The makers of Radox had folk in a lather last week when one of its products was deemed ‘sexist’.
Annoyed bathers complained about the ‘For Men’ label on its Muscles Therapy Bath Soak range, with one disgruntled customer asking: ‘Don’t women get sore muscles, Radox?’ In response, brand owner Unilever has said it will remove the label.
Yet with shop shelves stuffed with a wide array of pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys toiletries, Radox is far from the only brand marketing its bathroom products for a specific gender.
But is there really any difference between them? Do you get a better quality product as a man or a women? And with women long complaining about the added cost of the ‘pink pound’ thanks to fancy scents and packaging, is one gender paying over the odds? If so, which one?
Here, JILL FOSTER and her husband Robin put them all to the test…
The makers of Radox had folk in a lather last week when one of its products was deemed ‘sexist’ (stock image)
Men: Radox Men Muscle Therapy Black Pepper and Ginseng, £1.20 for 500ml (24p per 100ml)
Women: Radox Muscle Soak Lavender and Water Lily, £1.20 for 500ml (24p per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: Although I’m more of a shower girl, I took up running during lockdown and have rediscovered the healing power of a long, hot bath. I’d bought the red muscle therapy bottle previously with no idea it was intended ‘for men’.
The black pepper and ginseng smell is warming and relaxing and does a great job on aching limbs.
ROBIN SAYS: I have always loved hot baths and can easily disappear in one for an hour or more. Usually, I grab whatever bottle is nearest. This time I use the purple Feel Relaxed bottle. It’s awful. It smells like I’m in a perfume department. No thanks.
BEST VALUE: Tie
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Men — we both prefer getting into the red.
Radox Men Muscle Therapy Black Pepper and Ginseng (left) and Radox Muscle Soak Lavender and Water Lily (right)
Men: Nivea Men Energy 24-hour Fresh Effect, £1.65 for 400ml (41p per 100ml)
Women: Nivea Dreaming Of Mexico Shower Cream, £1.98 for 500ml (39p per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: One is sporty and zesty while the other suggests we can be transported to a faraway destination with every shower. Yet the first four ingredients — aqua, sodium laureth sulphate, cocamidopropyl betaine and PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate — are exactly the same.
The female version also contains the exotic-sounding ‘diamond powder’ so I’ve no idea why it is 2p cheaper per 100ml. Having tried the ‘male’ version, I’d happily use both.
ROBIN SAYS: The female version felt a little bit creamier than the men’s and there was a bit of a flowery after-effect but it’s all just soap — I’d use them both too.
BEST VALUE: Women
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Tie — there’s really not much difference at all.
Nivea Men Energy 24-hour Fresh Effect (left) and Nivea Dreaming Of Mexico Shower Cream (right)
Men: L’Oreal Men Expert Wake-Up Effect Face Wash, £4.50 for 100ml
Women: Simple Moisturising Facial Wash Little Mix Choose Kindness, £1.79 for 150ml (£1.19 per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: I’ve always loved facial washes. But I have quite sensitive skin and the men’s highly perfumed gel made my eyes water and my face tingle.
Too astringent and too powerful, I’d give this one a miss. Besides, it’s more than double the price of the female equivalent, which is much gentler.
Aqua, sodium laureth sulphate (which gives the lather) and glycerin are three of the main ingredients in both products, but the men’s features peppermint extract and paullinia cupana seed extracts (better known as guarana), which is used in herbal medicine and associated with being a stimulant.
ROBIN SAYS: I tend not to use any cleanser on my face, just soap or whatever gel I’m using in the shower. I agree that the gentle ladies’ gel left my skin much more comfortable, and I’d happily use it again. But I’m not sure I’d want to keep the candy pink Little Mix branded tube in my washbag!
BEST VALUE: Women
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Women — it’s less than half the price and cleans well for both of us.
