Here’s What Urea In Skincare Can Do For You

urea skin care

Dermatologists and social media are loving this ingredient and we’re wondering why it’s not in more skincare products! We’re talking about urea. This ingredient is known to hydrate and help smooth out rough, flaky, extremely dry skin. But it’s not only beneficial for dry skin. It is a hydrophilic substance, which means it has the amazing ability to hold onto water molecules, giving your skin that plump, supple look and feel.

To understand more about how urea works in skincare, we connected with Dr Kiran Sethi, MD Skin & Wellness Expert, Isya Aesthetics and Author of Skin Sense. She says, “Urea is a humectant, which means it binds water, so it is hydrating. It is also a natural moisturising factor (NMF), so it keeps the skin barrier strong.” NMF are elements present in the skin that keep its outer layer protected and well-hydrated. She points out that, urea, also known as carbamide, is a keratolytic (peeling) agent used to exfoliate dead skin. So, it helps to soften and slough off the outer layer of dead skin cells.

This is why those with dry, thickened skin will benefit most from urea. It is also gentle enough to suit sensitive skin. But the awkward truth is, you think ‘urea’ and you automatically think of pee! So, let’s quickly clear this up: the fact is that urea that is used for skincare products is manmade synthetically in a lab and does not come from human or animal urine at all. Yes, let’s all heave a sigh of collective relief. While naturally, urea is the nitrogenous end product of the metabolic breakdown of proteins in all mammals, it is found in urine, blood and bile.

Dr Kiran shares, “Urea is an old and true ingredient. It is interesting because people used to use urine as skincare, my guess is because of the urea content!” Urea can be used daily or twice daily as a moisturiser with up to 5% or as an exfoliant, 10% once daily to start with on the body, shares Dr Kiran. It works well in the form of a cream or lotion and while urea is safe overall, it can be irritating in high concentrations, which is why she suggests starting slow and building up.

Here Are Some Skincare Products That Contain Urea…

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Lait Urea 5+

Enriched with shea butter, urea and pro-peeling agents, this body milk moisturises the skin and replenishes lipids, as well as smoothes it. Its tolerance has been tested on skin with psoriasis and people with diabetes too. It helps to gently remove the skin surface cells, decreases the granular aspect of the skin, smoothes the skin roughness, reinforces the cutaneous barrier and soothes skin discomforts. The body milk melts into the skin comfortably without leaving any greasy residue.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+

A bestselling, dermatologist-developed moisturiser from Clinique, this iconic yellow lotion hydrates beautifully and absorbs quickly without leaving any greasy finish. It helps strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier so more moisture stays locked in and gives the skin a youthful-looking glow. Research shows that in four hours, it strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier by 34%! It is suited to very dry to dry, dry combination and combination oily skin types.

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream

This cream helps address dehydrated skin, dullness and fine lines, infusing it with 48 hours of continuous hydration. It features a complex that works on a molecular level to help reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). This technology also helps shield the skin’s natural microbiome from environmental stress. A dynamic hyaluronic acid complex with mallow, cucumber and arnica distributes hydration throughout the skin, helping to lock in moisture for lasting hydration. Also formulated with naturally-antioxidant grape seed extract, vitamins C and E.

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA


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This formula offers non-greasy hydration that acts as a direct topical supplement for impaired NMF components. This cream contains 11 amino acids, phospholipids, alpha/beta/gamma fatty acids, triglycerides, sterols and sterol esters, glycerin, ceramide precursors, urea, saccharides, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid, to replicate NMF that are naturally present in the skin. It offers immediate hydration and lasting results with continued use.

Eucerin Urea Repair Plus 10% Urea Lotion

This lotion gives very drily, rough body skin the daily care it needs. It contains a unique combination of ingredients – urea, ceramide and other Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMFs) – which bind moisture in and repair the skin’s natural protective barrier to prevent further moisture loss. The formula has been clinically and dermatologically proven to deliver immediate relief and intense, long-lasting moisturisation, delaying dryness and roughness for up to 48 hours. Skin is intensely moisturised and looks and feels smooth and supple again. The lotion is suitable for mature skin and those with Diabetes, Psoriasis and Keratosis Pilaris. It can also be used as adjunctive care.

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