Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme? Let’s Find Out

Is Arbonne a pyramid scheme? 

Arbonne has some of the characteristics of a pyramid scheme but does not meet the full criteria for one based on my research. This multi-level marketing company (MLM) offers you many ways to make money. However, you might not necessarily earn the amount you were expecting after signing up. 

In this guide, I have compiled information from trusted sources as well as my own experience with Arbonne. I hope to help you make an informed decision about signing up for this income idea.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : It can be difficult to spot a pyramid scheme. Source: Giphy
It can be difficult to spot a pyramid scheme. Source: Giphy

Table of Contents

My Personal Experience

My experience with Arbonne began in early 2020 while looking up vegan-friendly health supplements. I was looking for products that would help me combat the daytime sluggishness I started experiencing in my early-30s. I’m not a big coffee drinker, so I wanted supplements that would offer a good pick-me-up similar to downing a cup of joe in the morning.

I found Arbonne after a bit of Googling and zoomed in on their “nutrition” products. Their caffeinated Fizz Sticks stood out to me as a refreshing caffeinated substitute for coffee. They came in various flavors and could be turned into caffeinated beverages in seconds. 

I then looked up reviews for the Fizz Sticks and found plenty of people praising them. 

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : American influencer Hannah Jane reviewed Arbonne’s Fizz Sticks on her Youtube channel in June 2020. Source: Youtube.
American influencer Hannah Jane reviewed Arbonne’s Fizz Sticks on her Youtube channel in June 2020. Source: Youtube.

By this point, I was convinced. I pulled out my credit card and ordered a box of Arbonne’s Ginseng Fizz Sticks without thinking twice. Four days later, the product arrived in the mail, and I decided to sample it immediately.

I was impressed by the Fizz Sticks’ flavor. It seemed like a good departure from the intense chemical-like taste I usually associate with energy drinks. The product’s caffeine content helped me feel more alert throughout the day. So I was definitely pleased with my purchase.

I revisited Arbonne’s website to see what other products they offered. However, I accidentally ended up navigating to their “Join Us” page. 

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme

Before this point, I assumed Arbonne was just an ordinary health and wellness products brand. You know, the kind with a large team of employed sales personnel. This changed after reading through their “Join Us” page.

The company openly invited people to join them as “Independent Consultants”. They described it as an opportunity to build your own business and benefit from “competitive earnings”.

This offer felt enticing because I was in-between jobs at the time. I had also pondered about starting my own business at some point. I thought working as one of Arbonne’s Consultants would help me brush up on my sales skills and eventually apply them to my own business endeavors.

I went ahead and signed up with the company after paying the entry fee. I also ordered my first batch of products to sell. My experience as an Arbonne Consultant lasted a total of  four months. 

I initially struggled to sell their products. After all, I was new to the sales game and didn’t know what I was doing. I reviewed some of the company’s resources for new consultants and switched up my sales strategy.

In my case, I found the most luck after promoting their products on different social media platforms. However, I still wasn’t generating the kind of income I was expecting. I called it quits after three more months and decided to keep the few Arbonne products I had left.

Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend Arbonne to people expecting to make a lot of money. I earned around $400 over four months after spending many hours a day promoting their products. 

I’ve written about my experience above. But I also want to talk about the company, its products, practices, and lawsuits to help you make a more informed decision about signing up with them. So join me as I deconstruct Arbonne and determine whether it is a good income generation outlet. 

What is Arbonne

“Arbonne” is an international beauty wellness, and health company. It’s official name is  Arbonne International, LLC. The company has been developing and selling skincare products for over four decades. They have also expanded to include makeup and nutrition products.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Arbonne sells a wide range of products. Source: Arbonne.
Arbonne sells a wide range of products. Source: Arbonne.

