Is Dove Cruelty-Free?

June 17, 2021
Dove product

U.S. beauty brand, Dove, began its foray into the world of personal care in 1957 with the release of its now iconic moisturizing Beauty Bar.

Today, Dove has a wide-reaching adult and baby product line which includes personal care items like:

  • Deodorants
  • Dove Collections
  • Dove DermaSeries
  • Hair Care
  • Men Care
  • Skin Care
  • Skin Cleansing

Dove’s cleansing beauty soap is its #1 best-selling product that Dermatologists worldwide recommend. In addition, Dove’s signature soap achieves top sales ranking in the U.S., Europe, and Canada.

Dove Company History And Review

With that said, is Dove cruelty-free? We beg to differ.

Dove isn’t cruelty-free even if it adheres to P.E.T.A.’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) very flexible cruelty-free criteria. 

Our straightforward reason for saying this? Dove cannot claim cruelty-free status when its products are sold in mainland China and are, therefore, subject to random post-market animal testing.

Shonda Rhimes Partners with Dove for Real Beauty Productions

Dove’s Unique Reputation 

Dove is a laudable brand worth celebrating mainly because, unlike other beauty brands, Dove only features real women in its campaigns and never emaciated-looking anorexic models.

Dove also makes it a point not to digitally enhance or distort images of their models to help people build their self-esteem and improve their body confidence.

Over ten years later, and with a few ill-advised adverts along the way, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty campaign and The Dove Self-Esteem Project (D.S.E.P.) have led the beauty brand pack in powerfully countering body shaming.

Thanks to its practice of celebrating women of all body shapes, sizes, and complexions, Dove is today synonymous with authentic natural beauty.

Unfortunately, this is not enough to declare Dove cruelty-free.

feature woman who reflect

Unilever — The Parent Company — Doesn’t Claim Cruelty-Free Status

Unilever doesn’t claim or even pretend to source the ingredients used in their cosmetics products from cruelty-free suppliers.

With that said, Unilever is recognized for being a parent brand that seeks regulatory change and is a huge supporter of community projects globally.

Unilever was awarded the Corporate Consciousness Award in 2019 by the Humane Society International (USA Chapter) for its dedication to the pursuit of alternatives to animal testing.

Let’s be clear about one thing — due to Unilever’s non-cruelty-free stance and its sourcing policy, Dove’s ingredients and suppliers cannot be 100% cruelty-free. 

Therefore, we can be certain that Dove’s products aren’t cruelty-free.

Other Unilever brands that carry P.E.T.A’s cruelty-free bunny tag include:

  • Love Beauty and Planet
  • Nubian Heritage
  • Seventh Generation
  • Shea Moisture
  • St. Ives
  • Suave
Unilever logo
Source: Wikipedia

Dove Sells in China Which Requires Animal Testing

Dove sells its products in mainland China, a nation that mandates testing on animals. 

Therefore, to circumvent China’s animal testing laws that require all foreign beauty cosmetics products to undergo pre-market animal testing, Dove has set up manufacturing plants in China. 

As of 2014, all ordinary cosmetics made in China by foreign brands — also referred to as “non-special use cosmetics,” e.g., lipstick, nail polish, body wash, and lotion — don’t require animal testing. 

Special-use cosmetics like sunscreen, whitening creams, and antiperspirants, even though domestically manufactured in China, still undergo animal tests.

With that said, if a beauty product receives consumer complaints, the Chinese government will administer random post-market safety tests that may include animal testing.

Dove’s commendable response to the question of random post-market tests, asked via email, is:

“Post-market testing would only be required in the rare occurrence of a serious consumer safety concern. We have requested to the Chinese Authorities that they notify us if there were such a concern, so we can withdraw the product rather than it be subject to animal testing.”

Two questions that CaringConsumer has about Dove’s response:

  • Can CaringConsumer trust that a billion-dollar company will voluntarily make the costly decision to withdraw all its products rather than subject them to post-market testing?
  • Can we trust that a profit-making beauty brand that is answerable to its shareholders will voluntarily incur millions of dollars in losses from product recalls?

