Urea moisturizes the skin, smooths, and relieves itching. As one of the most critical soluble substances of the stratum corneum, it is of increasing importance in dermatological therapy and cosmetics. A lack of urea, a natural moisturizing factor (NMF), identifies diseases such as atopic dermatitis or clinically dry skin. Normal skin contains about 1 % urea.

This NMF improves skins' water retention ability, revealing a smoother, supple, and youthful appearance. In addition, urea may act as a mild keratolytic agent with higher concentrations, eliminating old and dead cells from the skin surface. Furthermore, in complex formulations, it enhances penetration of other ingredients, boosting effectiveness.


What's the urea role in cosmetics?

Urea is one of the essential NMFs (natural moisturizing factor) in the skin, and deficiency may lead to dry skin or even to atopic dermatitis. Some surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate in makeup removers, foaming, and other cleansers can wash out the urea from the epidermis, dramatically decreasing amounts of essential NMF, water-binding ability, and during the skin. In vivo tests showed that urea-supplemented cleaners compensate for the drying effects of surfactants and increase urea amounts in the skin. Furthermore, a lack of water-retaining substances may be reimbursed in dry skin by prolonged topical application of urea-containing skincare products such as serums, masks, and creams.