Until the early 1900s, most people spent their leisure time indoors. Tans were considered to be unsophisticated and lower class, as only labourers and other manual workers tended to spend enough time outdoors to get them.
All that changed in the 1920s, when the post-war zest for life saw people of all ages and backgrounds head outdoors – and where possible, to the beach – in their spare time. And when Coco Chanel was snapped with a suntan in 1923, it heralded the dawn of a new era. Looking bronzed and brown was officially ‘in’.
Of course, this was before people were aware of the link between sun exposure and skin damage. Even so, we were dedicated to helping people avoid one nasty side-effect that many people were already all too familiar with: sunburn.
With this in mind, our ads began emphasising NIVEA Creme’s ability to protect skin from sunburn and provide soothing after-sun care. Many also contained information to help people enjoy their time in the sun more safely, such as weather forecasts or advice about protecting skin even on cloudy days. And we released the world’s first sunscreen, NIVEA Ultra-Oil, way back in 1936.
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.