Three cheers to Margot Boyd for sending this poignant letter to Dove and for your commitment to safe cosmetics. Check out Dove’s response below: It’s legal therefore it’s safe. If we only had a dollar for every time we heard that one…

Hello Dove,

Today I discovered at my front door: a Dove advertisement, coupon and a sample of your “nutritive therapy” product that I never requested. A quick check of the ingredients reveals your product contains a litany of toxic substances. To name but a few: 1) Dimethicone, which has been shown to cause tumors and mutations in experimental work with animals; 2) Disodium EDTA, a penetration enhancer that can draw other chemicals into the bloodstream; 3) Petrolatum, a petrochemical that is often contaminated with two well-known carcinogens Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene; and 4) Methylisothiazolinone, a suspected neurotoxin and a known human immune system toxicant.

I do not allow Dove products in my home. I would not use them on my body, or allow my husband/children to use them. I would not rinse your products down the sink for the aquatic life in Lake Ontario to have to deal with. (Nor do I relish the thought of drinking it in our tap water afterwards…) I will not contribute to the Pink Ribbon campaign due to your participation in it. I am appalled by your seductive advertising to women whom I feel are unsuspecting.

So now to properly dispose of the ‘hazardous waste’ you have left at my door, I will have to take it to the proper City drop off depot. The damage and costs you cause people and the environment are not insubstantial. I would appreciate you picking up your parcel and properly disposing of it according to the City of Toronto hazardous waste materials – which is where your ingredients officially belong.

Yours sincerely,
Margot Boyd

Hi Margot,

Thank you for sharing your  thoughts with our team regarding the sample of Dove Nourishing Oil Care.

All of the ingredients used in our products meet legal standards for health and safety. Both ingredients and finished products are carefully  studied and reviewed internally. In addition, governmental regulatory agencies set guidelines for safety of consumer products that we follow closely.

Our company is committed to providing our consumers with the best quality  products. We will continue to research and develop products that meet our  standards for quality, safety and convenience that also meet consumers tastes  and preferences.

As requested, we will be sending a prepaid label for you to send the product back to our attention.

Your comments are extremely important to us and we  will certainly share them with the appropriate staff.

Take care,

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41 Responses to “”

  1. Good Girl Gone Green Says:

    I love love love your letter you wrote to Dove! I don’t buy any unsafe cosmetics either. If I wouldn’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on my body! Koodos to you for standing up for what you believe in….thanks for inspiring me today! ~Stephanie

  2. Tracy Says:

    UGH Dove’s response makes me angry! It’s clearly just blowing her off, and this line? “All of the ingredients used in our products meet legal standards for health and safety.” WELL YES, but just because the ingredients are not illegal doesn’t make them safe. We have a long way to go in our legal recognition of what’s safe.

  3. lisa Says:

    well done.

  4. connie curtis Says:

    Bravo…. I love it.. Someone taking a stand against the crap that is put in our products. Just because our govt doesnt stand up to these corporations doesnt mean we have to buy the products. I am for putting my money where my mouth is. I dont buy unclean products. I educate everyone around me and someone people choose to not change their buying habits. I am stand that our legal laws change.. and companies can say its legal but its not safe .. its cheap..

  5. Cindy Says:

    People figure if a store sells it it must be safe! I don’t buy Dove, along with a lot of other dangerous chemical laden products. More people need to take a stand like Margot. The “Pink Ribbon” campaign is an emotional ploy to get people’s money…it really upsets me the number of companies that think by attaching the pink ribbon to a product they’ll sell more…get real, it all comes down to a very simple thing…money! Money, money, money…they don’t care that it’s unhealthy they just like the total in their bank accounts. Your health and mine DO NOT come into the picture. Thank you Margot!

  6. Amy Says:

    Brava!! Thank you for standing up and saying something! I only wish more consumers were like you and aware of what goes into “beauty” products! Keep it up!

  7. Colin Says:

    I work in a lab – not one that has anything to do with Dove – formulating cosmetic products. I could simply point out that none of the dangers that seem to trouble you are true. But you could do your own research easily to confirm that. But what possible motive would Dove or any of us in the personal care industry have to sell unsafe products? Money, money, money Cindy would no doubt answer. But selling stuff that is unsafe would simply get us sued, sued, sued. Even if we are as immoral as you paint us it doesn’t sound like a very profitable strategy. And even if I didn’t care about the health of the people using my products – which I do, I want to make things that are good not things that are toxic – I’d still be concerned about my own health while I was handling them while I worked on them.

