Rodan & Fields (also known as Rodan + Fields or R+F) is a San Francisco based manufacturer and marketing company that deals exclusively with skincare and beauty products. Founded in 2007 by the dermatologists who initially made their fortune with the Proactiv company, they have surpassed 1 billion dollars in annual revenue as of 2016.
With such a history of business success, Rodan and Fields has achieved what many only dream of when starting a new enterprise. However, numbers aside, it’s essential to evaluate Rodan and Fields on several criteria before drawing a definitive conclusion about the company, it’s products, and they way they operate.
The problem with writing a comprehensive Rodan and Fields review is attempting to satisfy people who are interested in starting as a consultant, and people who are merely interested in finding out if Rodan and Fields products work.
To help you out, we’ve taken the liberty of breaking this guide into sections so that you can find the most relevant information:
First, it is important to note, that writing a Rodan and Fields consultant review is extremely difficult. Not because facts and figures are hard to come by, but instead, the process of digging through hundreds of “unbiased Rodan and Fields reviews” yields a massive quantity of people who post reviews online for their products or consultant program just to secretly bury the lead on their pitch to convert you to becoming a consultant. When browsing other Rodan and Fields reviews, always try to approach articles with an open mind but be aware of the signs that you’re being sold something.
We’ve broken this section down even further for easier reading. First some background information about Rodan and Fields consultants, some of the critiques, and then finally our opinions on the program itself.
About Rodan and Fields Consultants
The Rodan and Fields consultant program was not the original direction the company took when it was first founded. In 2006, roughly 3 years after the company was purchased from Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields by Estée Lauder, the company was transitioned from a department store brand into a direct sales and multi-level marketing set up. The company was acquired in 2007 by Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields, not to end the multi-level marketing practice, but instead to ramp up operations.
While Rodan and Fields’ website calls their business model “social commerce” most people more commonly refer to it as a multi-level-marketing program. For those unfamiliar with that term, it means that consultants that work for Rodan and Fields are not only encouraged to produce sales, they’re also incentivized to recruit new consultants to the sales program with commissions from every new consultant’s sales. Typically, as is the case with Rodan and Fields, MLM programs promise impressive rewards for consultants with very high sales figures. For Rodan and Fields, that includes trips to California’s wine country, cash incentives, and even a new Lexus automobile.
However, most of the extremely valuable rewards are reserved for individuals that can produce elite sales numbers. The average house-wife who is looking to supplement their family’s income by selling Rodan and Fields products to friends and family will simply not qualify for a free Lexus or luxury trip. In the MLM business model, early adopters are rewarded more and individuals who focus more on recruitment as opposed to direct sales (presuming their success) are rewarded with the financial rewards that are advertised to accompany high sales numbers.
The entire business model looks something like this:
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Gee, that looks an awful lot like a triangle pyramid to me.” You wouldn’t be the first person to make that connection. In fact, one of the most common questions people ask about the consultant program from Rodan and Field’s is simply, “Is Rodan and Fields a pyramid scheme?” We’ll address this in the next section of our review.
Rodan + Fields Pyramid Scheme… or Genius Triangle?
To answer the question “Is Rodan and Fields is a pyramid scheme?” You should know what a pyramid scheme is, and then we can look at the Rodan and Fields program to see if it meets the definition.
The problem with giving a clear yes or no answer to this question lies in the difference between the legal meaning of the phrase “pyramid scheme” and the more colloquial definition of the phrase. Legally speaking, Rodan and Fields is not a pyramid scheme. However, as most people know it, it does fit the model of an MLM business, which are commonly dismissed as pyramid schemes.
The legal definition of a pyramid scheme involves value being passed from those at the bottom of the pyramid to the top, without any physical product to sell. An illegal pyramid scheme might consist of something that essentially breaks down into, “If you give me a certain amount of money, recruited from your friends, they’ll go out and recruit more friends to not only recoup your losses but provide you with a profit.” Sometimes, recruits are promised higher positions on the pyramid depending on their performance or time of adoption.
The line between a pyramid scheme and legitimate multi-level marketing programs is often blurred. The Federal Trade Commission also offers some guidelines on their blog for identifying if multi-level marketing programs are pyramid schemes. Consider the following facets of the program:
- You’re required to buy lots of inventory
- Your income is based mainly on the number of people you recruit, and the money those recruits pay to join the company — not on the sales of products to consumers
- You’re forced to buy other things you don’t want or need just to stay in good standing with the company
With Rodan and Fields, one of the most common points that consultants are quick to point out is the low start-up cost. New consultants are required to purchase a “Business Portfolio” for (at the time of this writing) $45. That low start-up price is certainly on the low-end for many MLM programs. However, it does not include any products but covers set-up fees for a subdomain on the Rodan and Fields site which you can refer customers to.
