and that the day will come when the law is changed so that companies such as Arbonne are no longer able to do what they are doing. I believe that Arbonne’s days are numbered, and that if anybody is working for Arbonne and feeling smug that they are not part of an illegal pyramid scheme, know that you will not be feeling so smug forever. 

Lastly, and perhaps the only question we need to be asking ourselves – is Arbonne ethical?

Arbonne may well be operating under the law right now, but that doesn’t mean that it is an ethical business model. After all, if you knew that less than 1% of people would generate a real income, would you still feel comfortable selling Arbonne as a ‘business opportunity’ and recruiting them?

My guess is that no. You wouldn’t. 


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55 thoughts on “Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme? Why You Should Stay Away From Arbonne”

  1. “WHAT DO YOU THINK? WOULD YOU STILL CONSIDER JOINING ARBONNE AFTER READING THIS?”

    I would never have been interested in joining something like this even before reading this.
    What I probably would have done is buy some product from some poor backpacker trying to make some money from selling this stuff.
    After reading this, I would never buy anything from that company no matter who is selling it because would’t want to help fund and encourage the brain washing.
    I probably would wonder too if I should try to talk sense into the girl selling the stuff but like all other situations where I see some backpacker doing something very unadvisable I would wonder if I would be listened to at all.
    Fairly recently I was called a gossip for trying to warn somebody about something and told that it only happened to me because somebody didn’t like me. I know for a fact it happened to a lot of people. That had the emotional impact of being kicked in the stomach. Sticking your head up to tell the truth sure leaves a person vulnerable.
    It is very courageous of you and others who write protest articles like this and put them online.

    1. I totally agree Melissa, often you are met with hate for trying to warn people. I am not hating on people who are part of MLMs in this post – I am just trying to give them the facts so that they can get out before losing any more money, or better yet, not sign up at all!

      1. Many things you have stated in this article and false.
        I have made $15000 CAD since starting my Arbonne business 8 months ago.
        There are no monthly minimums that you need to spend yourself, if you sell 3 $50 CAD items a month to other people that is all your min PQV is to be paid commissions.
        You also DO NOT get paid when you recruit someone. You clarified that alter in your article, but at first you make it sound that way.
        Arbonne does not make any claims that their products help with covid – like others stated, that was individual consultant who were tapped on the wrist because of it.
        Bottom line is many sign up as “consultants” to receive a better discount when buying items, and never have the intention of ending the business. That is why there is only 12 % working consultants. They are only spending $59 CAD to save 35% year round on products, and for many who are purchasing lots of product it’s just better than paying full price.
        Not impressed by all the false info you have provided here.

        1. That is simply not true. I have several Arbonne reps on my social media and they all claim several of the products help with covid-related problems. Maybe they are more careful to say “building back up your immunity” or good “for calming down during this crazy year” or to “protect yourself and your loved ones” but they are absolutely referring to Covid. I won’t rat out the individuals, but I know as a whole the company is being sued by multiple people, you can look it up anywhere.

          1. Maybe you should rethink the people you follow in social media as we are told daily that nothing should be referred to as any kind of help for COVID, and to any sane person that claim would seem absurd.

        2. Thank you! You’re so right. This isn’t 100% accurate with arbonne at all. People think this is some scam and it’s like no you get what you put into it. If the person recruits you makes it sound like there’s some magic want to make money then that’s not a good coach. If you work at it and sell products you make money just like any other retail position with commission except you can work it from your phone which is awesome. PLUS like you said, no monthly mínimums and i never had to buy a start up kit. It’s encouraged to buy the products because they’re great but nothing is ever mandatory and no monthly minimums.

          When I was a realtor I HAD to pay monthly fees despite income AND give away a portion of my commission to my brokerage to hold my license there. This is normal in real estate but nobody is out there saying realtors are in a scam type business because it’s “normal”

          Plus in arbonne we NEVER take anyones commissions. Arbonne pays us from their profits and consultants from their profits. Do we benefit growing a team? Sure. But I also worked for a cooperation that had a business development team and the more reps they had sell business and bring on accounts, the better the company did and the more the CEO made.