  8. Gwen Says:

    So, Colin, answer me this…
    1-What are these chemicals:
    a) Dimethicone
    b) Disodium EDTA
    c) Petrolatum, a petrochemical that is often contaminated with two well-known carcinogens Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene
    d) Methylisothiazolinone

    2-What do they do?
    3-Why are they in cosmetics do women put on themselves every day?
    4-Do you wear cosmetics? What do you put on YOUR body every day, not counting maybe deodorant and maybe some shaving stuff? And what’s in *it*?

  9. Gary Says:

    Finally consumers are taking action back towards this garbage that major companies force upon us. They(the companies) let us believe it’s safe for us because governments allow a small amount for use without concern. Problem is; they(companies) base much of their data on the minimal use factor and not the actual fact that we(consumers) use this daily year after year. Take the pharmaceutical industry for example – here take a pill but they forget to tell us when we expel our internal waste that we are in fact reintroducing their garbage right back at us through our water supplies, least not us forget the added garbage from the cosmetic industry. In fact, much of what we find in the pharma industry is also found in many cosmetics.

    Fact is, ask those that work in these companies why they wear masks, protective outer clothing and gloves and most of all, if they use the products they produce themselves. IT”S TIME WE STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK.

    As a beauty service provider, it’s my duty as director of operations to insure the safety of not just our clients, but our staff and environmental impact. We’ve taken the “green” side of things to a whole new level. We offer safe “green” choices and use only the safest of professional products at our institute. We choose to educate and help clients understand in making healthy and sane choices. We also choose to be part of the solution and not that of the problem. We refuse to take the word of the marketing hype from manufactures where we thoroughly investigate their background, affiliations, product offerings and services.

    The cosmetic industry is the second largest industry in the world with the highest profit next to the sex industry. Manufactures could care less about our safety and only care about high profits. Thanks Margot:)

    Let’s stop what the mainstream industry is doing! Stand up, be heard and be part of the collective movement. Safe cosmetics and alternatives to mainstream BS do exist so have faith.

  10. Linda Says:

    What a wonderful letter, Margot! Dove is positively poisonous to me and their deodorants will trigger an asthma attack within seconds.

    Colin – bless you, you’ve clearly been seduced by all the “we are the experts and we know what we are talking about” argument. Let’s just have a quick look at the recent history of chemicals that have been touted by chemical experts as ‘safe’, many of them used on our very foodstuffs, and then withdrawn from the market after proving to be highly toxic and harzardous to all forms of life:

    Dieldrin (this may be misspelt…)

    ….actually, it could take me all day to type the list, so why don’t you just visit this website: and have a bit of a think about your views on this subject.

    Oh, and often the ONLY reason some of these substances made it onto the extremely hazardous list is because human beings who had been irreparably damaged by them sued the manufacturers. So you are right there, but they must make an awful lot of money before people do start suing them, because chemical companies and cosmetics manufacturers just keep doing the same thing, over and over and over again.

  11. Ellen Calmas Says:

    My trust in company propaganda is shot given that we know that different formulations are sold throughout the EU. Chemical reform is long overdue in the U.S. and I applaud efforts to bring about change.

  12. Nancy Says:

    “In addition, governmental regulatory agencies set guidelines for safety of consumer products that we follow closely.”

    That is so ridiiculous and laughable. There really is very limited guidlines for safety or regulation. Hopefully the Safe Cosmetics Act 2011 and the TSCA 2011-Toxic Chemicals Safety Act will end the use of these toxic chemicals once and for all.

    Kudo’s Margot…you’re my kinda girl!

  13. Kelly Says:

    Best letter ever – love it! :D

    And very much appreciate you passing on the Safe Cosmetics word – it needs to get out there!

  14. Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama Says:

    Now THAT is some awesome activism! I got home last week as the van that delivered me 2 huge phone books in double wrapped plastic bags, was driving away. Should have chased them down!

  15. Stacy Malkan Says:

    YES, absolutely! Chase them down.

  16. The Glamorganic Goddess Says:

    Good for Margot! Rock on Sister!

    The GG :)

  17. Jo Says:

    I do not buy anything that does not have a good “score” on the Skin Deep Database (EWG). ( Keep in mind, however, that the Dove Beauty Bars are among the best out there, raging from 2 – 4 on a scale of 10. Maybe they are trying to do good … just not trying hard enough.

