In 1880, Paul C. Beiersdorf from Brandenburg – the man who gave his name to the Company – moved to Hamburg and took over a chemist's shop in the city's Mühlenstrasse. Putting his skills and knowledge of physics to use, he soon built a laboratory and offered his services to doctors.
Working in close cooperation with Prof. Paul Gerson Unna, a leading dermatologist of the time, he developed a process to manufacture medical plasters, and registered his first patent for it. The date of the patent specification – March 28, 1882 – is considered to be the foundation date of the company. Beiersdorf sold the chemist's shop a year later, and moved the laboratory to Altona, which is now part of the city of Hamburg.
The pharmacist Dr. Oscar Troplowitz acquired the laboratory from Paul C. Beiersdorf in 1890 and quickly expanded it into a leading branded goods company. In 1892, he built a new factory in Eimsbüttel, the site of the company's headquarters to this day. The facility manufactured consumer goods brands such as Labello and NIVEA, as well as plasters and pharmaceutical products.
Troplowitz was a true entrepreneur: he was both customer- and market-oriented and thought in international terms from the outset. At the same time, he took care to ensure the further development of his products on a sound scientific footing. He continued Paul C. Beiersdorf's cooperation with Prof. Paul Gerson Unna and recruited the chemist Dr. Isaac Lifschütz at Unna's recommendation. Lifschütz was the inventor of the emulsifier Eucerit, the basic ingredient and key to the unique properties of NIVEA Creme.
The still relatively young company's international success began in 1893, with a contract with the US trading company Lehn & Fink.
In 1906, Troplowitz's brother-in-law, Dr. Hanns Mankiewicz, became a partner in the Company. Mankiewicz primarily focused on trademark issues at the Company. He was a founder member of the "Verband der Fabrikanten von Markenartikeln" – now the "Markenverband" (German Brands Association) – of which Beiersdorf has been a member since 1905.
Troplowitz and Mankiewicz's most significant achievement at that time was to create the brands that are so famous today, such as Labello (1909) and NIVEA (1911).
Driven by innovation, they created branded goods of consistently reliable quality and real benefit to a broad range of consumers. Troplowitz was convinced that this would be a successful concept for the future. He saw great opportunities for cosmetic care products in particular. This work laid the foundations for the Company's strategic orientation today.
Following the deaths of Dr. Oscar Troplowitz and Dr. Mankiewicz in 1918, the Company first of all became a private limited liability company and then, on June 1, 1922, a public limited company. This was the start of its steady development into an international enterprise and at the same time of its establishment and expansion as a leading manufacturer of branded skin and beauty care products.