What is the “Pink Tax” and How Does This Affect Me?

February 16, 2018 (Last Updated: February 23, 2018)
If you regularly buy products exclusively marketed towards women, chances are you've fallen victim to the pink tax. Find out what exactly the pink tax is and why women are unknowingly paying 42% more because of it. |

Look. Being a woman is tough.

We statistically make less money on average (even less so if you’re a woman of color), and to make matters worse, we have to deal with the pink tax.

If you’ve ever wandered through any grocery or convenience store, you’ve probably seem multiple versions of the same product. There are the normal ones like “oil free” and “gluten free,” but you’ve probably also seen tons of products advertised as being “for her” and “for him.”

This is known as gendering products and companies LOVE to do this to products that have no business being gendered.

Today, almost every arbitrary product you can think of has been gendered. Lisa Wade, creator of Sociological Images, has hilariously conjured up hundreds of pointlessly gendered products over on Pinterest. At this point, if you can think it, you can gender it.

But what is the purpose of a gender gap if men and women, for the most part, don’t require different products? The last I checked, our skin, hair, and nails are no different whether we possess a Y chromosome or not. And other products like food, tools, and children’s toys don’t need to be separated by gender either.

Enter, the pink tax.

If by now you’ve guessed that there is really no difference between gendered products, then you’re absolutely right. At least not in their usages. The sole purpose for why companies gender products is so that they can make more money.

The pink tax is one of the most prominent ways of doing so. Women’s versions of the same products almost always cost more than the men’s version. This usually manifests as there being less product overall, the quality not being up to par, and my favorite, they think you’ll pay more for something if it’s pink.

And they’ve been getting away with it forever.

Companies know that they can regularly rely on 1 of 2 people buying one version of their product based off of the language choices, colors, and packaging used. At best, this triggers a major eye roll from me, but at worst, this pink tax is seriously costing women.

According to a 2016 study done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, products marketed towards women cost more 42% of the time.

If you’re outraged by any of this, then welcome to the club. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the impact of the pink tax. You just need to become more aware of what is trying to be sold to you.

1. Always compare prices/labels.

Ignoring everything else, this should be the first thing you look for. This is how the pink tax keeps thriving after all. Sometimes price difference make sense. Things can cost more if more product is included.

What doesn’t make sense is when you have to pay more for less.

Even when prices are labeled the same, check the quantity per package or price by weight. Judging solely on shapes and sizes is one of the easiest ways of hiding the pink tax. This is known as “shrink it and pink it.”

This is a really shitty way to sell the same product. Picture:

2. If it seems like pandering, then it probably is.

Thanks to social indoctrination before you’re even born, certain colors, word choices, and images are hard-wired into our brains based on gender.

Companies clearly use this to their advantage by playing on those stereotypes.

They’ll use certain language such as “soft,” “delicate,” and “gentle,” for women’s products, as well as imagery of pink and princesses. For men, they get metals, barbed wire, and words like “tough,” “aggressive,” and “extreme.”

This is the absolute laziest form of marketing (and not in a good way). This is literally the extent to which their market research goes.

To make matters worse, companies will further cement this difference starting with children’s toys and clothing. For example, boys are doctors, superheroes, kings, and essentially anything they want to be. Girls are almost exclusively nurses, homemakers, and princesses.


Are you okay with supporting a company that will generalize you this much? If not, don’t buy into the pandering.

3. When in doubt, always buy the men’s version of anything.

Be honest. If you heard that a woman was using men’s deodorant, what would your reaction be? She’d be met with a slight bit of disgust, right? This is why gendered products are a marketing godsend for companies. The work essentially does itself.

Unless you need to buy something that has a proven positive effect on women, like products that affect hormones, then just buy the men’s version.

They’re almost always cheaper, but they’re usually more reliable and trusted. Plus, they tend to not have a bunch of other junk ingredients.

$2.50 premium for the color pink. Picture:

9 times out of 10 I just want a product that works well, and that can almost always be achieved with solely checking out the men’s version.

And honestly, who wants a home full of gaudy pink anyway?

The next time you’re in any store, pay close attention to what’s being marketed to you. If there is a gender difference does it make sense? Are the gendered products the same price?

Spoiler alert, overwhelmingly the answer is “no” for both.

Stand your ground and show companies that you’re not willing to pay more for arbitrary differences.

Do you currently use anything that is geared towards men as a woman? If so, let’s hear from you!

