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Is Nu Skin a Worthwhile Business Opportunity?

If you have looked into any skincare and/or nutritional supplement MLMs lately, then you may have heard of Nu Skin. This company offers a direct sales MLM sales model to its independent contractors, who are called distributors. Anyone can sign up and become a distributor by filling out an online application on the Nu Skin website.

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What is Nu Skin about?

Nu Skin is a Utah-based direct sales MLM company that was founded in 1984. It offers several lines of skin lotions, spa products, nutritional supplements and even select foods. Nu Skin’s 200+ products are strongly based on the premise that their use will delay and/or mitigate the process of aging. This claim is promoted quite strongly in the company’s ageLOC lines of skin care and nutritional supplement products.

Over time, Nu Skin has worked with and acquired scientific and health related companies to expand its product lines.

In 1996, Pharmanex, which is a nutritional supplements company, was added to the Nu Skin portfolio. This addition brought about the launch of the Pharmanex BioPhotonic Scanner, a device purported to measure carotenoid levels in skin and report them back to the user via a Skin Carotenoid Score. In 2011, Nu Skin bought out LifeGen Technologies, a genomics company based in Madison, Wisconsin. This enabled Nu Skin to launch its ageLOC line of products.

How do you start a Nu Skin business?

Nu Skin does not sell its products in stores. Products can be purchased online, on the Nu Skin website, provided that the customer already knows his/her distributor’s ID. Alternately, one can purchase and/or sell Nu Skin products by applying to become a distributor. To do this, one also needs to know a distributor’s ID.

The price of enrollment is low at just $25. A new distributor is also not obligated to sell any minimal volume of product. However, in order to start earning commissions and bonuses, he will need to purchase inventory at wholesale price and sell it to new customers. He will also need to recruit current customers and non-customers into becoming Nu Skin distributors.

Wholesale inventory is reduced by 25%. So, for example, if you wish to purchase and sell 3 units of ageLOC Future Serum, you’d first need to spend $492.75 on the wholesale order. Then, you would pocket $164.25 for yourself once the customer purchased those units from you.

Nu Skin products are not cheap. Luckily, the company now offers a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee on returns. It also offers 90% monetary compensation on returned products that are over 30 days old.

Nu Skin distributors also earn additional commissions from their downline- provided that their downline meets a given amount of sales. So, as a new distributor with a few recruits, you must ensure that your downline makes $200 in sales before you get that additional $10 commission.

As with any business opportunity, there are pros and cons to signing up with Nu Skin.


Study-based products– While the company has been criticized and even sued for outlandish claims about the benefits of its products, Nu Skin does publish user-based studies of its skincare and other products. These studies are based on the observations of the users after using Nu Skin products for a period of time. Overall, user perceptions of product benefits are positive.


Minimum sales requirements– Nu Skin claims that its distributors aren’t obligated to sell a given amount of product. However, if they wish to earn any kind of commission and bonuses, they must actually purchase and (hopefully) sell a given volume of product. They must also ensure that their downline purchases/sells a set volume of product.

Expensive products– Nu Skin products are expensive. Expensive products mean that potential and even current Nu Skin customers will need extensive proof that these products are good and actually work as claimed. The sales cycle will be longer. Finally, some customers will simply be out-of-reach because they will not have the budget for such expensive purchases.

False product claims– Nu Skin has been sued by five states for overstating the income earned by its distributors and has been called an illegal pyramid scheme by the Attorney General for Connecticut. It’s also gotten in trouble with the FTC and has had to pay out $1 million in 1994 and then another $1.5 million in 1997. More recently, the company was fined $540,000 in 2014 by the Chinese State Administration for Industry & Commerce for illegal sales and deception of consumers.

Exaggerated science claims– When a company publishes “scientific proof” slides like these, even non-scientists like the FTC) raise their eyebrows:

A statement, such as the one provided above, is so vague as to be completely useless. Anti-aging research has, to date, identified a few aging-related genes. It has yet to cause them “to express themselves more youthfully” – except perhaps by caloric restriction. Furthermore, the work was performed on mice and rhesus monkeys, not humans. If such an event has in fact occurred any other way, the data (i.e., journal citations) are not provided here.

