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An ode to German Nivea Creme

What it is: German Nivea Creme (made in Hamburg)

The scent and texture: As most skincare junkies will be able to tell you, classic Nivea features a distinctive scent and thick texture. I find the scent to be comforting (rather than overwhelming), though, and it does fade — unlike with some skincare culprits, you don’t have to worry about it hanging around all day! The heavy feel of German Nivea “fades” as well; that is, it sinks in quickly and doesn’t sit on the skin the way the American version does.

The results: I’m not totally sure how the scientists at Nivea managed it those many years ago, but they somehow formulated an awesome, super-hydrating creme that doesn’t feel like condensed grossness. (That’s a technical term, for the record.) It’s the most moisturizing cream that I’ve ever tried, leaving my skin feeling comfortable and hydrated, and yet it still manages to sink into the skin to leave a satiny finish (rather than an oily one).

So… I suppose the big question is, “how is this different from the American Nivea that I can pick up at almost any drugstore?” In my opinion, the slight reformulation makes the two VERY different. So much so that I’ve decided to compile a list of the ways that they’re different! Because I love lists and will make them at the slightest provocation will do anything for my readers. Of course.

The ingredients

  • American Nivea ingredients: Water, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum, Glycerine, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Paraffin, Panthenol, Magnesium Sulfate, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearates, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Methylchloroisothiazoline, Methylisothiazolinone.
  • German Nivea ingredients: Aqua, paraffinum liquidum, cera microcristalline, glycerin, lanolin alcohol, paraffin, panthenol, decyl oleate, octyldodecanol, aluminum stearates, citric acid, magnesium sulfate, magnesium stearate, parfum, limonene, geraniol, hydroxycitronellol, linalool, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, cinnamyl alcohol.
  • Note that the German formula is not actually a supercomplex in comparison, but that chemicals like citronellol and linalool are categorized under “fragrance” in the US version due to different FDA requirements.

The subtle differences

  • The scent of American Nivea is slightly sharper
  • After a few months, American Nivea will start to “clump up” (it gets harder, and has a more slick feel to it) but German Nivea stays creamy
  • American Nivea “sweats” more in hot conditions, whereas German Nivea “liquefies” (the product maintains an even consistency throughout, and that consistency is a softer one)

The major differences

  • American Nivea is harder to spread onto the skin, and many find it needs to be warmed up in your hands and then patted on; German Nivea liquefies slightly upon contact (in other words, it spreads on easily 100% of the time, despite its thick texture)
  • American Nivea leaves my skin shiny, and it stays that way; German Nivea leaves a bit of a sheen at first but sinks in to a more satiny finish within a few minutes
  • American Nivea is fairly hydrating, but I find German Nivea to be even moreso!

The verdict? If you’re a dry skin sufferer like me, I’d definitely recommend finding some German Nivea. Yes, it can be a bit of a pain to track down, but it’s one of the best cremes (if not the very best one) that I’ve tried for dry skin. Plus, it’s silicone- and paraben-free, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg – expect to pay just a few dollars extra for the German stuff, whether that’s from an import shop around your place or an online importer.

Online availability: Smallflower (250ml/400ml), Amazon.com (400ml), Au Marché (75ml/150ml)

(Please note that I have not verified any of these sellers; I was lucky enough to have a few family members bring me Nivea after trips to Europe!)

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  • Anna

    hi Rae! Have you ever seen the tins sold at London Drugs? I think they're also made in Germany too – The last time I bought one was 2 years ago. I think I'll have to go back now that it's officially winter (Calgary for me). I know it's not as sanitary but I love that this stuff comes in a big wide tin – there's no waste of hassle in scraping the last bits of the product!

    • You lucky girl!! :o I've heard of London Drugs carrying the German ones, but the ones in my area are all from Mexico and Thailand. I guess I'll have to take a trip down to Calgary when I run out!

      And pah, sanitary :P I figure that your hands and face have been freshly washed anyways, so it can't be getting *that* dirty!

  • makeupmorsels

    urghhh I hate American Nivea with a passion. I suppose I'd have to go online to track down the German one.
    My recent post New Year’s Eve 2010 EOTD

    • YES! You must. I very much dislike the American stuff as well – it's okayyyy, I suppose, but awful in comparison.

