It Works! Overview
Mark and Cindy Pentecost were an everyday Midwestern family; stay-at-home mom with a few kids, and coach/teacher dad. Then they decided to enter the world of multi-level marketing (MLM): sell a product and then get your friends to sell it, and they get their friends to sell it, and on and on, pyramid-style. It seems like everyone in the weight-loss industry is going that route—using a distributor model, where you first get rewarded with free product to sell, then, as you recruit more sellers, you may start making some money. Obviously the first-in-line and the most convincing, successful sellers are at the top, some making very big bucks.
But the product has to be something people will buy. And it’s no shock weight-loss products that promise to purge the pounds—or at least, make you appear more svelte—are the most sought after, if consumers are convinced, or charmed into believing it works. Folks buy, but at the same time many agree to also become cheerleaders, sell, and recruit. Now you’re an It Works! Distributor, and you recruit other distributors. It Works! pays when you sell and recruit, sell and recruit. Rinse, repeat.
The biggest challenge in this industry—and really the worldwide market—is to offer an uncommon solution, a true original, that captivates people and offers them something they never thought possible before. When we found the Ultimate Body Applicator, we knew we had something special to share with the world.
So says Mark Pentecost, the former teacher/coach, then founder, and now CEO of It Works!
Yes, that’s how this body applicator sells—by right off the bat making the claim that It Works!
Who knows what it is.
You certainly wouldn’t know from the website home page, until you scroll down a bit. After joining the party with other beautiful people, all distributors sell the dream—they log in to It Works! Ensuite to do business .
Then you come to it: The “Crazy Wrap Thing,” the Ultimate Body Applicator, also known as a body contouring wrap. That’s the single product the entire It Works! brand is built around. And with thousands of independent distributors and customers across three continents, 19 countries, and multiple territories, in 2013 It Works! had $500 million in sales. Keep in mind, just 2 percent of those “thousands of independent distributors” are at the top of the pyramid, the overwhelming and vast majority are in the lower ranks.
It Works! Claims
There are scores of It Works! products, but the wrap is what brings in the customers, and many go on to purchase everything from branded apparel and accessories to cleansers and creams, nutritional supplements, shakes and energy drinks. But let’s focus on the wrap.
You may have seen this advertised, or maybe a car emblazoned with the trademarked “That Crazy Wrap Thing.” Pretty smart marketing: call it “crazy” from a business called “It Works!,” and people are intrigued and soon some become customers, and a number of those become distributors.
Anyway, It Works! claims that, after using its Ultimate Body Applicator, a user can:
Expect ultimate results in as little as 45 minutes with “That Crazy Wrap Thing™”—the Ultimate Body Applicator! This non-woven cloth wrap is infused with a powerful, botanically based cream formula that delivers tightening, toning, and firming results wherever you need them most!
- Tightens, tones, & firms the skin
- Redefines the appearance of your body’s contours
- Improves skin texture & tightness
- Mess-free and simple to use
- Results in as little as 45 minutes
- Fast and lasting results with continued use
- Contains botanical extracts (emphasis added)
The botanical ingredients help to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin while redefining the appearance of your body’s contours. … The Ultimate Body Applicator comes in a versatile shape that can be applied wherever you choose to see results, such as the stomach, sides, back, upper arms, thighs, or lower legs.
Sounds great. How does it work? It Works! says unlike other wraps on the market, it’s not water weight you lose; rather the cream on the wrap tightens and tones the skin and keeps it looking taut “with continued use.”
I’m going to repeat that: with continued use. Now you cannot say I didn’t clearly point this out. If you don’t keep using it, so much for the tight, sexy bod.
In any event, the MLM business says, “These cutting-edge ingredients work to give you visible results in just 45 minutes, while other ingredients in the formula continue to work leading to progressive results with continued use.” (emphasis added)
Yeah, I said it again.
Okay, you’re going to give it a try. A box with four wraps will run $99 retail, or I saw a special on the site that says you can purchase it now for $59. So choose a spot on your body you want to tone—let’s say stomach.
(A quick note: I believe—but could be wrong—that if you have a lot of tummy, this thing will be useless. I’m pretty sure you have to have just a pouch or a little flab at most. I may be wrong. Let me know if you try it and you’re like me, with a belly that won’t quit.)
First, wash and dry the area; then unfold and apply the 13-inch by 21-inch wrap, cream side to body; smooth it out to ensure good contact with your skin; and then secure it.
And here’s another rub: you have to secure this thing into place with either your own plastic wrap, or by wearing tight, form-fitting, stretchy clothing. Or, you could buy another product from It Works!—Fab Wrap ($8 retail for an 82-foot roll).
Keep the Ultimate Body Applicator on for only 45 minutes to test your skin’s sensitivity to the ingredients. After 45 minutes, take it off, rub remaining lotion into skin, and throw the wrap away. Don’t use it more than every 3 or 4 days.
