Dove is one of the most well-known personal care brands in the world. They emerged in 1957 with the revolutionary multi-cleansing bar. Ever since then, Dove’s product line has expanded to hair care and all the way to baby products.
I’ve been using Dove for years. I love their body products, soaps, deodorant, and baby wash (yes I’m an adult and use baby wash — I have very sensitive skin). Plus, I love their self-esteem marketing campaigns.
But animal welfare is a major concern of mine. Recently, I started switching out all of my beauty products for brands that are cruelty-free. I can’t help but wonder if Dove, one of my favorite and affordable skincare brands, tests on animals.
Is Dove cruelty-free? I went digging for answers. Here’s what I found.
Bottom line up front:
Dove’s cruelty-free status is fuzzy. On one end of the spectrum, they’re certified cruelty-free by PETA. On the other hand, they’re owned by the not cruelty-free company Unilever.
Is Dove Cruelty-Free?
On their website, Dove states they don’t test on animals. They also claim they have been using alternative product safety testing methods for 30 years, none of which involve animal exploitation. They also claim that they don’t allow third parties to test their ingredients and final products on animals, including government bodies.
Dove Cruelty-Free Certifications
Dove is currently certified by PETA and is officially a part of its Beauty Without Bunnies Program. They also have PETA’s logo on their packaging.
In case you don’t know what PETA is, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the biggest animal rights organization in the world. The organization was formed in the early 80s and has since influenced lawmakers and other organizations to end animal cruelty and exploitation practices, which includes animal testing.
Dove’s Parent Company
Dove is owned by Unilever. Unilever is technically not cruelty-free because they test on animals when required by law. PETA says that Unilever is on their list of “Working for Regulatory Change,” which only test when required by law and is transparent about any tests conducted on animals.
Does Dove Sell Their Products in Countries That Conduct Animal Testing?
Dove sells their products in China, a country notorious for requiring foreign personal care brands to test on animals. However, China changed these laws in 2021.
The Gray Area of Cruelty-Free
I write and research these articles frequently, and I noticed there is a gray area in the cruelty-free market. On one hand, you have brands such as Dove that are cruelty-free. On the other, their parent company may not be 100% cruelty-free.
What does this mean? Consumers are inadvertently supporting the parent company when buying from one of their brands. That’s because the parent company owns the brand (or subsidiary, which is its technical name) and they’re still getting the profits from the cruelty-free subsidiary.
At the same time, a parent company (also called a holding company) doesn’t fully own its subsidiary. That means the subsidiary can conduct business as usual and only use the parent company for assistance such as sourcing ingredients, improved technologies (apps, websites, etc.), and other innovations that can improve the company’s products and operations.
So, should you continue supporting a cruelty-free company that’s owned by a testing parent company? This depends on you and your comforts. If you’re looking for a wide product range, I suggest overlooking the parent company. But if you truly want to be 100% cruelty-free then it’s safer to ensure the brand isn’t owned by a company that conducts animal testing.
Keep in mind that both companies and legislature always change. For example, most of the cruelty-free guides I find online are outdated. Many say that certain brands aren’t cruelty-free because they sell in China, though their animal testing laws changed last year.
As a consumer, you have more power than you think. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to not support these companies if you’re not comfortable, though you can dig a little deeper and find more information about these companies and the countries where they sell their products.
Dove and Veganism
Dove is not vegan. Many of their products are made with an ingredient called tallow, which is animal fat. Dove might have some vegan products, though you would have to read their ingredients. With so many brands hopping on the vegan train, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dove starts making vegan products.
When supporting ethical brands, animal testing is not the only concern you should research. You’ll want to see how brands market their products (i.e. if they’re inclusive in their marketing), if they own or partner with/donate to any charities, and/or know how they source their ingredients.
Dove has one of the most notable marketing campaigns compared to other beauty brands. In their ads, they feature women from different cultures, of all skin colors, and various age groups. In other words, they don’t host traditional ad campaigns where all women are white and thin. They aim to target all women, not just one in a specific beauty category.
