Dove has been a household name for more than half a century. Founded by Unilever in 1957 in the U.S., the brand is now available in more than 150 countries.
Good-quality products and affordable prices have made Dove a highly trusted drugstore personal care brand. But does Dove realize its ethical responsibility towards animals? Does it cater to the demands of its vegan customers?
Most of all, is Dove cruelty-free for animals?
This is exactly what we’re going to discuss today. Keep reading to not only find out whether Dove plays its part in reducing animal cruelty, but also to get answers to the most commonly asked questions about the brand and its practices.
Is Dove Cruelty-Free?
Dove is a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)-certified, cruelty-free brand. The company received PETA’s seal of approval last October 2018 and is also included in PETA’s list of Beauty Without Bunnies. But, is Dove really cruelty-free? I’ll get to it later.
Apparently, the company has banned the animal testing of its products everywhere its products are manufactured and/or sold.
Although Dove was officially approved as a cruelty-free brand only in 2018, the company claims that it has completely stopped animal testing since 2010.
Dove’s Stance on Animal Testing
The company asserts that it has been working against animal testing since the mid-1980s and stopped animal testing in 2010, as stated on Dove’s official website. It has not even commissioned any third-party for animal testing for more than a decade now.
Furthermore, as their website highlights, the company no longer tested its ingredients on animals even back when it was not yet banned in the European Union (EU).
The decision, according to the company, has not been easy and, in fact, required them to make some very difficult decisions, such as not approving any product or product idea that would require animal testing at any stage.
Has Does Dove Reinforced This Policy in China?
If you are a vegan or have been avoiding animal cruelty-related products on ethical grounds, you probably already know that there are certain countries where the law requires the testing of cosmetics and personal care products on animals. China comes at the top of this list.
Dove’s announcement of going cruelty-free worldwide received widespread praise and appreciation. However, people were also concerned how the company would manage its business in countries like China. When asked the same on Twitter, Dove gave the following response:
Later, the company also started manufacturing its products in China, as animal testing isn’t mandatory for locally produced products in the East Asian country.
So, It’s All Good, Right?
Dove’s stance on animal testing, as well as the measures it had taken to discourage animal cruelty, is praiseworthy.
However, (here comes the anticipated word) it’s not as perfect as it may seem, with particular reference to China.
The country has two sets of laws with regards to the animal testing practice of cosmetics and beauty products: one for pre-market animal testing and another for post-market animal testing.
Any company that chooses to sell its products in mainland China, whether they’re imported or manufactured locally, must agree to the country’s post-market animal testing policy. Hence, while Dove has successfully found a way to avoid pre-market animal testing in China, it still has to comply with the post-market animal testing laws.
For those who do not know it, the post-market animal testing law states that Chinese authorities reserve the right to perform animal tests for any product they may deem necessary. However, after the 2019 amendments, it has only been limited to non-routine tests. But, it’s still there.
Non-routine tests on cosmetics, beauty, and personal care products are those that are performed in case of safety or public health concerns or a customer complaint. However, some municipal governments also reserve the right to make post-market testing mandatory, if they deem it necessary.
Here’s what Humane Society International (HIS), a leading nonprofit organization actively working to end animal cruelty worldwide, said in response to a query regarding changes in China’s animal testing policy.
There’s more to it!
While I was researching online regarding post-market testing, I found that non-routine tests do not generally involve animal testing, because it’s costly and time-consuming. According to sources, it takes around three months to determine a product’s safety through animal testing and it can cost 5 to 10 times more than other safety assessment procedures. Both these factors make post-market animal testing impractical.
Also, as highlighted by Matte Kundsen, the CEO of a business consultancy firm based in Shanghai:
What is Dove’s Stance on Post-Market Testing?
When Dove announced its PETA certification on Twitter last October of 2018, a user highlighted this issue on the same thread. See for yourself what the company’s reply was…
What’s the Problem Then?
As much as I wanted to believe in the official statement issued by Dove, I have been an ardent vegan for quite some time, so I can’t help but notice how vague and misleading it is.
Firstly, the statement only says that the company has requested Chinese Authorities to notify them if any safety concern arises regarding any of their products. It doesn’t tell what response they have received from government authorities and whether their request has been accepted or not.
Secondly, the post-market law doesn’t state if companies can be exempted from it upon their request or under certain conditions.
Lastly, it also seems unlikely that a government that makes animal testing a law to ensure the safety of products for humans would only notify the concerned company and do nothing on its own if an issue arises regarding any of their products.
So, What’s the Verdict? Is Dove Cruelty-Free or Not?
Honestly, it’s tough to pass a verdict in this case because everyone’s ethical values and resolve against animal cruelty is different. So, you will have to decide on your own. I have provided all the essential details regarding Dove’s cruelty-free status that a vegan or an ethical consumer would need to determine if they want to buy the company’s products or not.
To sum up the whole discussion, Dove has been certified by PETA as cruelty-free. However, there are some potential loopholes in the brand’s take on the Chinese market and the laws that govern it. In other words, there is a small possibility that Dove’s products might get tested on animals in mainland China.
Having said that, the company strongly asserts that it neither performs animal testing on its own nor commissions third parties to do it. And this applies to both their finished products and ingredients. Furthermore, as stated above, the possibility of products being tested on animals in post-market testing is very little.
The brand stands in a gray area. Whether you want to give Dove the benefit of doubt or not, it’s your call!
Are you still confused? Check out the following video to get some more clarity on this matter…
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some of the most common questions people ask about Dove to set the record straight on the company’s policies, processes, and products.
· Is Dove vegan?
Dove is not classified as a vegan-friendly brand. Many of their products include animal by-products, like honey, beeswax, and gelatin. There might be some products that are free from animal products. However, none of Dove’s products are certified as vegan.
· Does Dove test on animals?
Dove doesn’t test its products on animals anywhere in the manufacturing process. The company also doesn’t commission third parties to carry out animal testing on their behalf. However, they do sell in mainland China, which means that they agree to the country’s post-market testing laws.
· Are all Dove products cruelty-free?
Yes, all Dove products are essentially cruelty-free. But, there is a very small possibility that they might be tested on animals any time in China, if the local authorities deem it necessary.
· Is Dove cruelty-free certified by PETA?
Yes, Dove is a PETA-certified, cruelty-free brand. The company received PETA’s seal of approval in October 2018.
· Is Dove cruelty-free in the U.K.?
Dove has banned animal testing in all locations where its products are manufactured, including the U.K.
· Is Unilever cruelty-free?
Unilever appears in PETA’s list of companies “working for regulatory change”. Hence, it is one of the companies that only performs animal testing when required by law and is open about their animal testing policies and procedures with PETA. Companies on this list also support the banning of animal testing practices and work actively to limit it within their processes.
Take a look at Unilever’s official statement on their approach towards animal testing:
Did you find this detailed discussion on Dove’s cruelty-free status useful? Do you want to learn about more leading brands, too? Check out my article Is Olay Cruelty-Free for a similar breakdown of the skincare company’s stand on animal testing.