Is Nu Skin a scam? Is it a pyramid scheme? Or is it a legitimate way to earn a living working for yourself in your spare time? I’m going to help you answer that question in the article below.
While this company has been around since 1984, their past isn’t all sunshine and roses. They have gotten into some trouble, which I’ll mention below.
But besides that, is Nu Skin a good opportunity to make money?
Let’s get into and I’ll show you.
What is Nu Skin?
Nu Skin is a company founded in 1984 by Blake Roney, Sandra Tillotson, Steven Lund and an allusive someone named Nedra McKell who’s no longer listed on the site as a founder and apparently has a bit of a shady past. It is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that operates worldwide and has approximately 850,000 distributors.
They sell a wide variety of anti-aging, nutritional and beauty products, including:
- Lip gloss
- Peels, masks & scrubs
- Vitamins and supplements
Product prices vary, but here are the costs for a few items:
- Powerlips Polish = $30
- ageLoc Transformation Package = $415.30
- Nutriol Shampoo = $31
- ageLoc TR90 TrimShake Vanilla = $102.15 (30 servings)
Now, let’s get into the business opportunity and see if it’s worth it.
How Much Does it Cost to Join Nu Skin?
There are a few options for signing up with Nu Skin.
1. Business Kits
These kits are each $512.80. There are three to choose from:
- Nu Skin Facial Spa Package
- TR90 30-Day Chocolate & Vanilla Kit
- TR90 30-Day GreenShake Kit
Unfortunately the website doesn’t state what’s in each one.
2. Introductory Packages
There are a variety of packages to choose from and the prices range from $54.05 to $1,290.50.
3. Autoshipped Products
I have read that another way you can sign up is to get signed up for an autoship package. You can be an active affiliate with a 50PV monthly package. (That would likely be a little over $50 a month.)
It’s unclear from their website what’s in these autoship packages or how they work exactly.
You also have the option to join for free, however, it’a hard to sell products that you don’t know anything about, so is that really an option?
Nu Skin Compensation Plan
The Nu Skin compensation plan (called Velocity and can be seen in its entirety on their website) is explained in the following video. I will add my own simplified version below the video.
The person in the video has the compensation plan broken down into 3 steps:
- Affiliate (Distributor)
- Representative (Executive)
- Partner/Director (Leadership)
Step 1: Affiliate (Distributor)
Everyone starts as an affiliate. As an affiliate, you can make money in two ways:
- Buy the products wholesale and sell them retail (products have about a 43% markup)
- Earn 5% commissions on any affiliates that you personally recruit. If those affiliates that you recruit recruit others, you will not get paid on those people. You are only paid on your level 1 recruits.
Step 2: Representative (Executive)
In this step you have to start building out a customer base, plus recruiting other affiliates. You have to qualify in order to receive team commissions. You qualify by:
- Having 100PV (personal volume) each month over a 3-month period
- Your team has to have a GSV (group sales volume) of 1000 in month 1, 1500 in month 2 and 2000 in month 3
Here’s an image from the website that shows how you can qualify. They use a building block system:
You will earn 9-15% commissions on your team’s sales (plus more for higher sales amounts):
Step 3: Partner / Director (Leadership)
As a Partner or Director, you can get paid 5% up to 6 generations, or 10% of your 1st generation.
Here’s what that looks like in terms of average dollars earned per level:
There are three levels of Partner:
- Brand Partner (Gold)
- Senior Brand Partner (Lapis)
- Executive Brand Partner (Ruby)
There are also three levels of Director:
- Brand Director (Emerald)
- Senior Brand Director (Diamond)
- Executive Brand Director (Blue Diamond)
We’ll take a look at the income disclosure in the next section and see what’s really going on with the incomes.
Nu Skin Income Disclosure
I am happy to report that there is an income disclosure available for Nu Skin. You can find it in its entirety here. There is also an excellent breakdown of the report (although, this might be for the year prior) here.
Some notes from the income disclosure:
- They don’t track retail sales because affiliates set their own pricing
- The average sales compensation paid to US Active Brand affiliates each month was $151.34
- The average sales compensation paid to US Brand affiliates who earned a sales compensation payment was $786.40
- An average of 19.38% of US Active Brand affiliates earned a compensation payment
- An affiliate is active if they placed an order for products, promotional materials or services within a three month period
- There were an average of 68,871 active affiliates in 2018
- Active Brand affiliates represent 27.30% of all Brand affiliates
Here’s the chart on the income disclosure:
It may be hard to see, but here’s the most important information…
Unless you’re an Emerald Director (0.2% of active affiliates), you’re not making any sort of decent income. And remember, the numbers are actually worse because they don’t take into account affiliates who signed up but then couldn’t make any sales and became inactive. Only 27% of affiliates are active.