  18. Mina Says:

    Margot, You wrote and excellent letter to Dove; informative and to the point. I have been researching the poison in cosmetics for the past several months, and a great website is The safest cosmetics / personal care products are those found on web sites – I did some research on brands in Whole Foods, and no thanks!

    One of the absolute worst products we can use is hair dye, with the chemicals of Para-phenylenediamine, Resorcinol, Ammonia and Peroxide being the top offenders to poison your blood. Your scalp is the richest area of blood supply in your body!

    We could walk the circumference of the earth a million times to raise money to cure disease – why don’t we just PREVENT them?

    Thank you for helping raise awareness Margot!

  19. Melissa Says:

    I love this! Thank you! You’re an inspiration to do something beyond opting out and feeling frustrated, which is as far as my relationship with cosmetics companies has previously gone.

  20. Rachael @ Holistically Haute Says:

    Great letter. I’m not surprised at Dove’s response at all though…very generic PR response. I wouldn’t expect anything more from a company with Dove’s (lack of) values.

  21. Stacy Malkan Says:

    I also want to give a shout out to Dove for two of my favorite videos online, about the horrendous manipulation that goes on in advertising — definitely worth watching and sharing!
    Beauty Pressure:

    Yes Dove makes a few products on the better end of the spectrum, as Jo mentions, but you have to check the labels carefully. Dove Beauty Bar Soap “for sensitive skin” scores a 2 on Skin Deep, but Dove Beauty Bar Pink (or “Extra Velvet” or “Energy Glow”) score a 5.

  22. Nancy L. Says:

    I would have just given it to a family member – sorry!
    She should have still emailed Dove a letter, but having Dove send a label out, etc. does not help the environment!!

  23. Kadie Says:

    It’s what they do to other people’s environments, you won’t find them wiping out their own backyard, while producing their product that is the most damaging.

  24. mandy Says:

    Nancy. I disagree with you and even consider your comment stupid. Why would she give it to a family member if the soap is harmful?! Margo sent it back not only bc she does not want the toxic Soap but to also make a powerful point. I email people most of time for the sake of our environment but when I want to make point, I will sent back any trash via mail.

  25. Jen Says:

    I love Dove <3

  26. Cari Says:

    i agree with Colin. Google the ingredients…they aren’t what you claim. And what kind of response did you expect? A sincere apology for causing cancer? I sick and regretful owner promising to stop production of all of their products because someone uninformed proclaimed their company dangerous? Maybe the research team showing at your door to ask your opinion on how to make their product? Please. Dove (and I don’t work for them either) makes a great product, and you can choose to use something else you personally like without losing your mind because someone had the nerve to give you a free sample. You have the right to do as you wish, including sounding ignorant of facts and jumping on the “all chemicals are bad” bandwagon.

  27. Jocelyn Says:

    Educate yourself my friends….no one can ‘pull the wool over your eyes’ if you take the time to educate yourself on what is in the products that are deemed ‘safe’. I, personally, do not put anything on my skin that I would not ingest, literally. I use only cold pressed oils that are edible. And by the way, what you eat can make all the difference in the world, lessening your ‘need’ for skin care products. if you eat things like avocado’s & coconut oil, they work on your skin from the inside out, making your skin soft, smooth & beautiful. You don’t event have to put anything on topically unless you want to :)

  28. Mary Liu Says:

    Margot …I LOVE your letter. The next time I receive a sample in the mail or on my doorknob, I’ll write a letter to the manufacturer as well to get them to dispose of the toxic chemicals in a safe manner. Hmmm…if we all did what Margot did, I wonder if the cosmetic industry would get the message. :o )

  29. Colin Says:

    The comments on this thread seem to be some kind of home for inaccurate information. It would take too long to counter each individual wrong statement so can I just agree with the few things that are right.

    @Linda – yes DDT did prove to be harmful to the environment. It was banned about 40 years ago in my country and I think at about the same time in the US. You might want to ask yourself why you need to go so far back in time for your examples. But the case of DDT is a very educational case study. If you haven’t read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson I urge you to do so. (There is a review of it on my blog.) The problem with DDT was its LOW toxicity. If you think that everything would be fine if we stopped making toxic chemicals you probably need to do a bit more work.