  2. This is an excellent, thorough, and balanced account of an unethical business model. Thank you for taking the time to write such a comprehensive account – I only hope it is as far-reaching as the constant, awful social media posts that aim to prey on people’s supposed ‘friends’.

      1. Well done on your research and analysis of the typical MLM structure. This brings the BS all back to me with my own experience in my younger days when I was conned into being a consultant for a MLM company selling perfumes.. I was sickened by the number of people I roped in because of my passion and enthusiasm trying to make it to the top to win the world trip and live like the successful images they flashed you in every meeting, the so called “top liners or up liners” that had made it, standing next to their Lamborghini in some far away luxurious resort that most could only dream about while “I”, according to my up liners was reaching the door of Sublime heavenly rewards and that I had a responsibility to encourage my down liners to come with me by buying more, expanding my and their teams,tell all their mothers friends, grandmothers.. The list went on.. And yes, I spent way more than I care to admit cos I was nearly there.. And I lost friends and nearly my own values..
        Well done on putting this out there for the naive unsuspecting “victims” who will never know they are until they are done like a dinner making the people at the top wealthier, cos that’s all we did. Finally, I have had the opportunity to vent my own experience.. Thank you,

  3. So well done and SO true. Companies like this are totally unethical. They trick young women into dumping a bunch of money into a fake business with no promise of returns.
    I also found it interesting that at a certain level you can get a Mercedes. I read the contract, and actually you don’t just get a brand new car. They make you apply for the lease (has to be a new Mercedes brand) and if you continue to make number above that threshold then they will take care of your monthly payment. So if you dip below one month, you’re stuck with the hefty payment of a luxury car. And if you quit Arbonne, you’re still stuck with it. So really it’s another sunk cost tactic to imprison people into their scheme.

    1. Yeah, I was horrified when I heard about the Mercedes deal! The fact that they market it as a ‘free car’ is such BS! Another thing that made me laugh about is the fact that it HAS to be a white Mercedes with the Arbonne logo emblazoned all over it – Arbonne should be PAYING YOU to drive around and advertise their business, not the other way around! Monat do the same ‘deal’ with a Cadillac.

    2. Actually, it’s a cash bonus that you can put towards the lease or purchase of a white Mercedes or you can just keep the cash and use it for whatever you want. You choose the car and make the monthly payments. Let’s say the bonus is $900 a month. The car payment doesn’t have to be the exact amount. The rest can be used on gas and insurance for example.

      It’s definitely not free, you have to earn it. And yes, you have to continue to earn it. It’s a monthly cash bonus. A reward for hitting certain sales targets. Every level of management has their own bonuses. This is one of them.

      As for being “stuck” with it if you leave the company or stop earning the amount of sales needed for the bonus… It’s the same as anyone buying or leasing a vehicle. You’re signing a contract with Mercedes-Benz for the lease or purchase of one of their vehicles. Just as you would for any other car.

      Also, the reason for the Mercedes cash bonus was because the founder of Arbonne wanted to reward his top sellers with a safe car to use to drive to and from the presentations they were doing. It’s a 40 year old company and at the time of its inception the main way to earn sales was by doing home presentations and parties. Mercedes-Benz is known for their safety features. And it’s always a white Mercedes to symbolize the purity of the ingredients in the products. The founder was a botanist and he believed in using nature and science to make safe and effective skincare.

      1. That’s hilarious.. It’s also meant to depict a successful image of someone doing so well in the business.. Visualise, a network meeting and 30 Mercedes are parked outside… Who wouldn’t want to sign up.. Very clever orchestrated manipulation.. Yuk!.. Having been a victim.. Never again..

