Products aimed at women often cost more, for no reason.

By Dan Nosowitz
March 21, 2019

Have you ever wandered the drugstore aisles and noticed that certain personal care products seem to be way more affordable for men? You're not alone. In 2015, the New York City Department of Affairs released the results of a study about how much consumer goods cost, depending on whether they’re designed for male or female customers. Across 30 of 35 categories, products aimed at women cost more, often for no reason. The extra cost of these products is usually referred to as the “pink tax.”

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On average, these personal care products cost seven percent more when designed for women (pretty packaging, marketing, and fragrances play big roles in this). But a seven percent hike? Is that fair? In many cases, there’s no scientific reason to buy products designed for women, outside of personal preference. In fact, you can save a chunk of change by simply buying products aimed at men or products that don’t seem to have much of a gendered advertisement at all. Here are a few well-reviewed men's or unisex products to consider next time you're ready to stock up.

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Razors designed for women are among the worst offenders, sometimes costing up to twice as much as men’s razors. And for what? Skip the pink-colored razor and opt for something else. Dollar Shave Club specifically states that its products are unisex, and reviews on its Executive blades are excellent. Schick’s Hydro 5 razor, $12.30, is among the best-reviewed razors on Amazon. 

As for shaving cream, there’s little to no difference in the actual contents of the can. The "men's" shave section features a wide variety of scents and moisturizing options. The Cremo brand, which is praised by reviewers for minimizing irritation and outlasting other similar shaving creams, includes natural ingredients like macadamia seed oil, aloe, and calendula. Or you can go with a classic: Barbasol, $11.33 for a two-pack. It’s great.

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Women’s shampoo and conditioner cost almost 50 percent more than men’s. There are certainly good shampoos and bad shampoos, but little about that difference has to do with which gender it’s marketed to. Kiehl’s Amino Acid Shampoo, $20, comes with fantastic reviews and isn’t aimed specifically at women—or men. For conditioner, go to the old standard: Dove, which sells a wide variety of well-reviewed conditioners, including Dove Advanced Hair Series Conditioner, Quench Absolute Ultra Nourishing, $11.99.

Body Lotion

Lotion comes with a whopping 11 percent increase on items marketed to women. For the most part, all quality lotions should have the same core ingredients, like shea butter and hyaluronic acid. Scent is the major difference between lotions marketed to men and lotions marketed to women. Added fragrances are frequent skin irritants, note dermatologists, so an unscented, unisex formula may be a better choice for your skincare needs. Try a derm-approved drugstore product like Cerave’s moisturizing cream, $14.32, which has hyaluronic acid, is fragrance-free, and unisex.



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