And during those off days, It Works! wants you to apply its Defining Gel, a body contouring cream to “enhance your tightening, toning, and firming results.” It Works! claims the gel will help to firm problem areas, such as the abdomen, legs, and upper arms, while improving skin texture:
Enjoy your results! Be sure to check the area where you applied the Ultimate Body Applicator every day following to track your results. The formula gives you progressive results with continued use. (emphasis added)
Had to remind you again.
You must also drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day while using this product. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you have to drink 100 ounces (just over 3 quarts) of water a day.
It Works! Ingredients
The actual body applicator /wrap is made from polypropylene and polyethylene. It’s coated with a cream, which is infused with a blend of botanicals and other plant-based ingredients plus glucose (sugar), glycerides (including coconut), acids, and magnesium aluminum silicate, among myriad unpronounceable compounds—like say, TEA-Hydroiodide.
Chemaxcel Corporation, the chemical company that makes it, says TEA-Hydroiodide, is
the visible ingredient for your body shaping. … a water soluble organic iodine compound, it can help stimulating lipase activities and restoring normal morphology and function, acts rapidly and efficiently on the adipose tissue.
In other words, it’s an anti-cellulite compound that’s alleged to visibly smooth hips, buttocks and thighs, and reduces “orange peel skin.” Honestly, if that’s true, I want some. But it’s not, of course. What you eat, how—or if—you exercise and your heredity determines your body shape and type. Period. A real doctor will confirm this for us in a moment.
And what It Works! touts as the key? The botanical blend of oils and extracts from the leaves, seeds and some roots of plants, flowers and herbs including jojoba, rosemary, horse chestnut, eucalyptus, green tea, gotu kola, horsetail, bladderwrack, ivy, guarana, Butcher’s Broom, and sunflower.
The fat fighter is “powered” by NeOpuntia, “a unique lipophilic fiber, developed and produced by Nexira, France. It is a 100% natural, functional ingredient which can be incorporated into dietary supplements for weight management and well-being applications. NeOpuntia® is made from dehydrated Opuntia ficus-indica cactus leaves…”
Other ingredients include phytonutrients, antioxidant-rich polyphenols, vitamins and minerals and plant-based ingredients including the powders from whole foods. It’s quite the mix.
The thing is, since there’s no federal evaluation of dietary products, there’s no way to know exactly what’s in any of these “botanicals” or in what amounts and of what purity, but I guess you might say that about anything we don’t grow and process ourselves.
The Science Behind the It Works! Wrap System
There’s no study I could find that covered the claims of the company overall—at least scientific study. I decided to just look at the body applicator (wrap) alone and see what I could find. Again, no results on specific studies being published. But there’s certainly no shortage of claims, case law, and federal action taken against companies who claim their products will remove cellulite or re-shape your body and are later proved fraudulent.
From Dr. Stephen Barrett, M.D., writing for Quackwatch.org:
The amount of fat in the body is determined by the individual’s eating and exercise habits, but the distribution of fat in the body is determined by heredity. In most cases reduction of a particular part can be accomplished only as part of an overall weight-reduction program. Endermologie may temporarily improve the appearance of dimpled areas, but the procedure is time-consuming and expensive.
According to WebMD—and even It Works! itself admits—results are temporary. Sandra Fryhofer, MD and former president of the American College of Physicians is quoted as saying, “…any loss of inches is going to be temporary. …Wraps cannot take the place of a healthy diet and exercise.”
From the same article, Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D. confirms:
“They won’t give you long-term weight loss. …They can temporarily make you feel a little thinner, and when you look at the scale the pounds can go down a pound or two. But that’s water weight loss. It’s a temporary phenomenon.”
Even spa industry people—who do wraps for a living—agree that once you take the wrap off you look toned, but it’s fleeting and will only last a day, two at most. So if you just want to look better for a pool party, fine.
But specifically about wrapping with It Works! crazy wraps? Remember, It Works! says its wraps are botanicals and don’t eliminate water weight, but tighten and tone. So really, is this just a really super-expensive cream you could rub in and seal with Saran Wrap?
Word on The Street
Here we find ourselves again seeking unbiased ratings and reviews on a MLM product. Often it’s hard to trust these reviews. Are the 5 star reviews legit or distributors crowing to boost their sales? Are the 1-star reviews competitors? Is it better to find the middle and see what they say; could they be the ones telling the truth?
Turns out on Amazon.com, the It Works! Ultimate Body Applicator—this “crazy wrap thing”—has nearly half of all reviewers giving it 1 star. Yes—of 1,495 reviews, 46 percent gave it 1 star. Just 27 percent gave it 5 stars, and the rest was divided evenly from 2 to 4 stars.