  4. Read the book Rich dad poor dad. In any business you have to invest to make money. Its a fact. If someone opened up a new physical shop lets say a new clothes store would they not have to invest by first of all buying the clothes to sell? Pay out for the rent of the actual shop? Pay the staff etc? And its ongoing as they have to keep paying out these expenses to keep up with the stock, management and to keep the business running. Also with many businesses the start up is high risk where you have to invest 1,000’s of pounds! Also 150qv isnt just based on what the consultant buys personally it includes any sales they generate from direct preferred clients. People who are just clients and buy the products when they need them. Also it would be ridiculous if a consultant didnt use any of the products how are they supposed to recommend or promote it to anyone? I certainly wouldnt buy a product from anyone if they didnt use it themselves?! The products are actually around the same price as clinique, estee lauder etc and they are actually clean without the cheap fillers, toxins etc also they actually last a lot longer as you dont need to use as much product because its more concentrated. Skincare I use lasts 4-6 months! Also every business is shaped like a pyramid with ceo at the top, managers below, then supervisors and then the employees. Arbonne just choose to do a different way of marketing and thats through the consultants and cutting out the middle men. Its like having an amazon prime account, online store with discounts etc. People who do arbonne who spend ridiculous amounts that ends them up in serious debt are not doing the business any justice and are fools. There is no need to spend ridiculous amounts. They can just buy products they use anyway like shampoo, deodorant etc that they would buy from a supermarket, beauty store etc. Arbonne isnt for everyone, but its great for people that have grit, a strong work ethic and willing to put the work in. People like Richard Branston, Robert Yiosaki, Alan Sugar, Jim Rohn highly recommend it, thats if you do it right. Also they are now a B corporation which means they put people and the planet over profit. If you dont know what B corporation means then look it up and you will see. Its peoples persepctive that makes the difference. If I focused on all busineses being shaped like a pyramid scheme, which in fact pretty much every business is then I wouldnt buy anything! You get what you work for. Many people fail because they quit too soon and stupidly spend too much money on products that they dont use.

    1. Hi, thanks for commenting.

      Yes, a person opening their own shop WOULD have start-up costs, but first of all, they are paying to have their OWN BUSINESS, where they have complete control over what products they sell and for how much, what the name of the shop is etc. People working for Arbonne are paying to work for somebody else (contrary to what many people in MLMs say, you are an independent contractor if you are in an MLM, not a small business owner) and have no control over the products they sell, how they are priced, product design, company name, returns policy etc. You are paying to work for somebody else’s business, not to start your own.

      Second, 40% of new businesses fail in the first year. 99% of people in MLMs make no money or lose money. 40% is a LOT less than 99%, which shows me that it comes from a flaw with the business model itself, not with the people in the business just ‘not trying.’

      I agree that the consultant should use the products that they are advertising – however, in influencer marketing or even traditional advertising (with celebrity endorsements etc.), the person is PAID to use the product, or, if they are a smaller influencer, they are gifted the product. They are not BUYING the product, thus paying the company to do their advertising for them – that’s crazy to me!

      Yes, many businesses are shaped like a pyramid but if you read my article, you’d know that I address this. People in a traditional job at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ still earn a salary, get sick pay, are entitled to holidays and other benefits like health insurance. People at the bottom of an MLM are entitled to nothing, and the business model is also based on recruitment. MULTI-LEVEL marketing cannot exist without recruitment, whereas most people in office jobs don’t have to recruit other people into the same job as well as doing whatever their usual tasks are. I explained it better in the article so I suggest you go back and re-read it if this comment doesn’t make sense.

      If the Arbonne products are so great then why does the business have to focus on recruitment and reward your growing your downline? I would have NO problems with Arbonne if it were a commission-based sales company WITHOUT the recruitment side of things. The fact that some people seem to like the products is great (although I do question why Arbonne products are more expensive than high end brands like Estee Lauder), but it is the fact that you must pay to work and recruit other people that I have a problem with.

  5. WAIT. Is this not what Mary Kay has been doing for many many years now. They are known to work as a pyramid scheme but they have never been shut down because they broke the law. Also, does it not also seem like a cult? People who are making money (Large or small) with this are convinced that it is good for all. It seems they have support groups, all of them being recruiters trying to get more recruiters. They become your best friend and mentor you through the process to get you hooked then drain you dry. If Mary Kay can continue to do this, why not Arbonne?

    1. Very recent former consultant here….Just want to say that bit about the Coronavirus was not the fault of the company itself. It was because of some idiots who were trying to make sales by promoting how healthy the products are and trying to use the pandemic to do so. Some consultants were also stating that people should join them because they can earn money with Arbonne if they couldn’t work their regular job because they had to stay home or they got laid off. I think they had good intentions but it was obviously in poor taste!!! And not condoned by Arbonne at all.

