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The Pink Tax Explained

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSD chapter.

If you weren’t aware of the Pink Tax already, tuck in because we’re about to dive into what the Pink Tax is and what can be done about it. Never heard of it? Have you noticed at your local department store that men’s cosmetic products cost significantly more for women’s products even if they’re the same product? By now you’re already on Target’s website typing in a product like razors or body wash and comparing the two. And by now you’re realizing the huge price jump between products as a whole and not simply by brand. Sucks right? Well let’s dive in a little more to understand what the Pink Tax is and what legislators are doing about it.

The Pink Tax itself can be best described as blatant pricing discrimination based on gender. It is a just another representation of the gender wealth gap that has existed throughout our history with women making significantly less than men. And to add on, while women are making less, women are consistently being charged more for simple products such as razors, dry cleaning, and even car maintenence. If you think about it, if a woman were to show up to the repair shop, women are less likely to notice the price discrepancies and increases that shops tack onto services since the assumption is that most women would not notice it. Compared to men, prices are percentages lower since men are more likely to catch when averages for certain services are less or more at other places and more likely to negotiate. 

Payscale.com stated that while the gender pay gap is gradually decreasing, men are still making 19% more than women on their salary per year. For every dollar a man makes, women only make $0.98. And with the Pink Tax, that salary number looks even more meager. If you need the calculations, in 1994, California conducted a gender pricing study and found that estimated that women paid roughly an extra $1,350 every year for personal care services, such as haircuts and dry cleaning, which is $2,135 in today’s dollars. This has only been enforcing more gender inequality which is why there have been more calls and efforts in recent years to close that gap and abolish the Pink Tax as a whole.

pink tax graphic
Photo by The Creative Exchange from Unsplash

So far, only twelve states have actually enforced legislation to abolish the Pink Tax more specifically on female specific products such as tampons. Luckily, a bill was passed in 2019 to enforce menstrual equality and provide menstrual products to different institutions. Definitely a step up, but unfortunately other states have still not abolished the tax on feminine products overall. More organizations are calling for the abolishment in their states, but unfortunately, legislation is slow to create real action. 

So what can you do instead?

Buy men’s products is one of the easiest things you could do. Rather than buying the female versions of products such as shampoo or lotion, save yourself about $.50 and buy the men’s alternative. If anything, it might be more effective because some women’s products definitely skimp out not only on price but also quality. You could also support companies in favor of banning the pink tax on female products such as Billie, a razor subscription company that charges way less for razors to be shipped to you with refills compared to buying them from the department store. You could also try the company Boxed which is essentially and online grocery store that does not charge extra for female products unlike traditional department stores. 

If you want to enact real action, your last option would be to join the political fight to abolish the tax as a whole. Call your state representatives, signing petitions, and joining initiatives is the best way to promote more action against gender pay inequality in the hopes that one day women will be making more than the institution believes we’re worth. 

Loralyn Narvaez is a California Native who previously attended UWB. Although she currently lives back in California, she served as Head Writer for the chapter publishing articles and writing her own. She recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and a Business minor and was Campus Correspondent for HC UCSD. She is currently attending CSU Fullerton pursuing her Master's Degree in Communications. Her interests include cosmetics, fashion, food, literature, linguistics, and Asian culture.