International Women’s Day – Does Pink Tax Affect Gender Equality in Singapore?

Pink Tax affects gender equality. This International Women’s Day, click to learn more about what Pink Tax is all about, and how it affects the entire world, including us here in Singapore.

ValueChampion Editorial Team

by ValueChampion Editorial Team on Feb 26, 2024

shopping bags


Pink tax generally refers to the premium on products and services that women pay – in short, a gender discrimination price. These products/ services are designed for and marketed with females in mind, and are often more expensive compared to similar products that are marketed for men.

This results in women paying more as they shop for goods and services such as fashion items, personal care and hygiene products, and even toys.

Table of Contents


Teddy bear key chains
Source: Unsplash

Why Does The Pink Tax Exist?

According to Utpal Dholakia, a PHD holder, on Psychology Today,  the Pink Tax likely comes from a value-based pricing perspective, or what pricing experts would call an “effective pricing strategy”. It assumes that a group that places a higher value on a specific item will be more willing than others to pay for the product, even when its cost increases.

For Pink Tax, women are perceived to value certain products (such as related personal care, fashion or hygiene products) much more as compared to men. This results in many brands charging women a higher price for similar products.

Does Pink Tax Affect Us in Singapore?

Pink tax is more common than we realise. In Singapore, the good news is that female products such as sanitary pads or tampons are termed as necessities and not subjected to additional taxation. However, women do pay higher prices for certain products and services — personal care/grooming products and services, and even healthcare – at times.

For the sake of comparison, let us look at the disparities between the prices for men and the prices for women for similar products and services.

Item 1 – Painkillers

The below are three selections that a woman can use to relieve menstruation pain. Using a 20-caplet pack for comparison, the price ranges from S$7.65 to S$11.05. This is also taking into account that these three selections of Panadol differ in terms of ingredients used.

Regular Panadol – S$7.65 (Each caplet contains 500mg Paracetamol)


Panadol Menstrual – S$9.70 (Each caplet contains 500mg Paracetamol and 25mg pamabrom)

Panadol Menstrual

Panadol Actifast – S$11.05 (Each caplet contains 500mg Paracetamol + 173mg sodium)

Panadol Actifast

* Panadol prices as of Feb 2024.

* Panadol ingredient source:

* Price comparison is done using a 20-caplet pack.

Paracetamol is an agent used to treat fever and mid to moderate pain. The dosage of paracetamol is the same (500mg) for all three selections of Panadol listed above. Panadol Menstrual comes with an additional ingredient Pamabrom (25mg), a diuretic product that relieves the symptoms of premenstrual symptoms like bloating and swelling. Panadol Actifast comes with sodium (173mg).

Item 2 – Hair Removal Products (Razors)

In Straits Times political correspondent Yuen Sin’s article, she cites postgraduate Natalee Ho’s experience with razors. Natalee Ho, previously a buyer of pricier woman-specific razors, switched to men’s razors when she realised that did its job equally well too. This switch alone led her to save more than 35% of her previous razor purchases. Is this an example of Pink Tax prevalence in Singapore, or is this disparity due to the quality of the product or a response to women’s preferences in the product?

female razor
Source: Unsplash

Item 3 – Hair Removal Services (Waxing)

When we look at hair removal services like waxing, it seems that the opposite is true. A general Google search of “cost of waxing for men singapore” yields a consistent answer – that waxing services are costlier for a male. Common explanations for this include “more hair” for men (hence more effort and products required for removal), and that male waxing is less common compared to female waxing (hence there are fewer therapists who specialise in male waxing). Does this mean that the male version of “Pink Tax” exists as well? Interestingly, this seems to be a less debated topic. Even the internet seems to be stumped when you google “Blue Tax” or “tax targeted at men”. Most of the search results that show up centre around “Pink Tax” or – more neutrally – on how tax systems treat men and women differently.

