Anyone who’s shopped the health and beauty aisles at a supermarket or drugstore knows grooming products are nearly always separated by gender.
Pink, white and green bottles sit next to black and navy bottles, subtly nudging shoppers toward products “for women” or “for men.” Some brands even write “for men” directly on the black and navy bottles, just in case it isn’t clear.
But are these products really all that different? More importantly, are these products priced differently?
Could we all save money if we bought men’s deodorant instead of women’s, or shampooed with something out of a navy bottle?
I decided to find out — and what I learned was very surprising.
Test 1: Walgreens
My first product comparison test was at Walgreens.
I was expecting to see men’s products priced significantly lower than women’s products, but I found several brands sold both their men’s and women’s products at identical prices.
Dove was the major exception, but even within its products, the men’s versions were not always priced lower than the women’s versions. Sometimes, the men’s versions were even priced higher.
Here’s what I saw at Walgreens:
Dove Deep Moisture and Dove Purely Pampering were both 30 cents per ounce, while Dove Men + Care was 40.7 cents per ounce.
Nivea Creme Moisture and Nivea For Men were both 33.4 cents per ounce.
Suave Body Wash and Suave For Men were both 16.7 cents per ounce.
Dove Go Fresh was $2.11 per ounce and Dove Advanced Care was $2.61 per ounce. Dove Men + Care was $2.14 per ounce.
Lady Mitchum and Mitchum deodorants all ran at $4.49 each, for both 2.7- and 2.25-ounce containers.
Dove Nutritive Solutions was 45.8 cents per ounce and Dove Advanced Hair Series was 48.3 cents per ounce, but Dove Men + Care was only 41.6 cents per ounce.
Suave Professionals and Suave Professionals for Men were both 15.3 cents per ounce.
Suave Essentials, which had no “for men” equivalent, was only 9.1 cents per ounce.
Bic Silky Touch razors and Bic Twin Select razors were both 48.9 cents per razor.
Test 2: Safeway
To make sure my Walgreens experience wasn’t a fluke, I decided to compare men’s and women’s hygiene products at my local Safeway.
As with Walgreens, many brands sold their men’s and women’s products at identical prices.
Even when brands sold equivalent men’s and women’s products at different prices, the men’s products were not always priced lower than the women’s products.
I’ve listed Safeway prices below. The company uses a variety of per-unit measurements, but I’ve done the math to get the per-ounce prices.
Dove Deep Moisture was 34 cents per fluid ounce, and Dove Men + Care was 33 cents per fluid ounce.
Nivea Creme Moisture and Nivea Men Active 3 were both 36 cents per fluid ounce.
Dove Advanced Care was $2.70 per ounce, but Dove Men + Care was $1.78 per ounce.
Degree Dry Protection Twin Pack was $1.15 per ounce, but Degree Men Dry Protection Twin Pack was $1.11 per ounce.
Lady Mitchum and Mitchum were both $2.14 per ounce.
Dove Advanced Hair Series and Dove Men + Care were both 42 cents per ounce.
Suave Professionals and Suave Professionals for Men were both 17 cents per fluid ounce for 28 fluid ounces, and 18 cents per fluid ounce for 12.6 fluid ounces.
Schick Quattro razors were $11.29 per razor, but Schick Quattro Titanium (the “for men” equivalent) were $13.99 per razor.
Signature Care Twin Blade razors (in pink!) and Signature Care Twin Blade Plus razors (in blue!) were both 24.92 cents per razor.
Which Hygiene Products are Cheaper?
What did I learn from this experiment?
Although men’s and women’s hygiene products are sometimes priced differently, you can’t assume products “for men” are less expensive than products “for women.”
I discovered in many cases, men’s and women’s hygiene products are sold for the same prices.
If you want to save money, you can’t hack your way to dramatically lower costs by grabbing a blue bottle instead of a pink one.
Instead, you need to read the fine print and look for the product with the lowest per-unit cost. It has much more to do with the individual brand than the gender to which the product is marketed.
Sometimes you can save a few cents per ounce buying the “for men” version, but you can’t make the decision until you look carefully at both products and compare the price by unit.
But that’s what good Penny Hoarders should be doing anyway — it’s the only way you’ll know whether you’re getting the best deal.
Your Turn: Have you tried saving money by purchasing men’s hygiene products instead of women’s? Does your favorite brand sell men’s products at a lower cost, or does the brand offer identical prices?
Nicole Dieker is a contributor at The Penny Hoarder, freelance copywriter and essayist. She writes regularly for The Billfold on the intersection of freelance writing and personal finance, and her work has also appeared in The Toast, Yearbook Office and Boing Boing.