For over 50 years Dove has been a favorite beauty brand for women. It’s not hard to see why.
The company prides itself in providing skin and beauty care that is gentle and moisturizing. Since 2010, Dove has also been catering to males through its Men+Care range.
It’s a popular brand in Latin America, ranking in the top ten beauty brands in Brazil for 2019. Outside of this part of the world, Dove was ranked as the Number 1 Favourite Skincare Brand amongst Gen-Zers (thanks to the influence of TikTok).
So, Dove still is one of the best go-to brands when it comes to skincare. Yet, despite the popularity, the thing we want to know is whether Dove is cruelty-free.
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Let the Dove out
When it comes to the subject of animal testing or being cruelty-free, Dove has this to say:
“Dove does not test on animals. For over 30 years, we’ve used multiple alternative, non-animal approaches to test the safety of our products and ingredients.
We have removed all permissions for testing of our products by governments on our behalf.
We are excited to announce that Dove has been certified as cruelty-free by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program. And now our products are entitled to carry PETA’s cruelty-free logo from PETA, something we are phasing in across all our packs progressively from next year.
Our parent company, Unilever, has announced that it supports calls for a global ban on animal testing, similar to the existing EU ban.”
Now that is something to coo about!
Yet, some cruelty-free advocates still have their feathers ruffled over Dove for one main reason: China.
What’s the issue with Dove in China?
You will find many cruelty-free websites state that a reason to avoid Dove is that it still operates in China. The issue with China is that even though May 1, 2021, saw the country tighten its regulations on animal testing, there are still times when companies may be required to do so.
For example, for products that come under the specialist category (such as skincare and other items that are created to meet a specific cosmetic need), China can test these products on animals.
Dove is accused of still selling in China. However, such accusations seem to be baseless (though they may have been valid several years ago).
Here is why you can be confident that Dove doesn’t market in China (except for Taiwan and Hong Kong).
If you have a look at Dove’s Location Selector on its website, you will find that China isn’t listed under the Asia Pacific countries. However, as we mentioned, Taiwan and Hong Kong are listed.
Taiwan passed legislation in 2019 that bans testing of cosmetics or ingredients on animals. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is a different story as animal testing is still permitted.
So, that puts Dove in an awkward position when it claims it’s truly cruelty-free. How does it ensure its products aren’t being tested on animals in Hong Kong?
Unilever’s position on animal testing
Unilever has been making a concerted effort to end animal testing across all its brands. That means it admits that as a parent company it’s not 100% cruelty-free.
Unilever makes this statement regarding the alternatives it is using instead of animal testing:
“For the last five years, Unilever scientists have been partnering with experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency on collaborative research, to develop ground-breaking scientific approaches to better assess the safety of chemicals found in some consumer products, without using animal data.
We also work closely with researchers in the EU ToxRisk programme, which is driving changes in safety science away from animal testing. Our scientists regularly participate in discussions with regulators and scientists in China to increase the use of non-animal approaches to safety.
In 2019, in recognition of our work on alternatives to animal testing we received the Corporate Consciousness Award from the Humane Society of the United States.”
Unilever knows that consumers are the driving force behind ending animal cruelty practices and the company says:
“Our long-term investment in non-animal safety science has enabled some of our brands to be certified by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as ‘PETA-approved’, including Dove, TRESemmé, Suave, St Ives, Simple, Sunsilk, Zendium, The Good Stuff, Emerge, Love Beauty and Planet, Love Home and Planet and Cafuné.
We now have 28 brands which comply with the criteria set out in PETA’s Global Beauty Without Bunnies Programme.”
As you can see, Dove is one of the brands that is PETA-approved. You have to admit Unilever is making a great effort to have all its brands known as cruelty-free, yet it may take some time (and the willingness of the brand owners) to get there.
Dove’s flight towards PETA approval
Dove’s official stance towards animal testing is that they have voluntarily opted against such for the past 30 years. On October 9, 2018, Dove was accredited by PETA as being cruelty-free.
Here is what PETA had to say about Dove:
“Dove—one of the world’s most widely available personal care–product brands—has banned all tests on animals anywhere in the world and been added to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies cruelty-free companies list!
In addition, Unilever—which owns the Dove brand—has banned all tests on animals not required by law for the rest of its products and has been added to PETA’s list of companies “Working for Regulatory Change,” a category that recognizes businesses that test on animals only when explicitly required to do so by law, are transparent with PETA about any tests on animals that have been conducted and why, and work diligently to promote the development, validation, and acceptance of non-animal methods.”
From 2019 all Dove’s products will carry PETA’s cruelty-free logo on its packaging.
Yet, there is some controversy about PETA’s certification of Dove.
How lax are PETA’s certification requirements?
Not everyone is celebrating the fact that Dove is now recognized by PETA as being cruelty-free.
