Stop & Read: The Scam that is Rodan + Fields

To put it bluntly, I am at the point in my life where there is no room for fluff. Time is always of the essence when you have young children and work full-time (and actually still enjoy being able to sleep every now and then). So, unless it is going to save me time, make me money, or make me happy, I'm just not going to mess with it. It took me 30 years to figure out how to say 'No' to people. 30 years! And I still struggle with it.

So when the opportunity first came about to join Rodan + Fields, a premium skin care company, I was polite, but without hesitation, said no. For one, I am not a sales person. Two, I despise network marketing companies (MLMs as they are commonly know), and three, I don't have time. Three super solid reasons to say no; so solid in fact, that they happen to be three of the most common reasons people decline MLM opportunities.

So there you have it. Rodan + Fields is a scam.

Just kidding. That is hardly a fair analysis.

Let's dive in deeper.

Multi-Level Marketing companies (MLMs) are often thought of as modern day 'pyramid schemes' in which one person "recruits" others to join their team and then profits as they build, essentially, a pyramid, underneath them. Pyramid schemes are illegal and have been for some time. What distinguishes MLMs from pyramid schemes is that MLMs are selling a product (not just recruiting people), and consultants are paid based on their referral sales to the public. Pyramid schemes are bad. MLMs are both good and bad; as is true with most things in life, there are extreme cases covering both ends of the spectrum. This negative connotation, courtesy of their illegal predecessor, has unfortunately managed to stick very tightly to MLMs over time.

Photo source:

MLMs, like Rodan + Fields, use direct selling as their means for getting their product out to the masses, rather than traditional selling via a storefronts and costly advertising. Direct sales has been dramatically rising in recent years as companies have seen the benefits of forgoing expensive overhead for storefronts and have turned to a direct sales model (also called network marketing or referral marketing) to generate revenue instead. The sales force is commonly referred to as "Consultants" and they are not employed directly by the company, but are paid commissions for referring people to their products (much like you can get a referral bonus at work for referring a new employee, or getting paid out as an affiliate or partner for referring a product). It's genius, really. 

So why is this bad? If it isn't a pyramid scheme then it all sounds legitimate enough... right?

Billionaire Warren Buffet's company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns The Pampered Chef (a well known direct sales company). In fact, Berkshire Hathaway owns a couple MLMs. His buddy, and fellow billionaire, Bill Gates, has stated that if given the chance to start all over again, he would choose a network marketing business.* Multi-millionaire businessman Dave Ramsey has said that MLMs "...are a legitimate method for some people to make some side money and sometimes to literally build their own business." So, according to some very well known and respected rich older men, MLMs sounds legitimate. But, I'm still not buying it... 

Because I am a skeptical person by nature, it's not enough for someone to just tell me something and have me believe them. I want to know the facts, I want to see the research. So I decided to dig into R+F's products to learn more. Fortunately, I already knew a little bit about them firsthand. I am a 1-year+ user of one of their skin care and Lash Boost lines (and admittedly LOVED them. Still do). I know others who have used their other product lines and have given equally positive reviews as well. I have even received compliments on my skin and eyelashes since starting with Rodan + Fields from my fellow mommy friends.

But a few good reviews is hardly enough to turn a skeptic into a believer. So I poured through internet articles, as any good skeptic would do, and ultimately came up largely empty-handed in my quest to find negative press. It seems that others loved the products as much as me, except for a handful of naysayers here and there... though I have yet to witness a product that has won over the heart of every customer. 

But what about the price? These products definitely aren't cheap, so is there something about the markup that would indicate a scam?

R+F Products are way overpriced in order to pay Consultants

You are paying close to $200 for some of these skin care lines. Sure, people seem to like (errr... love) the products... and sure Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields, the Dermatologists who developed the line, have a pretty credible history (they developed that little well known product ProActiv)... but does the price justify what you're getting? Or are you paying a hefty sum in order to pay a consultant's commission?