      The company doesn’t take this stuff lightly and reprimanded people right away. Emails were sent out to every consultant to make sure everyone understood that this was not to be done. The higher up consultants were informed of how to retrain their consultants on their team.

      We were never allowed to make medical claims and Arbonne doesn’t encourage the type of social media posts that were brought to the attention of the FTC. Arbonne does not encourage using the pandemic or any tragedy to make money and they made it very clear that consultants who continued to make these false claims would have their consultant status revoked.

      I remember at one time many consultants were falsely advertising that the Mayo Clinic endorsed our products or something like that which wasn’t the case. Arbonne used the Mayo Clinic for research and some consultants were mistakenly saying they approved of the products and were recommending them. It got to the point that the Mayo Clinic contacted Arbonne and said we’re getting a lot of questions about endorsing your products. Please make it clear to your consultants that that isn’t the case and they cannot make these claims. So Arbonne sent out documents for everyone to read and made sure that we all understood that we couldn’t use the Mayo Clinic to endorse the products or even use their name at all in our posts. It wasn’t something that the company was encouraging, it was based on not having the correct knowledge.

      Something you need to understand is that there are hundreds of thousands of consultants in different countries and sometimes some of them go rogue on social media. When they are found out the company definitely deals with it. These issues never come from the company itself. It’s always consultants who are trying to make a quick sale and doing it in a way that Arbonne doesn’t approve of or encourage/teach their consultants to do.

  6. I just wanted to add in the perspective of someone who technically is an Arbonne rep but who has never tried to recruit anyone and has only sold the product to 4 people and has made money…

    I was introduced to Arbonne a few years ago and fell in love with the products. I started with the nutrition products and then tried the skincare and makeup too. I decided to become a rep purely because I wanted to be able to purchase the products I loved at a bigger discount.

    Yes, there is a $50 startup fee and you have to make a purchase with that as well, but for me it was products I was already using so the purchase was no big deal. There are also no longer any monthly minimums required for selling Arbonne. I am never pressured to recruit others or sell more. I have never tried to recruit others because honestly I can make a little money just selling product to anyone I know who is interested, and that’s good enough for me.

    My goal was never to make it to the top or make a ton of money, I just wanted to use the products and maybe introduce them to friends who might enjoy them as well. Altogether I’ve sold products to only 4 or 5 people over the last couple years and I make a few hundred dollars a year doing so, which I consider a profit because I don’t consider the money I spend on products that I consume to be an expense of “running my business”. They’re just products that I want to use, and products that I would be buying from some other company if I wasn’t a part of Arbonne. At the 35% consultant discount, and if you take into account free gifts and deals, they’re not more expensive than a lot of other brands.

    Arbonne is also now a certified B Corporation, which I saw was mentioned in another comment as well. Other companies that are certified B Corporations include Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Allbirds. It is very hard to be B Corp certified and it means that they balance profit and purpose and make a positive impact on their communities. I’d highly recommend looking at the B Corporation website if you haven’t already, it’s actually very cool and I’m trying to do more of my shopping at companies that have this certification.

    Honestly, in my opinion, anyone who loses money as an Arbonne rep is simply doing it wrong. Either they’re purchasing unnecessary product or they’re being obnoxious on social media to their friends and family or they’re not following Arbonne guidelines. For example with the COVID claims, I remember when that happened and Arbonne sent out an email to all consultants saying that it was NOT okay to claim that Arbonne nutrition products could prevent or cure COVID, and that any consultant who did so would have their consultant status taken away. It was rouge reps making false claims, not the company itself making those claims.

    Anyway, just wanted to throw my thoughts into the mix and give another perspective.

  7. Ok, so I used to be an Arbonne consultant and I have to tell you most of what you have written is not correct. One thing you kept mentioning was this….
    “With Arbonne, every consultant must spend a certain amount of money on Arbonne products every month in order to ‘remain active’ and earn any commission.”
    This is completely untrue. One of the reasons I even considered starting a business with Arbonne is the fact that you don’t have to spend a certain amount on products each month to remain active. You don’t even have to spend anything every month to remain active. It was one of the first questions I asked when I was looking into the company because it’s really common with a lot of “MLMs”. It makes me question your motives for writing this article since you got something so basic so completely wrong. Either someone gave you the wrong info to mess with you or you are trying to mess with people by sharing the wrong on purpose. I’m also curious if maybe you’re being paid by another company to bash Arbonne?

