Toiletry items marketed towards women cost more than men’s. Should you make the switch?

A Consumer Reports evaluation looked at deodorant, razors and body wash geared towards men and women and found either a significant gap between price or product amount.

By Kristen CabreraMay 23, 2024 10:47 am,

This past legislative session Texas repealed the so-called “tampon tax” on menstrual products. Democrat Donna Howard has been pushing for the legislation for years and now Texas joins 23 other states and the District of Columbia with the action.

But when it comes to other items geared towards women located in the hygiene section, there is an ongoing unofficial “pink tax” in stores. 

A Consumer Reports survey found that when it comes to things like razors or deodorants, those items marketed to women can be close to 50% more. 

Jodhaira Rodriguez surveyed these items for Consumer Reports. She spoke with the Standard on the difference she has seen between price and even product size. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: So tell us about the products that you looked at and what you found.

Jodhaira Rodriguez: So I actually went to my local drugstore and I purchased a deodorant that was geared towards men and women, a body wash – same thing towards men and women. And then finally a razor, which is actually where we saw the biggest price difference, one that was for men and one that was for women.

What were the specifics there? What was the difference between the men and what was the cost difference?

So the cost difference, it’s actually very interesting. You see a difference in the size of the product that you get.

So generally for the men’s version, we saw deodorants that were 3.25oz versus women’s deodorants that were 2.6oz. And so they were priced the same. The ones that we picked, Old Spice and Secret were $5.79 each. But when you do the math per ounce, the Secret deodorant was $2.23 per ounce, while the Old Spice was $1.78 per ounce. So that’s a pretty significant difference.

And for the razors, same thing. I looked for two razors that came with the same amount of cartridges in the patent, just to make it fair. And for the men’s razor, it was $15.49. The women’s razor was $22.99. So again, very significant differences in pricing, even though you’re getting the same thing – one razor and two cartridges in the package.

Well, were these women’s razors significantly better when you tried them out or not worth the difference in cost?

So you would expect that because you’d think so. They have these extra like strips with conditioner and everything that’s supposed to make your shave smoother. And it just wasn’t the case.

My legs were as shaved with the men’s razor as they were with the women’s razor. I still nicked my knee because it’s a tricky spot to shave. So, you know, there was no difference at all.

Now, when it comes to deodorant, you noticed a specific difference – not just in the the sense, but also in the marketing tactics. Can you talk about what was going on there?

Yeah. So this is something that we see, I think, across a lot of different products still in 2024. And that’s just that when we are marketing products to men, we’re always trying to make them feel strong. And for women it’s about softness. It’s about gentleness.

So for the deodorant that we picked up, the tagline on the label is “if your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist,” which we know what they’re talking about, you know?

For Secret’s deodorant, the tagline is “tough on sweat, gentle on skin.”

So for women, when it comes to getting a better deal, which products would you recommend? Maybe going for the products marketed towards men? It sounds like for sure the razor. 

For sure the razor. I would totally recommend sticking to the men’s version. You’re getting the same shave. You’re saving money, and sometimes I feel like the men’s razors, because they’re meant to shave the face, they could have more razor blades even, and it could actually be beneficial that way.

And then for the deodorant, I actually ended up switching to Old Spice for this evaluation because it’s so much more cost efficient than the deodorant that I was using before.

Now, in the scents, that wasn’t a make or break for you? These sort of flowery, powdery things that they geared towards women versus the, I don’t know, cedar and pine?

Yeah, so the first couple of days with the Old Spice, I really had to get used to the difference in the scents. But then after a few days you kind of go nose blind to it. And it’s almost pleasant.

But they do also have unscented versions of a lot of these products for men and for women. So if you do find that the scent is too much for you, you can definitely just go for one of the unscented ones.

And now we should clarify this “pink tax.” We’re calling it that, but it’s not actually anything that shows up on your receipt. It’s just sort of built into, as you said, the cost of these products. Is that not illegal? That’s totally okay for for these companies to do?

It’s very interesting. And even though state wide, you can have these legislations like in Texas where they eliminated sales tax on menstrual products, there’s still no rules against changing a price of a product just because it’s marketed towards men or women.

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