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Photography Alana O’Herlihy, hair Evanie Frausto
Photography Alana O’Herlihy, hair Evanie Frausto

New York hair salons can no longer use gender-based pricing

TextAlex Peters

‘Women and girls will no longer be subject to harmful and unfair price discrimination’

A ‘pink tax’ ban has gone into effect in the state of New York with the aim of curbing price discrimination between similar products and services based on whether they are marketed towards men or women. 

Introduced by governor Andrew Cuomo in April as part of his 2020 Women’s Agenda, the ban prohibits gender-based price discrimination under State law. It covers everything from goods such as deodorant or razors and services including dry cleaning and hairdressing. For example, dry cleaning a woman's suit jacket for $12 and a man's suit jacket for $8, would now constitute a violation of law.

“By abolishing the pink tax, women and girls will no longer be subject to harmful and unfair price discrimination and any businesses who fail to put an end to this despicable practice will be held accountable,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement.

Many studies over the past few decades have found that women have paid more for the female version of the same product offered to men. Research by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs reported that hair care products cost women 48 percent more than men. Overall, personal care products cost an average of 13 percent more for women than those for men.

Meanwhile, a 2011 study found that only 15 per cent of randomly selected hair salons charge the same prices for equivalent services for men and women. Over the last few years, we’ve started to see the tides turning with an increase in gender-neutral salons. London chain Chop-Chop, for example, offers a gender-neutral pricing structure charging all customers £20 for every 20 minutes spent. This new law in New York will ensure exceptions such as these become the norm with barbershops and hair salons no longer allowed to price their services based on gender. Prices can vary, however, based on a number of criteria including time, difficulty, and labour required. 

“Eliminating the pink tax helps put an end to gender-based pricing, ensure financial success and break down barriers for women,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “We do not tolerate discriminatory actions in our state, and we will continue to fight to eliminate the gender wage gap and achieve full equality and justice for all New Yorkers.”

New York has often been at the forefront of anti-discrimination legislation. Last summer, it became the second state, following California, to pass the CROWN Act which legally prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle and texture including natural hairstyles such as Afros and dreadlocks. New Jersey, Washington, Virginia, Colorado and Maryland followed suit and last month the act was passed by the United States House of Representatives bringing the country one step closer to a nationwide ban on hair discrimination.

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