You might not be familiar with the term "MLM" — multilevel marketing — but you definitely know the beauty brands that people sell on Facebook. There are a variety: LipSense, Younique, Jamberry Nails, and Rodan + Fields are the top featured brands on the platform. Whether it's a lipstick that doesn't come off throughout the day, a mascara that triples your lashes, cute nail wraps, or a skincare regimen meant to cure all of your woes, chances are you've been approached by a distributor through Facebook.
If not, it's rare. According to the Direct Selling Association, 20.5 million people in the United States were involved in the business in 2016, 74 percent of them being women. And if you notice many of your friends from the South are selling these products, you're correct. It's reported that 37 percent of direct sellers live in this area of the country. This lifestyle is appealing for many because it allows them to work from home and make their own hours, and in some cases they can become wealthy — although it's rare.
One particular brand, Rodan + Fields, has taken over the internet. I am familiar with Rodan + Fields as they are the doctors behind Proactiv solution. As a 15-year-old, it was the only product to help get rid of my breakouts, and surely if Lindsay Lohan was an ambassador, I knew I needed to get it. (How times have changed!)
Now, Rodan + Fields is a $1 billion company with legions of distributors. In fact, Lynne Spears, Britney's mom, is an independent consultant and has been since 2011, apparently earning a Lexus for her work.
I relate to feeling annoyed and upset by the tactics of independent distributors, but think of it this way: they are aggressive when selling product not only because of the incentives to do well but also because most MLMs require an investment for startup costs. So many of these sellers are trying to break even at the start. Given they only receive a small percentage of the selling cost, they're eager to sell as much product as possible. (It should be noted that Rodan + Fields in particular have startup costs as low as $45 and are never required to hold inventory, per a Rodan + Fields PR.) I wouldn't nix a product just because the way it's sold can be tiresome and oftentimes annoying, so I gave several a try: Reverse Brighten, a line meant to help even out your skin tone; Active Hydration, a moisturizing serum; and Lash Boost, a lash-lengthening serum.
As someone with melasma, I know the only option to truly get rid of it is getting off my birth control. Since that is not an option for me and many other women, I use topical skin care in conjunction with sun protection to try to keep my skin as clear as possible. Reverse Brighten includes four steps. The first is a deep exfoliating wash, which is basically like any other lactic acid cleanser out there. The second step is a toner.
Toners are debatable in the beauty community; true toners are supposed to balance your pH, but this one seems more like an astringent, especially with the witch hazel water and the other active ingredients like salicylic acid. Additionally, it includes kojic acid, which is a known lightening ingredient and an alternative to hydroquinone. The Reverse Lightening kit includes hydroquinone as an ingredient, but as someone whose skin doesn't react well with it, I opted for Reverse Brightening instead.
Step three is twofold: vitamin C and a retinol. The vitamin C cream includes ascorbic acid, a superstar when it comes to brightening. I'm still unsure of the percentage of retinol used. Step four closes out the regimen with an SPF 50 broad-spectrum sunscreen, although it should be noted it's a chemical, not physical, screen. All that said, it didn't do much for my skin. I did have a glow after using the regimen a few times, but ultimately, in the long-term, I felt like my skin was ruddier and not even toned after using it long-term.
On to Active Hydration Serum. This was a product heavily pushed on Facebook but ultimately fell flat for me as well. It's a serum, but it has a unique consistency in that it almost feels like an oil. It claims to make you look younger by making your skin more hydrated, but for $108, I've used better products.
Finally, there's Lash Boost. I've tried a variety of lash-enhancing products because I've experienced breakage from both eyelash curlers and lash extensions. (Please, please don't tell me lash extensions "don't break your lashes." They do. I've come to terms with it, and you should, too. I'd still get them, though!) I love Latisse because it really does deliver, but one common complaint is that it's difficult to get. Sometimes I see it in med spas and salons; oftentimes it's at the dermatologist.
I tried Lash Boost after my most recent round of lash extensions and noticed that my lashes were not only sparse but also thinner than normal. I have relatively long lashes for my eye shape, so it bummed me out when I'd put on mascara and my lashes weren't naturally fluttering to my brows. There were broken tips as a result of wear and tear from my lash extensions, so I had nothing to lose.
Lash Boost doesn't require that you use a separate applicator for each eye, which I appreciate. I didn't use this product every day, because honestly I forgot for a certain period of time. I noticed though that after only four weeks of consistently applying the serum at night, my lashes were longer and thicker. At first I thought it was nature taking its course: my old lashes shed and I had a new crop! But I remembered how long it took my lashes to get back to normal after getting extensions in the past and realized Lash Boost was doing its thing. I use Lash Boost once a week now for maintenance and will definitely continue to use it, especially after I inevitably get lash extensions again.
For what it's worth, Latisse worked more quickly for me, but if you can easily get Lash Boost from a consultant, I'd go ahead and make the splurge — at $150, it's around the same price point.