Waxing Items – Price Differentiation between Females and Males

waxing services men vs women

wax prices female vs male

wax prices women vs men

Waxing Items – No Price Differentiation between Females and Males

wax prices women vs men

waxing prices men vs women

* Prices as of Feb 2024:

Item 4 – Haircut/Dyeing (Personal Grooming Services)

In general, haircut and colouring tend to cost more for females. Hair length, density, and thickness have a direct impact on how much product, time, and even skills (experience) are required for your service.

haircut prices
Prices accurate as of Feb 2024, Source:
haircut prices
Prices accurate as of Feb 2024, Source:

Item 5 – Insurance

We would like to first emphasise our stance that gender is NOT and NEVER the only key differentiator/determining factor in insurance premiums. Insurance is a complex product, and its premium/cost has to take into account the financial impact of a future event (which might or might not happen). 

(i) Health Insurance – Long Term Care/Long Term Disability Insurance

CareShield Life is a long-term care insurance that provides financial protection against the cost of long-term care for Singaporeans in the event of severe disability. Even before the launch of CareShield Life, the debate of the differentiated premiums (between the genders) has been fierce. Using CareShield and its supplementary plans as an example, females do pay a higher premium compared to their male counterparts. The below is an example of the price difference based on a 40-year-old who is on the CareShield supplementary plan.

Male – CareShield Standard

male careshield plan

Female – CareShield Standard

careshield plan cost women
  • Date of Birth: 1/1/1984
  • Premium Payment Option: Pay yearly for 58 years until 99
  • Monthly Benefit: S$1,000
  • Annual Premium (before any discount)
  • *Information as of Feb 2024 (quotations from Singlife website)

This gender-based pricing decision to have women pay more is actuarially sound – it is based on the assumption that women’s life expectancy is 85.2 years and men’s at 80.7 years. Hence, disability is more likely to happen in a person’s older years. CareShield and its supplementary products are meant to cover long term care. Based on life expectancy data, women generally live longer and have higher chances of developing severe disability. Hence they are likely to receive CareShield Life coverage (and its supplementary products) for a longer period, as well as more payouts over their lifetime. As men and women pay premiums for CareShield Life for the same number of years, the annual premiums for women need to be higher to account for their longer expected duration of payouts over their lifetime.

(ii) Car Insurance

Based on the Average Price of Car Insurance 2024male drivers typically pay more for their car insurance premiums compared to females. Drivers in their 20s see the biggest premium difference between genders, with men paying an average of 11.5% more than women for their car insurance policies. Men have to pay higher premiums than women do across all age groups because insurance companies consider them to be far more accident-prone and therefore a greater risk.

Driver’s AgeAverage Cost for MenAverage Cost for Women
*Note: Single male or female driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 (0% NCD, five years’ driving experience) 

*Note: Zero demerits and zero claims

***Information as of Feb 2024 

Car insurance premium pricing is a complex methodology. It takes into account gender as well as other factors such as driving experience, claim experience, excess selection, type of plans (comprehensive, TPFT, TPO), selection of workshop for repairs (preferred workshop/panel workshop/any workshop), etc.

Insurance pricing takes into account more than gender. Health insurance offerings – such as MediShield Life (another of our national healthcare schemes), Integrated Shield Plans (ISP) and its riders – differentiate their premiums by age band, not gender. Travel insurance, home insurance, and personal accident plans also do not differentiate premiums based on gender. Even when gender is a factor, it is never the sole factor in determining the price without taking into account other data.

For women, gender price differentiation is not the fairest. However, while gender may be a factor, it is not the only factor in the above scenarios. There are exceptions to this disparity in cost.

What Are The Exceptions?

1. Supply and Demand

If a specific product is high in demand yet limited in stock, retailers will naturally increase its cost. Thus, if this product, which could be coincidentally marketed primarily to girls, happens to gain more traction than its counterpart, this increase in price is not surprising. For example, if more people are interested in purchasing a pink scooter marketed to girls over a regular red scooter, this price increase is not a reflection of Pink Tax. Instead, it reflects a natural supply and demand cycle.

2. Quality of Female Products Are Better Than Male Products

As seen from the experiment done by Spenser from As/Is Buzzfeed, the quality of some female products are better than men’s products. These differences often are tailored to suit women’s preferences.

