Biodegradation is a natural and balanced process that ensures a circular flow of materials in nature. We observe it every fall when trees shed their leaves, which then become forest soil and vital nutrients over the following months. However, modern, non-biodegradable materials often disrupt this process and the natural cycle.

Therefore, guaranteeing biodegradability is one of our priorities when developing skincare formulas. By using biodegradable ingredients, we ensure that materials can return to nature without leaving behind any traces that the environment cannot break down itself. To evaluate the biodegradability of our formulations, we employ analytical methods according to the OECD or equivalent guidelines.


The benefits of biodegradable skincare products become apparent when you consider a rinse-off category, such as body cleansing. Think about the amount of product you wash off your skin and down the shower drain. Once used, water is sent to wastewater treatment plants, where cleaning processes emulate the natural biodegradation process. A biodegradable skincare product facilitates wastewater treatment and ensures that only harmless substances enter our water systems.

To improve the biodegradability of our formulations, NIVEA decided as early as 2013 to phase out exfoliating particles made of polyethylene, often referred to as microbeads in cosmetics. Since the end of 2015, all NIVEA peelings have been microbead-free, and since 2020, all NIVEA rinse-off products, such as shower gels and shampoos, have been free of any microplastics, according to the United Nations Environmental Program’s (UNEP) definition. Instead, we use environmentally friendly alternatives. Most importantly, NIVEA products will be microplastic-free by the end of 2021, according to UNEP’s definition.


The discussion about microplastics has also expanded, to some extent, to include substances that have fundamentally different properties. The ingredients in question are polymers, which are either dissolved in water or gel-like. They are sometimes referred to as “liquid microplastics”, a term that is not only misleading but also not scientifically sound. Used in small quantities as thickeners, stabilizers, or film formers, they provide a variety of product benefits, such as improved water resistance in sunscreens or better hair smoothening results in shampoos. But according to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), these polymers are not microplastics.

Whatever they are called and regardless of their purpose, all polymers used by NIVEA must meet the highest safety requirements. Therefore, they are very well tolerated by the skin and are non-allergenic. NIVEA promises that, by the end of 2025, all polymers used in our European formulations will be biodegradable. For us, biodegradability is crucial in order to exclude possible negative impacts on ecosystems.


Our shower assortment is the highlight of our biodegradable skincare range. Most of your favourite products, as well as our new Naturally Good and Fresh Blends Shower products, are already well above 95 percent biodegradable. Look for this symbol to make sure your shower products are just as gentle on your skin as they are on the environment.

- Explore our shower assortment



Our Naturally Good wipes are another excellent example of biodegradable skincare at NIVEA. The formulations of our wipes achieve up to 95 percent biodegradability. Moreover, our Naturally Good cleansing wipes consist of viscose fibers, a 100-percent plant-based material, which is biodegradable. We paid close attention to selecting a sustainable viscose. Its production leads to a 50-percent reduction in water use and emissions compared to generic viscose. It is our goal to offer you 100% biodegradable wipes in the future, which is why we are working hard to improve the formulations of our 95 percent biodegradable face or make up wipes even further.

- Explore our face cleansing wipes


We want to be 100 percent transparent and answer all your questions about sustainability at NIVEA. If you could not find the answers you were looking for on this website, or are looking for more detailed information, please visit the sustainability website of NIVEA’s parent company, Beiersdorf .