NIVEA History - 100 YEARS in the Making

NIVEA History - 100 YEARS in the Making

 

Over 100 years ago, we invented modern skin care with NIVEA Creme. Today, millions of people all over the world, all with different types of skin, rely on the NIVEA brand. That is why our researchers work extensively with different skin types and the different care requirements brought about by culture, gender and age. Thanks to this approach, we have developed numerous innovative skin care products over the past few decades – from deodorants to sunscreen products. We work with over 50 institutions around the world to ensure that our products are suitable for your skin. At our headquarters in Hamburg we have even set up our own laboratory for Asia and Latin America, where we conduct research specifically aimed at skin types and climate conditions found in these regions. We do this so that one day everybody in the world can place their trust in NIVEA products.


How It All Began

Before NIVEA Creme's success story could begin, something entirely different had to be invented – Eucerit. Eucerit acts as an emulsifier and combines oil and water into an extremely fine, stable mixture. Fortunately, Dr Isaac Lifschütz had developed this completely new emulsifier by 1911. Dermatologist Professor Paul Gerson Unna admired Dr Lifschütz’s specialist knowledge in this area and presented it to Dr Oscar Troplowitz, chemist and co-founder of Beiersdorf. The latter immediately realised that the water-in-oil emulsion would form the perfect base for a cosmetic skin cream. All they now needed was a name. And to find one, Dr Troplowitz needed to look no further than the cream itself. Once the emulsion was finished, it had a snow white colour. The name NIVEA comes from the Latin words “nix, nivis” and means “snow”. When translated, NIVEA literally means “snow white”.

 

Bringing NIVEA to the World

1911

It all began in 1911, when the pharmacist and visionary entrepreneur Dr. Oscar Troplowitz recognised the potential in Eucerit, an emulsifier developed by the chemist Dr. Isaac Lifschütz. 

Eucerit made it possible to bind water and oil into a stable cream, and was first intended for use in the medical field. Dermatologist Prof. Paul Gerson Unna appreciated Dr. Lifschütz’s expertise in his field and introduced him to Dr. Troplowitz, who immediately recognized that the water-in-oil emulsion would make the perfect basis for a cosmetic skin cream. All it needed now was a name. 

To find it, Dr. Troplowitz didn’t need to look any further than the cream itself. Inspired by its snow-white colour, he called it NIVEA – a name derived from the Latin words nix (snow) and nivis (of snow).

Finally, the years of research and creativity had paid off. In December of 1911, NIVEA was launched. The legacy of our first skincare cream was born.

From the very start, it was Dr. Troplowitz’s goal to develop high quality products that were affordable to all. With NIVEA’s vast product range, which provides expert care no matter what your skin needs, Dr. Troplowitz’s vision has lived on. And it will continue to for the next 100 years.  

1914

NIVEA has been globetrotting almost since the day we were born, thanks to a special skincare ingredient called Eucerit.

Invented by one of NIVEA’s founding fathers, Dr Isaac Lifschütz, Eucerit made it possible for a skin cream to remain stable over time – which lead directly to the creation of NIVEA Creme in 1911. This was the first skincare cream that could be exported around the world without losing any of its quality or consistency.

Just three years after NIVEA Creme made its debut in Hamburg, it was available on every continent, and nearly half of NIVEA’s sales came from overseas. By 1914, our products were produced not only in Hamburg, but also in Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Mexico, Moscow, New York, Paris and Sydney.

At the time, this kind of rapid international expansion was unheard of in the skincare industry. We were in uncharted waters – which meant that we often had to employ a little ingenuity when introducing NIVEA to new markets.

In South Africa, for instance, all our advertising had to appear in not one, but three languages – English, Zulu and Xhosa. In the UK, we needed to replace NIVEA Creme’s blue tin with plastic packaging when we realised that British people associated the aluminium tins with shoe polish.

In cold countries like Austria, we emphasised our products’ ability to protect the skin from the snow, wind and rain. Meanwhile, the NIVEA Sun range and other products more suited to hotter climates were marketed much more heavily in countries like Australia. All of these practices continue to this day.

We also made a point of creating products tailored to the skincare needs of people in different countries long before this became the norm. In the 1930s, for example, we saw that there was a huge demand in Asia for skincare products that could lighten the skin. So we created NIVEA Whitening Paste, which was an instant success. Even now, NIVEA products with whitening ingredients remain our biggest sellers throughout Asia.

Today, NIVEA is one of the world’s most trusted brands. Our products are available everywhere, from the far reaches of the Australian outback to the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains. 

Yet most people in the countries in which our products are sold see NIVEA as a local brand, which is surely the highest compliment we could ever hope to receive from our fans. We look forward to bringing NIVEA to you and to people all over the world for the next 100 years and beyond.