    I will share the correct info mainly so your readers know the truth as I don’t think it’s fair to spread false info about a company just because you don’t like the industry as a whole. And again, I’m no longer a consultant with Arbonne.

    All you need to do to remain a consultant is renew your consultant status once a year.
    That’s it.
    Same as a Preferred Client, they must also renew their account once a year to continue buying at a discount. (Just like a Costco membership) Consultants get whole sale pricing which is the 35% you mentioned in the article and Preferred Clients get 20%. And as a consultant you get 15% commission on every PC order. 35-20=15. 20% of your discount goes to your PC and you get the remaining 15 as a commission.

    I think maybe what you’re referring to is that in order to get a paycheque you’d have to get 150 QV in sales (from actual clients) That was when we were getting paid once a month by cheque. Now consultants are paid out weekly by direct deposit.
    When you reach the first level of management then you get paid on a certain percentage of your own purchases so you really are getting paid to shop from your own online store at that point, which is really amazing.
    There are bonuses at every level of management but only if you hit the targets needed at that level. Again, it’s based on sales. You sell a product, you get commission. You sell a lot, you make the company happy and you get bonuses. It’s common in the industry. There are no repercussions for not selling. There is no quota.

    All the haters like to say that as an Independent Consultant with Arbonne you’re not really a business owner but in actuality you are. I’m in Canada and here to have a business you need to be registered with a GST number which you receive when you start the business with Arbonne. (You also get a website your customers can shop from) You need that for when you file your income taxes- yes, as a business owner. As an Independent Consultant you’re more like a franchise owner, except it’s not as expensive. You have to follow the rules of the company, you’re using their products, their materials, etc…just like a franchise owner does. Are there expenses? Yes. Because you’re running a business.
    It’s just not a typical business. You’re both salesperson and owner of your own business. You get paid by selling like a typical salesperson but there are many more perks then working regular retail. For example, when you reach the 3rd level of management you are able to pass on your business to your kids or whoever you want in your will.

    I think Network Marketing is a difficult concept for many people to understand because we’re so used to the traditional sales companies and their methods. The whole idea behind NWM is that anyone has the POTENTIAL to get to the top of the company. It’s not a promise or a guarantee that you will succeed. It’s a risk for sure! Anyone who gets into it should know that. You are not punching a clock and getting paid for the hours you work. You only get paid if you sell the products and you get bonuses for teaching others to do the same. Which by the way, you don’t have to do. You can just sell products and earn commission that way. Just because not everyone who joins is successful doesn’t make it a scam. Not everyone can be a doctor, does that mean being a doctor is a scam? A lot of people try and flunk out of med school, again that doesn’t make it a scam.

    Another thing that a lot of people are baffled by is the “recruiting” that goes on which helps you move up in management levels. When you sign up another consultant, you put in the time with them, you are training them, showing them the ropes, answering their questions, sharing your knowledge and experience with them, etc…
    And thankfully you get rewarded for that hard work by getting a percentage of their commissions as well. Does it take away from that other consultants commissions? No, absolutely not. It’s funny because with traditional business models a company will hire less people to make more profit and in NWM companies want more people in the business and they share the profits with everyone who is willing to do the work.

    If the company is profitable, why is it seen as a negative thing to share the profits with the people who are doing all the advertising and the actual selling? The ones who spend their days making contacts and keeping those contacts on behalf of the company. The ones who are sharing the products and product knowledge with their clients that they worked very hard to get and keep relationships with. And yes, the ones who are constantly being attacked by people who don’t understand how it all works. Those people are the Independent Consultants and believe it or not it takes a lot of work to be successful in this business. And when you sign someone up, you don’t just sign them up and run away, that’s not how it works and you’ll never be successful if you were to do that. They are now on your team and your job is to guide them, much like a manager would in a store.