  • Nina

    Nothing, but seriously, nothing that I've ever tried in my life can compare to German Nivea. I grew up with it and it's like a miracle to me. I stopped using it for a couple months last winter and I paid a heavy price (dry and cracked up feet and hands with dryness lines). Ugh.

    • You grew up with it?! So jealous — I had to wait years and years before finding it! But damn, now I'm smitten :p

      Are you back with German Nivea now? (Sounds like your skin really misses/missed it!)

  • Nina

    Yeah it really did. I'm back now and my skin is back to normal, I'm happy =) My grandmother always used it and I'm very glad she handed me the tub one very cold winter ;)

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  • Rachelle

    ahh, the links provided don’t ship to canada :(. bummer.

    • Rae Chen

      Aww, sorry about that! :( Perhaps try one of these if you’re desperate? :s

  • Lisi

    So glad that I live in Hamburg ;)

  • val

    OH HI RAE. It's Val! Haven't talked to you in awhile. Just wanted to say that i was at some asian supermarket and i went by the "beauty" section of it and they had a bunch of these and i thought of you and i checked the back and they were made in germany and i was like, RAE LIKES THIS. and so i convinced my mom to buy me one.
    And it's AMAZING. so thanks for sharing :D

    • O HAI VAL! :p I'm so glad that you're enjoying your German Nivea – and I'm touched that you tried it simply on my recommendation! < 3

  • Melody

    Does anyone use this for their face? I was never aware of there being 2 versions of the creme, so I checked my own tub and stock in our Australian stores and we only have the German version :)

    • AHHH I'm so jealous! :)

      This review was intended to refer to using it as a facial moisturizer, not a body one – though I'm sure that would be lovely, too! German Nivea has been my go-to facial moisturizer for… about a year, now, and I love it just as much as I did the very first time I gave it a go. Fantastic, fantastic stuff!

      • Melody

        Oh! Thanks for confirming Rae :) it's commonly found in the 'body' section of our pharmacies.. I'll now give it a try on my face – how exciting to know it's so versatile!

        • Np! I hope you like it : ) It does take some getting used to, as it's a heavier moisturizer, but it leaves my skin so soft and hydrated – it's fantastic!

  • Anna-Sophie

    Spread the Nivea love! I'm German and the signature blue tin has always been a staple in my bathroom. My parents would smother my face in Nivea when I was a kid, and even 20 years later, I still love it. These days, I mostly use it on my body as I have combination skin, but it takes care of dry spots and flaky patches like nobody's business.

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  • Sarah

    I know this is very very late of me to comment here, but I was wondering if I could use this on my undereye? I have very, very dry skin on my undereye due to my skin asthma and I was wondering if it is safe to use on that part of my face.

    • I use it all over my face (including the undereye), and it works just fine for me! :) Some people do have troubles with milia in conjunction with heavier moisturizers in the eye area, though, so keep an eye out for that.

  • Yoha

    I love this product…:-)

  • Amy Pond

    …the only evidence you provide of the difference is anecdotal. Hardly convincing.

    • Er, seriously? I don't think you can get much more convincing than an ingredients list (which, might I add, is hardly anecdotal.)

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  • yiyin

    can i use this creame for my face ?

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  • Louisa

    I have been using Nivea creme since i was about 12 i had very very dry skin and my auntie took me to Sorrento on holiday one year and she puled out the biggest tin and smeared it all over her face and neck,and said to me darling you have to let it drink into your skin,hear is a tin for you! i was delighted and ive been using Nivea classic creme ever since im 35 now and ppl say i look in my 20s,,ive now passed it onto my daughter and she loves using it also..oh and when im running low my husband gets me more i think hes scared if i stop using it ppl will say your wife has aged Lol,,,Thank you Nivea xGermany .

  • Paul

    Don't laugh ladies, but I use this wonderful German based product for my auto leather upholstery! Leather is skin so why not try it, as was shared to me by a Porsche club enthusiast. I have used in my SLK Mercedes and GS Lexus and it's absolutely the best product kept secret to share with your male friends. It doesn't take much and leaves the leather as well conditioned as the ladies skin. No KIdding. So now the wife and I have to share. 👍