The short answer: No, NIVEA is not entirely cruelty free.
The long answer: Beiersdorf Global AG, the company that owns NIVEA (as well as Aquaphor), states that it does not conduct product tests on animals. When you visit its Australian website, it states, “We believe animal testing is not required to prove the safety and effectiveness of our products.”
However, because NIVEA is being sold worldwide, the company needs to comply with each country’s rules and regulations. Beiersdorf Global AG explains, “In China, however, animal testing is mandated by law for the official registration and certification of the safety of certain product categories. In this case, the tests are conducted by local institutions authorised by the state [and] not by the companies selling the product. Our goal is to convince these authorities that animal testing for cosmetic products is unnecessary and to advocate for the international acceptance of alternative testing methods.”
To replace animal testing, Beiersdorf Global AG claims it is working towards the development and recognition of alternative testing methods with external partners such as the European cosmetics association, Cosmetics Europe, and the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing. It elaborates on its UK website: “In the past 35 years, important advancements in the development of new alternative methods have already been achieved. Some of these methods gained international acceptance by the OECD – and the development of further methods are in the process. For example, Beiersdorf fosters the development of so-called ‘organ-on-a-chip’ technologies. These systems integrate several human cell and tissue types and emulate the human biology at a small scale, extending the options to assess possible effects on the human body in vitro to ultimately ensure safe products.”
Until NIVEA stops selling its personal care products in countries that allow animal testing, we cannot fully consider it as a cruelty free brand since third parties can perform random tests of their finished products on animals.