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Behind the brand: Dove’s products, purpose and commitment to care


It’s one of the biggest brands in Unilever, with products trusted by millions and a purpose built on challenging stereotypes to celebrate real beauty. Discover the story of Dove.

A photo from a Dove campaign featuring a group of eight diverse women, smiling at each other and at the camera.

How it started

A vintage advertisement for Dove from the 1960s. A woman is pictured lathering her skin with a Dove Bar in a bath.

In 1952, Unilever acquired a French patent for a radical new product – a mild, pH-neutral cleansing bar that wasn’t simply a soap. Instead, its formula was enriched with moisturisers to leave skin feeling softer and smoother with every use.

After a few tweaks in Unilever’s labs to give this unique new bar an indulgent, creamy lather and timeless fragrance, the Dove Beauty Bar was born – and it launched in the US in 1957.

Dove promised women that, as its formula contained a quarter moisturising cream, Dove wouldn’t dry their skin like soap can. It’s a pledge the brand has stuck to ever since.

In 1969, real women’s testimonials were used in Dove ads for the first time, and by 1979, dermatologists were recommending the Dove Bar to their clients.

Between 1991 and 1994, Dove built on its success in the US by launching in 55 new countries from Brazil to South Africa, the UK, India, China and New Zealand to name just a few.

And the brand soon evolved beyond the bar. Dove deodorants, body washes, body lotions, foaming facial cleaners and hair products launched around the world between 1995 and 2000, with the Dove Men+Care range launching in 2010 and Baby Dove joining the family in 2017.

How it’s going

A pic from a Dove ad campaign. Two women sit back to back. One is white with long red hair, one has vitiligo and long dark hair.

Dove is now one of the three biggest brands in Unilever, selling more than €5 billion of products annually (PDF 1.54 MB).

It has a presence in more than 80 countries, is the No.1 dermatologist-recommended brand in the US, Canada and France, and is endorsed by dermatologists in many countries across the globe.

Dove has a long-standing commitment against animal testing, and since the mid-1980s, non-animal methods have been used to ensure the safety of Dove products.

Dove has also taken a stand by enacting a policy prohibiting animal testing on its products globally, and has not tested or commissioned others to test any ingredients in its products since 2010 – over two years ahead of the final EU animal testing ban on ingredients.

In October 2023, the brand marked five years since it was certified by PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and in recent years Dove has teamed up with animal protection NGOs to campaign to safeguard consumers’ right to buy cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe.

Since 2019, Dove has moved to 100% recycled plastic bottles in North America and Europe as part of its commitment to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging across its portfolio by 2025.

And as part of Dove’s commitment to contribute to a nature-positive planet, as well as reducing the impact of how it formulates and packages its ingredients, the brand is investing in partnerships to protect and restore nature. The Dove Nature Restoration Project was established in 2022, in partnership with the Rimba Collective, to protect and restore 123,000 acres of rainforest – an area eight times the size of Manhattan – in South East Asia over five years.

The purpose that powers it

A pic from a Dove campaign of four young teenagers smiling and laughing together. There are three girls and one boy.

Dove wants to change beauty into a positive experience for every woman and for the next generation.

In 2004, after its survey of 3,000 women across ten countries revealed just 2% considered themselves beautiful, Dove launched its Campaign for Real Beauty.

Since then, the brand has become the leading global provider of self-esteem education through the Dove Self-Esteem Project – a global movement to build body confidence among young people all over the world. By 2030, the Dove Self-Esteem Project will have reached a quarter of a billion young people through schools, NGOs, youth leaders, parents and campaigns.

Most recently, Dove has been working to challenge harmful social media practices that perpetuate unattainable beauty standards. Dove has a long-term commitment to bring about positive change in beauty and is taking action towards making social media a more positive place with campaigns like #ReverseSelfie, #DetoxYourFeed and #CostOfBeauty.

With the launch of its No Digital Distortion Mark, Dove promises to never present the unachievable and manipulated. The No Digital Distortion Mark serves as a tool to help women and girls identify reality and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way.

And in 2019, Dove co-founded The CROWN Coalition in the US, to advance anti-hair discrimination legislation called The CROWN Act (it stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair). At the time of writing, laws inspired by The CROWN Act have been enacted in 22 US states and 49 municipalities, providing countless people with protection from prejudice because of the way they choose to style their hair. The brand is also working to end race-based hair discrimination in the UK.

Brand new ideas

  1. Microscopic tech for maximum moisturising power

    Photos of Dove’s MicroMoisture Body Wash range featuring five variants with different coloured lids.

    Dove Body Wash has been a market leader in the US for years, but the brand hasn’t rested on its laurels with this hero product. In 2023, Dove launched its new 24-Hour MicroMoisture Formula Body Wash – elevating the everyday essential to a superior skin-nourishing cleanser packed with cutting-edge science.

    Dove’s new fully vegan formula infuses its creamy body wash with microscopic moisture droplets which are so tiny that they can fit into the natural gaps and crevices on the skin’s surface. This helps to regenerate the skin’s natural moisture barrier, locking in moisture for continuous 24-hour care.

    Clinical tests prove new Dove Body Wash also improves visual signs of dryness by 50% after every shower.

  2. Intensive care to repair damaged hair

    Dove’s hair products are also evolving to include superior science. Dove’s award-winning Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner, both formulated with Dove Bio-Restore Complex, work as a two-part system to provide complete care for severely damaged hair.

    The products contain Dove’s patented Fibre Repair Actives technology, which helps to reconstruct inner hair fibres, and repair them from within. The tech was developed by scientists in Unilever’s Materials Innovation Factory with a little help from their incredible beauty robot assistants.

  3. Dove’s 72-hour antiperspirant with triple-moisturising technology

    A photo of 14 different Dove antiperspirant deodorants

    Since the launch of Dove deodorant in Italy in 1997, the brand has always been different. From the very beginning, Dove brought a new, relevant and disruptive dimension to the deodorant sector. In a category driven by sweat and odour prevention, Dove was the first to promise protection combined with care.

    Now Dove Advanced Care combines unique antiperspirant technology with the brand’s superior skin care.

    It uses patented small, stable molecules that form a barrier against sweat on the surface of skin. The really clever part is that because this barrier is so effective, we can put less of these ingredients in the formula, leaving more space for caring ingredients.

    It means that not only does Dove Advanced Care offer up to 72 hours of protection, it’s also enriched with active moisturisers to help retain moisture deeper within the skin, humectants to draw in moisture, and occlusive oils to lock in to that all-important skin barrier for Dove’s kindest-to-skin formula.

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