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Urea

goodie
Also-called-like-this: Carbamide

Details

Yes, it's the thing that can be found naturally in pee. And in the skin. It is an awesome natural moisturizing factor, aka NMF.  NMFs are important components that help the skin to hold onto water and keep it plump, elastic and hydrated. Urea makes up about 7% of NMFs next to other things such as amino acids (40%), PCA (12%) or Lactate (12%).

What makes urea special, is that it is not only a simple moisturizer, but it is thought to be a "small-molecule regulator of epidermal structure and function" meaning that it has a bunch of extra biological activities. It acts as a mild keratolytic agent (some of its moisturizing action is thought to come from urea's ability to break down bonds in the protein called filaggrin and thus freeing up amino acids in the skin), enhances antimicrobial peptide expression and improves skin barrier function

Being a mild keratolytic agent and strong moisturizer means that high-percentage (10-40%) urea treatments are found effective in a bunch of skin disorders connected to excessive dryness and malfunctioning skin barrier such as ichthyosis, xerosis, psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.  

Overall, just like glycerin, urea is a real oldie but a goodie, a nice ingredient in any moisturizer.

Show me some proof

  • Pan, Michael, et al. "Urea: a comprehensive review of the clinical literature." Dermatology online journal 19.11 (2013).
  • Grether-Beck, Susanne, et al. "Urea uptake enhances barrier function and antimicrobial defense in humans by regulating epidermal gene expression." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 132.6 (2012): 1561-1572.
  • Lodén, Marie. "Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders." American journal of clinical dermatology 4.11 (2003): 771-788.

Products with Urea

Bielenda Coarse-Grain Scrub Diamond Microdermabrasion Effect Dermadrate Dry Skin Treatment 10% Urea Cream Eubos Urea 5% Face Cream Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion Eucerin Dry Skin Face Cream 5% Urea Eucerin Dry Skin Smoothing/Replenishing Face Creme Day With 5 Percent Urea Eucerin Replenishing Face Creme 5% Urea Plus Lactate Giuliani Kerà K2 ICM Pharma Aqurea Moisturizing Cream Instituto Español Crema Reparadora Urea Masterplast Soft Feet Heel Balm Numis med Urea 5% Superdrug Cracked Heel Repair Cream Urea Labs 10% Urea Cream Veet Silk & Fresh In-Shower Hair Removal Cream Sensitive Skin Cien Crema Hidratante Urea 5% Dermedic Hydrain 3 Hialuro Cream Eucerin Complete Repair Moisturizing Lotion Eucerin Hyal Urea Nachtcreme Eucerin Urea Repair Rich TeeProSyn Gesichtspflege Für Trockene Haut / Facial Care For Dry Skin CCS Foot Care Cream Dr. Barbara Stürm Cleanser Isomers Deep Crease Correction Cream Murad Hydrating Toner Sidmool Dr. Galatok Galatokside Real N.M.F Barrier Serum Freedom Studio Priming Water Manyo Factory Aqua Moisture Sleeping Cream Pack Manyo Factory Thermal Water Mineral Cream Murad Clarifying Cleanser Patchology Flashpatch Eye Gels Sukoyaka Suhada Urea Moisture Lotion TonyMoly Foot Peeling Shoes ZO® SKIN HEALTH Zein obagi complexion renewal pads iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+ Barrier Restore Serum Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Barrier Restore Serum First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask L300 Intensive Moist Face Mist Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum Eucerine Intensive Repair Lotion JAN MARINI C-Esta Face Serum Murad Advance Acne And Wrinkle Reducer SeneGence Climate Control Clinique Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque La Roche-Posay Hydraphase Intense Riche Murad Oil-Control Mattifier SPF 15 Pa++ Paula's Choice Hydralight One Step Cleanser Dermalogica Map-15 Regenerator