To answer this, look at a traditional selling model, in which a product is sold by the parent company to a middle man (sometimes multiple middle men), who each mark up the product as it travels on its way to the end consumer. The average markup on premium cosmetics is 78%. Put it this way, if you were able to buy your product directly from the manufacturer (at wholesale) it would cost you $100; but by the time it makes its way to Nordstrom, it costs you $178. In essence, you are getting a lower quality product at a higher cost. 

With direct sales, there are no middle men, unless you count the consultants (who in this case are largely female... so you could make the argument that there is one middle-woman). With Rodan + Fields you can get a much higher quality product for the same (or less) cost. 

The final verdict

PROS: When I tried Rodan + Fields for the first time, I fell in love with the products. I was looking for a "grown-up" version of ProActiv that would start battling the early signs of aging, and this fit the bill perfectly. And then came Lash Boost, the first real competitor to enter the market and go head to head against Latisse (I love long lashes almost as much as I hate wrinkles). The price seemed a bit steep, but nothing I wasn't used to when compared with other high end anti-aging brands, and Lash Boost was priced very competitively. 

The health of the company is also incredibly important to note. If a business is up to their ears in debt, doesn't have a solid vision clearly laid out, or has stagnant or declining growth, it's probably best to pass the opportunity by. Rodan + Fields on the other hand is a debt-free company, has seen 90% growth year-over-year, is the #1 Premium Skin Care brand in the US, and is the #1 fastest growing skincare brand in the US over the last 5 years. So yea... there's that.  

CONS: R +F being negatively labeled as a pyramid scheme (which we established, it is not). R+F having crappy products (which we established, they most definitely do not). And R+F being overpriced (which we also established, they are not). 

Verdict: Rodan + Fields is NOT a scam. They are a female-run, legitimate business model with exceptional, well-priced products, managed and sold by a large team of direct sales Consultants from around the world.

Good skincare is as much a necessity for me as are clean teeth, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle. As is true with everything I love, I share it with as many people as I can. The thinking that we become limited when we help others rise to success is severely short sighted. Rather, as we empower others, we all rise up together. And I would like to do so looking fresh-faced with beautiful, glowing skin. (After all, who has time for makeup before 5 a.m. gym sessions? Never will I ever.) 

I want to inspire women (and men), and to help them look and feel their best. Just as I share my favorite exercises, fitness apparel, parenting tips, baby products, etc., this too is something I feel strongly about sharing. Confidence and beauty reside on the inside but shine on the outside.

And that, ALL OF THAT, is why I finally decided to join the Rodan + Fields team. 

I am not a sales person, nor do I ever aspire to be, so don't worry about me constantly hitting you up to buy products; it's never going to happen. And no, I do not have an abundance of time to work on a side business - who does have an abundance of time though? You make time for what is important, just as I make time to work out every day at 5 a.m. And yes, I still do despise many MLMs because I feel as though they mislead people. But this company is absolutely none of those things. 

It took over a year of being a loyal product user for me to be able to fully support and put my name behind this brand; I don't take it lightly. Testing the water before jumping in with both feet is never a bad idea. And don't just buy into the hype around a product; do your homework first! Fortunately, if you've made it this far into the article, a large portion of your homework has already been done for you and all that's left to do is to take the leap. You have a team to support you the entire way! And if this isn't for you, that's ok too. The beauty of life is that we are all free to choose our own paths.  

I am so excited to start this new journey and hope that you will join me! And if you just aren't ready yet, you know where to find me when the time is right. 

If you are interested in adding Rodan + Fields to your life, in learning more about the company, or in trying some of their amazing products, contact me! All questions are welcome.


*DISCLAIMER: This topic is hotly debated as to whether Bill Gates was referring to joining a network marketing company vs. owning a network marketing company. In doing research on the topic, it is hard to pinpoint the exact context in which the topic was originally stated.