However, there are additional start-up packages that are offered, with varying numbers of products. It logically follows that “sponsors” would encourage new consultants to purchase a larger product package to maximize the initial commission on the sale. The current cost list according to the best available data at the time of this writing, is as follows:
- RFx Express Business Kits $995
- Big Business Launch Kit $695
- Personal Results Kit $395
- Business Portfolio $45
At a glance, these prices are somewhat reasonable and passes the first test of not being forced to buy a lot of inventory. Additionally, according to our research, there are no requirements to continue purchasing products from your sponsor to remain in good standing with the program. So, while not legally classified as a pyramid scheme, you can certainly forgive anyone who might have made such a mistake.
Income Of R+F Consultants
So, if Rodan and Fields has affordable start-up costs as the bare minimum requirement, then the initial investment shouldn’t break the bank. When you analyze the income statements of the company itself, you may start to see a different picture. Rodan and Fields average income from the company’s documentation for 2016 was as follows:
Rodan and Fields Average Income
- the top 1% were paid more than $28,156/year
- the top 10% were paid more than $4,841
- the top 50% were paid more than $647
Naturally, it should concern you that if the top 50% made “more than $647” a year, it logically means that the bottom 50% of their consultants made sales profits ranging from $0 to $647 per year. Subtracting the cost of the business packs, this means that one out of two consultants makes anywhere from -$995 to $602 in the first year.
However, when joining a multi-level marketing program, we think it’s important to consider more than just monetary profits and losses. If you decide to start selling Rodan and Field’s products, it is very likely that you’ll start with your circle of friends and family. In the real estate business, this is called tapping into your “sphere of influence.” Soliciting your friends and family may seem like a good idea on the surface, after all, you’re trying to start a profitable business venture and friends and family are there to support you.
In our experience, this is not ideal. If you begin advertising your consultant status on Facebook, just as an example, many times, people are simply not interested. This is not exclusive to the makeup industry. Many MLM programs like ItWorks!, Younique, Jamberry, Mary Kay, Lularoe, Perfectly Posh, Amway, Herbalife, and others can make people wary of following your social media accounts or even picking up the phone when you call out of the blue. After all, if you become “that Rodan and Fields person” who is always trying to make a sale, it quickly diminishes the value of friendships. There are plenty of social media posts expressing negative feelings about these programs.
How much value you place on your social networks varies from person to person. If you are okay with alienating your friends and are okay with them starting to screen your calls and text messages, then by all means proceed.
Rodan and Fields Consultant Requirements
The barrier to entry is fairly low for becoming a Rodan and Fields consultant. According to their policies and procedures guide (last updated 2012). Consultants must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a legal resident of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or Guam
- Not be in jail or prison or otherwise confined to a criminal institution
- Not have ever been convicted of a felony
- Not be a current employee, officer, or director of R+F and/or its affiliates, or the spouse of any of the foregoing
- Not be a current employee, officer, or director of Gunthy-Renker Corporation and/or its affiliates, or the spouse of any of the foregoing;
- Complete and submit a Consultant Application that is accepted by R+F
- Purchase a Business Portfolio (optional in North Dakota)
- Have a valid email address and credit card.
Overall, the necessary requirements to join don’t disqualify the majority of people in the United States. Indeed, as a multi-level marketing organization, they wouldn’t want to make the program too exclusive, as that may reduce their recruitment potential.
However, the policies and procedures guide is 77 pages long, cover-to-cover. Many of the policies that are listed make complete sense, and we wholeheartedly support. The requirement to disclose your affiliation with R+F when posting online, using careful proofreading to avoid grammar mistakes, and prohibiting spam emails and faxes are all wonderful things that we applaud the company for.
So what’s the catch?
If you’re asking yourself this question, you seem to be catching on. Within that policy book, we discovered several clauses that made us raise an eyebrow:
Income claims are prohibited. While this may be a good thing for potential recruits not to be goaded by claims of guaranteed income or profit potential, consultants are forbidden from disclosing their income from the R+F program. They claim that this is due to consultants… “generally do not have the information necessary to comply with” FTC regulations. Presumably, this is in a recruitment type of situation, however, the statement, “I made $x from this program,” is banned.
Criticism and disparaging remarks are prohibited in public and private communication. This is why you will never see a R+F consultant say, “I like the program, but some improvements could be made in certain areas.” Even as mild of a comment as that could be, if you are found making them, you are breaking the policy guides.
Consultants must cooperate with the company in making sure that the official Rodan and Fields website is the top search result for any queries with their brand name. This is pretty typical for affiliate programs when it comes to buying advertising space on Google and other search engines. However, this policy is so vague that it can also apply to personal blogs or content written about participation in the program. So if you search for “Rodan and Fields Review” consultants who write that content essentially agree to take down that content if it overtakes the Rodan and Fields corporate website. This is why if you search for reviews, many times they lead to beauty blogs that recommend a consultant, but are not posted by a consultant themselves as a loophole to this requirement.
