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Beyond the Pink Tax: Gender-Based Pricing and Differentiation of Personal Care Products


Previous research has established a pricing disparity of consumer goods and services by gender such that women pay more for the same products and services than men, the so-called pink tax. This study expands this research by examining whether these price disparities persist across a wider range of personal care products including lotions, deodorants, shaving gels/creams, razors, razor cartridges, body sprays, bar soaps, liquid soaps, and shampoos. Using the largest sample of these products to date, we examined over 3000 products to test gendered pricing across these products. Our findings suggest that gender-pricing is not pervasive across products or consistently punitive toward women. Women pay more for deodorants/antiperspirants and lotions than men, while men tend to pay more for shaving creams/gels than women. Our analysis reveals another, perhaps more insidious, process at work however: the proliferation of gender differentiation for products that makes price-comparisons for the average consumer difficult. Both gender differentiation and the pink tax are founded on essentialist thinking about gender, and further reify gender structures and inequality in society.

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  1. The pink tax is distinct from the tampon-tax, whereby sales tax is applied to feminine hygiene items (currently 30 states tax menstrual products) in that the pink tax applies to similar or identical items and services that are utilized by men and women but priced differently [24].

  2. Duesterhaus et al. [9] also sampled hair salons and dry-cleaners in Central Florida and found that women paid more for certain dry-cleaning services and haircuts.

  3. According to the GAO report, “the average item price is the total dollar sales for a product category divided by the total number of items sold for that category.… [whereas] [t]he average price per ounce or count is the item price divided by the quantity of product” [29, p. 10].

  4. This study only includes disposable razors. Electric shavers for men are significantly more expensive than disposables and would have skewed the data. Shaving creams/gels, while more expensive for men, are only necessary for shaving with disposable or straight razors. Therefore, if men are shaving with electric shavers, which may initially cost more but last longer than disposable razors, the need to purchase shaving creams/gels may significantly decrease.

  5. We had originally intended to conduct a side-by-side comparison of identical products marketed to men and to women but were not able to locate a sufficient number of “identical” products to conduct a meaningful analysis, even with our large dataset.

  6. To explore this possibility, we conducted a basic google search of each product by retailer, using filters “men/male,” “women/female,” and “unisex/gender neutral” (if available). The numbers for “women’s” or “men’s” products do not match the numbers in our sample given that we further refined gendered products by eliminating products that overlap or are not actual products (e.g., hair removal creams rather than shaving creams). It should be noted that in three cases, retailers did not provide a “gender neutral” search filter for products. More importantly, many products listed as “gender neutral” or “unisex” are in fact gendered, and clearly so. Thus, the “hits” returned from these searches produce a crude and somewhat inaccurate count of products marketed as men’s, women’s or unisex/gender neutral, but they give us a general idea of how gendered products are. There were only three categories of products in our study for which a “gender neutral” filter produced more hits than “men” or “women” filters (shampoo, body wash, lotion). There were about twice as many gender-neutral lotions and shampoos as ones marketed to women or men (1,148 versus 535, and 2345 versus 1,193, respectively) and slightly more gender-neutral body washes as gendered ones (937 vs 733). For comparison purposes, the ratio of gendered to gender-neutral products were as follows: deodorants, 1381:360; razors, 929:64; razor cartridges, 350:16; body sprays, 734:227; bar soaps, 187:174; shaving gels/creams, 256:51.


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The authors would like to thank Ketty Fernandez and Julie Zambos for their helpful comments during earlier stages of this research.


This study was unfunded.

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Correspondence to Liz Grauerholz.

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Guittar, S.G., Grauerholz, L., Kidder, E.N. et al. Beyond the Pink Tax: Gender-Based Pricing and Differentiation of Personal Care Products. Gend. Issues 39, 1–23 (2022).

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  • Pink tax
  • Gender branding
  • Gender discrimination
  • Gender differentiation