1924

When people of all ages began spending more and more of their leisure time outdoors, the previous beauty ideal of paleness and fragility gave way to a completely new look. Fresh, fit and healthy was now the way to go. Times had changed so decisively that we knew NIVEA needed to change, too. But while our creative team worked hard to transform our product designs, it was a chance encounter that led to the birth of our new advertising campaign. 

Our Head of Advertising, Juan Gregorio Clausen, was strolling through Hamburg when he passed by a photographer's shop. Hanging in the window was a photo of three happy, cheeky and fresh-faced young brothers: Rolf-Robert, Peter and Wilhelm Wiethüchter. Juan knew instantly that this clean and wholesome family image captured the essence of the new NIVEA perfectly. So after we acquired the rights to the photo from the boys’ parents, the Wiethüchters became the new stars of our advertising in 1924. The campaign was a huge hit, and the brothers were soon greeted with cries of “Hello NIVEA!” wherever they went. And that wasn’t the only attention the boys received. 

Soon after our campaign launched, we were inundated with fan mail from girls all over the country. Photos and letters streamed in, filled with adoring sentiments like “We think that you are really cute!” and “It’s a pity that you do not want to marry us, we like you a lot!”. The campaign was such a success that it wasn’t long before the NIVEA Boys were joined by the NIVEA Girls…

The first boyband

The first boyband

NIVEA Girls 1925

NIVEA Girls 1925

The NIVEA Girls

Although reality TV shows like Idol, The X-Factor, The Apprentice or Top Model are commonplace today, these kinds of media-led talent quests were unheard of back in 1925.

So when we placed an ad in a Berlin newspaper, announcing our nationwide search for three NIVEA Girls, it generated huge public excitement. Especially as we weren’t searching for glamorous models, but ordinary, everyday girls:

“We aren’t looking for great beauties, debutantes or young ladies with kiss curls. We’re looking for naturally pretty, healthy and clean-looking girls.”

One young mother, Mrs Fröhlich of Flensburg, north Germany, saw the ad and decided that her three daughters, Margot, Elfriede and Hertha, would be perfect. When their father heard about her plan, he made it clear that he didn’t want his daughters to be “advertising girls” – so Mum submitted their entry without telling him!

It was lucky for the girls that she did, because the Fröhlich sisters ended up beating more than 1,000 other girls to win the competition. And strangely enough, it turned out that the family wasn’t even familiar with NIVEA, as they’d just moved to Germany from Samoa, where our products weren’t available.

Happily, Mr Fröhlich came round to the idea of his daughters becoming our NIVEA Girls, and they went on to star in our ads. And just like the NIVEA Boys before them, it wasn’t long before the Fröhlich sisters were greeted with happy cries of “Hello NIVEA!” wherever they went.

NIVEA Sun, Sand and Skincare

1958

By the 1960s, economic prosperity and rising car ownership saw more and more people take their holidays by the sea, and beach culture boomed. Once again, NIVEA was there to help people make the most of their time in the sun.

“NIVEA caravans” were a common sight at international resorts throughout the 1960s and 70s, and they gave away the now-iconic NIVEA balls to anyone who’d brought a NIVEA sun protection product to the beach. Demand for these balls was so great that sometimes our caravans didn’t even make it to the beach – they’d be mobbed on the street before they could get there!

It was also around this time that scientists first began establishing the link between sun exposure, skin cancer, and skin damage, such as premature ageing. These discoveries spurred our researchers to develop groundbreaking products that would protect people from these effects, and make it easier to enjoy the sun safely.

Over the next few decades, their breakthroughs led to a number of skincare innovations, including:

• Sunscreens with SPF, or sun protection factor
• Spray-on sunscreen 
• Moisturising sun creams, such as the NIVEA Sun Visage range
• Specialised products for children, babies and sensitive skin

There’s no doubt beach culture and sun products have changed over the years. But NIVEA’s aim has always been the same: to help people of all ages enjoy the sun, wherever and whenever they want.
 

1963

By the 1960s, the NIVEA ball had become a huge hit, and it remains popular to this day. We’ve produced more than 20 million balls over the last 40 years alone, and people around the world know it and love it.

And just like our skincare products, the NIVEA ball brings us closer to the people we love. That’s why this simple, inflatable rubber toy has been one of our most active and understated brand ambassadors for decades.

1975

“NIVEA caravans” were a common sight at international resorts throughout the 1960s and 70s, and they gave away the now-iconic NIVEA balls to anyone who’d brought a NIVEA sun protection product to the beach. Demand for these balls was so great that sometimes our caravans didn’t even make it to the beach – they’d be mobbed on the street before they could get there!

A Revolution in Skincare

1986

Now, it’s common to walk into the chemist and see rows of men’s skincare products. But 90 years ago, men’s skincare consisted of little more than soap and water. Yet men have just as many skincare needs as women, if not more. 

There was an obvious gap in the market. So in 1922, we introduced our first product for men, NIVEA Shaving Soap, followed a few years later by our first shaving foam. These products finally gave men the creamier shaving experience they had been searching for. 

But there were more unique needs to address. And in 1980, we set another trend by releasing our alcohol-free After Shave Balm. For the first time, men had an affordable and widely available aftershave that soothed and relieved the irritation of shaving, rather than adding to it. It was an instant success and led to a revolution in men’s skincare.

What we had proved was that men really wanted and needed their own products. And in 1986, we granted their wish. No longer would men have to use products that belonged to their wives, sisters or mothers. Now they could use NIVEA for Men, a range of skincare products just for them.

From creams to electric razors. From oil control to anti-ageing. From face scrubs to body washes. The line-up of NIVEA for Men products has multiplied since that first jar of shaving soap. And it will continue to evolve as the skincare needs of men evolve.

1998

In 1998, the first NIVEA cream with Q10 hit the market, and its effectiveness made it a huge success. As Dr Stäb said, “Scientific tests with our Q10 creams clearly prove that they noticeably smooth wrinkles.” Over 20 years ago one of NIVEA’s leading biologist began researching the skincare ingredients. Discovering that ageing skin had less Q10 it lead to the creation of NIVEA Visage.


Today, a NIVEA Q10 product is bought every few seconds, and our NIVEA Visage Anti-Wrinkle Q10 Day Cream has become one of our bestselling anti-wrinkle creams. Now, products with enriched with Q10 can be found across all our relevant categories, from NIVEA For Men to NIVEA Sun. 

2011/2014

When NIVEA was born 100 years ago, almost all of our research was conducted by just three people: Dr Oscar Troplowitz, Prof. Paul Gerson Unna and Dr Isaac Lifschütz.

Things couldn’t be more different today. We now employ more than 850 scientists, and our Skin Research Centre in Hamburg is recognised as one of world’s most advanced skincare institutes.

“Skin research has always been part of our formula for success,” says Dr Horst Wenck, our Corporate Vice President for Research. “That’s obvious when you look at how we’ve developed.

“One of our first achievements was the development of the stable water-in-oil emulsion, Eucerit, which was the basis for NIVEA Creme. And NIVEA Creme took us into the age of modern skincare.”

Over the years, our dedication to research led to many skincare advances that are taken for granted today. Skin cream, body lotion, SPF sunscreen, alcohol-free aftershave, the pump-action spray, skincare for mature skin, anti-ageing products with Q10 – all these and more were launched by NIVEA.

But before you can invent groundbreaking products like these, says Dr Wenck, you have to ask the right questions.

“On one hand, we look at consumer preferences – what are people’s skincare expectations and needs? On the other hand, we conduct research into every single aspect of the skin. So based on what we know about the skin, we ask: what will support or stimulate the skin’s natural processes?

“The combination of these two aspects makes it possible for us to create new and genuinely innovative skincare products.”

Developing a new product is a painstaking process that requires years of research. Because while we all want products that make us feel good in our skin, our individual skincare needs are determined by many factors – including our skin type, race, gender, age and culture, as well as where we live.

That’s why every NIVEA product is tested on many different people, in a wide range of situations, before it goes on sale.

On top of this, all of our products must withstand a barrage of safety and effectiveness tests. Even seemingly minor details, such as how easily a product can be opened or closed, face extensive testing.

And because we’re against all forms of animal testing, all of our research is carried out on our wonderful volunteer testers, or by using advanced lab techniques like cell culture tests.

As Dr Wenck said, “It can take three, five, or more years from the initial product idea to its market launch. You can’t compromise on quality.”

According to Dr Wenck, the future of skincare promises to be “just as exciting as the last 100 years have been. We’re already working on a new generation of active ingredients that will take skin research into the next dimension.”

What will be the next skincare breakthrough? Only time will tell…

NIVEA Invisible Black and White Deodorant

In Shower Body Lotion

Today and Tomorrow

For 100 YEARS we have created skincare products which means NIVEA understands skin like no one else, for any person, male or female and for any skin type – NIVEA for life.


Our skin lets us feel the breeze of the wind, the warmth of the sun and the touch of the people we love.

Our skin tells others how we feel. We blush when we are paid a compliment. We get goose bumps when we are frightened. And our skin is never more radiant than when we are happy.

NIVEA understands skin like no one else. That’s why we create products that cleanse, nourish and protect your skin, while giving it exactly what it needs – gentle yet effective care that keeps your skin smooth, supple and radiantly beautiful.

No matter what you do, or where you live, we’re here to help you enjoy better skincare for life.

Whether you’re male or female.

Young or old.

Fair or dark.

Oily or dry.

Sensitive or normal.

Or anything in between.

We care for all your skin.

For life.