    I’ve worked in a traditional sales setting and in Network marketing and I can tell you that network marketing is a thousand times better. I was not a salesperson, I worked in an Admin position in a store with traditional sales people and what I learned from the sales people about their job was shocking to me.
    They worked 12 or more hour days and didn’t get paid for their time. They could spend 2 or 3 hours In the store with one customer and if the customer walks away without buying a thing they don’t get paid.
    If they don’t sell consistently, they get fired.
    So they actually have to sell to “remain active” if you will, which was one of your untrue arguments against Arbonne.
    Their pay is based solely on commissions and they only received 4% of their sales. So imagine making a $400 sale and getting just $16. Now imagine that’s the only sale you make that day or that week. (With Arbonne a $400 sale from a Preferred Client would get you $60)
    At certain times of the year when business is slow they get paid anhourly wage HOWEVER, when business picks up again and they start selling they HAVE TO PAY IT BACK! Imagine having to pay back money that you earned to the company you are working for.
    When they train a new hire they don’t get rewarded in any way for it but the company does profit from it.
    They have to pay for their business cards. They are not given to the salespeople.
    They have to pay for their uniforms.
    Once a year the top sellers are treated to a dinner with the CEO. (In contrast, Arbonne sends their top sellers to Hawaii once a year)
    Now this is not a company that is suffering in any way and they can definitely afford to pay more then 4% commission to their hard working sales people. They just choose not to. And because people need jobs, they choose to accept it. If there was a better way to do the same type of job but with more benefits why not take a chance and try it out? Why is it considered shady when a company appreciates their employees or independent consultants and actually rewards them for a job well done?

    Back to Arbonne, I love the products and I think the company itself is amazing and I met a lot of wonderful, kind hearted people. I never saw or heard of the company doing anything illegal in the years I was with them. In fact, it was quite the opposite. We were constantly reminded to avoid shady sales tactics at all times and to be authentic and truthful in all of our dealings. This company does not encourage bad business practices at all. I am actually amazed at how ethical they are. That’s why I stayed for so long. It’s rare to find a company like Arbonne. A company that encourages lifting people up instead of bringing others down is such a foreign concept for many people and that’s just sad. If you don’t like the concept of Network Marketing that’s fine, just don’t work in that industry. No need to spread false information especially when you don’t even have first hand experience.

    1. Hey, thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I was referring to the fact that you have to get 150 QV in sales to qualify for commission and remain active, and that if people DON’T hit that, they will often buy products THEMSELVES in order to remain active. Also when you said ‘When you reach the first level of management then you get paid on a certain percentage of your own purchases so you really are getting paid to shop from your own online store’ – it rang massive alarm bells for me. If you are being paid/financially rewarded to BUY ARBONNE PRODUCTS then surely it isn’t such a leap to say that the DISTRIBUTORS ARE THE CUSTOMERS. I would bet that the majority of revenue from product sales in Arbonne comes from the distributors THEMSELVES rather than random ass people buying Arbonne. If this is the case then Arbonne is dangerously close to being a pyramid scheme.

      Also, you are not a business owner if you work for Arbonne. You are an independent contractor. The two are totally different things. You said in your coronavirus comment that Arbonne sent out emails to all the reps telling them what they can and can’t say with regards to Arbonne products – if you owned a business then you wouldn’t have corporate higher-ups telling you what you can and can’t do. You also said that people can have their distributor status revoked by Arbonne if they break the rules – again, if you owned a business then nobody would be able to fire you.

      As an Arbonne rep, you are not in control of anything in terms of product design, logo, COMPANY NAME, the price of the product, the ingredients of the product, the packaging, the commission structure, the compensation plan – nothing. Arbonne make the rules and Arbonne can fire you at any point. You are being paid BY A COMPANY for selling the company’s products. As somebody who is currently a small business owner, and someone who has also worked as an independent contractor, the two things are WAYYY differently, and I find it super offensive that MLM reps call themselves small business owners when they don’t actually do 90% of the things that are involved with running a business. Franchises and MLMs are also not the same things, haha. I suggest you Google that one because other people have explained it better than I could, but being part of Arbonne is NOT the same as, say, having a Starbucks franchise.

      And no, I am not being paid to bash Arbonne 🙂 just wanted to put the numbers out there.

