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There's a 50% Chance You're Overpaying for Almost Everything

Women pay more than men for razors, shampoo, and other basic goods. But retailers and lawmakers are stepping up to address the price discrepancies.
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pink razor

Though the term may sound silly, the "pink tax" is a real thing that costs women a bundle every year. The phrase refers to the additional cost of products marketed toward women, compared to similar products that are gender neutral or marketed towards men. Because many products marketed to women feature lurid pink colors, it's become known as the pink tax.

Learn which products are affected by the pink tax, how to avoid the higher prices, and what lawmakers and retailers have done to address the issue in the past year.

Everything's the Same... Except the Price

In late 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs published a study comparing nearly 800 products from more than 90 brands, looking for price differences in items marketed to different genders. The results showed a striking difference in prices for men and women. On average, products for women or girls cost 7% more than comparable products for men and boys. Some examples:

  • Girls' clothing: 4% more
  • Girls' toys and accessories: 7% more
  • Women's clothing: 8% more
  • Women's personal care products: 13% more

That means women are paying more for tons of everyday goods like razors, shampoo, and lotion. And let's not forget tampons, which are taxed as luxury goods in nearly 40 states. A woman's entire wardrobe — from items like socks (3% more expensive for women) to shirts (15% more expensive for women) — costs more than a man's. Services such as dry cleaning and haircuts are often more expensive for women, too.

Products for women or girls cost 7% more on average than comparable products for men and boys.

But the pink tax isn't just for adults; the prices of clothes and toys for girls are higher, too. Buying the girls' version of a bicycle or scooter instead of a boys' version costs an average of 6% more. You'll find similar discrepancies from helmets and knee/elbow pads to crafting supplies. Even infants aren't immune to higher prices! Onesies, pants, sweaters, shirts, and shoes for baby girls all cost more than the same products for boys.

While some cost differences can be written off by different materials, ingredients, or construction, the DCA only compared products with versions for men and women that were substantively similar. And while paying a few dollars more for a razor may not seem like a big deal, the cost difference adds up to an estimated $1,351 in goods and services per year.

That's probably more than enough to eat up this year's tax refund.

Evading the Pink Tax

Being aware of the pink tax is the first step to avoiding it. Whenever you're buying something that's marketed specifically to women, do a price check. Is there a gender-neutral product (or a product for men) that costs less? Look at the price, as well as the unit count and weight, so you're comparing apples to apples. Comparing prices at different stores can help, too, as some retailers eschew gender-based pricing.

This is a good option for personal care products like razors, shampoo, deodorant, and lotion, which are often very similar no matter who they're marketed to. Though they may come in different scents, if you look at the ingredients in your favorite products, you're likely to find alternatives with similar ingredients for less. (And if you don't care for more masculine scents, you can usually find unscented options.)

SEE ALSO: The Ethical Shopper's Guide to Boycotts

Children's clothing and toys are also an easy place to save, as the most common difference is color. When you're shopping for your kids, look for gender-neutral options — and steer away from anything bright pink. While this strategy may only save you a dollar or two this shopping trip, those savings add up over the course of the year — and it only takes a quick walk down the aisle to check.

Unfortunately, buying a different product just isn't an option for everything. Men's clothes have different fits than women's clothes, and there aren't really comparable alternatives for tampons or makeup. In this case, your best bet is deal-hunting. Watch for sales and avoid paying full price when you can.

Lawmakers and Retailers Are Stepping Up

Women have been pushing back on these high-priced products, encouraging retailers and legislators alike to address the pink tax. A California law prevents services from being priced differently for different genders, but a more recent bill that would have added the same pricing protection to goods didn't make it through the state legislature.

Bills currently being considered in Nevada and Ohio would eliminate taxes on feminine hygiene products in those states. And a class action lawsuit in Ohio seeks $11 million per year in tax refunds for women because of this "tampon tax." There's no certainty that these bills will become law, but calling your representatives to ask for their support could help them move forward.

Boxed has reduced prices on women's products to match men's products, and cut the price on feminine hygiene items to counteract the luxury tax.

While we wait for laws to address the issue, retailers are stepping up — which means choosing where to shop can shore up your budget. British retailers Boots and Tesco have both cut prices on women's razors to match men's razors — at least for some brands.

In the U.S., online retailer Boxed has reduced prices on women's products to match men's products, and cut the price on feminine hygiene products to counteract the luxury tax. As an example of how much that can save, Venus Sensitive Disposable Razors on Boxed got a 45% price cut.

If you're unhappy with your local retailer's pricing — or the pricing on specific brands — contact the stores or brands themselves to air your complaints. Some stores have already changed pricing in the face of unhappy customers, so speaking out can make a difference.