We at CaringConsumer highly doubt this.

For this reason, Dove shouldn’t claim “cruelty-free” because they cannot guarantee that the Chinese authorities will never randomly test Dove products on poor hapless bunnies.

dove soap bottle

Dove May Test Finished Products on Animals

As a “rule,” Dove doesn’t test either its product ingredients or finished products on animals.

Dove also doesn’t do third-party testing — however, this applies primarily to products sold in the U.S.A. and Europe.

The thing is, Dove cannot guarantee that any of their products, whether current or future, won’t be subject to post-market testing in China. The only way Dove can ensure this is if China follows the EU by outrightly banning animal testing.

It’s all in Dove’s loophole riddled cruelty-free policy, which states that:

“… Dove has made key decisions on how and what products it sells in countries where animal testing may still be a mandatory requirement, such as China. All new products Dove will launch in China in the future will not be subject to animal testing by Chinese authorities.”

There you have it, when required by law, Dove may conduct animal tests on their finished products — it’s all at Dove’s discretion. We caring consumers will be none the wiser.


Why Dove Products Are Not Cruelty-Free

Dove’s parent company, Unilever, acknowledges that out of its global company portfolio of 400 companies, only 26 of its brands comply with P.E.T.A.’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Program.

Dove’s official animal testing policy reads:

“Dove has been globally accredited “Cruelty-Free” by the animal rights organization P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in recognition of the Dove global commitment to permanently end tests on animals everywhere in the world…

Dove has enacted a policy prohibiting any animal tests anywhere in the world: no projects are approved internally if they were to result in a requirement for animal testing of Dove products or ingredients anywhere.”

Slight problem with Dove’s policy— they may test their finished products on animals when required by law.

The reality on the ground contradicts Dove’s cruelty-free claims simply because of their presence in China.

CriteriaTest/Tested on Animals
Finished productsNo*
Third-party testingNo*
Where required by lawNo*

*With possible exceptions.

Dove brand logo

Dove’s Cruelty-Free Certification

Dove’s only cruelty-free certification comes from P.E.T.A’s Beauty Without Bunnies program.

Much as we admire P.E.T.A.’s hard work and dedication to the cruelty-free movement, we have discovered that P.E.T.A has a lackadaisical approach to “cruelty-free.”

P.E.T.A doesn’t perform audits, unlike other reputable cruelty-free accreditation organizations.

P.E.T.A. also has a very relaxed approach that doesn’t require documental proof from suppliers, enabling crookish suppliers to obtain cruelty-free status undeservedly.

Considering the prohibitive cost, workforce, and time needed to certify every beauty company and supplier, we empathize with P.E.T.A.

Dove Nat

Dove Is neither Vegan nor Vegetarian

Dove doesn’t claim to be vegan or vegetarian as most of their products contain animal-based ingredients such as; beeswax, gelatin, honey, animal fat (tallow), and other animal by-products.

Dove has not received any accreditation from other reputable cruelty-free and vegan accrediting organizations such as Leaping Bunny, Cruelty-free International, The Vegan Society, Vegan Action, Beauty Without Cruelty, or Choose Cruelty-free.

Doves products are certified as cruelty-free by only one international accreditation organization — P.E.T.A.

Understanding Cruelty-free and Vegan logos

Join CaringConsumer’s Animal Lover Cruelty-Free Movement

Dove communicates its commitment to environmental sustainability and ethical sourcing in its good practices.

While we recognize that Dove and Unilever are moving in the right direction and applaud them for making significant changes to their cruelty-free policies, there’s still lots of room for improvement.

All the grey areas about Dove’s cruelty-free status may have left you feeling uncertain about purchasing Dove products. Don’t worry; there are many top-quality cruelty-free brands to buy from in place of Dove.

Choose today to be a mindful shopper and CaringConsumer by only using genuinely cruelty-free products.

Photo by Tanvi Rastogi / CC BY