No matter what gender you are, you've likely heard about the "pink tax," aka the price difference between products marketed to women and girls, and products marketed to men. (It's not a literal tax, BTW — you may be thinking of the tampon tax, which is of itself a major issue.) One particularly pink-taxed item is razors, for which women commonly pay 13 percent more than men, despite the blades being basically the same underneath fancy pink handles. That's the issue new subscription-model start-up Billie aims to tackle. Launching Nov. 14, Billie offers women premium-quality personal care products without the pink tax — and a way to earn back some of the money they've spent because of the pink tax.
"[H]istorically, razors are one of the worst offenders of the pink tax," Billie cofounder Georgina Gooley tells Bustle. "As a female-first brand, we're strongly against this. We decided to apologize on behalf of the razor industry and find a way to give women 'money back' for all the years they've been overpaying for razors."
Part of paying it back will involve offering women's products, razors included, for affordable prices, shipped directly to customers. A Billie rep likened the company to the popular men's shaving subscription Dollar Shave Club (though it's worth noting Dollar Shave Club says women are welcome to its products). Billie will operate on a similar model: A customer's first Billie order will contain two razor blades, one handle, and a magnetic holder for $9. Subsequent refills, which can be scheduled based on individual preference and shaving frequency, will include four five-blade razor cartridges for $9.
For price comparison, a Gillette brand Venus Swirl razor pack with one handle and three cartridges has a list price of $13.99 on Amazon, and refill packs with six cartridges are $22.97 on Amazon. (Men's: A Gillette Fusion 5 ProGlide with one handle and three cartridges is $12.97 on Amazon; a pack of four refill cartridges — no six-pack available — is $16.42, or $4.11/unit, which is actually slightly more than women's $3.83/unit).
But Billie's taking pink tax reparations a step further than just offering good prices.
To celebrate its launch, the brand is offering a "Pink Tax Rebate." Customers who join Billie will get a referral code to share with friends, and for every five, 10, or 20 people who click through the link, Billie will give the referring customer a $5, $10, or $20 credit for use on the site — no purchase necessary.
"The Pink Tax Rebate is designed to provide women up to $20 back," Gooley explains. "All we ask is that you help raise awareness of the pink tax by spreading the word."
Billie's product lineup includes more than just razors. It offers a full line of body products featuring Shave Cream ($8), Sudsy Body Wash ($9), and Dry-Bye Body Lotion ($12), all of which are toxin-, paraben-, sulfate-, and synthetic fragrance-free. Body products can be purchased separately from razors and shipped on their own, or can be combined with razor subscription delivery.
While Billie's is filling a huge gap in the market, some established brands have in fact begun to address the pink tax. In the UK, investigations found the pink tax across all product categories was costing women an average of 37 percent more for gender-targeted items. Big supermarket brand Tesco was indicated to be charging women twice what men paid for the same number of razors.
Tesco's commercial director for packaged products, Kari Daniels, wrote in a letter shared with the Guardian that the evident "pink tax" was not due to gender bias, but purchasing rhythms. "In the instance of our twin-blade razors, the difference is driven by the fact that male razors are produced and sold in significantly higher volumes, which reduces the price we pay for them," she wrote.
But thanks to pressure, Tesco did end up equalizing prices between men's and women's razors, and now, regardless of the gender to which razors are marketed, charges the same price per unit for them.
Billie's price per unit works out to a good deal less than other brands; each refill cartridge works out to $2.25. And though price is a huge factor in the way Billie's is positioning itself within the personal care market, it's also making moves to carve out space in the premiere shaving product niche. "Billie worked with a specialized team of industrial designers, manufacturers, and body care experts to design a shaving experience that puts women first," the brand said in a press packet. "[Our] premium-quality razors are built for the way women shave."
Lady-friendly details include razor cartridges made of the sharpest blades available, coated in "360 degrees of aloe-loving shave soap" to help keep skin happy. These tweaks help women because they tend to shave up to 10 times more skin surface area than men do, the brand said.
Abolishing the pink tax altogether means more brands will have to make the same commitments Billie has, and focus on producing high-quality products that don't cost more because they're built for women. But while we're waiting for other brands to catch up, Billie is already ahead of the game and sharing the lady love.