Readers, do you have any tips on avoiding the pink tax? Share them with us in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Originally working in IT, Elizabeth now writes on tech, gaming, and general consumer issues. Her articles have appeared in USA Today, Time, AOL, PriceGrabber, and more. She has been one of DealNews' most regular contributors since 2013, researching everything from vacuums to renters insurance to help consumers.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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12 comments
duckster3000
In WI, the girls regional basketball tourney games cost 4$ to watch. The boys, same gym and same place in schedule, 5$. Hmm.
fknb
Pink tax is a myth promulgated by liberals to increase government control over the economy. If a pink razor costs more than a blue razor it is because sellers believe they can get more. It is their right to sell the one they choose at the price listed. It is assumed, without evidence, that this is some sort of intentional discrimination against women. Does the writer of this article assume that women lack the intelligence to make their own purchase decisions and need protection from the government. Also, it is sexist to assume that only women purchase pink razors and they can't exercise their free will to purchase blue ones. Do we really want government deciding retail prices? In case you are not a fan of history, this approach has never worked!

You are my HERO! Nice post, dealnews is becoming political, funny how this just happened recently?
twesterh
what about the blue tax?

still waiting for my wife to spend on me anything near the amount i spent on her engagement ring!

oh yeah, i went there...
tdew2
@dealnews-bglaser

I agree with the others. We know what Dealnews is here for - to help us find bargains and make informed decisions. I recommend your website regularly, and always make purchases through Dealnews links because I believe you deserve the commissions.

That said, the logical conclusion of this particular article is that women aren't smart enough to make informed decisions - the author literally calls for lawmakers to legislate price protections. AKA, women are too stupid to make informed buying decisions. It's just not true!

Also, the last thing a small business owner wants is for the gov't to micro manage her small business - which is an unintended consequence of asking legislators to "step up".

Btw, please note that the article is based on a study done by New York City, with Bill de Blasio's name right on the front page. We can be naive and call it a "real thing", or we can realize that this "pink tax" rhetoric is just more political garbage meant to divide.
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)
@juneternal

Maybe shoppers don't *realize* that they are paying more for the same product. Maybe they think the more expensive product is different; or it never occurred to them that there was a similar, cheaper item. Brands and stores certainly work hard to trick customers sometimes, but informed shoppers can make better decisions.
juneternal
I agree with TomBrady.
As Elizabeth Harper stated, IF "Everything's the Same... Except the Price" why is female paying more for the same?
Is Elizabeth Harper calling females stupid?

Btw, In my own personal experience, female clothing cost lot less than male clothing, with way more different choices to boot.
56nomad56
Goods and services for women is distinctly more expensive then for men. I have a wife and teenage daughter, and their "grooming" expenses are unbelievable. My wife will spend close to $100 going to her hair stylist, while my cut will cost $20 including the tip. I can jet to the outlets and get a pair of Vans for $30, her shoes are double or more. How much more disposable income would American families have if women realized they are already beautiful and didn't need massive amounts of hair product, fragrances, lotions, or makeup?!?
tdew2
Gender tax is as real - and as avoidable - as the Disney tax.

While shopping for a toothbrush not long ago, my daughter picked out a $5 Disney (Tiana) toothbrush. I handed her $5. She could buy the Disney toothbrush, or pick another and keep the change for herself. Guess what my 7 year old girl chose to do?

Let's just say she made her mother and I very proud.

Now we have one more scenario I can explore with my daughter.

First, my wife will take her shopping for a hair brush, and offer her a similar deal. I predict that at 7 yrs old, she'll do just fine avoiding the "pink tax".

I'll then propose the idea of creating a business to sell "pink" items, pricing them evenly with "blue" items. After all, we should be able to put all of our competitors out of business and become wealthy. She'll get it.

Finally, we'll teach her about crooked politicians that are eager to mislead her so as to advance their victimhood ideologies, and will encourage her to always question the "truth".
Discount_Dan
As a female, I've actually found that buying pink razors saves me money in the long run: it is the only way I have found to keep my husband from stealing my razors!
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)
@TomBrady

DealNews is a website entirely dedicated to making *informed* purchase decisions. We want our readers to have all the facts, and then choose the options that best suit their needs and budget. Whether or not it is intentional, consumers are sometimes misled by brands and stores, and that's when we try to set the record straight.
zeram1
... more like 100% if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area!
TomBrady
Pink tax is a myth promulgated by liberals to increase government control over the economy. If a pink razor costs more than a blue razor it is because sellers believe they can get more. It is their right to sell the one they choose at the price listed. It is assumed, without evidence, that this is some sort of intentional discrimination against women. Does the writer of this article assume that women lack the intelligence to make their own purchase decisions and need protection from the government. Also, it is sexist to assume that only women purchase pink razors and they can't exercise their free will to purchase blue ones. Do we really want government deciding retail prices? In case you are not a fan of history, this approach has never worked!
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