Arbonne’s Products

Arbonne offers a wide range of products that span skincare, makeup, and nutrition. Their skincare products cost between $19 and $100. They include:

  • Cleansers
  • Toners
  • Serums/Essences
  • Oils
  • Day creams
  • Night creams
  • Masks

Arbonne’s makeup products cost between $5 and $69. They include:

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme
  • Primers
  • Liquid foundations
  • Concealers
  • Sunscreens
  • Blushes
  • Bronzers
  • Eye Liners
  • Mascaras
  • Lip glosses
  • Lip serums
  • Travel bags

Arbonne’s nutrition products cost between $10 and $93. They include:

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme
  • Stick packs
  • Powders
  • Tablets
  • Bars & Chews
  • Tea
  • Liquid

Arbonne claims to have formulated each of the above products while meeting the following requirements:

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Cruelty-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Free from artificial flavors


Arbonne’s history is linked to its founder Petter Mørck. Mørck grew up in Norway and maintained a close connection with the country’s natural beauty and environment.

Mørck began working in the cosmetics industry after completing his education. However, he was disappointed to learn about the number of harsh chemicals used in cosmetic products. This knowledge inspired him to quit and develop his own line of products.

Mørck aimed to create cleaner skincare products that wouldn’t harm its users or the planet. He learned about direct selling while developing these products. The business model appealed to him for many reasons. He especially liked that it offered salespeople a chance to grow and exercise economic freedom.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Petter Mørck built Arbonne into the company it is today. Source: Youtube.
Petter Mørck built Arbonne into the company it is today. Source: Youtube.

Mørck began building his company in the United States in 1980. He named it “Arbonne” after a Swiss village surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. The founder then assembled a team of independent consultants to assist him with promoting his products.

Mørck trained these consultants personally and watched them develop and grow into leaders. The company reached $10 million in sales in 1989 and expanded into Canada in 2006.

Arbonne began operating in Australia, the UK, Poland, and New Zealand in subsequent years. They were acquired by Group Rocher in 2018 but have maintained the same vision.

The MLM company strives to empower people and help them flourish with “sustainable healthy living”. They use only plant-based ingredients and follow high clean standards. Arbonne co-develops products with experts and subjects them to rigorous scientific testing.

You can learn more about Arbonne’s origin in the following video:

CEO and Staff

Tyler Whitehead is currently Arbonne’s CEO. Whitehead was voted in as CEO in 2021 and has prior experience in the direct selling industry. He has also developed and sold dietary supplements and nutritional products in the past.

Arbonne’s founder, Petter Mørck, passed away in 2008. However, his son, Stian Mørck, is currently the company’s Vice President and Brand Ambassador.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Tyler Whitehead has been Arbonne’s CEO since 2021. Image source: PR Newswire
Tyler Whitehead has been Arbonne’s CEO since 2021. Image source: PR Newswire

Arbonne has over 600 employees globally. The company no longer discloses how many Arbonne Consultants they have. However, a report from 2017 declared they had over 320,000 consultants globally.

Is Arbonne a Pyramid Scheme?

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Only a tiny percentage of people in pyramid schemes ever end up making profits on the basis of recruiting new members. Image source: Corporate Finance Institute
Only a tiny percentage of people in pyramid schemes ever end up making profits on the basis of recruiting new members. Image source: Corporate Finance Institute

So is Arbonne a pyramid scheme? Let’s consult the legal definition of a pyramid scheme to answer this question. The Securities and Exchange Commission defines a pyramid scheme as “an investment fraud in which new participants’ fees are typically used to pay money to existing participants for recruiting new consultants.

They describe pyramid schemes as having the following traits:

  1. No genuine products or services are sold; 
  2. Members are promised high returns in a short period of time
  3. Members are told the business model allows them to make easy money or passive income
  4. There is no demonstrable revenue generated from retail sales
  5. Members must make a purchase to sign-up
  6. The business has a complex commission structure
  7. The business model places a high emphasis on recruiting

Why Arbonne Isn’t a Pyramid Scheme?

Arbonne is not a pyramid scheme as it doesn’t possess each of the traits described above. This includes:

#1. No Genuine Products or Services are Sold.

Arbonne offers numerous nutrition, skincare, and makeup products. I have personally purchased, used, and sold these products. Hundreds of thousands of Arbonne customers around the globe have also purchased and used the company’s products.

#2. Members are Promised High Returns in a Short Period of Time.

Arbonne is open about the amount of money you are likely to earn as a consultant. Their website’s “Join Us” page mentions that consultants earn between $120 and $159 per year on average. 

#3. Members are Told the Business Model Allows Them to Make Easy Money or Passive Income

Arbonne describes the different ways consultants can earn money. However, they also provide the following disclaimer on their “Join Us” page:

Arbonne makes no guarantees regarding earnings”.