For example, women’s facial products are often packed with moisture, aiming to refresh and revitalise one’s skin. This contrasts with many male facial products, which tend to be on the drier spectrum.

With these differences, perhaps the price difference between male and female products might be justifiable. Rather than a Pink Tax marketing war, it boils down to the quality of the product itself.

beauty products
Source: Unsplash

How Can You Save In Spite of The Pink Tax?

Women can then strategise on their spending and make use of credit cards/products targeted at women to get better value.

Credit cards/banking products 

There are products marketed as “for the ladies” (e.g. ‘Lady’s Card) aimed at women (i.e. gender-specific marketing), which allow users to enjoy:

  • higher rewards/accelerated earn rates
  • flexible spend category (to qualify for rewards)
  • rewards/perks  

Typically, the spend category/type of transactions to qualify for these higher rewards and the rewards/perks are perceived to be areas that females delight in – for example, online shopping, dining, and travel. 

Well, let’s make use of that to our advantage! 

For Ladies Who Make Regular General Purchases: UOB Lady’s Card

Apply now and enjoy a dining experience for two at Michelin-starred restaurants & a Jo Malone Gift Set. For new-to-UOB Credit Cardmembers only. T&Cs apply.

UOB Lady's Card

What makes UOB Lady's Card unique is that it allows you to select a preferred spend category, be it beauty, dining, entertainment or fashion, and accelerate your accrual of miles on the selected category

UOB Lady's Card


  • High miles rewards (30 miles per $5 spent) on two categories of spending
  • No minimum spend


  • Cap of 2,800 bonus UNI$ (5,600 miles, equivalent to S$1,000 spend) per month
  • Points have a 2 year expiry
More Details

For 15X UNI$ for every S$5 spent (equivalent to 6 miles per S$1), UOB Lady’s Card allows you to earn UNI$ and rewards from several categories of choice, spanning from Fashion, Dining, Travel, Beauty and Wellness, Family, Transport to Entertainment. UOB Lady’s Card is a great go-to for ladies who spend in a wide variety of goods and services. Choose the rewards category(s) that earn you the most and feel free to change it every quarter.

Moreover, UOB Lady’s Card has a unique LuxePay Plan you can use to manage your luxury shopping purchases. With this programme, you can put your new luxury purchase (shoes or bags) worth S$500 or more on a 6- or 12-month instalment plan that is absolutely free (0% per annum). This gives you the leeway to better manage your month-on-month cash flow and avoid the burden of a lump-sum payment. You also get rewards and birthday treats when you choose to sign up with them!

For Ladies Who Frequently Shop Online: DBS Woman World Card

DBS Woman's Card

DBS Woman's Card has great miles earning potential for frequent shoppers and travelers.

Read Full Review
DBS Woman's Card


  • Good rewards for online shopping
  • Online purchase protection
  • 0% interest payment plans available


  • Limited rewards categories, no rewards earned for non-online shopping local spend
More Details

This is arguably the best credit card for online shopping – you earn up to 10X DBS Points, or 20 miles for every S$5 spent (4 miles per S$1) with the DBS Woman’s World Card for all online purchases. Coupled with other perks such as complimentary e-commerce protection and 0% interest payment plans, you can have peace of mind when you shop online. Along with its fee waiver with a minimum spend of S$25,000/year, all these make the DBS Woman’s World Card the best online shopping card in the market at the moment.

Celebrating Women and Gender Equality

Pricing and gender differentiation do exist. However, whether that is considered a Pink Tax phenomenon remains debatable. Often, there are other factors affecting the price than just gender. 

As we celebrate women this week, we are also reminded of the need for gender equality. With both genders equally involved in building our community, inclusivity is crucial as we move forward as a society. One step forward is for stakeholders to review the Pink Tax if it is in place. That way, we can be one step closer to adopting fair prices for all. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Dat, we also celebrate choices that are key to empowering oneself – be it a consumable good/service or a financial decision. On your part, consumers should make informed and calculated decisions by collecting more information on a product, looking at all the facts, and making prudent comparisons. Happy International Women’s Day!

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Cover image source: Unsplash

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