    2. Wow, you need to update your info. We are NOT paid when new people sign up. We only receive commission on product sales.
      We DO NOT have a monthly minimum order. For all of those people not receiving income it is because they are not selling any products. Why would a company pay you if you are not working?
      Like any business, you have to WORK to receive commission.

    3. Brilliant and sooo very well said !! Agree with all They area Brilliant company ! I haven’t met anyone yet who signed up and enjoys the whole ethos ….feel anything bad about them. Alsorts of fabulous people are growing and changing lives and making themselves a lovely life too among great people ! and sharing the love of brilliant products natural ingredients with real results – Only a positive in my eyes ,,, The community also changes lives … xx Ive been involved for 2 years and the expansion is huge ..

  8. This is one of the best written and well researched articles I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing your brilliant work. After a video appeared in my social media feed of a beautiful young mother of 4 heavily promoting this brand and how it pretty much made her life perfect (provided her motivation, money, friends, community, a reason to live, an ethical framework etc..) I had to learn more, driven by how convincing her pitch clearly would be to many, many women. I watched another of her videos where she appears with another young beautiful woman, the two go on to extoll the virtues of the company and explain (while laughing at the implausibility of the very suggestion) how it isn’t a pyramid scheme, because by definition “a pyramid scheme doesn’t sell products” and it is, in fact, a “Rectangle” with equal room at the top for everyone to exist. These kinds of business structures blow my mind. There is a way to make a, short term, decent income from Arbonne: follow the lead of the Californian couple.. sign up, then take them to court a few months later (best done if you or your partner is already a lawyer specializing in this field, to keep time and costs to a minimum). I’m sure the profit/settlement would equate to something more than minimum wage!

  9. I did not read the whole thing. But you do not have to purchase a certain amount every month to remain active. That is not true information being given out

      1. There is no minimum amount that you need to buy. It would be foolish and pointless to purchase just to get to 150 qv. Your article is full of misinformation that shows you lack clear understanding of your subject.

  10. I encountered some “Arbonne Consultants” on a video call last week. The amount of pseudoscience they were spouting about their supplement and detox products was truly alarming. These are people with NO nutrition qualifications (whereas I do have some, albeit not degree level) dishing out dietary advice that has no proven scientific backing. No doubt the training they receive makes them believe that what they’re selling does have legitimate benefits, but if we’re still looking at reducing the number of bogus health claims out there in the marketplace, we could do a lot worse than look at Arbonne.

  11. My friend’ wife joined Arbonne, he said it changed her personality for the worse, she became fixated on recruiting people into the scheme. He described Arbonne as a cult and their marriage soon failed.

  12. Thank you for sharing this article. I really was thinking of joining this company. I mean I had a party and everything, but was skeptical throughout this whole thing. I will be letting the consultant know that I don’t want to move forward with it.

  13. Mr WifeNearlySuckeredIn

    Found this page after reading a BBC news article discussing the same question whether Arbonne is or isn’t a pyramid scheme. A friend of my wife claims to be in that desirable top fraction of a percent that have achieved the premium level and all the perks that come with it and it always smelt a bit fishy to me. So sad to think of all the poor naive folks suckered in on the promise of a better life without seeing the cold hard facts laid bare here. Hopefully those with even a modicum of sense find this article before it’s too late and realise it’s a big con. Even if it stops one person falling victim I’d say you’ve done a good job! Great work, keep it up!

  14. Iv not read many full articles as usually they can get boring. This I loved and read it to the end! Was so well written. I wanted to know more about Arbonne as I had a woman trying to recruit me so wanted to know more. Jeez!!! I feel like like telling her all the truths but I imagine it wouldn’t work well. Great article!!

    1. Aw thank you so much, it means the world to know that you read the whole thing and enjoyed it! Yup, the truth rarely seems to work on them, but you can try! So glad you didn’t get sucked in.

  15. It amazes me that you did all this poking and digging around through Google and other internet sources instead of getting some facts from a legit source. Your ignorance is mind blowing and hilarious at the same time. And as we’ve heard it before ignorance is a bliss. I can’t help but wonder how do you make a living of this? If you truly would like to help people (your followers) I suggest you find resources that give you actual facts rather than trying to figure out how to present those numbers in a dramatic way to help people buy into your closed minded stories. Wow.