If you’re already a consultant and want to resign or are involuntarily dismissed, there are large sections of the contract that are still legally binding even after you’re no longer affiliated with R+F. Including:
Rodan And Fields Non-Compete Features:
- Prohibition of soliciting any R+F customer or consultant for any other business or charitable purpose. The presumption of using confidential information that belongs to R+F would suggest that consultants at the base level have access to your “personal information” – very scary.
- Soliciting for employment or solicit for engagement as an independent consultant or contractor, any consultant that was a consultant anytime before termination of the person’s consultant agreement
- Promote, market or sell products, services or programs offered by any competitive business to any R+F customer or consultant.
This noncompete clause applies to all 50 states. Which is effectively a global ban on former R+F consultants because operating outside of the US is forbidden while in part of the program.
Former and current consultants are forbidden from registering domain names with even similarities to R+F trademarks. If they terminate you, you can’t create a website like “RodanAndFieldsBurnedMe.com” and tell about your experiences. Additionally, these trademarks include all logos, service marks, trade names, product names, domain names used or displayed on or in connection with any R+F product (or related packaging), R+F Marketing Materials, R+F Business Supplies, or the R+F website. Some of these include:
Rodan And Fields Trademarked Terms And Brands:
- Rodan + Fields ®
- R+F® (stylized)
- Prescription for Change™
- Multi-Med Therapy®
- Rodan + Fields Dermatologists™
- Any likeness to Dr. Katie Rodan$ and Dr. Kathy Fields$.
If you have decided to resign, transferring or selling your consultant business is prohibited. Be sure to sell before you leave or get fired.
All of the penalties for violating these points above still exist even after you sever your consulting relationship, just as if you were a current consultant, ranging from a “warning letter” to a full-on legal proceeding.
Additionally, disputes that you may have with the company are governed by an arbitration clause, which helps protect the company from potential class action lawsuits if consultants find that they have been wronged en masse.
Say what you want about Rodan and Fields product reviews, but their lawyers have made quite an impressive contract designed to protect the company. This, of course, comes at the cost of having to sever any relationship that you had with your fellow consultants, customers, or anyone associated with Rodan and Fields, past or present for at least 5 years. So if you’re a consultant and decide to leave, be sure to say something thoughtful as a goodbye to the people you met in the program. Because after you leave, they are functionally dead to you for business or charity purposes for the next half-decade.
Rodan and Fields: Scam Or Not?
One of the problems with multi-level-marketing platforms is the vocalness of individuals who participate. After all, if you label something as a scam outright, it certainly hurts their credibility and thus income. In fact, as we discussed before, at the time of writing this review, the top result in Google for “Rodan and Fields Scam” is a blog post from a R+F consultant who is internet savvy and wants to recruit you. (Just to play it safe, be sure to take a moment and scroll down to the bottom of this review. We’re not recruiting for R+F).
The question is of course, after understanding the ins and outs of the R+F program, is Rodan and Fields a scam? The answer depends purely upon perception. A scam is defined as a dishonest scheme or a fraud. While most multi-level-marketing schemes typically leave a bad taste in our mouths, does Rodan and Fields fall under that umbrella?
It would depend significantly upon the way that consultants try to recruit and the company’s public statements regarding the income potential of joining. As it seems very unlikely that anyone would like to mention the unfortunate first-year income numbers we analyzed here, it could be a bit dishonest.
We’ll just leave it up to you to decide. When you do, leave a comment on this page to share your opinion with us.
Should You Join Rodan and Fields? The Final Youthful.Net Verdict:
There simply is not any proof that the average consultant makes enough to justify the social costs, the stringent contract requirements (considering terms of separation), the MLM business model, or the cost of the products compared to other more reasonably priced skincare lines.
Rodan and Fields, just like most other MLM models take advantage of several assets of the human psychology to promote its consultant program and ultimately it’s customer base. The flashy white Lexus cars they reward top performers to appeal to our senses of false hope and desire to become wealthy, while their culture of recruitment and “friendship” appeals to our inherent human need to belong.
Surely, R+F isn’t the only company that uses these psychological elements as part of its business model. But, when you are asked by “a friend” out of the blue to grab coffee and are ambushed with R+F recruitment pitches, one must wonder: to R+F consultants, is everyone that they know a family member or friend, or merely a sales lead?
What Do You Think of Rodan and Fields?
The above article is our opinions based on research that we have done into Rodan and Fields. But we acknowledge that many people have different experiences. We want to know what you think! Comment below.