Dove believes in a few core principles: empowerment and self-love. Their ads are not only inclusive but are emotive, helping women connect to this brand on a deeper level. In short, when you watch a Dove ad, you feel good about yourself.
This is my favorite Dove ad. It starts off with a woman explaining her appearance to a sketch artist, and she’s often very critical of her appearance. Then she meets someone else, and that other person describes her to the sketch artist, usually saying positive things about the woman’s appearance. At the end of the ad, the women compare both drawings. Some of the reactions will bring tears to your eyes (I know it did for me).
It is such a cute commercial that creates a lasting impact. We tend to put so much focus on our flaws that we forget the way others may perceive us. When I feel down about myself, this commercial comes to mind. I try and remember that others may not notice or even care about my flaws.
Dove’s Self-Esteem Project
On that same note, Dove does have its organization called the Self-Esteem Project. Dove aims to be a brand that inspires confidence in its customers. They do this by providing self-esteem education and building a positive perception of body image. Dove partners with experts in the fields of health, psychology, and body image to offer research-backed resources.
In addition, they aim to inspire the next generation to realize their full potential, helping raise their self-esteem. Dove achieves this by offering parenting advice that helps the youth overcome body issues, form healthy relationships, and overall be their best selves.
Dove is transparent about the sourcing of some of its ingredients for environmental purposes. They source their fragrances through Firmenich and Givaudan, who farm fragrances in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment and benefits local communities.
They’re specifically transparent about the sourcing of vetiver, an oil taken from a plant root. It’s sourced from Haiti and Firmenich ensures that they preserve the social sustainability of Haitian farmers when sourcing vetiver. They also source green mandarin sustainably from Brazil and Givaudan also sources patchouli sustainably from Indonesia.
Dove hasn’t confronted some ingredient uses that are tied to labor abuses, such as palm oil, though Unilever is commercializing palm oil alternatives and similar.
100% Cruelty-Free Alternatives to Dove
There are many benefits of using Dove. Their products are not only affordable but also accessible worldwide. They’re effective and are ideal for consumers of all skin types. Dove has inclusive ads, hosts its own self-confidence organization, and is transparent about the sourcing of some of its ingredients.
Dove is cruelty-free and certified by PETA. However, its parent company, Unilever, still tests on animals when necessary. That’s why I’m listing some Dove alternatives. These brands are not only cruelty-free but are either independently owned or owned by a cruelty-free parent company.
The company that I recommend most as a Dove alternative is Yes To. They’re not only cruelty-free but are owned by a private equity firm, San Francisco Equity Partners.
While I can’t find anything about their cruelty-free status, what I learned about these private firms is they don’t focus as much on animal testing since they own a variety of brands in different categories (not just beauty and personal care).
I would say Yes To is a safe bet, especially since they’re certified cruelty-free. Yes To isn’t 100% vegan, but one look on their website tells me they have a variety of vegan options.
What is Yes To? Yes To makes a variety of personal care products, from body care all the way to haircare. Their products are affordable, and you can find them at nearly every drugstore in the USA. I know I can find them at my local Walgreens.
I first discovered this brand years ago because of its clean ingredients. I have extremely sensitive skin, yet I also struggle with dryness and acne. I’ve used a variety of their products, and they never irritated my skin. Many of their products do have a scent, but it’s a nice scent and never bothered my skin or set off any migraines. But keep that in mind in case you are irritated by fragrance.
Dr. Bronner’s is a company devoted to making clean products. They’re certified cruelty-free and are independently owned, meaning they don’t have a parent company. Most of Dr. Bronner’s products are also certified vegan. This company is also affordable and widely available in the USA. I see this brand at my local drugstores and grocery stores.
I love how this company not only makes personal care products but also makes dental, cleaning, and home products — don’t forget, cruelty-free consumerism extends past your beauty products. I also like how they offer all-in-one products that can be used as hand and body soap, cleaning, laundry, and more.
While Dr. Bronner’s is a popular brand for those with sensitive skin, I’m also reading that some people have had bad reactions to their products — more than likely due to the fragrance. Be sure to test out all Dr. Bronner’s products before using them.
