‘Pink Tax’ outrage: how much more are women paying for toiletries?

As International Women’s Day approaches (March 8), issues such as gender discrimination and inclusion rise to the forefront, such as the pervasive issue of the “Pink Tax” on bathroom products.1

The “Pink Tax” refers to the tendency for products marketed specifically toward women to be more expensive than those marketed toward men, despite offering similar functionality.

With this in mind, the industry experts at Showers to You sought to uncover the extent of the “Pink Tax” on bathroom products. To do so, the recommended retail prices of a variety of everyday toiletries per 100ml for men and women were analysed.

The “Pink” Tax: The average price of toiletries per 100ml 

Product type  Men’s average 

price per 100ml

Women’s average 

price per 100ml 

Average 

price difference 

per 100ml (%)

Shampoo and conditioner  £2.60 £5.11 96%
Face cream  £53.88 £97.98 82%
Deodorant  £3.51 £5.26 50%
Disposable razors £1.00 £1.21 21%
Hair styling  £6.13 £7.09 15%
Overall £13.42 £23.33 74%

On average, women pay 74% more for toiletries than men 

 

Showers to You uncovered a significant price disparity between disposable razors marketed towards women and men, with women’s products being just under a quarter more expensive on average per razor (21%). Specifically, women’s disposable razors cost approximately £1.21 per unit, compared to men’s razors at £1.00.

For example, both Wilkinson Sword Quattro Men’s Disposable Razors and Wilkinson Sword Quattro for Women Sensitive Disposable razors contain three razors with four blades each, and both promise a smooth shave containing an aloe vera and vitamin E strip. Despite the product functionality being similar, the men’s razors are priced at £1.92 per razor, while the women’s razors cost £2.10 per razor.2,3

Despite efforts by some brands to avoid the ‘Pink Tax’, price disparities associated remain significant. Deodorants for example, were found to be, on average, 50% more expensive per 100ml for women. For instance, Dove’s Anti-perspirant Stick Original (40ml), which is marketed towards women, is priced at £7.25 per 100ml. In comparison, Dove’s Men+Care Clean Comfort Antiperspirant Deodorant Stick (50ml) is priced at £5.50 per 100ml. Although both deodorants offer similar features, such as motorising technology to protect the skin, being “tough on sweat” without causing irritation, and 48-hour sweat and odour protection, the women’s deodorant is 31% more expensive compared to the mens close equivalent.4,5

On average, women’s hair styling products are 16% more expensive per 100 ml compared to the male equivalent. For example, TIGI Bed Head HeadrushTM and TIGI Bed Head Power Play products both promise shine, frizz control, a smooth feel and a professional quality. Despite similar product functionality, Power Play, marketed towards men, is priced at £3.98 per 100ml. In comparison, Headrush — which is marketed towards women — costs £6 per 100ml. This represents a substantial 51% price increase for the equivalent female product.6,7

 

Martin Smith, the founder of Showers to You, commented further on the research:

“The ‘Pink Tax’, where women pay more for toiletries than men, isn’t just about cost. It reflects broader problems like gender inequality and the need for consumer empowerment. Companies should adopt transparent pricing practices and clearly communicate the reasons behind pricing disparities to consumers. 

This transparency fosters trust and allows consumers to make informed decisions, encouraging brands to justify their pricing models and strive for gender-neutral product pricing. It is crucial that products are priced based on their actual value rather than inflated costs due to gender-specific marketing. 

On the consumer side, shoppers can take proactive steps to avoid falling prey to the pink tax. One effective strategy is to opt for gender-neutral or toiletries marketed towards men that often feature similar formulations but come with a more reasonable price tag. 

For example, using men’s razors can be a practical and cost-effective alternative, as many of these products have been found to deliver comparable performance without the unnecessary markup associated with versions marketed towards women.”