What Is the Pink Tax?

woman standing in pharmacy aisle looking at beauty products

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“Pink tax” is a term for the extra amount of money charged for certain products or services that are specifically marketed toward women. These products and services may include razors, soaps, lotions, deodorants, and haircuts.

Key Takeaways

  • The pink tax refers to the general tendency for products marketed toward women consumers to be more expensive than those marketed toward men.
  • The pink tax is often seen in a number of everyday products and services, including razors, shampoo, dry-cleaning, and haircuts.
  • The pink tax is not an actual tax.
  • The pink tax is illegal in New York state.
  • While the pink tax applies to all types of products, the "tampon tax" is a sales tax that many states charge for feminine-hygiene products.

How Does the Pink Tax Work?

The “pink tax” is a term for the extra amount of money charged for certain products or services that are specifically marketed toward female consumers. These general products, such as razors or deodorants, can be used by both men and women, but the items marketed toward women are more expensive. The pink tax causes women to pay more money for similar—and often identical—products and services that men use.

When a company manufactures or sells a product, it may choose to price it a bit higher because it’s for women. In most cases, the difference between these products and comparable products for men is very minor. It may simply be the color or package design. The pink tax makes it more expensive for women to buy what they need to live their everyday lives. For example, according to investment bank JPMorgan Chase, by many estimates, the pink tax costs women an average of $1,300 per year.

Examples of the Pink Tax

For example, at the drugstore, you may notice that some razors may be pink in color and have a woman on the package, yet they are essentially the same as those that are blue with a man on the package. This marketing tactic is to entice certain people to buy certain products over others. And in that, the ones that are marketed toward women tend to cost more.

Products that could be used by any gender, but may cost more when marketed toward women, include:

  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Laxatives
  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • Travel toiletries

The pink tax dates back to at least the 1990s when a report from California’s Assembly Office of Research found that 64% of stores in several major cities charged more to wash and dry-clean a woman’s blouse than a man’s button-up shirt. The subject gained national attention and has since spurred various attempts at instituting regulation to remove the pink tax.

In a 2015 study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), researchers surveyed 35 product categories that may upcharge women. Across the sample, DCA found that women's products cost more 42% of the time, while men’s products cost more 18% of the time.


Despite its name, a pink tax isn’t actually a sales tax, but rather a discriminatory pricing practice based on gender.

Is the Pink Tax Legal?

The pink tax is technically legal in most states. New York state is the only state that placed a ban on the pink tax. In April 2020, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a proposal to ban the pink tax, and it went into effect on Sept. 30, 2020. The measure requires certain service providers to provide price lists for standard services and notifies them that gender-based price discrimination is prohibited under state law. If businesses violate the law, they are subject to civil penalties.

While the pink tax is still legal and exists in some states, the Pink Tax Repeal Act is an attempt to ban it. Introduced in April 2019 as H.R. 2048 by Rep. Jackie Speier and again in June 2021, the Pink Tax Repeal Act would make it illegal for companies to charge higher prices based on gender for products and services.

Since the Pink Tax Repeal Act does have supporters, and New York has put an end to the pink tax, there is a chance the pink tax will eventually become illegal in every state.


In January 2023, California instituted a pink tax ban similar to that of New York state.

Common Items With a Pink Tax

The pink tax can be applied to various products and services, with beauty- and health-related products or services being the most common.

In March 2022, The Balance analyzed products to see how much more they may cost because of a pink tax. According to the analysis, products cost 13% more when they were marketed toward women because of the pink tax. The Balance looked at the prices for the following products:

  • Razor cartridges
  • Deodorants
  • Shaving creams
  • Razors
  • Hair-care products
  • Body washes
  • Lotions

Razor cartridges marketed toward women cost more than the other products, at nearly 25% more than those marketed toward men, according to The Balance's analysis. Lotion was the most equally priced item.

The pink tax can also be seen in products and services marketed toward girls, not just adult women. According to the New York City DCA report, on average, children’s clothing marketed toward females costs an average of 4% more than male children’s clothing, and toys and accessories cost an average of 7% more.


Next time you go to the store, look at the prices for all items to determine if you could end up paying more for one just because it's marketed toward women. If there is no difference from the item marketed toward men, you could choose to buy that one and save a little money.

Pink Tax vs. Tampon Tax

Pink Tax Tampon Tax
Upcharge for products marketed toward women  Sales tax applied to menstrual products 
Not an actual tax An actual tax, but not in every state

The tampon tax is another upcharge that affects women, and it is occasionally confused with the pink tax. While the pink tax refers to a variety of women’s products that are more expensive than comparables for men—and is not actually a tax—the tampon tax is the sales tax applied to sanitary pads, tampons, liners, and other feminine-hygiene items. There are just five states without a sales tax.

Several states apply sales tax to menstrual items, which are deemed necessary for women. The sales tax amount varies from state to state and is based on the tax code in each individual state.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is there a pink tax?

The pink tax exists because companies can set prices for products. If a company believes a consumer will still buy a product even though it's more expensive than others just like it, it may choose to do so. The pink tax comes into play when a product costs more and is specifically marketed toward women, even though it could be used by any gender.

How much is the pink tax?

There is no one set price differentiation when it comes to products with a pink tax versus those without. However, studies have shown that the pink tax can cost women up to $1,300 per year. Other studies have found that women pay more for products 42% of the time. Some prices may be 50 cents more while others could be several dollars more—and that can add up over time.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. JPMorgan Chase. "The Problematic Pink Tax: Our Specialists Weigh in on Gender-Based Pricing."

  2. HuffPost. "7 Weird Examples of How Women Pay More Than Men for the Same Products."

  3. Official California Legislative Information. "Assembly Committee on Judiciary."

  4. New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. "From Cradle to Cane: The Cost of Being a Female Consumer."

  5. New York Department of State. "Former Governor Cuomo Reminds New Yorkers 'Pink Tax' Ban Goes Into Effect Today."

  6. Congress.gov. "H.R.2048 - Pink Tax Repeal Act."

  7. Congress.gov. "H.R.3853: Pink Tax Repeal Act."

  8. California Legislative Information. "Assembly Bill No. 1287."

  9. Period Law. "Food or Tampons? No One Should Have To Choose."

  10. Joint Economic Committee, United States Congress. "The Pink Tax How Gender-Based Pricing Hurts Women’s Buying Power."

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