I’ve mainly used Avalon Organics’ hair products, but they also have a wide of body and skincare products that I want to try. Avalon Organics is not only cruelty-free but also vegan.
They’re owned by Hain Celestial Group which is certified cruelty-free by PETA. This company also owns Alba Botanica, another brand I’m mentioning on this list. I can find Avalon Organics at nearly every grocery and drugstore in my area. Plus, they’re very affordable.
Avalon Organics is another good brand for sensitive skin because its products are gentle. But there are some issues with this brand. While they are certified as an organic company, they do use some chemicals in their products, such as sulfates. I’m also reading that they change the formulas of their products, so be wary if a product you’ve been using is different.
I love this brand! I actually used one of their acne body washes and absolutely loved it. All of their products are cruelty-free and plant-based.
As stated previously, they’re owned by the cruelty-free parent company Hain Celestial Group. Their products are very affordable, but they’re not as accessible. I’ve only seen them at some drugstores. I mainly find Alba Botanica products at Target.
If you’re not finding this brand in your area, I do see their products on Amazon. I would just be wary about buying personal care products on Amazon because some sellers are notorious for selling fake products. Alba Botanica products are loaded with natural botanicals and have had favorable ratings from the EWG. For example, their multi-use petroleum jelly has a rating of 1, which is the second-best safety rating from the EWG.
Peter Thomas Roth
If you want something more on the specialty end, Peter Thomas Roth is one of my favorite skincare brands ever. Who is Peter Thomas Roth? He’s a Hungarian entrepreneur who comes from a family of well-being enthusiasts. He owned and operated two spas in his home country before starting his own skincare brand.
Keep in mind that his products are pricey, but the money you pay is worth it. His products are some of the best I’ve ever used in my whole entire life.
I was unsure about some of his products, such as the Therapeutic Sulfur Mask. I was very sensitive yet acne-prone skin, but a former employee at Sephora told me the mask worked well for her sensitive skin. Sure enough, I was able to use that mask with ease, and it’s still one of my favorites to this day.
I think it’s because his products are effective yet hydrating, so they don’t irritate your skin. I would still be wary about using his products if you’re allergic to fragrances because some do have a scent. In addition to skincare products, PTR also sells body and hair products.
As far as their cruelty-free practices, PTR is a little fuzzy. They don’t test their ingredients and final products on animals and don’t buy ingredients from suppliers that knowingly conduct animal testing. They are transparent and remind buyers that sometimes things fall through the cracks.
They do say that they sell their products in China and “other countries that test on animals” (they don’t specify where), but PTR acknowledges that China is moving away from animal testing. The only reason I’m concerned is they don’t specify the exact countries they sell in that conduct animal testing.
Question: Another website said Dove is not cruelty-free. Why is that?
Answer: Dove is certified cruelty-free by PETA now, but there was a time when they did test on animals. They also sell their products in China, and some may consider them to not be cruelty-free because of it. Their parent company, Unilever, is also not cruelty-free.
Question: When did Dove stop testing on animals?
Answer: Their cruelty-free announcement was made in 2020, but Dove claims they stopped testing on animals long before that.
Question: I like Burt’s Bees better than Dove. Are they cruelty-free?
Answer: Burt’s Bees is cruelty-free. But they’re owned by the Clorox Company, a brand that isn’t cruelty-free.
Is Dove Cruelty Free: Bottom Line
Dove is a popular personal care brand and one I always loved using. You’ll be happy to know that Dove doesn’t test on animals. They’re certified cruelty-free by PETA and are part of their Beauty Without Bunnies program. However, Dove is owned by Unilever, a brand that isn’t cruelty-free.
Dove also sells their products in China. In addition, Dove isn’t vegan. Keep in mind that Dove does have ethical pluses, such as its inclusive advertising, marketing campaigns that focus on building confidence, devotion to self-empowerment, and transparency on some ingredients.
It’s up to the consumer to make a decision whether or not they’re comfortable buying from this brand.
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