This also doesn’t take expenses into account. I read an interesting article about Nu Skin and in that article they talked about someone from Pyramid Scheme Alert who signed up for Nu Skin for a year to see how hard or easy it would be to make money.
He said in order to make a living, he had to work full time, and he also had to spend $18,000 in expenses in order to travel and advertise in order to recruit people outside of his friends and family.
What happened to “work in your spare time while you stay at home with your kids?”
Nu Skin Complaints and Positive Reviews
Nu Skin does get an A+ rating from the BBB and they seem to have quite a few positive comments:
The positive commenters said things like:
- The products are amazing
- Great customer service
- I have seen amazing results using the products
- I love all the products
Some of the Nu Skin complaints include:
- The products don’t do anything
- I returned a product unopened and they charged me shipping anyway
- I spent $400 on a galvanic spa and it quit working
- I bought a LumiSpa for $200 (CAD) that had issues and they told me it was my problem and to buy a new one
I also found an ex-Nu Skin hunbot who said… “I recently left Nu Skin after spending SO MUCH money on these products I just “had to have” and then when I made no sales it was because I didn’t have this other product…”
Yup, that about sums it up for just about every MLM out there.
Here’s a great video from YouTuber Monica about Nuskin. I love this because she takes a look into some of their legal troubles:
- Is Stampin’ Up a Scam? [Or Can You Earn Money with This Crafting MLM?]
- Is Jeunesse a Scam? [Make a Killing Selling Anti-Aging Products?]
- Is NewULife a Pyramid Scheme? [Is This HGH Gel Even Real?]
- MLM vs Affiliate Marketing – Why Affiliate Marketing is 100x Better
Is Nu Skin a Scam?
Is Nu Skin a Scam? Technically it’s not a scam or a pyramid scheme because they do have products they can sell to customers. But, and this is a big but, Nu Skin is so on the border it’s not even funny. In fact, they’ve already gotten in trouble for being a pyramid scheme in China.
Are you a pyramid scheme even if your compensation plan makes you look like a circle?
- Relatively low start-up costs
- Positive reviews of the products
- Been in business for a long time
- It’s almost impossible to make money with this on retail sales
- Since recruiting is necessary to make money, it’s borderline a pyramid scheme
- Got in trouble in China for being a pyramid scheme
- Almost no one makes money in an MLM
- The products are overpriced (marked up 43% according to the video I posted above. One of their nutritional shakes costs over $100!)
- You do not run your own business in an MLM
- The “full-time pay for part-time work” saying is not true
The thing that probably scares me the most with MLMs is…
What happens if you DO happen to be one of the few that makes a great living with this and then the FTC shuts it down (like AdvoCare recently) or they just decide to drop the direct selling portion of the business like with Direct Cellars?
That’s why being in an MLM is NOT running your own business.
You have zero control over what happens in the business and you can lose your income in an instant.
An Alternative to Nu Skin
I assume you’re looking into the Nu Skin opportunity because you’re looking for a way to earn extra income. I get it. I fell into that trap too.
I was a hunbot for Young Living for a year, and instead of making lots of cash, I lost lots of it.
It seems like such a great dream to build a team and earn commissions off of them. Now I understand what a terrible business model MLMs are and that it’s almost impossible to make a good living with them.
That’s why I moved back over to affiliate marketing.
With affiliate marketing, you ARE in control of your own website and your own business. You don’t need to recruit, make hard sales, bother friends and family (or strangers), train people, hold parties or Facebook classes.
None of that.
You create a website.
You promote products that you recommend.
You earn a commission.
Of course, that’s the simplified version, but there’s not a lot more to it than that. In fact, you can click here to learn more about affiliate marketing and how it all works.
Is Nu Skin a scam? I think it depends on who you ask because Ethan Vanderbuilt would say yes. But so far, the FTC has not stepped in to shut them down, so we have to assume that it’s not a scam.
Will you make money with Nu Skin? The chances are very good that you will lose money. Because the products are overpriced, it’s very hard to sell them retail. Therefore, you’ll need to recruit a team. This is when you start to hit pyramid scheme territory.
Instead of dealing with all of that, why not try affiliate marketing? You have extremely low start-up costs and you don’t have any monthly minimum sales that you need to hit or any inventory to worry about at all. This is my #1 recommended platform to teach you affiliate marketing. They have a proven, step-by-step path that works. You get 10 lessons free. (There’s no credit card required.)