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The Cost of Looking Good: Gender Disparities in Appearance Spending

Women’s Spending Habits on Appearance

Every morning, millions of women across the world wake up, look in the mirror, and begin their daily beauty routine. From skincare to hair care, they invest time and money in enhancing their appearance.

But have you ever stopped to think just how much money women spend on their appearance? According to a study by SkinStore, American women spend an average of $3,756 per year on beauty products.

With this much money on the line, let’s take a closer look at the categories of spending that makeup this astronomical number.


Healthy, glowing skin is an essential part of any beauty routine and is often the basis of many women’s self-confidence. The skincare industry is worth billions of dollars, and there is an endless array of products available to help achieve the perfect complexion.

From cleansers to serums, toners, moisturizers, and more, skincare products come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. It’s no surprise, then, that the average woman spends $313.39 per year solely on skincare.

However, it’s important to note that the price of skincare products can vary significantly, and as such, there are a lot of more affordable options available for those on a budget.

Hair Products

Your hair is your crowning glory, and many women wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without first styling it to perfection. Haircare is big business, with the global hair care market forecast to reach $122 billion in 2023.

Hair products are designed to help women achieve a variety of looks and styles, whether it’s protecting their hair from damage, adding volume, or enhancing their natural color. From shampoos and conditioners to styling products like mousses, gels, and hairsprays, women invest an average of $273.65 per year in their hair routine.


Haircuts are a crucial part of maintaining healthy hair, shaping one’s appearance, and allowing women to express their personalities. The amount of money women spend on haircuts can vary greatly depending on where they live and which salon they go to, but on average, a haircut can cost $43.50.

Women who visit the salon for a haircut four times a year can end up paying around $174 annually.

Hair Color

Hair coloring is another popular way for women to transform their appearance and is often used to cover gray hair or give a new look to one’s locks. This is another area where costs can vary significantly depending on the specific service and salon.

However, the national average for hair coloring is around $110 per session, with women spending about $440 per year in total.

Gender Disparities in Spending

The sheer amount women spend each year on beauty products, haircuts, and hair color is staggering, but the issue of gender disparities in spending doesn’t stop there. Women often have to pay more for products and services that are marketed to them solely because of their gender, and this is known as the pink tax.

Pink Tax

The pink tax is the phenomenon where products marketed towards women cost more than their male counterparts. For example, a study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that women’s hair care products cost, on average, 48% more than men’s products, despite being nearly identical in terms of formulation and packaging.

Similar inequalities were seen in products such as shaving cream, pain relievers, and body wash.

Financial Impact on Women

The pink tax may seem insignificant in the short run, but when you consider the long-term financial impact, it’s clear that it can have significant consequences. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the pink tax can add up to a total of $1,300 annually, with the added tax on women’s products making up a significant portion of their total consumption.

This can have a severe impact on women’s financial futures, including reducing their retirement funds’ value and lowering their expected annual returns. Given an average 40-year working life, the pink tax can cost women up to $100,000 in total.

In conclusion, women invest heavily in their appearance and self-care, with skincare and hair care being their primary categories of spending. However, the pink tax is a significant issue that disproportionately affects women, costing them a considerable amount of money each year.

By being aware of this issue, women can take steps to advocate for themselves and make more informed purchases, ultimately reducing their total consumption costs.

3) Gender Disparities in Appearance Spending

It’s no secret that men and women have different expectations when it comes to grooming and personal appearance. However, these gender differences extend beyond simply what is expected of each gender; studies show that men and women spend vastly different amounts on appearance-related costs.

Breakdown of Spending Categories

While it’s often assumed that women are the primary spenders in appearance categories, the reality is that spending is divided quite evenly between the genders. However, men and women tend to spend their money differently.

For example, according to a survey conducted by Chase Slate, men are more likely than women to spend on gym memberships, supplements, and protein powder. Meanwhile, women are more inclined to spend on haircuts, makeup, skincare, hair products, and nails.


Men often choose to save money on haircuts by cutting their hair themselves or going to budget-friendly chains like Great Clips. On the other hand, women typically receive more complex hair treatments and often pay more for them.

According to a survey conducted by the Professional Beauty Association, women spend on average $62 on haircuts, while men spend an average of $32.


While men may buy the occasional grooming product, it’s primarily the women who invest heavily in makeup. According to a report by Rawnaq, women spend $300,000 on cosmetics over their lifetime.

On average, women spend $40 per month on makeup alone, with many women spending much more. For makeup enthusiasts, top-of-the-line products and high-end brands are a consistent splurge.


As mentioned earlier, skincare is an essential part of many women’s overall appearance. It’s becoming more commonplace to see men take an interest in skincare, but women still hold the majority share of spending in this category.

Women spend around $313.39 per year solely on skincare products like cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and anti-aging serums.

Hair Products

Compared to makeup or skincare products, hair products tend to be more expensive. Women spend around $273.65 a year on hair products, while men spend about $111 a year.

From shampoos and conditioners to styling products like mousses, gels, and hairsprays, it’s no surprise that women end up spending significantly more than men.


Men also tend to save on nail care compared to women. Women are more likely to visit salons for regular manicures and pedicures, while men may simply opt to cut their nails at home.