The page also states that a consultant’s earnings will vary based on their time, effort, skills, and resources. Based on this information, Arbonne does not promise “easy money” or “passive income”.

#4. There is No Demonstrable Revenue Generated from Retail Sales.

Arbonne publicly discloses its annual revenue. The company made $200 million in 2021, according to its financial disclosure.

Arbonne has not explicitly stated that this revenue was generated from retail sales. However, it is unlikely the company could have generated $200 million from recruitment. They charge a $49 registration fee and have less than a million consultants globally.

#5. Members Must Make a Purchase to Sign-Up

Arbonne does not require consultants to make a minimum purchase or maintain a minimum inventory.

Why Do People Think Arbonne is a Pyramid Scheme?

Many people believe Arbonne is a pyramid scheme. They hold this belief for the following reasons:

Arbonne Has a Registration Fee

Pyramid schemes typically function by asking recruits to pay the person who recruited them or pay the company directly. These businesses then use these payments to prop up the entire company structure as they don’t sell any actual products.

While Arbonne does ask you to pay a $49 sign-up fee and a $29 annual renewal fee, they also generate a fair amount of revenue from selling actual products.

The Business Has a Complex Commission Structure

Arbonne’s commission structure can seem confusing for newcomers. This is because it rewards consultants in different ways. However, this commission structure is relatively straightforward for new recruits.

The commission structure becomes more complicated once you move to a higher level. People who reach higher levels will therefore need to follow a complex system if they want to achieve a certain earnings target.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Arbonne’s business model places a high emphasis on recruitment. Image source: Artofit
Arbonne’s business model places a high emphasis on recruitment. Image source: Artofit

The Business Model Places a High Emphasis on Recruiting

Arbonne’s business model does place a high emphasis on recruitment. The company offers you a percentage of the commission from your recruits’ sales. They also require the people registered below you to meet a minimum sales volume if you wish to move up to the next level. 

Both these factors encourage consultants to recruit newcomers while also selling products.

How Much Money Can You Earn from Arbonne? 90% of Arbonne consultants make less than $1k a month.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Annual earnings for Arbonne Consultants at each level. Source: Arbonne 
Annual earnings for Arbonne Consultants at each level. Source: Arbonne 

Fact: 90% of Arbonne consultants make less than $1k a month. This is from Arbonne’s own website.  

Also, the fineprint in the note says these figures are REVENUE, not PROFIT. So, the take-home money for 90% are less than $1,000 a month. That’s less than the miunimu wage of $1,256.7 a month.  

Arbonne consultants typically start off as “Independent Consultants”. They can work their way up to higher levels if they meet specific sales volume targets.

Independent Consultants can get promoted to the District Manager level after meeting a sales quota. Approximately 33% of Arbonne consultants are at the District Manager level. These consultants earn between $21 and $16,166 per year. The average earnings for this level are $2,299.

The next level is Area Managers. These consultants make between $1,713 and $46,780 per year. The average earnings from this level are $13,785, which is close to what you would be earning if you worked a minimum wage job in the United States.

Given the above information, only 11% of Arbonne consultants ever reach a level where they earn minimum wage or higher.

How to Earn Income Through Arbonne?

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme

You can earn money through Arbonne in multiple ways. This includes

  • Client commissions
  • Overrides
  • Achiever awards
  • Vice President success award

Method #1. Client Commissions

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Arbonne’s commission structure for people at the Independent Consultant level. Source: Arbonne 
Arbonne’s commission structure for people at the Independent Consultant level. Source: Arbonne 

All Arbonne consultants earn a 35% commission on products they sell to clients. They earn a 15% commission when they sell products to “Preferred” clients. 

Preferred clients are customers who have signed up for Arbonne’s premium membership. This membership offers members special discounts on products.

Method #2. Recruitment Fee aka “Overrides” 

Arbonne consultants earn a small commission percentage whenever the people they have recruited make a sale. Arbonne refers to these commission earnings as “overrides”.

If you are at the Independent Consultant level, you will earn 6% in overrides from the sales your recruited members make. If you reach a higher level, you can also earn overrides from the sales the people they have recruited make.