Before we dig into the details that may make you go “OMG! Really?” Here is the stipulation from PETA on what a company must do to become accredited:
“In order to be listed as animal test–free by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies program, a company or brand must submit a legally binding statement of assurance signed by its CEO verifying that it and its ingredient suppliers don’t conduct, commission, pay for, or allow any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and won’t do so in the future.
Companies applying to the program must also submit detailed paperwork that describes how the companies test their products, where they are sold, what kinds of products they offer, and what kinds of ingredients they use.
We also require all companies to have agreements in place with their suppliers that no animal testing is done at any stage on any of the ingredients or raw materials that they supply to the company for its products.”
Here comes the “OMG!” moment…
Kitty, who runs the website Cruel Free Kitty, is one of those who wonder about PETA’s requirements for being certified. That’s because she reached out to a company (not Dove) that was certified by PETA as being cruelty-free, and the business informed her that it does test on animals.
A complete violation of PETA’s guidelines!
Regarding Dove, it does market to Hong Kong, a country that hasn’t banned animal testing. We could assume that Dove ensures that its Hong Kong market is cruelty-free, yet Dove doesn’t make any official comment about this.
Now you know why many animal lovers question whether Dove is truly cruelty-free. We can only take Dove’s word for it and PETA’s certification as proof.
If in doubt, try these brands
For those of you who are still on the fence regarding Dove, you can confidently buy from any of the brands listed below.
As the name of the company suggests, its ingredients are inspired by vegetation found in the desert such as jojoba and Tea Tree. Desert Essence sources its ingredients all over the world from Australia to Peru and everywhere in between.
Everything is completely plant-based and sustainable so that you and the planet feel good. Oh, and no animals are tested on so they are feeling tremendous, too!
Desert Essence is totally open and honest about its ingredients and has a raft of certifications (including Leaping Bunny) so that you can buy with peace of mind.
Starting in the 1980s by Burt who stumbled across a beehive that he thought he could use for honey, Burt’s Bees has always been about keeping things simple.
The first product was a lip balm and has since grown to a wide range of items such as body care, skincare, and makeup.
You may balk at the idea of beeswax being used, after all some companies that use beeswax aren’t exactly at the top of animal rights protection lists. However, Burts’s Bees is all about giving back to nature and respecting it. It is Leaping Bunny certified which means no bees are harmed.
That’s a cruelty-free company worth supporting.
Just hearing the name of the company may conjure up images of the traveling medicine salesman from the 1800s, yet Dr. Bronner isn’t a charlatan.
The company has been in the same family since 1858 when its original founder began making soap in his home in Germany. Since then it has grown to be recognized as the largest personal care company certified under USDA’s National Organic Program.
You can choose from a range of products such as balms, hair care, laundry items, toothpaste, and more.
All the ingredients are 100% vegan (except for the organic beeswax) and cruelty-free. Dr. Bronner’s advises on how we can all live more humanely and treat animals the right way.
The company has been certified by Leaping Bunny, so you know the doctor is taking good care of our furry friends.
No matter what kind of beauty or skincare product you are wanting, Andalou Naturals will definitely have what you’re after. Their range takes care of your face, body, hair, and skin.
The company states that their items are 100% vegetarian and 90% vegan (due to them using beeswax in some products). Yet, Andalou Naturals is cruelty-free. Its policy is that it doesn’t test on animals nor will it allow third parties to do so.
To prove the point the company is accredited by Leaping Bunny and PETA.
If you want to know what the ingredients are that Andalou Naturals uses and where they are sourced from, the company has a comprehensive listing so you can check. Then take the next step and decide which of their amazing products you want to buy.
A final look at Dove
Dove is one of the more popular skincare brands around. For 50 years it has been a favorite amongst girls and women who want to look and feel their best.
Yet, it hasn’t always been a brand known to be cruelty-free.
However, Dove claims that it hasn’t tested on animals for at least 30 years and its parent company, Unilever, is at the forefront for advocating changes in animal rights practices.
Since October 2018, Dove has been certified by PETA as being a cruelty-free company.
Yet, some animal rights advocates wonder if Dove is truly cruelty-free. The reasons for doubt lay in the fact that some PETA-certified brands openly admit to still doing animal tests on products.
Also, though Dove doesn’t list China as one of its markets, the company does sell in Hong Kong. The issue with that is Hong Kong is recognized as a country that still permits animal testing on cosmetic products.
So now we understand why some claim that Dove isn’t cruelty-free. On the whole, you need to make up your own mind on this.
If you aren’t sure whether the statements Dove and PETA make are accurate then there are other brands that you can confidently buy from.
Those we listed have been certified by Leaping Bunny (which has stricter requirements than PETA) so that you can take care of your skin, body, face, hair, and whatever other parts of your anatomy need some TLC. With or without Dove.
You have the right to look good and animals have a right to live a long healthy life.