How NIVEA protects your skin against sun damage
Sunshine is generally good for our wellbeing. The sun’s rays promote the production of the happiness hormone serotonin, so the sun makes us happy. Sun rays give us a beautiful glow and stimulate the skin’s vitamin D production, which is particularly important for bone stability and our health in general. But so called UVA and UVB rays in sunlight can also have negative effects on our skin. UVB rays penetrate the upper layer of the skin and are responsible for painful sunburn. Because of their high energy levels, UVB rays can directly damage DNA which in the worst case can lead to skin cancer. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply. Although we are usually not aware of them because they aren’t painful, they form free radicals which are able to damage cells and DNA which may lead to skin cancer. UVA-induced free radical stress can lead to allergies and skin ageing: about 80% of wrinkles are caused by UVA light!
That’s why we have to enjoy sun responsibly and with sufficient sun protection. One of the most common means of protection is to apply sunscreen products. Thanks to the innovative strength of the research and development departments, NIVEA took a pioneering role in sun protection products (first official NIVEA sun protection cream was launched in 1936!) and is today the world's no. 1 sun care brand*
Our NIVEA sunscreen products contain UV filters which are essential to help you protect your skin against the adverse effects of sunlight. In general, there are two types of UV filters: Organic (also called chemical) UV filters absorb the UV rays and transform energy into heat. Sunscreens containing organic UV filters can have benefits like easy application or transparent formulas. Besides organic filters, there are also mineral (or in other words - physical) UV filters. They consist of tiny particles that form kind of a shield when you apply the sunscreen. UV rays are reflected by this shield so they cannot harm your skin. However, products that contain only mineral UV filters are less easy to spread on the skin than products that contain organic UV filters only or in which combinations of organic and mineral UV filters are used. Sunscreens containing only mineral UV filters tend to leave behind a faint whitish film which will vary in thickness depending on the sun protection factor.
To ensure reliable sun protection and the most pleasant experience on each usage occasion, NIVEA offers sunscreen products with either organic UV filters only, or with a combination of mineral and organic UV filters.
*Source: Euromonitor International Limited; NIVEA in the category Sun Care, incl. Sun Protection, Aftersun and Self-Tanning; in retail value terms, 2018 data
Sun screens and the coral reefs
NIVEA is committed to reduce any negative impact on the environment, including coral reefs – one of the most diverse marine ecosystems. Approximately one quarter of all ocean species depend on reefs. It is well known that the survival of coral reefs around the world is under threat by various factors. The factors contributing to coral decline are complex and wide-ranging. Two primary causes are considered to be temperature anomalies and extreme weather conditions related to global climate change. Local factors such as land-based pollution caused by coastal development and agriculture, unsustainable fishing practices and an increasing number of invasive, coral-damaging species play a key role as well.
According to recent studies that investigated on corals under laboratory conditions, specific UV-filters – primarily oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) and octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) – are suspected to accelerate coral bleaching. As of 2021, sun protection products containing these chemical UV filters will be banned in Hawaii.
We have never used oxybenzone in our European NIVEA sunscreen products as this UV filter does not meet the high standards we set for our sunscreens. Octinoxate has been eliminated from all European NIVEA sun protection products as early as 2016. That means that all European NIVEA sunscreen products were already compliant with the Hawaiian Reef Bill even before its passage in 2018.
NIVEA only uses UV filters which have been considered safe for consumers and the environment by the appropriate regulatory agencies. We are assessing our portfolio of ingredients for their possible effects on the environment. New ingredients must meet our stringent standards and we would not implement ingredients if current scientific knowledge and subsequent environmental risk assessments in relation to our products show them to be harmful to the environment.
Research into UV filters and their environmental impact is still in its early stages, however, and has so far mainly been conducted in laboratories. There is therefore no scientific clarity as yet on the extent to which UV filters impact coral reefs and the wider marine environment under real life conditions.
We want to be in tune with the times and work with the latest findings to successfully drive more sustainable innovations: Therefore we are intensively exchanging with scientists, sustainability experts and our suppliers to help us improve and ensure the environmental compatibility of our NIVEA sunscreen products.