6 Things You Didn’t Know About Nivea

In the world of beauty, we are always looking for the next big thing, but sometimes, some of the best solutions are things that have been around forever. Cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos shares some lesser-known secrets about Nivea (you’ll never guess it’s been around for more than a century!) and it’s one skin care staple that has an interesting story to tell.

It’s More Than 100 Years Old
That’s right, the Nivea Crème formulation is more 100 years old (almost 106, to be exact), as it launched in 1911.

Even Its Name Has a Story
The name Nivea comes from the feminine form of the Latin adjective meaning snow-covered or snow-white, which is a reference to the bright-white color of Nivea Crème.

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It Hasn’t Changed All That Much
We are forever looking for never-before-seen formulas in beauty, but this is one product that feels it got it right, right from inception. “Except for a few small changes to fragrance and preservatives to meet changing consumer and regulatory trends, the product’s efficacy and popularity have stood the test of time,” Dobos says.

It Has a Really Unique Formulation—Even by Today’s Standards
According to Dobos, most body moisturizers are a type of emulsion called oil in water (O/W). The majority of these lotions are water, about 70 to 80 percent.” Nivea cream is different; it is a water-in-oil emulsion (W/O) where the oil phase comprises a much larger portion of the emulsion. A W/O emulsion can pack in a higher concentration of emollient ingredients to bolster the skin’s barrier properties and provide long-lasting hydration. But W/O emulsions are more difficult to stabilize.”

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It Was Born in the Pharmacy
Like many successful cosmetics, the Nivea brand has roots in the science of pharmacy. Dr. Oskar Troplowitz recognized the powerful emulsifying and moisturizing properties of lanolin, which he referred to as Eucerit, and the first stable water-in-oil emulsion for mass production was born in 1911.

It Has a Sheep Source—and Even Wrote a Book About It
It’s not the only beauty product that uses lanolin or wool wax as a key ingredient, but it’s probably the only one that wrote a book about it. (Lanolin is secreted from the sebaceous gland of sheep and forms a protective, waterproof layer on the individual wool fibers.) “Sheep must be shorn periodically to prevent their fleece from becoming to heavy,” Dobos says. “Lanolin is obtained from washing of the shorn fleece so it is natural and renewable. The concentration of raw wool wax can vary from 5 to 25 percent of the shorn fleece. Beirsdorf, Nivea’s parent company, has even published an entire book based on years of research into the properties of lanolin and its derivatives.”

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