4 ways being a woman can be more expensive than being a man

Clothing, makeup, healthcare, and even women's-version products take up a lot more money for the ladies than it does for gents.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

It's not easy being a woman. Other than being subjected to unrealistic beauty standards and being constantly marketed products that are pink, blinged out or both, having two X chromosomes can also mean you end up paying more just to exist.

And no, you don't even have to be the sort of person who loves Sophie Kinsella's "Shopholic" chick lit series or be addicted to shopping at Sephora to feel the added expense your gender imposes on you. Here are four reasons why it's more expensive to be a woman:

Women need a wider range of clothing types

Men who hate shopping should thank the gods that they were born male, as they can get by wearing a very narrow range of clothing-shirts, pants and maybe a jacket for work, weddings, funerals and all other formal occasions (and even clubbing and dates), and jeans for everything else.

A pair of sneakers and a pair of formal shoes can fulfil all footwear requirements for 95 per cent of the situations a man finds himself in.

Women, on the other hand, need to wear gowns or at least formal dresses for weddings, office wear at work and interviews, clubbing attire at bars and clubs and sundresses, skirts, jeans or shorts on casual days.

In addition, there is a confounding array of possible footwear choices-ornamental high heeled shoes for weddings, pumps for work, flats for casual days, stripper heels for date night (just kidding) and so on. Even a woman with a minimalist wardrobe is likely to have twice the amount of clothes as the average man.

Makeup and skincare

While there are some exceptions like guys who wear concealer and eyeliner, makeup and elaborate skincare regimes are still largely the domain of women. Women who wear makeup, especially those who can't step out of the house without it, spend a pretty penny each year.

From foundation to eyeliner and everything in between, there are thousands of makeup products a woman can buy.

Those who are serious about their skincare regimes and use premium products are also liable to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. The three-step programme of cleanser, toner and moisturiser is often supplemented by other products such as serums (a 215 ml bottle of the famous SKII Treatment Essence costs over $200).

Sure, some men take care of their skin too, but there is no denying that for most women it's not an option-they're expected to keep their skin smooth and blemish free, or at least cover up their flaws with makeup, particularly at the workplace. I have a friend whose boss screamed at her for looking tired in the morning and told her to get some tinted moisturiser… ouch.

Female-specific healthcare

If you've ever had gone for a pap smear or had a cervical cancer immunisation jab, you've already incurred some medical-related expenses that your male counterparts never will. Then there's the added expense of buying tampons and sanitary napkins that will persist until menopause.

As if that's not enough, guess what-your current medical insurance plan might not offer adequate coverage for some of the healthcare expenses you'll encounter as a woman. That's why many of the big insurance companies like Prudential and AIA have special ladies' insurance plans that offer coverage in the event of maternity risks, diagnosis of female illnesses and/or female-related procedures.

Products targeted at women

There's a "ladies' version" of many products out there, and we're not just talking about the version that comes in pink. And surprise surprise, these products tend to be more expensive than their male or sexless counterparts.

For instance, Gilette's Satin Care Sensitive Shaving Gel (200ml) for women costs $10.90 at Watson's, while the Gilette Series Sensitive Shaving Gel (200ml) for men costs $9.90.

Neutrogena's Men's Face Wash costs just $6.85 for a 100ml tube, as opposed to the regular Neutrogena Cleanser, which costs $11.80 and is purchased by more women than men.

And women's perfume generally costs more than men's cologne in the same range, even if it's sold in smaller quantities.

So the next time the guys complain that woman get into the club free on ladies' night while they still have to fork out the money for cover charge, consider it a fair exchange.

This article first appeared in MoneySmart.

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