Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Drinking the Nivea Creme Koolaid

Just a few weeks ago, I was completely ignorant to the wonders  of (German) Nivea Creme. 

I did not know that Nivea's German formula was compared to that of (in)famous Creme de La Mer (CdLM), nor was I interested then. Because, you see, both Nivea Creme and CdLM contained mineral oil. Although I'm aware that mineral oil is noncomedogenic (doesn't clog pores) and is actually quite suitable for sensitive skin, I was interested in products that used natural moisturizers  that do cool things like treat ageing skin or acne (i.e. rosehip oil, squalane, etc). I'm kinda hippie that way. ;)

But while packing for my Canada trip, I quickly realized that it wouldn't matter what anti-aging magical moisturizer I slap on my face if it was a dry, flaky mess. I suspected none of the moisturizers in my arsenal were suited to the task. Being a Californian, I have never bought a winter moisturizer before. People who own winter moisturizers are those who probably experience seasons and know how to layer (But do they know how to pair all their outfits with flip-flops? I think not). 

Being the total amateur that I am, I literally googled "Winter moisturizer" and "Canada winter moisturizer." After picking through some of the search results, I came across an entry of Rae's from 2010 that sang the moisturizing virtues of Nivea Creme. She sold it to me better than Rhianna!

From Rae, I learned:
  • The American formula was different from the German one. The American formula contains petrolatum and preservatives. The German one does not. 
  • The German formula is superior. 
  • The German one is hard to find in North America. Damn!
And just like that, I joined the German Nivea cult. I was a woman on a mission. I probably did hundreds of searches for German Nivea. I searched for local suppliers. I didn't want to buy it online after hearing reports that people who paid for the German Nivea actually received the Thai Nivea (yet another different formula!) While on the other side of the continent, I sent my partner on a Nivea-finding mission. 

"Make sure the label says 'Made in Germany.' They're not all the same," I nagged. Poor lad drove to three different drugstore chains before realizing I gave him an impossible task.

The night before my flight to Ottawa, I finally located German Nivea Creme at a German beer garden with an attached gift shop selling imported German goods. Unsuprisingly, I was beaming all night.

Ingredients: Aqua, paraffinum liquidum, cera microcristalline, glycerin, lanolin alcohol (Eucerit), paraffin, panthenol, decyl oleate, octyldodecanol, aluminum stearates, citric acid, magnesium sulfate, magnesium stearate, parfum, limonene, geraniol, hydroxycitronellol, linalool, citronellol, benzyl benzoate, cinnamyl alcohol

Experience: It is a thick white cream with a ubiquitous scent (you'll know it when you smell it). A lot of reviewers suggest warming the Creme between the fingers before patting it on. But I do not find the cream difficult to spread, so instead I squeeze out a pea-sized dollop on my finger and dot it all over my face like chicken pox and then rub it in. I usually apply the Creme after my serum,which is quite liquidy. I find that I have to wait until the serum is dried or else it takes more effort to spread the cream into the skin. It spreads most easily on a dry surface, which makes this awesome for dry skin sufferers! I agree with Rae's claim that the product "liquifies" upon contact. In fact, when I spread it out, the cream even feels watery. 

For my combination skin, I find it takes about 20 minutes for the cream to settle into the skin. It leaves my skin baby-soft, even in the face of the dry winter air. I enjoy using it under my sunscreen during day and as a night cream. I even got my partner in on the routine! It also helps alleviate my dry peeling hands (ew). It's a multi-tasker, this one. But I like it best as a face cream. I prefer greasier moisturizers for my body.

I believe that it would be an awesome day cream for normal to dry skin types and a night cream for all skin types, especially in the winter. The ingredients seem suitable for sensitive skin, though lanolin is comedogenic. As always, excercise caution when testing products (what works for me might not be good for you).
I don't expect to continue using it when I return to the States, as my regular routine will suffice (as will sweatshirts instead of puffy coats). I'll probably pass it onto my partner, he enjoys using it (and even likes the smell). But if I move to a chilly place next year, I definitely see myself whipping it out again as a skincare staple. 

Cost-effectiveness: I paid $5.55 (plus tax) for an 100mL tube, which is a bargain for a face moisturizer. 

Availability: I purchased German Nivea Creme at Gourmet Haus Staudt Gifts & Cafe in Redwood City. They also sold a larger sized tin for around $6, but I purchased a tube for hygienic reasons. The Brit Shoppe in San Francisco sells larger tins, but it seems the mark-up is higher. Non-Bay Area people can look to Smallflower to purchase the German version online. If you're insistent on the German one, avoid Amazon as it seems (from the reviews) that some shops that advertise German Nivea could ship you something else. Likely, shops that import German products would have Nivea. Check these places first if you want to buy this at a retail location.

Have you tried Nivea before? Love it, hate it, or curious? Your thoughts!
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