A guide to the pink tax
Getting to The Root

A guide to the pink tax

While the pink tax might sound friendly and fun, it’s neither of those things. The tax is yet another example of how gender inequality is still a part of women’s daily lives. Whether you’re receiving your paycheque or shopping for skincare products, it can't be avoided. Let’s learn more about this pesky reality and what you can do about it.

What is the pink tax?

The pink tax refers to the practice of charging women more than men for the same or comparable products. This price discrepancy is noticeable in a range of everyday essentials from razors to shampoo. And, the “tax” isn’t restricted to one industry or age group. Case in point? Look at the price difference in girls toys vs. boys toys, female adult diapers vs. male adult diapers. While we could have a whole separate conversation about the exclusionary nature of gender-based marketing, the point is, if you have come to prefer those products marketed toward women (whatever the word means to you), it’s hard to escape the pink tax.

In most cases, the pink tax isn’t actually a tax but an upcharge. It’s simply a way for companies to make more money by targeting a specific population. Yep, it’s capitalism with a capital “C”. 

There is also a tampon tax in many American states: a sales tax that applies to feminine hygiene products. It’s a separate but clearly related issue. In Canada, the tax was repealed mid-2015, after an online petition was signed by thousands. Small victories, eh?

But, hey, doesn’t the pink tax exist because female products are better?

Nope. If you do a side-by-side comparison of female and male products, in most cases the ingredients list will be exactly the same. The two differences you might find are: scent and packaging. Male products have more “masculine” packaging,  with blues and grays, whereas women’s products are in brighter hues. When it comes to fragrance, women’s products tend to be light and floral. Men’s, on the other hand, are strong and earthy.

Generally speaking, the differences between the products is superficial and doesn’t justify an upcharge.

Can you give us a few specific examples?

Walk into your local drugstore, and examples will abound. But, here are a few found during a study of gender-based pricing in New York City:

  • Alberto VO5 Men's 3-In-1 Shampoo, Conditioner, & Body Wash: $1.29
  • Alberto VO5 Tea Therapy Revitalizing Conditioner Blackberry Sage Tea: $1.99

  • Schick Hydro Silk Women's Razor: $10.99
  • Schick Hydro 5 Sense Hydrate Razor: $10.49

While these price differences might seem minor, over time they add up. On average, women pay around 43% more than men for personal care products. No complicated calculations are required to imagine how much more money women will end up spending over the course of a lifetime.

What can I do?

While all this is pretty infuriating, you can take quick action by no longer supporting companies that uphold the pink tax. Next time you’re shopping for skincare products or shampoo, look for unisex options. Many natural brands are marketed toward all people, and if you’re paying a little extra it’s for the better ingredients not because of gender-based upcharging. At Yellow Beauty, our skincare products are for everybody. 

Alternatively, when you’re shopping, compare the prices on male and female products. Likelier than not, the men’s products will be cheaper and we say why not opt for those? Who says you need to fit into a certain aesthetic or fragrance because you identify as a woman? By changing the way you shop, you can make a small difference on the daily changing your mindset and challenging brands.

Now that you know more about the pink tax, you can get out there and shop strategically. We’re here to offer turmeric-powered, ungendered goods that don’t put you into any boxes.


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