But there were reviewers who gave this item 1 star and claim they’d used the product previously—or had sold it before—and simply felt the wrap they received was old or expired. Still, more than 50 people said these exact words: “It doesn’t work.”
But more than 200 people raved: “Perfect.” “Loved it.” “Can’t wait to order again.” “Wonderful.” “I want to order more.” “Awesome.” “Happy!”
And there’s “Haley” who could not have been any more pleased, in fact, she found the wraps “amazing.”
A note here: the company doesn’t advise sleeping in it and that you shouldn’t use it again for at least 72 hours.
It Works!, based in Palmetto, Florida, is not a Better Business Bureau-accredited company, and the BBB grades them C-plus, based on 194 reviews and 380 customer complaints.
Wow, 380 sounds like a lot. What were people complaining about?
180 of them were related to the product itself, with billing coming in at second with 116 complaints. I read around 60 of them and many were concerning, but the one I found most disturbing was this, dated just days ago in late August of 2017. It’s not for the wrap—instead, for one of ItWorks!’s diet pills—but the shady business practice alone is enough to warrant sharing:
The rep sold product to my under age daughter. This product isn’t for anyone under the age of 18. The rep told my daughter this was a trial period. all she needed from her was an email address and a credit card. When I found out about the pills I told her to cancel the order. She thought she did. Well they are still taking her money. I tried calling and talking to customer service and they were very rude and told me I lied and they had my daughters birthday as 4/1996. That is what the rep set her up as. Now we are unable to cancel her “trial period” and she thinks she is fat. (emphasis added)
Another product complaint, also very recent, had a customer complain about billing issues and allege they became ill when using It Works! products.
Products make me physically ill…supplements made me nauseous and gave me headaches. I tried to cancel. Have to pay $50 to cancel shipments when I still haven’t received the original order. This business is a fraud.
But, there are 137 positive reviews, and the majority are absolutely glowing, people raving that the company is the best ever and the product life changing. I’m dubious of reviews like this—but I’m a skeptic, so I could just be suspicious. That said, I did note that of the more than 50 negative reviews, nearly all of which called out It Works! As being a “scam.” Of these, besides people feeling ripped off, there were a couple of truly discouraging reviews that should give pause to anyone thinking about trying the products and/or becoming involved in this business. I have said dozens of times that MLM businesses benefit those at the top, not those at the bottom, but people have to find things out for themselves
This review was posted March of 2017 by a person identified as “Distributor D,” who is a BBB-verified reviewer:
I need to know where It Works! products are manufactured (as) each product is different on the back of the product alternating between Mexico & the United States, without all the tangible products physically in front of me I need to be able to let potential customers know exactly where their desired products are manufactured and nowhere on the product coach website, nor a single person from customer service can answer that question directly for any product. I find this to be quite strange? Customer service literally gave me the email address to product coach and suggested “contacting one of the warehouses in TX or GA…..” but that information was not provided to them, he put me on hold twice to ask others but returned with no answer that no one had a clue where the ‘exact location’ is that the products they represent are manufactured. This just has me quite frustrated digging for answers online, via phone calls, etc. and that simple information not to be easily and readily available? Not only does that seem unprofessional but it truly has created other concerns as well.
Here’s the thing about this reviewer’s concern: I get it, and have mentioned in this review, that you simply don’t know what you’re getting when products like those sold by It Works! are not evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) but we all know that by now. What we also don’t know is what type of standards or controls are in place when it’s manufactured outside the U.S.
Is the It Works! Wrap System Worth a Try?
Definitely Not. It’s expensive, may not really work and—unless you’re thinking of devoting yourself to this product and pushing it as if it was an end-all, ultimate, astonishing, and life-changing works-like-crazy champion—you’ll probably lose money or at least not make much. But it you want to buy a kit and check it out without getting pressured by your so-called “friends” on social media hawking it and getting sucked in as a distributor, and can afford to do make a purchase, I suppose it can’t hurt.
But I’m unconvinced it can help with anything, frankly, since with the Ultimate Body Applicator you use must be continual. It Works! works—but only if you don’t stop working it! So if you use one of these things every 3 days, to keep up so everything doesn’t fall south, it’ll cost you more than two thousand dollars a year. And that’s just the wrap; that price doesn’t include the gel It Works! insists you need. So this is a huge no way for me.
And there a slew of other reasons I think this is the biggest pile of you-know-what, not the least of which is that the company encourages distributors to recruit, which has them preying on others so they can make that $20 commission—and in the case of going after teenage girls, already anxious about cultural and societal obsession with body weight and shape, there’s nothing more noxious or repugnant.
It’s sickening because the company itself can just turn around and point to the distributor—hungry for sales—and blame him or her. Just read through the responses from It Works! on BBB and you’ll see what I mean. Do not spend a dime on this crap.