By now, many of us have heard of the “pink tax.” It’s the term for all the small ways that women are charged more than men for similar products. Studies have found this subtle price discrimination on everything from shampoo to t-shirts to seemingly unisex items like earplugs. And while a dollar here and there may not seem like much, it can easily add up to thousands over a lifetime.
Women pay an average of 13% extra for personal care products
So what’s a budget-conscious woman to do? The answer seems simple: steer clear of pink packaging and just buy the “men’s” product. But are male drugstore products actually as good as the women’s versions? Or are they just designed to be “good enough” to satisfy guys who aren’t exactly picky about their grooming routines? As women, do we actually need products tailored for curves and delicate skin, or is that all marketing nonsense? I decided it was time to find out.
Test #1: Dollar Shave Club 4X razors
Price comparison: $6 for 4 blades vs $17.49 for 4 Gillette Venus blades
This is the product that originally inspired this little experiment. I’d been using these “men’s” razor blades for months and they’re fantastic. They’re sharp, they last a long time, and they leave my legs totally smooth. The handle (which comes free with your first box) has a nice grip and is easy to use. Best of all, they’re incredibly cheap. Although they’re positioned as a men’s brand, Dollar Shave Club’s site does encourage women to try their razors. Props for the open-minded marketing.
Test #2: Speed Stick Power Unscented
Price comparison: $3.59 for 3 oz. vs $3.99 for 2.3 oz. of Lady Speed Stick
This was, in a word, okay. It held up well during a workout, barely left any white marks on my shirt, and was still working the next morning. The active ingredient is exactly the same as my usual deodorant. However, it’s not very moisturizing. It’s a fine pick if you’re in a pinch, but I don’t think I’ll buy it again.
Test #3: Barbasol Shaving Cream
Price comparison: $2.37 for 10 oz. vs $3.49 for 10 oz. of Skintimate
This stuff is awesome. It’s a high-quality, moisturizing shaving cream that lathers up great. All for ⅔ the price of my usual brand. I’ll absolutely buy this again.
Test #4: Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub
Price comparison: $20 for 3.4 oz. vs $28 for 3.4 oz. of Kiehl’s Pineapple Payaya Face Scrub
Think you could avoid the pink tax at higher-end stores? Not so much. This men’s face scrub is nice. It’s possibly a little too gritty to use frequently on sensitive skin, but it feels effective. It has a subtle “energizing” menthol scent, and the sort of natural ingredients that Kiehl’s is known for. I may not buy a full-size container, but I’ll definitely use the rest of my large sample.
The overall verdict? Start shopping in the men’s shaving section immediately. Some products may be more hit or miss, but it’s worth an experiment to find bargains that work for you. Women pay an average of 13% extra for personal care products, and I can think of many ways that I’d rather spend that money. So from now on, I plan to rebel against sexist pricing one “manly” can of Barbasol at a time.