And then there is this slide:

Aging research scientists still can’t agree on what is/are the actual cause/s of aging, much less how to target them. Unless LifeGen Technologies stumbled upon a massive breakthrough in aging research, such claims are unsubstantiated and misleading.

Unsavory personal and legal issues– The founders of Nu Skin have attempted to portray the business as wholesome and family-oriented. However, the founders’ personal and professional lives have been anything but. Sandie Tillotson, one of the company’s founders, has had her ex-husbands publish tell-all books that have damaged Nu Skin’s image. Nedra Roney, another Nu Skin founder, was charged with prescription and insurance fraud. Robert Clark McKell, her husband, was accused of committing other (even worse) crimes.

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Is a Nu Skin business worth it?

Given the ongoing legal issues with Nu Skin and its products, I cannot recommend this company as a business opportunity. Also, because the company’s products have been overhyped by both its executives and distributors, it’s hard to believe any of the product benefits touted by the company and its published collateral. With so many other (and less scandalized) business opportunities out there, you are better off passing on Nu Skin.

Have you bought or sold Nu Skin products? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.

9 thoughts on “Is Nu Skin a Worthwhile Business Opportunity?”

  1. I for one use the toothpaste and my teeth have not been whiter than they are now. I previously tried strips, OTC paste, and gel/trays sold by my dentist and the results were poor.

    As far as, the people at the top making more than those below them. That’s with any business, it’s not exclusive to NuSkin or any other MLM. I used to be a VP at a very well known, solid bank. I traveled and worked very long hard hours. Yes, I made good money but those above me all the way to the top made out like a Bandit!!

  2. I have seen several people on FB who sell Nu Skin and they seem to be successful, taking a trip to Africa as a reward for their sales! I have personally tried the AP 24 toothpaste with not very much success.

  3. Hi, twice in the last two weeks I’ve seen people on Facebook hawking a super mysterious, magical toothpaste that’s supposedly going to whiten your teeth after just a few uses. I’m fairly certain it’s Nu Skin’s new AP24 toothpaste after researching natural toothpastes that are sold directly only (there aren’t a lot). It looked super weird that when you ask what the brand is they’ll only tell you via private message, and when I tried to voice my concerns that this was a pyramid scheme, I got blocked by this person, which only raised higher red flags.

    Thanks so much for a well-researched and documented page, it’s made me more confident that my suspicious were correct.

  4. So far I have not read any reviews about MLM programs that are worth promoting.
    These kind of programs seem to good for those at the top of the line (owners for example) but not for the others.
    A simpler, more direct way of earning commissions seem to be far more effective for most people. Affiliate Marketing for example or an running an online store. There are plenty of opportunities these days.
    Thanks for a good review.

  5. As far as I can remember my parents have spent years trying to build an income with over 20 MLM-companies and they never succeeded.

    The most blatant mistakes they’ve ever made was with a money chain company names skybiz. I think it’s off the map now.

    Too bad this website wasn’t online back then. Anyway, I gotta be thankful to my parents to for showing me by example what I should trust and what I should not.

  6. It’s good to know what’s positive and what isn’t about this company, but in my opinion anything that’s run like an MLM is can only be a scam. It inevitably happens – the guys at the top make lots and lots of money, and the guys at the bottom are running around trying to sell worthless products to their friends and family and making no money. I think MLMs are best left alone.

  7. What a great review, I have heard of Nu Skin through advertising but did not realise it was only sold online and a MLM company. Good to know all the pros and cons and the history behind it, also saves me time by not having to search for this information before deciding if I want to buy.

  8. Steve,

    Once again, you rocked on a review. I enjoy your reviews because they are full of facts, relevant images, and links to give the reader plenty of ammo to pull the trigger on a decision.

    Great research and clearly presented. I appreciate all your hard work.

    Mike Jay


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