When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Economy

Timeless Beauty Cream: At 100, Germany's Nivea Is Looking Better Than Ever

Cosmetics that have become iconic have three things in common: a strong character, useable on face, hands and body, and they never leave celebrities' make-up bags. Here are the secret of creams passed down from mother to daughter.

Clotilde Briard

Nivea's circular blue tin can sits in many bathrooms around the world. Nivea cream is indeed a global best-seller: 100 million units are sold each year. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, it has engraved a long-lasting success. The original composition of the cream remains the same a century later, with the only visible change is the container. It used to be a yellow, with an ornament inspired by Art Nouveau. Still, already by 1925, it acquired its present colors and basic design.

"It is the first modern cream," affirms without hesitation Sébastien Blaise, France's marketing manager for Beiersdorf, the holding company that owns Nivea. When the cream was created, it was sold in pharmacies, and people were first surprised because it could be preserved for longer periods of time than the other cosmetics thanks to an emulsifier called Eurecit, and without the need for artificial preservatives.

Today, the 100-year-old product styles itself as one of the oldest cosmetic offerings, while the cosmetic branch launches new products one after the other praising the latest technical innovations. But Nivea Cream is far from being the only cosmetic product that still exists without aging. Nutrix, a nourishing and conditioning cream created by Lancôme in 1926, is another.

Long-lasting successes are often due to a great storyline, with Eight Hour Cream by Elizabeth Arden, launched in 1930, a perfect example. The woman who invented this product first used it as an ointment for her racehorses' legs. And the legend says that a regular customer applied it on her child's scratched knee and she noticed that 8 hours later, the sore was healed. That story earned Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream, made out of salicylic acid, vitamin E and petrolatum, the nickname "miracle balm." Since then, the cream is part of a whole range and its small pink-colored container was replaced by an portable tube.

A great classic must also know how to stand out. Dior's Apricot Cream, which encourages nail growth and improves nail strength since 1963, has a nourishing texture as well as a unique color and fruity scent.

These leading products of today and yesterday have one thing in common: an ability to cut across generational divides. "People have always bought these creams, especially families. These products have a touch of secrecy, as well as a motherly and tender side", argues Martine Leherpeur, a top manager for luxury and beauty group Hélène Capgras.

"Nivea Cream is a product that is very often passed down from mother to daughter", confirms Beiersdorf France and Belgium's chairwoman Helen Willems. And that explains why 2 out of 3 households in France buy it. Moreover, this year's limited series is illustrated with close-ups of groups that feature parents, children, men and women. "That blue can does not age because it reminds us of the episodes of our lives, it evokes a ritual and it shows some complicity," says Dragon Rouge agency's sociologist Sophie Grenier. "Everyone has known it forever and it symbolizes our link with the past."

Read the original article in French.

Photo - Brian

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest