Dove made its imprint on America in 1957 with its Dove Beauty Bar. More than 60 years later, Dove has developed into the world’s top cleansing brand sitting at the "forefront of research and breakthrough technologies,” owner Unilever says.
The brand was started by the Lever Brothers, which was started by William Hesketh Lever. The brand is credited with offering the first alternative to soap that was less drying to the skin and in doing so has “revolutionized the way women cared for their skin,” according to Unilever.
Lever, a British soap and detergent entrepreneur, was born in 1851 in England.
However, in the early 1900s, he became a member of Parliament, taking on the title of Lord Leverhulme. The "Hulme" part of his name was added to honor his wife, according to History.
Prior to his entry into politics, he entered into the soap business in 1885 with the help of his brother James Darcy Lever, according to History. They purchased a small soap and cleaning product works in Warrington and shortly thereafter, Lever Brothers became a reality.
The brothers partnered with a chemist from their home town by the name of William Hough Watson to create a free-lathering soap made from colonial raw product, palm oil and glycerine instead of tallow, the outlet reported.
The product was first named “Honey” before being renamed to “Sunlight Soap.” Within a decade, the soap was on sale in 134 countries, History reported.
The product “helped to popularize cleanliness and hygiene in Victorian England,” according to Unilever. It was created with the intention to "make cleanliness commonplace; to lessen work for women; to foster health and contribute to personal attractiveness, that life may be more enjoyable and rewarding for the people who use our products,” Unilever says.
Due to the scale of production, by 1887 William Lever bought a large factory in Liverpool, according to a timeline on Unilever's website. Shortly after, Lever Brothers became a limited company and expanded into Europe, America and the British colonies.
By September 1929, Margarine Unie, which was a dominant producer of margarine in the UK, and Lever Brothers signed into an agreement to create Unilever with the purpose of keeping out of each other’s principal interests, soap and margarine production. However, they ultimately decided to merge. By 1930, Unilever became a reality. Consequently, that same year Unilever’s largest rivals, Procter & Gamble, entered the UK market.
By 1957, Dove launched the “revolutionary new beauty cleansing bar” in America.
Today, that very bar is touted by Unilever as the number-one dermatologist-recommended brand within the US, Canada and France and is “strongly endorsed” by dermatologists worldwide.