These overrides can be complicated to calculate at higher levels. However, they do offer consultants an incentive to recruit as many new members as possible.

Method #3. Achiever Awards

You can also earn special “Achiever Awards” for meeting specific goals each month. These are monthly earnings bonuses that range from $100 to $400, depending on your level.

To receive an Achiever Award for your level, you will need to meet each of the following criteria each month:

  • Register a minimum number of Independent Consultants or Preferred Clients.
  • Accumulate a minimum personal sales volume
  • Accumulate a minimum sales volume for the recruits registered under you.

Method #4. Vice President success award

If you manage to reach the Vice President consultant level, you may be able to earn the Vice President success award. This is an earnings bonus similar to the Achiever Awards, but at a higher amount, between $200 and $1,000.

You can get a more in-depth breakdown of Arbonne’s compensation schemes in the following Youtube video:

3 Key Advantages of Becoming an Arbonne Consultant.

Pro #1. Earning Income from Both Recruiting and Selling Products

Arbonne gives you a chance to earn income in multiple ways. If you’re good at sales, you may be able to pull in a fair amount of income selling their products. If you’re good at recruiting, you can earn a commission cut from the people you recruit.

You will need to be skilled at both these tasks if you want to advance to a higher level. This is doable according to Arbonne’s income earnings disclosure. The earnings disclosure shows that approximately 44% of consultants manage to make it past the first level. 

Pro #2. Selling a Wide Range of Products

Arbonne offers nutrition, skincare, and makeup products. The company doesn’t require consultants to sell products from each category. This means you can pick and choose which products you would like to order and sell.

This can be advantageous if you’re an influencer who specializes in a certain niche. For example, if you’re a health and fitness blogger, you can focus on selling Arbonne’s nutrition products.

Similarly, if you are a makeup influencer, you can use your existing social media to promote Arbonne’s makeup products.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Arbonne offers training resources for their consultants. Source: Soundcloud
Arbonne offers training resources for their consultants. Source: Soundcloud

Pro #3. Access to Training Resources

Arbonne offers numerous online training resources for consultants at different levels. You can access these training tools from your smartphone. This means you can learn new sales tactics on the go.

I personally used Arbonne’s training resources to learn about social media promotion. I managed to boost my sales significantly after implementing what I learned. I would say these training resources are valuable for anyone who is new to the sales game.

3 Key Disadvantages of Becoming an Arbonne consultant.

Con #1. Sales and Recruitment Quotas

Arbonne requires you to meet specific sales and recruitment quotas to maintain your level. If you fail to meet these requirements consistently, you will be downgraded to a lower level. This can impact your ability to earn overrides from people you have recruited.

Con #2. Dubious Product Claims

Many of Arbonne’s products don’t live up to their claims of being “safe” and “clean”. For example, the company’s Renewal Serum contains Cyclopentasiloxane. Environment Canada declared Cyclopentasiloxane as “toxic or harmful” in large quantities in 2008.

If you’re a skincare blogger or influencer, you may want to think twice about promoting certain Arbonne products to your audience.

Con #3. Making Money Isn’t as Easy as It Claims.

Remember 90% of Arbonne’s consultants make less than minimum wage. 

Only 1-2% of its people have a chance to hit the 6-figure revenue (not earning). Personally, this odd sucks.

To make any significant income, you need to sell products and recruit others. These are tough tasks, and you’re more likely to fail than sell enough products to advance.

But, still, people without access to better options might think $500 is a meaningful prize for their effort. 

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : “Professor Wade” teaching you how to earn $500 with Arbonne. Source: Instagram
“Professor Wade” teaching you how to earn $500 with Arbonne. Source: Instagram

Major Arbonne Controversy

Arbonne has been involved with many controversies over the years. 

The company was sued over accusations they were a pyramid scheme. Many Arbonne consultants also used the COVID-19 pandemic to push their products and recruit new members.

The MLM company was also sued for refusing to hire a deaf applicant in 2009.

Pyramid Scheme Lawsuit

A Texas couple sued Arbonne after accusing them of being a pyramid scheme in 2017. Cynthia and Michael Dagnall claimed to have lost money as Arbonne Consultants. They went on to state the company was an illegal conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The couple claimed Arbonne earned its annual revenue by conning its consultants. They backed this up by pointing out that the company charges for startup packages, registration fees, and renewal fees.

