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Why Do Women Pay More for the Same Drugstore Products?

May 24, 2012


I am woman hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore …

Yeah, yeah, while that's all well and good, Ms. Helen Reddy, we have some sobering news for you. Despite your empowering 1972 anthem, Gloria Steinem's women's lib-ing, and Oprah's glass ceiling-shattering, there's still one place where we female types remain abject second-class citizens: the drugstore.

Related: Beauty Editors' Favorite Drugstore Products


We're not talking Viagra and Propecia and the fact that there are nary any feminine counterparts to those medications. Nah, today we're talking plain old beauty products -- everyday items that women cough up way more for than our bigger, smellier, hairier, Y-chromosomed counterparts.

For example, Dove's Men + Care Clean Comfort Deodorant/Antiperspirant and Dove's Go Sleeveless Beauty Finish Deodorant contain the exact same ingredients yet at my local drugstore, the men's version costs $4.99 for a 3-oz size while the women's is a dollar more and is only 2.6-oz. And don't even get me started on the disparity between shaving essentials and/or shampoo prices and sizes.

Related: 12 Best Foundations Under $15

So, what gives?

A couple of years ago, "Consumer Reports" conducted a study that showed "products directed at women -- through packaging, description or name -- might cost up to 50 percent more than similar products for men." Fifty percent!


And, those folks at "Consumer Reports" uncovered him/her discrepancies across the board; pain relievers, eye drops, body washes, and other everyday products were all significantly higher priced when they were swathed in pretty pink packaging or infused with sweet baby scents.

Related: Are You a Sucker at Sephora?

Allan Gorman, the owner of a company called Brandspa, which works to make brands more appealing, says, "You're paying for the perceived value of the package." Similarly, "Forbes" reveals that a study conducted at the University of Central Florida concluded that women's deodorants were priced higher across the board even though "the only discernable difference was scent" and that "it's a similar case for most products marketed to women."

Related: 10 Things the Makeup Counter Saleslady Doesn't Want You to Know

Evidently the big brands chalk up the price inequities to import taxes claiming that the tariffs -- like my 8 th grade science teacher -- play gender favorites. (Blah, blah, BLAH.) And, while there's a lawyer named Michael Cone who's trying to rally some 100 companies to band together and sue the U.S. government over the unequal taxation, we're not holding our breath. Because, really, even if they win, how much of that's going to trickle down and lower the prices of our Dry Idea or Herbal Essences? Exactly.

Related: 13 Best (and Affordable) Beauty Breakthroughs


So, in the meantime, to Mr. Gorman and the rest of you marketing suits at the big brands, we'd like to say that you're no longer pulling the wool over our eyes. We're more than happy, willing, and able to fill up our baskets with products that are intended for men if it means we'll save a bundle (and get the distinct satisfaction of feeling like we're sticking it to "the man" a little in the process).


We are women, watch us score.

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