How To Hack The Pink Tax

If you aren’t too familiar with the term, let me sum up The Pink Tax for you. Essentially, it’s a term that encompasses the extra cash that people who aren’t men have to often inevitably drop on products like tampons and pads, ‘women’s’ shampoo and conditioner, hair products, skincare products, makeup, or clothing. The debate around it has been loud in certain circles in Australia over the past few years, after calls to remove GST on tampons, pads and other sanitary items were rejected.

The decision has been subject to significant backlash, with comparisons made to items labelled ‘essential’ that aren’t subject to GST. Condoms. Sunscreen. Nicotine patches. Want to keep your junk safe during sex, stop skin cancer or quit smoking? No worries. Want to buy tampons and pads once a month, every month, to keep your body safe and hygienic? You better get ready to fork out that GST, because tampons are classified as a ‘luxury’ item. Ah menstruation, such a luxury. Almost like a holiday!

Countless corporations and companies are in on the act too, purposely gendering identical or similar items or products and then slapping a few extra bucks on the ‘women’s’ version. So, while we wait for change, how can we hack The Pink Tax in our everyday lives? Lean in and listen up.

Go to the ‘men’s’ aisle

Perhaps in this day and age we would be questioning why there are men’s and women’s aisles at all, but that’s an article for another day. Ever compared the prices of a men’s razor and a women’s razor? How about shampoo and conditioner, or even hair removal cream? Soap? Deodorant?

The reality is, particularly when it comes to the more basic brands, the men’s and women’s products are generally exactly the same or only have minor differences. A slightly different scent, pink packaging, a more flowery name.

And, I know; there’s probably a few things that you’re set on – that conditioner that is just right for your hair. And that’s fine. But when it comes to the things that you buy on the fly – razors, soap, a new toothbrush – make sure you look at the alternatives before just going for the one with pink packaging.

The same goes for clothes. Things like jumpers, track pants, t-shirts, and all other comfortable items of clothing can often be found in the men’s section of a brick and mortar or online store for far cheaper if you’re not too fussy or just looking for something basic.

Ignore products that are ‘made for women’

You may have figured this out by now, but products that are targeted towards women are almost always hiked up when it comes to the price tag. But it isn’t just hygiene, hair and makeup products that will burn a hole in your pocket. From baby clothes to Bic pens, kids’ toys to Kinder suprises, the price gaps between gendered items is real.

The solution here is to be a conscious shopper: look at the entire shelf rather than just the brands you know. Don’t be a sucker for gendered items unless their pricing is equal, and remember that just because something is ‘made for women’ or girls doesn’t mean it has different ingredients or of a different quality.

Make it

When it comes to tampons and makeup, you need a fairly specific skill set to make your own alternatives. But, if you do have the time and creative finesse to trial your own options, items like soap, moisturisers, scrubs, bath stuff, face masks and even lip balm aren’t too stressful to make at home – and the final product will be significantly cheaper, and potentially more animal-friendly or ethical than your average store-bought product.

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You can make it in bulk, try out different ingredients, and at the end of the day – it’s a new skill that also assists in beating the patriarchy. What more could you want?

Do your research and embrace alternatives

When it comes down to it, beating the pink tax requires work. There’s no two ways around it; you have to check prices, ingredients, and figure out what you’re happy to substitute. Think carefully about what you’re really buying, and make some compromises here and there.

Instead of makeup wipes, go for baby wipes – you can get the same amount of wipes for almost a third of the price in many stores. Look out for sales on tampons and pads, and buy them in advance.

Don’t just go for brands that you see on the telly like Libra – look at all the options available, because it’s likely there’s a cheaper brand available. Go online and buy things in bulk or check out alternatives to the brands you are used to.

Go on, buy the men’s soap or the unisex deodorant, and save your hard-earned cash.

Chloe Papas is a journalist and writer based in Victoria. You can find her on Twitter @chloepapas


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