Dear Peta: Dove Isn’t Cruelty Free!

Dove is NOT a cruelty free brand. Not only do Dove distribute their products in China, they’re also owned by Unilever, a company that I religiously avoid (for various reasons, including their animal testing policies, misuse of palm oil and human rights scandals).

When I first saw that Peta listed ‘Dove (Unilever)’ as cruelty-free, I honestly thought there’d been some sort of mistake. Didn’t they know? Or had I been avoiding Unilever all this time for no reason? (The short answer: no, no I hadn’t.)

See my list of cruelty free brands you can find at Superdrug

What a Real Cruelty-Free Company Looks Like:

In the cruelty-free and vegan beauty community, we don’t consider a brand ‘cruelty-free’ if they sell their products in Mainland China due to their pre- AND post-market animal testing laws. 

Genuine cruelty-free companies don’t sell their products in China in order to ensure that none of their products are tested on animals (aka, they don’t sell out for the cash). They explain why on the Cruelty Free International website here.

Click here to find out which of your favourite brands are cruelty free!

What Dove have done instead:

To get around China’s pre-market testing laws, Dove have supposedly only put on offer products that don’t need to be tested on animals:

“We have changed which products we offer to Chinese consumers. The Chinese Authorities changed regulations in 2014 & now allow for certain cosmetics products that are manufactured in China to not require animal testing, & those are the products that we will be offering.”

I can’t find a statement anywhere on what these products might be, and Chinese regulations are deliberately vague. Either way, I suppose it’s positive that Dove are at least trying to avoid pre-market testing.

Post-market testing is where the water gets really murky for Dove:

“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.”

This is factually incorrect; in reality, post-market testing is not rare and there doesn’t need to be a safety concern for a product to be tested. They can test whatever they like, whenever they like, from their shelves. (Their shelves specifically; products shipped to China from an online store are not affected.)

Dove class themselves as cruelty-free because they politely asked the Chinese government to notify them if any of their products require post-marketing testing.


I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean that the Chinese government WILL alert Dove when post-market testing is required, or that Dove will have the chance to remove their product before it’s tested.

It just means they’ve asked.

Which they probably have.

That doesn’t mean a lot.

The bottom line here is that if Dove, or indeed Unilever, really cared about avoiding animal testing, they’d join the other 1,000+ brands that have adopted a true cruelty-free policy, like the one set out by Cruelty Free International.

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