The pink tax might be impacting you without you even realising; but what is it? And how can it make such a big difference?
The Pink Tax
Although it is not an actual tax, the pink tax has been coined due to the additional costs faced by women on everyday products. Whether it is a razor, shampoo, or other personal care products, clothes, children’s toys, or school uniforms, on average, the products marketed towards women cost more.
The pink tax is the price increase on products and services marketed towards women which cost more than identical or similar products which are marketed towards men. The only difference between the two products is usually the colour, the men’s option tends to be black or navy or a similar muted colour and the women’s option is usually pink or purple or something similar, hence the name, ‘the pink tax’.
Women are being charged much more on the products they buy simply because of the colouring. If you were to compare two similar products with the same purpose, formula, and performance, it is likely that you will find that the one aimed at women is more expensive.
The price difference might not be much, and it might not be obvious at first but it’s usually there. Women’s products tend to be less value for money if the price isn’t higher. For example, a multipack of razors will be more expensive for women, or it might be a similar price to the men’s version but there will be less in the pack.
This table, which can be found here, shows how women are paying more for identical products. The pink tax applies to all kinds of products and impacts women’s spending on everything they buy.
What does this mean for women?
Women already earn less money than men in general, and yet for some reason women have to pay more for everyday products. On average, for every £1 that a man earns, a woman is only paid 90p. Loaded with its own problems, the pay gap is quite significant already and then on top of this women have to pay more for the things they need, like shampoo and conditioner for example, than men do.
This puts women at a disadvantage in many areas of life because it becomes increasingly difficult for women to afford things. With a lower wage and more expensive products, it can put a major strain on women’s finances where men might be quite comfortable.
It makes it harder for women to save for the future, cover any bills they face, or emergency costs and they end up with less to contribute towards their pension. All of this means we are not getting any closer to financial and economic equality.
A little bit of interesting history, razors were never intended for women and yet women now have to pay more for them than men do. When razors were first sold, they were marketed with men in mind. Women were not a consideration. Shaving was considered to be masculine, and women avoided it.
But then razor companies started creating adverts which made hairy armpits and legs seem shameful and made women feel embarrassed about them. So now not only do women get shamed into using a product originally intended for men but they have to pay more for that product.
The tampon tax is another unfair cost faced by women. Period and sanitary products were classed as a luxury good and ‘non-essential’ so they were taxed with a 5% VAT rate. Luckily, this isn’t an issue in the UK anymore because the tampon tax was abolished on the 1st January 2021, but unfortunately this is still a challenge faced by many. In America, the tampon tax is still in effect in 30 states and a lot of them won’t remove the tax because of the reduction it will cause in public revenue.
Around 13% of those who menstruate live in poverty and struggle to access menstrual products that they need. With the tampon tax, it is even harder for them to afford these essential items which are deemed as a luxury good.
How to avoid the pink tax
While the pink tax is not always avoidable, for example if you live somewhere that enforces the tampon tax, there are still a few things which can be done to avoid paying the pink tax.
Shop around and search in different stores for the cheaper options. Look for the best deals and offers and try to buy things when they are on sale.
Don’t be afraid to browse the men’s section. A lot of their products are the same as the women’s, just with different packaging, especially razors. Just look out for the key ingredients that you like and save money by buying the men’s option.
Look for stores that are pink tax free. Some retailers will advertise that they are pink tax free, so it is a good idea to look out for these places when you’re shopping to save yourself some money.
Call out companies and retailers. The prices of products are set by retailers so don’t be afraid to get in touch with them and call them out on their unfair prices.
The pink tax is an unfair system which women have to deal with day-to-day, but we shouldn't have to. If we keep speaking up about it and fighting it then hopefully something will get done about it and women will no longer have to unjustly pay more than men for the same thing.