This difference is reflected in the numbers; the average female spends around $408 per year on nail services, while the average male only spends around $28. Gym Memberships, Supplements, and Protein

Men are more often than not the primary consumers of gym memberships, supplements, and protein powder.

It’s estimated that the average American man spends around $685 per year on gym memberships and another $543 on supplements such as protein powder. Women, on the other hand, often find ways to stay active outside of the gym and may instead spend their money on boutique workout classes or yoga studios.

Women’s Spending on Cosmetic Procedures

While cosmetic procedures like botox, fillers, and other injectables were once seen as primarily the domain of the wealthy or the celebrity elite, they have now become more mainstream among the average American woman. According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of botox injections is around $369.

More invasive procedures, like breast augmentations, can cost upward of $4,000 or more.

Men and Cosmetic Procedures

While fewer men go under the knife for cosmetic procedures than women, there has been an increase in recent years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, the number of male patients rose by 29% from 2000-2017.

It’s also worth noting that men are more likely to undergo procedures like rhinoplasty or eyelid surgery for medical reasons rather than purely cosmetic ones.

4) Findings from Surveys

Multiple studies have sought to better understand how Americans spend their money on appearance-related costs. Here, we will look at two survey results, and explore some of their findings.

GOBankingRates Survey of American Women

A GOBankingRates survey found that over 32% of American women polled said their worst money habit was splurging on unnecessary shopping or spending, with clothing and beauty products being the primary categories of spending. The survey found that these purchases often came at the expense of savings, with many women admitting to not having enough money left over at the end of the month to put into savings.

Advanced Dermatology Survey of Men and Women

A survey conducted by Advanced Dermatology aimed to better understand gender differences in spending habits. The respondents were asked to select the categories of appearance spending they engaged in, and the results showed that women were more likely to spend on makeup, skincare, hair products, and gym memberships.

Men, on the other hand, reported that they were more likely to spend on gym memberships, supplements, and protein powder. Overall, the takeaway here is that while men and women both spend money on appearance-related costs, they do so in different ways and in different categories.

In conclusion, appearance-related spending can be a significant budget line item for both men and women. While the overall spending seems to be split fairly evenly, men and women differ in the categories in which they tend to spend money.

Those differences can have a significant impact on overall spending habits, with women tending towards spending more on beauty and grooming products, while men invest more in health and wellness. These surveys provide valuable insights into the spending habits of both genders, and can help readers better understand where their money goes.

5) Conclusions and Implications

As we have seen, men and women both spend significantly on personal grooming and appearance-related costs. However, these expenses can add up over time, with the added burden of the pink tax and gender-based pricing disparities.

Here, we will explore the implications and conclusions of these findings. Women Don’t Think They Overspend on Their Appearance

Despite the significant amount of money that women spend on beauty and grooming each year and the potential financial impact, many women still do not believe that they overspend on their appearance.

In a survey conducted by Fidelity, only 15% of women agreed that they “spend too much on discretionary items like beauty products,” compared to the 40% of women who admitted to indulging in retail therapy. This sentiment is echoed in other studies, indicating that many women view appearance-related expenses as a necessary part of their lives rather than a frivolous indulgence.

Pink Tax and

Gender Disparities in Spending Add Up Over Time

The pink tax and other gender-based pricing disparities, as we have seen, can have significant financial consequences for women. According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the added cost of the pink tax alone can cost women up to $1,300 annually.

When added to the expenses of other appearance-related spending categories, the ramifications can be significant, reducing the value of women’s retirement funds and lowering their expected annual returns. Over the course of an average 40-year work life, the pink tax and other disparities can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in total.

Awareness and Conversations About Gender-Based Pricing Needed

For any change to occur, greater awareness, and conversations about the issue of gender-based pricing are essential. When consumers are aware of the true costs of the products and services they purchase, they can make more informed decisions.

For example, when women understand the pink tax and other disparities, they can do things like seeking budget-friendly alternatives, purchasing products outside of gender-specific marketing, or choosing not to buy certain items. This type of knowledge can also be a starting point for larger conversations about the need for greater inclusivity and a more equitable society.

Overall, the consequences of gender-based pricing, pink tax, and gender disparities in appearance spending are complex. While it may seem daunting or even overwhelming at times, awareness, education, and advocacy can play a critical role in effecting real change.

For women and men alike, it’s essential to remember that investing in oneself doesn’t have to equate to overspending or unsustainable financial costs. By being mindful of the types of products and services they purchase, consumers can feel more in control of their budgets, and even make meaningful strides in the fight for equality.

In conclusion, the article sheds light on the differences in appearance spending between men and women. While both sexes spend a significant amount on their appearance, they tend to do so in vastly different categories.

However, gender disparities in prices and the pink tax remain problematic issues, leading to significant financial impacts over time. It is crucial to raise awareness, have more conversations, and take action to fight gender-based pricing disparity.

By doing so, we can empower individuals to make informed purchases and work towards a more equitable society. Ultimately, understanding this topic is immensely important for all individuals to ensure they are not overspending on their appearance and are making thoughtful decisions while advocating for their financial well-being.

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