The Dagnalls aimed to represent all the consultants who signed up with Arbonne and lost money. However, the lawsuit was dismissed in March 2018.

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : Source: Court Listener
Source: Court Listener

COVID-19 Controversy

Is Arbonne A Pyramid Scheme : An Arbonne consultant promoted the company during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Instagram
An Arbonne consultant promoted the company during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Instagram

Many Arbonne Consultants took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to push Arbonne products and recruit new members in 2020. Some consultants falsely claimed Arbonne products could prevent or help treat COVID-19. They did this despite there being no evidence to support their claims.

Other consultants used the pandemic to recruit new members. Such consultants touted Arbonne as a great income generation method for people who had been laid off due to industry shutdowns.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent Arbonne a letter in April 2020 to end such activities. 

Deaf Applicant Lawsuit

Arbonne drew controversy in 2009 after refusing to hire a deaf applicant named Lisa Wilson. Wilson took up the issue with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They then filed a lawsuit against Arbonne.

The EEOC claimed Arbonne was violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by refusing to hire Wilson. Arbonne lost the case and was ordered to pay $30,000 and follow an 18-month decree to prohibit further discrimination.

The above lawsuits paint a more realistic picture of Arbonne and the people who work as consultants. You might also think twice about working for Arbonne, given how they have treated people with disabilities in the past.

The pyramid scheme lawsuit may also have been dismissed. However, it illustrated that many people do, in fact, lose money working as Arbonne consultants.

Final Thoughts

The information I have compiled above should offer valuable insight into whether or not Arbonne is actually a pyramid scheme. I personally do not believe the company is a pyramid scheme. However, it is one of the oldest multi-level marketing companies in the United States.

Arbonne has had many decades to refine its tactics and reshape its recruitment strategies to rope in new recruits. These recruits may join as consultants with the hope of earning lots of money. However, only 11% of Arbonne consultants ever reach a level where they earn minimum wage or higher.

You might also consider skipping Arbonne in favor of other MLM companies with better reputations. For example, Arbonne’s consultants have become notorious for misleading customers and new recruits. This is evidenced by the tactics they used during the COVID-19 pandemic discussed above.

So who would Arbonne be a good fit for? 

I think you might find success with Arbonne if you are an influencer that covers a specific niche. I like that you can choose to sell nutrition products, skincare products, makeup products, or a combination of each one.

So if you’re a makeup influencer or a Youtube makeup guru, you can focus on promoting Arbonne makeup products. You can also use your existing influence to promote these products and recruit members.

Similarly, if you run a fitness blog, you can focus on promoting Arbonne’s nutrition products on your platform.

Arbonne might also be a good fit for you if you are interested in learning about sales and social media marketing. The company offers many training resources you to help you in this regard. I have personally benefited from applying some of these skills in my other business endeavors.

At the end of the day, Arbonne is another multi-level marketing company. You can certainly make good money if you’re willing to put in the time and effort required. However, there are easier ways to earn the same amount selling products as a professional salesperson employed by a company. 

I hope the above guide has helped you make an informed decision about whether or not to join Arbonne.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Arbonne’s products harmful?

Arbonne’s products aren’t as healthy as they’re touted to be. Some of them also contain ingredients that many health organizations have deemed toxic. 

To date, there has been only one lawsuit related to Arbonne products harming customers. A customer sued the company in 2015 and accused their herbal detox tea of causing liver failure. 

Does Arbonne allow you to return unsold products?

Arbonne allows consultants to return unsold products if they meet specific requirements. I haven’t tried this return process, so I can’t verify if it is actually that easy.

Can You Lose Money from Being an Arbonne Consultant?

As mentioned above, you can return unsold products to Arbonne for a full refund. However, you may still end up making a loss due to the registration fee and renewal fee.

You need to pay $49 to register as an Arbonne Consultant and pay $29 to maintain your membership each year.


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Our Editor-in-Cheif works as a strategist at a Fortune 500 financial institution. He brings depth into our content with 10+ years of experience in managing businesses and evaluating deals. He loves the combination of boring business concepts and interesting pop culture snippets. This site is run by a team from major financial hubs in New York, Hong Kong, and London. Find out more about us.

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