Urea in Skincare: What Is It, Advantages and How To Use

Pores and skin that’s properly cared for is supple, gentle to the touch, and radiant. In case your complexion isn’t there but regardless of all the trouble you set into your skincare routine, you might be lacking a significant ingredient. Right here’s the place hydration-boosting humectants come to rescue dry, dehydrated complexions. As they pull moisture from the atmosphere into the pores and skin, they’re a necessity to take care of a hydrated and plumped look. Higher nonetheless, select the most effective of the bunch and search for urea in skincare formulations. As we’ll see, urea is an actual multitasking pores and skin hero; it’s not solely efficient at restoring moisture however packs a punch as an exfoliator, too.

What’s urea?

Urea – or carbamide, because it’s additionally identified – is an natural compound present in human tissues. The molecule was first remoted from urine, however urea is way from a waste product. The truth is, this beautifying compound is revered in dermatology for its uncommon twin powers of hydration and exfoliation. Oh, and also you’ll be glad to know that urea current in skincare merchandise is synthesized, not extracted from urine.[1]

How does urea profit the pores and skin?

Right here’s how urea can profit your pores and skin:


Hydration is important for sustaining the energy and elasticity of the pores and skin. As a hygroscopic (water-absorbing) molecule, urea is a essential part of the pure moisturizing issue (NMF) — a bunch of hygroscopic molecules accountable for the pores and skin’s capacity to retain moisture. NMF is a powerhouse complicated that does a whole lot of the heavy lifting in protecting our complexion dewy. It not solely attracts water into the stratum corneum (the highest layer of the pores and skin) but additionally helps it keep there.[2][3] The focus of urea (and NMF) in our pores and skin decreases as we age, although. This loss reduces our pores and skin’s water-binding capability, and the telltale indicators embody dryness, tightness, and fantastic strains. Happily, topical software of urea can replenish what’s misplaced over time and restore our pores and skin to a wholesome state.[4]


Sustaining a radiant complexion requires the common removing of useless cells from the pores and skin’s floor. Urea not solely hydrates but additionally acts as an efficient exfoliator, serving to to make clear pores and skin and proper uneven texture. At concentrations above 10%, urea has a keratolytic impact: it breaks down the glue-like hydrogen bonds that maintain cells collectively within the high layer of the pores and skin, encouraging the shedding of useless cells to disclose the contemporary, wholesome pores and skin beneath. Since this exfoliating motion is chemical moderately than mechanical, it’s each light and efficient.[5][6]


The acid mantle – the fantastic, barely acidic floor layer of the pores and skin – retains invaders like micro organism, viruses, and different irritating contaminants from penetrating our pores and skin. If the acid mantle is broken, the impaired barrier perform may cause many pores and skin issues.[5] As a part of the NMF, urea performs a vital function in strengthening the pores and skin barrier and defending in opposition to irritation. Urea additionally enhances the pores and skin’s defenses by regulating gene expression and inspiring the manufacturing of antimicrobial peptides within the high layer of the pores and skin.[3][4][7][8]


When you have dry pores and skin, urea is your magnificence BFF. The focus of urea is usually very low in dehydrated, chapped, and irritated pores and skin. Due to this fact, topical software of urea as an emollient and moisturizer is a soothing therapy for eczema, psoriasis, and different dry pores and skin situations. Urea is much more highly effective when utilized in tandem with different skin-repairing components because it enhances pores and skin penetration.[3][4][6][7]

How secure is urea?

Urea has been utilized in skincare for a very long time and boasts an incredible efficacy and security observe file. Urea-based merchandise are properly tolerated by most pores and skin varieties, although folks with delicate pores and skin ought to take care as excessive concentrations may cause irritation.[3][6]

How to make use of urea

Urea is added at totally different concentrations (as much as 40%) to supercharge a spread of skincare merchandise, from serums to lotions and lotions. How are you aware which one is best for you? First, take into account your pores and skin’s wants. Are you seeking to give your complexion a common enhance, or do you wish to goal a selected skincare concern? Do not forget that urea at decrease strengths (<10%) is a pores and skin moisturizer, whereas at greater doses (>10%), it begins exacerbating exfoliating results. Therefore, in case your pores and skin is on the delicate facet, it’s finest to stay to a focus of urea under 10%, whereas a focus of above 10% is appropriate for regular to dry and tough pores and skin. Something above 20% is used to deal with extra extreme pores and skin situations.[5] Final however not least, urea works in synergy with most skincare components. Search for formulations that comprise different humectants, corresponding to hyaluronic acid and glycerin, for immediate and long-lasting hydration. Additionally, it is best to apply occlusives like petrolatum and squalane after utilizing your urea product, particularly in case you stay in a low-humidity space. Utilizing humectants with out occlusives can truly improve transepidermal water loss, resulting in dehydration. Occlusives assist by forming a protecting movie on the pores and skin’s floor to scale back water evaporation. For this reason slugging is on the rampage now; it is best to strive it.


Girls’s Ideas makes use of dependable sources, together with dermatologists’ insights, scientific trials, and scientific journals, to search out correct info and help all of the info shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Learn our editorial coverage to study extra about our sources of knowledge, our means of researching and fact-checking the content material, and the way our group strives to maintain all articles up to date, accomplished, and reliable.

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  • Marini, A., Krutmann, J., Grether-Beck, S. (2012). Urea and Pores and skin: A Properly-Recognized Molecule Revisited. In: Lodén, M., Maibach, H. (eds) Remedy of Dry Pores and skin Syndrome. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  • Celleno L. Topical urea in skincare: A assessment. Dermatol Ther. 2018.
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  • Danby SG, Andrew PV, Taylor RN, Kay LJ, Chittock J, Pinnock A, Ulhaq I, Fasth A, Carlander Ok, Holm T, Cork MJ. Several types of emollient cream exhibit various physiological results on the pores and skin barrier in adults with atopic dermatitis. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2022 Jun.
  • Grether-Beck S, Felsner I, Brenden H, Kohne Z, Majora M, Marini A, Jaenicke T, Rodriguez-Martin M, Trullas C, Hupe M, Elias PM, Krutmann J. Urea uptake enhances barrier perform and antimicrobial protection in people by regulating epidermal gene expression. J Make investments Dermatol. 2012 Jun.
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