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Dove (Unilever brand) makes tons of skincare products for men and women. Recently, they launched a “Baby Dove” line designed for little ones.
To market their product, they’ve come out with a #realmoms campaign. It seems that Dove is aiming to celebrate different parenting styles. The internet recently lost their minds when Baby Dove started using their campaign to target breastfeeding mothers.
The outrage comes from two photos posted by Dove to social media.
One photo is of a breastfeeding baby with text that says, “75% say breastfeeding in public is fine. 25% say put them away. What’s your way?”
The other photo is of a crying baby with text that says, “40% are for feeding him when he cries. 60% are passionately against it. What’s your way?”
The company’s website says, “..whatever choice you make, we are with you every step of the way.”
Breastfeeding advocates are outraged that Baby Dove would imply they are “with” someone who is opposed to nursing in public or not feeding a hungry baby.
And I am one of them. What does breastfeeding have to do with soap? I believe Baby Dove is posting about hot-button topics in efforts to bring awareness to their new brand. To create a buzz. And boy did they create a buzz! They are now living a PR nightmare of epic proportions.
But I believe people are angry with Dove for the wrong reason.
Now, before I go any further, let me assure you that I am totally on the side of breastfeeding advocates.
If you know me, you know I:
- breastfed all three of my children
- never gave formula to my youngest two
- donated breast milk to a friend struggling with low supply
- exclusively pumped, exclusively nursed, and a mix of both
- breastfed in public
- breastfed in private
- nursed with a cover
- nursed without a cover
- answered countless emails from moms with breastfeeding questions
- stayed up until the wee hours of the morning texting someone with breastfeeding problems
I’m not telling you any of this to brag. But I want to point it out because I know I may get some flack from lactivists. Believe me, I’m not saying Baby Dove is in the right here. And we should be upset about this campaign.
The thing that boils my blood the most, is the fact that they are peddling this product, pushing it as gentle and safe.
Moms are purchasing this product believing the lies Dove tells about the safety of their products.
On Dove’s website, they use descriptions like, “superior care” and “goes beyond mildness” along with “developed especially for delicate baby skin.”
Taking it a bit further, they describe their new line as, “Hypoallergenic and with fragrances designed specially for baby skin, every product provides gentle care and a delicate, comforting scent for your baby.”
Now while these words don’t come out and say, “Hey, our products are totally safe for babies!” it is definitely implied. Purposefully misleading.
Is Baby Dove Really Safe for Babies?
Let’s take a look at the ingredients for the tip-to-toe wash listed on their website.
Water (aqua), Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Polyacrylate-33, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance (parfum), Lauric Acid, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Sodium Palmitate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Isethionate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Citric Acid, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)
While the majority of the ingredients look super-scary, I decided to research each one to see if they are categorized as toxic.
I used the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for my research.
The EWG is great website where you can plug in cosmetic products and individual ingredients to see if it contains any harmful chemicals.
They rate the ingredient on a scale from one to ten. (With ten being the most hazardous.)
Surprisingly, many of the ingredients in the Baby Dove tip-to-toe product scored low on the toxin scale.
But not surprisingly, a few of them were considered harmful.
Let’s take a look.
PS- I’ve included links for each product so that you can research them for yourself.
Cocamidopropyl betaine scored a 4 on the EWG scale, making it “moderate” risk.
Cocamidopropyl betaine has been affiliated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. (So much for that hypoallergenic claim, eh?)
Phenoxyethanol also scored a 4 on the EWG scale, making it “moderate” risk as well.
Phenoxyethanol is a type of preservative and has been linked with irritation and organ system toxicity.
Fragrance scored a whopping 8 on the EWG scale, making it “high” risk.
The EWG says, “About FRAGRANCE: The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”
Tetrasodium EDTA scored a 2 on the EWG scale, making it “low” risk.
Tetrasodium EDTA is a chelator affiliated with enhanced skin absorption and organ system toxicity.
Titanium Dioxide scored a 1-3, depending on usage. Concerns about Titanium Dioxide include organ system toxicity and cancer risk when inhaled. I’m no expert, but based on what I’ve read, I believe that the cancer risk comes from aerosol sprays. (So hopefully this isn’t a concern in non-aerosol products. But I don’t know this for sure. My thought is, “Why take the risk?”
You can read more about Titanium Dioxide and cancer here.
Are you angry yet?
Yes, people should be outraged at Baby Dove discriminating towards breastfeeding moms. BUT, people should also be outraged at the ingredients placed in products designed for children and babies. Marketed as “safe” when they are anything but.
Suffice it to say, I won’t be buying any Dove. Will you?
Looking for a safer soap? Read next: Is Your Baby Shampoo Dangerous? Plus a safer, non-toxic option.