wheat in a field

Biodegradable Skincare

What is Biodegradable Skincare?

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, non-biodegradable materials often disrupt this process and the natural cycle.

Thus, the term biodegradable skincare refers to products that are made from ingredients that can be broken down by bacteria and other living organisms, leaving no harmful residue and helping to prevent pollution.

Therefore, 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 biodegradable 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 are microplastic-free since the end of 2021, according to UNEP’s definition.
plant under the sun

Biodegradable Skincare Ingredients

Biodegradable skincare ingredients are derived from natural, organic, and renewable materials that decompose harmlessly into the environment. Here are some examples of:

- Plant-based oils, such as coconut oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil are rich in nutrients and help moisturise and nourish the skin.

- Herbs and botanicals, such as chamomile, aloe vera, and lavender extract, are often found in biodegradable skincare products and have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

- Essential oils, derived from plants and herbs, are used in skincare for their fragrance and skin-beneficial properties. Examples include tea tree oil, which has antimicrobial properties, and lavender oil, which has calming and soothing effects.

- Natural exfoliants, such as sugar, salt, and ground nuts, are commonly used in biodegradable skincare products to gently exfoliate the skin.

Additionally we also have biodegradable ingredients that are from a synthetic source that have been designed to be environmental friendly.

Benefits of Biodegradable Skincare Products

Using biodegradable skincare products comes with a multitude of benefits for both you and the environment. Biodegradable skincare has a lower environmental impact since they are made from natural, renewable materials that can easily decompose, and they are more sustainable than traditional skincare products. These sustainable products are made from materials that can be replenished over time, allowing you to use them without leaving any traces behind in the environment.
 In addition to being kind to the planet, biodegradable skincare products are also designed to be gentle on your skin. They're made with consciously chosen ingredients that do not irritate or dry out the skin, making them a great choice for those with sensitive skin or those looking for a mild yet effective skincare routine.
 Overall, they provide a safe, sustainable alternative to traditional skincare products, perfect for those concerned about the impact of their beauty routine on the environment and their own health.


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 biodegradable 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 all 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.