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  • Reply
    Deandrea Martin
    March 26, 2018 at 5:31 PM

    This is crazy. I never noticed this but now I know. If you know better, you do better.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 26, 2018 at 5:39 PM

      Exactly. It’s such a simple switch and it’s almost always for the better. Plus, you stop supporting insulting marketing practices at the same time!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2018 at 11:32 AM

    I’ve never noticed this before but now I think about it a lot of things me and my boyfriend buy which are essentially the same; face scrubs, body wash – the mens is always cheaper!!.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      March 14, 2018 at 5:00 PM

      Right? And they’re usually better too! It’s especially sad that it’s a global thing too. It’s so insulting to our intelligence.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2018 at 4:44 AM

    I don’t currently own any products that are advertised for men. I actually used to use their deodorant. Something that interested me was the baby clothes. My sister is expecting, and she’s not sure what the gender is (and won’t be finding out). So trying to get little things that are not full of princesses or superheroes is so hard. I can never find cute things without slogans or pictures on them! Also the pink tax is ridiculous!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 23, 2018 at 12:41 AM

      Yes! I had a coworker not find out their gender TWICE and ran into the same problems. It’s so weird how much emphasis businesses place on gendering stuff, with or without the pink tax.

  • Reply
    Shanisha Branch
    February 20, 2018 at 7:03 PM

    I love this! I never really noticed it before but, girl, imma be looking now! Lord knows I need a discount and don’t deserved to be price gauged for simple stuff 😒 but thanx fod this, boo!!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 23, 2018 at 12:40 AM

      No problem! Save those coins for something that isn’t trying to price gouge you!

  • Reply
    Michelle Robinson
    February 20, 2018 at 6:00 PM

    Love this! I never thought about it. Although I don’t usually pick the pink product, I do often turn towards things that are supposedly geared just for women. Now I know to check twice before I buy!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 23, 2018 at 12:39 AM

      Thank you! Yes, it’s important that you stay aware at least. I understand that the packaging is sometimes super enticing, but as long as you’re aware of what you’re doing it’s fine!

  • Reply
    Desire Anne
    February 19, 2018 at 3:19 AM

    Great blog post! Honestly, the only time I’ve noticed this is when buying razors. Next time I visit the store, I’m going to see if I notice any others. I have a co-worker who says she buys men’s deodorant because it works better for her, and smells better to her. I said I just couldn’t do that because I don’t want to ‘smell like a man’ LOL.
    Desire Anne recently posted Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon by Marc Jacobs | Review/Try-OnMy Profile

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 1:01 PM

      Lol, thank you! I personally wear men’s deoderant because they have better applicators as well! Don’t knock it until you try it! Your coworker might be onto something!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2018 at 10:22 AM

    WOW… I’ve never heard of Pink Tax but this is insanity! The tricks to make money are astounding! And I do tend to buy some men’s products because they are cheaper but I never really gave it much thought just the frugality in me always wants to buy the necessary but they do get me with pretty packaging sometimes! This was a great And informative post!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 12:58 PM

      Thank you! The tricks are definitely ridiculous. It’s good that you know now though!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2018 at 10:09 AM

    OMG this is so upsetting! I use all fo my husband’s stuff for this very reason! (with the exception of deodorant, which is a all-natural kind)

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 12:57 PM

      I think it’s when women use their boyfriend’s or husband’s products is when they first realize it! Like wow, you get a superior shave and you paid a fraction of what I paid for mine? Totally unfair!

  • Reply
    Erika Zheng
    February 17, 2018 at 8:57 AM

    Truth be told an appealing package does affect me. It is so hardwired in us to respond to pretty colors and certain words, that it’s hard to think rationally about it. Sometimes though, if the purpose is to pamper myself, I’ll go for what feels more luxurious. It’s part of the pampering experience.

    But all other times there’s no reason to not take the “men” version. I completely agree with everything you said! I always spend (probably too much) time comparing prices and reviews, because I deserve the best quality for my hard-earned money and not just what they think I “should buy” as a woman.

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 12:55 PM

      Definitely! I’m a sucker for packaging, but usually the products served in convenience stores don’t compare to what you’d find in a nice store. Any “pink” product that’s going to get my money better be vastly superior in quality and price in some way.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 8:51 AM

    Wow, I had no idea this was a thing! Now, this will always be something I consider when purchasing health and wellness products. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 12:56 PM

      No problem! It’s good to know so you can save some money!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2018 at 2:00 AM

    Wow wow! I had no idea about this!! That’s really upsetting. I’m going to have to start paying a lot more attention. I mean yeah, I like the color pink, but I like my green money a heck of a lot more!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 20, 2018 at 12:52 PM

      Hahaha, yes! It’s difficult to notice on purpose! Like wow, companies are so rude for this!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 5:31 PM

    I only buy men razors because I feel Like I get A cleaner shave and they’re slightly cheaper!

    • Reply
      Leslie Johnson
      February 16, 2018 at 7:36 PM

      Same! Men’s razors are the truth. There is no reason why a woman’s razor needs to get dull halfway through shaving a single leg when a man’s doesn’t get dull for multiple uses!

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