    @Gwen – I regularly use standard cosmetic products. I work on both mainstream ones and extremely ‘green’ ones that score highly according the EWG’s imaginary health concerns. I usemainstream ones. They work better.

  30. Carrie Says:


    Based on your comments, I think working in this industry has created a blindness in you to the concerns and perspectives of a certain percentage of consumers.

    I am sure that there is no malicious intent, just a lack of knowledge and a different set of priorities.

    To most of us here, we include the environment and other life forms in our holistic view of what is important to protect.

    I am reminded of that story about some older fish in a river talking about the concept of water, and the new fish coming up asking, “What’s water?”

    It’s not that you don’t care, it’s that you don’t even possess the tools to have the discussion, nor the eyes to see what we’re talking about.

    I think you have already “drunk the kool aid” if you catch my drift.

  31. Colin Says:


    Being blind to something you are very close to is certainly a danger. If so I am very grateful for someone pointing out something I haven’t seen. But if you want to win people over to your way of looking at things the bare minimum is to make sure the actual facts are right. Margot’s article that we are discussing quotes 4 facts. The first, the reference to dimethicone, is only relevant if the quantities in the study are similar to the quantities in the product. The dose makes the poison. Remember that ever time you see the words toxic or toxin. Disodium EDTA is not a veryefficient skin penetration enhancer. I wish it were – I once spent a lot of time trying to get it work as one. There is simply no possibility that its presence in Dove is remotely harmful. A grade of petrolatum that contains carcinogens would not be used in a cosmetic product. As for poor old Methylisothiazolinone, being a suspected neurotoxin and a known human immune system toxicant, well I am not even sure what that is supposed to mean. I do know that that material is used at vanishingly low levels and is extremely safe. Again remember that the dose makes the poison.

    I am afraid being English I don’t get the reference to kool aid. I don’t know if the phrase ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ is current in the US. If you are serious about campaigning for safe cosmetics you need quite a lot of knowledge. I have been actively working to make cosmetics safe all my career and I am still learning. I would be genuinely grateful for any help, but it does have to be based on actual facts.

  32. Stacy Malkan Says:

    Colin, The problem with the “dose makes the poison” is that there are so many problems with the dose makes the poison. See my essay on that topic, “The Dose Makes the Poison? We Know Better Now.”

    The view that low enough doses of toxic substances guarantee safety just doesn’t fit with the emerging scientific understanding about chemicals, especially when it comes to endocrine disrupting substances.

    Regarding your comment on petrolatum, I’d be interested to see studies demonstrating that carcinogenic contaminants are kept out of the products. We haven’t studied petrolatum-containing products, but unfortunately, carcinogenic contaminants are a common occurrence with other cosmetic chemicals, such as many of the surfactants.

    I agree on that point that there is much to learn, for all of us. That’s why I advocate for modernizing the regulatory framework and scientific capability of the government agencies that are charged with protecting public health and ensuring product safety.

  33. Colin Says:

    The ‘dose makes the poison’ doesn’t mean that low doses are necessarily safe. There are substances that can be very harmful at very low doses. But something like that wouldn’t be used in a cosmetic for obvious reasons.

    Our knowledge is increasingly growing and it is possible that new facts can come to light at any time. In particular we are very short of studies of the long term effects of repeated low doses of quite a lot of commonly used materials. When you consider the practical difficulties of doing so this isn’t surprising and I suspect we will never have them.

    This cuts both ways. Nobody can say that exposing yourself to 1ppm of say Methylisothiazolinone daily for a decade has been shown to be harmless. But nobody has shown it has done any harm either.

    What we do have is epidemiology. When we are talking long term effects for all intents and purposes we are only talking about cancer and birth defects. I am sure you are familiar with Doll and Peto’s study. I am still surprised that they found that only 1% of cancers could be attributed to pesticides. As for cosmetics, they don’t get a mention.

    If carcinogenic contaminants are common in cosmetic ingredients, which I doubt, they don’t seem to be present at levels that give rise to any problems. As things stand, there is not one single bit of evidence to support the idea that cosmetics have any long term harmful effects.

    This means that most of the risks you read about online simply have no evidence. If you really want to do some good, campaign against smoking and sun beds. At least we know there is something wrong with them.