L’Oreal Men Expert Wake-Up Effect Face Wash (left) and Simple Moisturising Facial Wash Little Mix Choose Kindness (right)
Men: Head & Shoulders Men, £3.50 per 400ml (87.5p per 100ml)
Women: Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky, £4.50 for 500ml (90p per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: They smell exactly the same, the texture is exactly the same and, as far as we can both tell, they lather up the same and clean our hair the same. In a blind test I would never know the difference.
ROBIN SAYS: I can’t tell the difference, just different-coloured bottles and a slightly higher mark-up for the women.
BEST VALUE: Men
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Tie — we would buy whichever was on special offer.
Head & Shoulders Men (left) and Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky (right)
Men: Lynx Unplugged Pine Body Spray, £4.49 for 100ml
Women: Impulse Very Pink, £1 for 75ml (£1.33 per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: Hilariously, I couldn’t get the top off the Lynx and had to ask for Robin’s help. The makers say it smells of lime, lavender, eucalyptus, orange and ginger but all I could smell was ‘youth club’.
The women’s equivalent was ‘girls’ PE changing room, post-hockey practice’.
ROBIN SAYS: I took one sniff of the Lynx and recoiled. Was that cannabis? Sure enough, it has (legal) cannabis sativa seed oil in the ingredients! The women’s Impulse, meanwhile, has ‘mandarin top notes’, with hints of lily of the valley and pink orchid.
When I sprayed it on, it was far too pungent and flowery for me. Once it had matured a little, however, it improved and softened but was still too ‘toilet freshener’.
BEST VALUE: Women
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Women —although this is chiefly down to price. We’re probably way too old for either.
Lynx Unplugged Pine Body Spray (left) and Impulse Very Pink (right)
Men: Nivea Men Rehydrating Moisturiser, £6.50 for 75ml (£8.66 per 100ml)
Women: Nivea Mattifying Day Cream, £1.99 for 50ml (£3.98 per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: I’ve used Nivea on and off for years but find it a little heavy on my skin — and this ‘male’ version is even heavier.
It seemed to take longer to sink in than normal, leaving it feeling greasy.
Many of the same ingredients are in each — aqua, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol — but the men’s contains tapioca starch (to make it thicker) and aloe leaf juice powder, which may account for the price difference.
ROBIN SAYS: I use the male version of this brand regularly. When I try the female version it feels slightly thinner but sinks in well and seems to do the trick. And I can’t get over how much cheaper it is. I will be buying this from now on.
BEST VALUE: Women
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Women — less than half the price and just as moisturising.
Nivea Men Rehydrating Moisturiser (left) and Nivea Mattifying Day Cream (right)
Men: Harry’s Shave Gel With Aloe Vera, £5 for 200ml (£2.50 per 100ml)
Women: Smooth! Moisture Shave Gel by Sainsbury’s, £1.98 for 200ml (99p per 100ml)
JILL SAYS: The Harry’s gel is rich and makes a lovely foam. It smells gorgeous — but on a man. The base ingredients of aqua, palmitic acid, triethanolamine and isopentane are the same for both products, although the men’s contains aloe vera leaf juice.
ROBIN SAYS: I often use a shaving oil because my beard is so bristly but any gel or foam that can deliver a really rich lather is great. This one lathered up well. I liked its apple-y, fruity smell and would be happy to use it in future.
BEST VALUE: Women
PREFERRED PRODUCT: Women —unless you particularly like the smell of the male one.
Harry’s Shave Gel With Aloe Vera (left) and Smooth! Moisture Shave Gel by Sainsbury’s (right)
TOTAL PRICE: £26.84
CONTENTS: 1,775ml of product
PRICE PER 100ml: £1.51
BEST VALUE? One win and one tie
PREFERRED PRODUCTS? One win and two ties
TOTAL PRICE: £14.44
CONTENTS: 1,975ml of product
PRICE PER 100ml: 73p
BEST VALUE? Five wins and one tie
PREFERRED PRODUCTS? Four wins and two ties
OVERALL WINNER: WOMEN
While you might expect women’s products to be pricier, in fact for both results and value, they came out on top. Men, you might want to think about checking out the ladies’ aisles next time you need to stock up.
The writer bought these products last week in Superdrug and Sainsbury’s