Is Dove Cruelty Free, Vegan, and Sustainable?

three dove skin products including bar soap on mint green background

Treehugger / Catherine Song / Dove

Dove is one of the leading personal care brands in the world—but is it cruelty free? Vegan? Sustainable, even?

The popular drugstore giant does have a cruelty free certification under its belt, even though it isn't vegan and is owned by a company (Unilever) that still allows animal testing. However, it doesn't disclose where its ingredients come from, nor how they're sourced, making it difficult to declare the brand ethical. Nonetheless, Dove is making strides to become more sustainable with recycled plastic packaging and a potential refillable format.

With Dove's global value exceeding $5 billion in 2021—the highest it's ever been—consumers want to know that their favorite beauty bar and other body washes, lotions, deodorants, and hair care products aren't hurting the planet.

Here's how Dove performs according to Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards, including its PETA cruelty free certification and brand statements regarding sustainability and vegan ingredients.

Treehugger's Green Beauty Standards: Dove

  • Cruelty Free: Certified by PETA, not by Leaping Bunny.
  • Vegan: Not certified vegan.
  • Ethical: Does not disclose how its ingredients are sourced.
  • Sustainable: Uses recycled plastic packaging and is trialing refillable formats, but still uses some problematic ingredients.

Dove Is Not Leaping Bunny-Certified

According to the brand, Dove "has not tested (nor commissioned others to test) its products on animals, nor tested (nor commissioned others to test) any ingredients which are contained in its products" since 2010. Because of the brand's commitment to animal-free testing methods, PETA announced in 2018 that it would add Dove to its Global Beauty Without Bunnies program and display its bunny logo on all Dove packaging starting in 2019.

Dove has not, however, received certification from the highly respected Leaping Bunny Program, the main problem being that the brand sells in China, where animal testing has historically been a requirement.

In 2021, China's National Medical Products Administration announced that it would no longer require animal testing on general cosmetics starting May 1 of that year. Still, Leaping Bunny maintained that it would only allow the sale of its certified products in China through Cross-Border e-Commerce, meaning items are sold online from outside the consumer's national borders. That way, products bypass post-market animal testing, a right held by the NMPA.

Unilever, Dove's parent company, has not yet been added to PETA's Global Beauty Without Bunnies program but is on the organization's Working for Regulatory Change list, meaning it's been transparent with PETA about testing methods and is actively moving towards non-animal testing.

Not All Dove Products Are Vegan

Although some Dove products appear to be vegan in their ingredients list, none have been certified by Vegan Action or any other vegan accreditation body.

One ingredient Dove frequently uses that could come from animal sources is glycerin, a type of sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in animals, plants, and petroleum. Another is hydrolyzed silk, a conditioning ingredient made by hydrolyzing silk obtained from silkworms.

On the brand's FAQ page, Dove says it's "exploring routes to offer vegan-accredited Dove products."

Dove beauty bar
Dove beauty bar.

Courtesy of Dove

Is Dove Ethical?

Dove products contain ingredients that have been linked to unethical practices, like cocoa butter, argan oil, coconut oil, and vanilla. Unilever has a Responsible Sourcing Policy (RSP) and Sustainable Agriculture Code (SAC) in place that lay out the company's commitments to worker rights, indigenous land rights, sustainable business practices, and more, but it does not address the sourcing of individual ingredients.

Sustainability Initiatives

In its 2020 Annual Report and Accounts, Unilever says it strives to be "the most people- and planet-positive beauty business in the world." Unilever is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which means all palm oil in Dove products (listed on the ingredients list as "sodium palmate") must meet specific criteria.

"We know that certification alone, while helpful, is not enough without full traceability of our supply chains," a Dove representative told Treehugger. "That’s why our parent company Unilever is partnering with tech companies such as Orbital Insight to track what happens in the first mile of our supply chain and publishes its supplier list for key crops online."

One sustainability concern surrounding Dove products is its use of mineral oil—"paraffinum liquidium"—a distillate of petroleum. Petroleum is a fossil fuel and will never be a sustainable ingredient in skin care. The brand says it uses it because it's "deeply moisturizing."

However, in 2021, Dove announced plans to protect and restore forest—20,000 hectares of it, to be exact—in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The plan is part of a partnership with Conservation International and will take five years, the brand says.

Commitment to Reducing Plastic Pollution

Dove refillable deodorant
Dove refillable deodorant.

Courtesy of Dove

Dove started packaging its products in 100% recycled plastic bottles throughout North America and Europe in 2020. It has made its popular beauty bar packaging totally plastic-free and is "trialing a new refillable deodorant format that radically reduces plastic use," the brand says. Similar refillable formats have been introduced in Dove's body wash offerings.

Make no mistake, though: Unilever as a whole is the fourth worst corporate offender for plastic pollution in the world, behind Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestle.

Alternative Cruelty Free and Sustainable Brands to Try

Despite the steps Dove has taken to become more ethical, sustainable, and cruelty free, it still might not quite tick all the boxes for you. Here are some other brands likely to meet your standards.

Dr. Bronner's

Dr. Bronner's castile soap is a longstanding sustainable favorite and a viable vegan alternative to Dove's ever-popular beauty bar.

The soap, available in both liquid and bar form, uses certified organic and Fair Trade Ghanaian palm oil and packages its products in 100% recycled (and recyclable) materials. Dr. Bronner's is vegan-run and Leaping Bunny-certified.


Although its parent company, SC Johnson, is not certified cruelty free, Method has received Leaping Bunny and PETA accreditation and is widely considered an ethical brand. Its founders, Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, were even named PETA's 2006 "People of the Year."

Method uses only vegan ingredients and is a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange, an online system that shares responsible sourcing data on supply chains.

LOLI Beauty

LOLI fancies itself a waste-, water-, toxin-, trash-, slavery-, and cruelty-free company. Its cleansers, moisturizers, "tonics," and hair care are organic, vegan, Fair Trade, wild-harvested, and even upcycled from food waste. Everything—from the raw ingredients to the compostable packaging—is made with the planet and its people in mind.