Here’s some upsetting news to kick off your workweek: Gender bias doesn’t just fall within the realm of the workplace. It’s an issue that is highly prevalent in an unexpected area of economy — the personal care product market — where many of your everyday essentials (think: razors, facial cleansers, and deodorant) are marked up in price, thanks to the so-called pink tax. This means that women pay more for nearly identical products than men do just because. And thanks to a recent study, we now have conclusive evidence that the pink tax is alive and thriving. (Ugh.)
It’s been reported that approximately 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. have androgenetic alopecia (male- and female-pattern baldness), and one of the largest forms of treatments is minoxidil, a topical treatment that fights hair loss and promotes re-growth. According to a report published online by JAMA Dermatology, researchers discovered that women pay, on average, a whopping 40 percent more for over-the-counter hair growth products, including Rogaine and similar minoxidil–based products, than men do to combat said hair loss.
After realizing there may be price discrepancy in the market, the authors of the report decided to launch an investigation to find out if hair re-growth products for women are, in fact, priced higher than the formulas targeted to men. The group of researchers compared the prices of Rogaine and similar minoxidil-based products from 21 different mass-market retailers — CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens and Walmart — in four states (New York, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) from July to November 2016.
The results concluded that women’s FDA–approved 5 percent foam formulas averaged $11.27 per ounce, while the men’s products were priced at $8.05 per ounce. Given these findings — which unmask a 40 percent increase on average in women’s products when compared to the men’s counterpart — it’s clear that there’s a glaring markup.
When asked about the price differences, a Rogaine spokesperson told Time that both foams — for men and women — are priced the same per ounce when purchased directly from the company’s website, as well as when the products are sold wholesale to pharmacies.
In addition to Rogaine, the researchers also surveyed prices of topical liquid minoxidil, a hair loss treatment that’s only been approved at two percent strength for women and a 5 percent strength for men. Unlike the Rogaine findings, though, these products were priced roughly the same — at an average $7.61 for women and $7.63 for men — even thought the women’s formula differs in strength.
When asked why he believes there’s a price discrepancy between the men and women hair re-growth products, Neil Sadick, a New York City–based dermatologist was confused — just like us. “There is no good rationale as to why 2 percent versus 5 percent minoxidil products should be comparably priced, because they are using more of active ingredient in the 5 percent preparation,” he tells Allure. “One would think it is either a marketing decision made by the pharmaceutical company, or a gender-related strategic decision.”
Suffice it to say, if you’re in the market for a hair loss treatment, it may be in your (and your wallet’s) best interest to avoid the labels.
More on hair growth:
- Growth Plan: How to Combat Hair Loss
- This Breakthrough Is a Major Step in Finding a Solution to Hair Loss
- Suffering From Hair Loss? 4 Styling Tricks to Know
Now, check out these tips for how to cope with thinning hair: