Some women find clarity in a spa or hair salon, but I am not one of them.
Far from the soft lighting and scented orchids of a strictly female domain, I often find myself hiding out in the men’s aisle of drugstores across New York City. It’s my happy place.
Men often complain the so-called fairer sex get the best of everything: more clothing choices (shorteralls are more of a curse than a blessing, actually), cosmetics made for covering leaky pimples and hair styling tools for days.
Women have the ability to transform before leaving the house. We wake as rumpled, smelly caterpillars, but a shower and blowout has us looking like glossy, flower-scented butterflies in no time.
On the other hand, men must work with what they were given. That means sticking to a few favorite products, buying them time and time again.
Recently, there’s been a lot of Internet buzz about “Pink Tax,” the idea that women spend thousands of extra dollars in their lifetimes on pricey lady-oriented products, as opposed to cheaper, masculine counterparts.
But, as a frequent visitor to the men’s aisle, I firmly believe the Pink Tax is a choice. I’ve been happily purchasing men's products for years.
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You stick to your budget.
As with every other unusual personality trait in my life, I blame my frugalness on my mother. She’s an ever-present penny pincher, always meticulously budgeting her next purchase. About as soon as I began shaving my legs in the fifth grade, she initiated me into the art of buying cream and razors.
Although I pined for the oversize Venus razors and sparkly Skintimate cans, she’d only ever purchase $2 cans of Barbasol: the "Beard Buster.” A few men’s Gillette razors were haphazardly tossed in the shopping cart, as well.
Surprisingly, Barbasol gave the best shave I’ve ever gotten. They’re not messing around with that stuff, especially since the brand’s website bears images of long-haul truckers and logos loosely modeled after the American flag.
Even today, when I occasionally slip and pick up a bottle of honey-infused gel, I regret the choice almost immediately. There's no cream like one designed for trucker stubble, frankly.
Give the product to us straight, no chaser.
I’ve always preferred some men’s products: They’re a heftier size and come with a pleasant musky scent that reminds me of a beefy lumberjack in a rainstorm. Just take a moment and imagine smelling that all day, instead of some synthetic attempt at replicating flowers.
After decades of having rose-colored product packaging practically thrust down my throat, the men’s aisle feels like a neutral-hued sigh of relief. Slate gray and navy packaging emphasize the efficacy of the product, not how sexy you’ll be after using it (that is, unless you're a preteen in the market for body spray).
I’m not the only one to be overwhelmed by the way women’s products always seem to be trying a little too hard, either. Some female-focused startups have made the decision to take the crazed combination of product claims and rosy colors out of their products.
Take, for example, Lola tampons. The brand’s all-natural cotton products come in a nondescript white box. It seems that even women’s brands have begun noticing that women don’t love pandering branding.
Your skin will never be better, nor your life more simple.
I’m a lifelong believer in finding a product you love and committing to it so wholly you might as well call it your boyfriend. When it comes to deodorants and razors, that’s certainly the case.
I swear by Dollar Shave Club’s 4X razor, with cartons of blades that appear in my mailbox every other month for less than $10. Likewise, Arm & Hammer’s Ultra Max deodorant keeps me smelling fresh all day.
By channeling the male consumer, I spend less time considering what to buy. I purchase a new product when the old is empty, instead of giving in to the classically female urge to “goop horde.” Thankfully, that means never stocking up shampoo bottles in advance.
My body thanks me for the decision by staying calm and moisturized, not irritated. You won’t find razor burn on my legs because they’ve comfortably accustomed themselves to a single product.
What's more, I avoid the mental frustration caused by the overdone women's aisles of the drugstore. No product claims to make my skin 20 years younger (hint: I was an actual infant then), or recolor my armpit skin.
For products that work, I'll always hit the men's aisle first. The Pink Tax can't touch me.