By now, you’ve probably at least heard rumblings about the ‘pink tax.’ It’s the notable price difference between men’s and women’s beauty products and services. And you guessed it — women get the short end of the stick, even when the goods are basically identical.
While it’s true that there’s a broad range of prices across items marketed toward both men and women, you can’t deny the fact that women’s goods and services simply skew higher on average. In fact, a study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that items marketed to females are 7% more expensive compared to those marketed to males.
While 7 percent may not sound like too much to some, JP Morgan estimates that that pink tax costs women roughly $1300 per year. Youch! Of course, this begs the question: Can women just use men’s products? The short answer is, yes.
Can Women Use Men’s Skincare Products?
“Yes, women and men can use the same products,” says Dr. Richard Bottiglione, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dermatologist’s Choice Skincare. “When it comes to choosing products, pick a product that is best for your skin type and has the correct level of strength to treat your specific skin needs.”
That said, there are some key differences between men’s and women’s skin. For example, men tend to be oilier, have slightly thicker skin, contend with thick facial hair, and have more body hair in general. However, what matters most is your skin type and specific concerns.
Bottom line: “Skincare products can be used on men and women. It’s a marketing tactic when they make two different lines — one for women, one for men. The treatment is usually the same for both men and women,” says Dr. Bottiglione.
This is true for hair care products, body goods, and beauty services as well. Typically, the only differences come down to packaging, textures, and fragrances. There’s also the sexist belief that women are “less price-sensitive” than men when it comes to buying things like beauty products, so they simply won’t notice.
Well, we noticed. Ahead, you’ll find some men’s personal care products that are cheaper than women’s but essentially do the exact same thing.
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Men’s Beauty Products That Women Can Use
Ready to do a little shopping? Here are some men’s products that are cheaper than the women’s equivalent.
While the original razor purchase of the Schick Quattro for men and Schick Quattro for women is comparable, cartridge refills are notably more expensive for women compared to men ($18.99 vs. $9.18).
Bravo Sierra Dry Shampoo, $8.99
No direct comparison here, but this luxe dry shampoo would arguably be much pricier in the women’s aisle. Marketed to men as a “no water field shampoo,” it “removes sweat and dirt from hair and scalp while texturizing and thickening hair.” Sound familiar? It’s also infused with a bit of menthol for a cooling, soothing effect.
In general, men’s shaving creams tend to be cheaper than women’s, but contain all of the active ingredients (aka the moisturizers and soothers). For example, Gillette’s Foamy Men’s Sensitive Shave Foam is similar to Gillette’s Satin Care Ultra Sensitive Women’s Shave Gel but costs 50 cents less. Both are formulated for sensitive skin, have rich lathers, are free of dyes, and have seriously-similar ingredient labels.
The women’s “Advanced Care Clear Finish 48-Hour Invisible” deodorant is $5.99. Both offer 48-hour deodorizing benefits and have a clear finish. The only big difference is the women’s feminine packaging and fragrance selection. Oh, and the price, of course.
This gender-neutral body wash targets body acne with 2% salicylic acid, an ingredient known for its ability to de-gunk pores and promote clearer skin. The pink “grapefruit” equivalent, which also contains 2% salicylic acid and is the same size.
Similar shea-butter-based, squeeze-tube lip balms targeted to women (think Glossier, L’Occitane, and Minted) start at $10. This lip balm by men’s grooming brand Jack Black, contains the same (or similar) skin conditioners and antioxidants, plus has the added bonus of sunscreen to protect your lips, for $2 less.