  16. I loved reading the comments because it showed exactly what you said in the beginning. People who are called out for being in a pyramid scheme REALLY hate being told they’re part of a pyramid scheme. Lol. I think this article was great. I have a friend that is flooding my social media pages with her Arbonne stuff and I really wish she would realize how much of an absolute scam it is. Thanks for the great read!

  17. So many of your statements in this article are completely false. For one, Arbonne constants DO NOT have to spend a certain amount each month to remain active, ever. Never ever. That is not a requirement. And, for anything a consultant sells, whether they purchase good themselves or not, they get paid a commission. It’s funny how you use the word scheme throughout. It’s an effort based business. You sell, you earn. You’re hilarious. So miss informed. Do you know what a B Corp is?

  18. Hi there. I am a consultant currently. I have been against selling anything at all my whole life – because it’s just not me. And I’ve been particularly turned off by all of the pyramid schemes I’ve seen out there. I hate pressure. I hate manipulation. I hate social media for the most part. I hate it when people are different in real life than when they are trying to sell something and promising things they can’t deliver. But now I’m 50. And as I’m a teacher I get gifts from students’ families. One of the families does sell Arbonne and have given me many products over the years. My husband and I both didn’t have problems with weight and health when we were young – but life happened and we had become so unhealthy. The extra weight was a burden and caused us both to have much less fun in life. We have always eaten healthy for the most part. Lots of veggies. Not eating out much at all. We had tried many plans – free ones, apps, counting, expensive ones. And they were all so very hard. When we did have any weight loss success it was so hard and we would eventually come to the conclusion, “I’d rather be fat than feel like this.” Some pills I had bought from a tv commercial caused me to have such terrible heart palpitations that I nearly passed out. Another plan messed with my hormones and made my hair fall out. An elimination diet that we tried was helpful – but we had so many headaches and it was not sustainable. So we thought we’d give the 30 days to Healthy Living a try. We only started the last day of February and though it’s a little up and down – especially with wonderful life events (like a son getting married) my husband has lost 36 lbs and I have lost 20 lbs and it is the very easiest time we have ever had. (We’ve still got further to go.) I appreciate that they do not gaurantee any results and it’s not even advertised as a weight loss plan. It’s just healthy nutrient dense shakes and drinks. We are able to bike again, have played tennis for the first time in years, and… lots of things are more fun. 🙂 I know it won’t work for everyone because we’re all different. I did sign up to be a consultant so I could get the cheapest price I could. I even told my friend that I do not plan to sell it. I have never felt any pressure from her. And I have appreciated that the company does not require anything of me. They do not have any autoships… I would never do it if it was autoship. Autoship is a scam. I had started with the skin care and so only ordered it and then didn’t order anything for several months until wanting to try the nutrition line. Noone gave me any pressure. No one even asked if I wanted to order more. Well, even though I didn’t intend to sell it, friends have been asking me what we’ve been doing to loose weight. And honestly, if someone hadn’t told me about this – I would be sad to not have found something that is working. I know it’s not going to help everyone. We all have such different needs and problems. I have listened to several of the training sessions and have found that there are some consultants that I never want to be like and there are some that are really great. But that’s true for every business and group of people. I don’t expect to get rich. I just want to buy the products. I searched and searched for comparable products at Walmart and even searched for how to make my own from scratch. And so far I have found nothing that has compared when I look at the labels. That is one reason Arbonne is good is that they have banned about 2,000 ingredients which the FDA allows. I would like to go to their plants and see how they make things because I think it would be fascinating. I wish I could be a biochemical expert and see how they make things and what everything does. I don’t like hype. Hype feels manipulative to me. All I know is what I have experienced. And I completely see what you are saying in general about pyramid schemes, etc. I’m not in it for $ or for the pyramid. I just like the products. And I do appreciate the opportunity to share/sell as it feels natural. I like a lot of products and promote lots of businesses I like – like our local Peterson’s Automotive – best mechanic ever. But I never get the opportunity to make money off of that. So I appreciate the opportunity here – even though I never ever thought I would do something like this. And I still never want to be “THAT” person. I just want to be me and be honest.

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