  34. Stacy Malkan Says:

    This is why we advocate so strongly for a system that requires safety assessments. When studies aren’t required, it’s no surprise that studies aren’t conducted, and then we keep hearing that there isn’t enough information to make decisions about risk — so in the meantime, let’s keep exposing kids to formaldehyde in the bath tub, for example, while we try to figure out if an increased number of cancers occur later on (which, as you point out, is very difficult if not impossible to quantify). Hey, why not just make bath products without formaldehyde in the first place? It’s not like companies don’t already know how to do it.

    Yes I am familiar with Sir Robert Doll’s assertions about the low rate of cancer caused by chemicals. The scientists I work with do not rely on those calculations. Doll suffered a pretty big credibility blow when it came out that he was taking money from the chemical industry.

  35. i Says:

    It’s my opinion that the further removed from anything that may occur by itself in nature a chemical is, the more likely it is to have a negative effect on the human body. Just because that effect isn’t instantaneous, but rather slow and cumulative and able to be blamed on other things doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (Yes of course there are naturally-occurring substances which are harmful. But no one is suggesting that we rub uranium on ourselves, are they?) This is how companies get away with pushing products that are harmful to human health, so the argument that “if we sold unsafe products, we’d go out of business” doesn’t really wash. Jocelyn is correct regarding diet and cold-pressed organic oils. (It’s only processed coconut oil that’s unhealthy.) But the industry doesn’t want people to hear that simple things like that will do the trick because they lose huge profits if people discover this. In the US, the regulatory agencies and large corporations have a revolving door among their management, thus the mega industries of chemical production, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals get to keep pushing this stuff on us. Give everyone at least low-grade chronic conditions via food and personal care products, send them to a doctor who treats them with more chemicals. And chemicals to combat the side effects of chemicals, and so on. This said, I think there are times when one has to rely on pharma drugs to cure something. However, I think the whole reason that’s necessary is because it’s so difficult to avoid pollutants, irritants and foreign (to nature and the body) substances in this world of so-called better living through chemistry. I am not anti science, but I think we need for it to be more in harmony with nature and more needs to be done to reveal what nature’s bounty can and will do for us.

  36. Amelia Says:

    On my first trip to Thailand a few years ago, I became disgusted by Dove. They were launching their “self-esteem” campaign here in the U.S. and claiming how they wanted to make women love themselves, and in Thailand, every time I turned on the TV I saw a Dove ad selling facial whitening cream. Pale, western looking models would smile happily, Dove in hand.. It was nauseating. I do miss their cleansing pillows though.

  37. Stacy Malkan Says:

    Thanks for writing Amelia. That is so disturbing! I have a section in my book about how the big beauty companies are pushing skin whitening creams in Asian countries around the world. I interviewed a woman from the Philippines who talked about how every other product advertised on TV offers “whitening” benefits, and the most famous actresses in the country are light skinned. This is so sickening from a perspective of pushing Western standards of so-called beauty, but even worse, these products are some of the most dangerous on the market. Here is a recent study that found high levels of mercury in skin whitening creams sold in Manila. They didn’t test Dove but I’ll suggest that they include Dove in the next round.

    Shame on Dove, especially, for selling skin whitening creams when they have a campaign about “real beauty.”


  38. Love the Label Says:

    Bravo. So incredible to hear these responses!

  39. Milena Says:

    I <3 <3 <3 this example of direct action! Way to Margo! You're an inspiration! I think I should do the same with the deodorant sample dropped off a year ago (still sitting a drawer as I surely don't want want it used/disposed of either!) I wonder if there's something we can do about avon catalogues, as well. First there's the problem of wasted paper (contained in it's own plastic bag, no less!), and then the poisions being advertised within… when are these companies going to learn?

  40. Emily Says:

    I totally understand why you’re so mad about the aggressive advertising by Dove. I also can’t use Dove products, I always get a bad rash. Guess their products aren’t so friendly, huh.

  41. Bob Says:

    Did you notice in the response from Dove they said. “We will continue to research and develop products that meet our standards for quality, safety and convenience that also meet consumers tastes and preferences.” There standards for quality, safety and convenience. They did not say anything about what there customers consider to be safe. We know that we humans will do just about anything for vanity. Including putting toxins in and on our bodies.
    There is talk about letting the industry wright its on laws on safety. This is like the fox, guarding the hen house. We let the oil industry run its own checks and balances and look what happened in the gulf. Yeah right let the cosmetic industry wright its own laws, no thanks all we are to corporate is a dollar. Hey corporate why don’t you step up and practice human ethics?

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