Urea is also known as hydroxyethyl urea or urea 40.
Urea’s role on your skin is remarkable; it can help maintain a healthy moisture balance at low percentages, stimulating components in the skin that keep it healthy, referred to as epidermal gene expression.
It is a component of your skin’s tissues, making up 7% of the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which keeps your skin lovely and plump.
Urea decreases with age, making your skin more susceptible to dryness and inflammation.
Research suggests that urea helps to treat conditions such as ichthyosis, dermatitis, psoriasis, xerosis, and even nail fungus – all these conditions share a similar pathological cause, Malassezia.
Research has found that skin with psoriasis has a concentration of only 40%, and it can be up to 85% in those with eczema.
Reduced levels in your skin can lead to a lower water-binding capacity, causing roughness, tightness, flaking, and irritation.
Allergens are also likely to penetrate your skin, triggering breakouts and inflammatory and allergic immune responses, including atopic eczema.
The benefits of Urea
Prevents Dehydrated SkinYour skin has a natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which is made up of a mixture of substances, including hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA and lactic acid, all of which regulate moisture levels on the surface of the skin by binding water molecules.
Urea is hydrophilic, which means “water-loving”, which gives urea its fantastic ability to hold onto water molecules, keeping your skin plump and moist; when topically applied, dehydrated skin improves by as much as 50%.
Whilst applications of emollients and occlusive ingredients coat your skin’s surface to create instant moisturization; they don’t improve the skin’s ability to develop and hold water the way urea does.
Urea allows your skin to absorb and retain water, increasing its capacity to hold moisture and giving you that youthful glow.
The fountain of youth begins with keeping your skin hydrated, which is why we all need a little urea in our skincare routine.
Improves an Impaired Barrier Function
When applied topically, it increases the formation of filaggrin, an abundant protein in the skin that is important for hydration and reinforcing the barrier function.
A deficiency in the filaggrin gene can impair the barrier, leading to water loss.
Natures Natural Exfoliant
Urea becomes a natural keratolytic (exfoliator) at high percentages within a formula, breaking down the keratin bonds that bind skin cells together, removing rough, dry skin and stubborn cells, thus allowing moisture to reach deep into the dermis, encouraging cellular turnover, shedding dead skin cells, helping you achieve that lit from within glow.
It can penetrate thick, scaly skin, making it ideal for dry legs and soles that are cracking and foot calluses; this combined with its hydrating properties, makes it a potent skin treatment for your feet and body.
In other words, your skin benefits from a double whammy combo by both moisturizing and exfoliating at the same time, an extremely rare feature of a skincare ingredient.
Urea improves your skin’s health by metabolising the antimicrobial peptide LL-37, which attacks acne-causing bacteria within the skin.
An in vitro study found that urea directly inhibits the yeast Malassezia, which is often the cause of fungal acne.
Urea 40 can create a local anaesthetic effect on your skin and has anti-itch properties, which help to reduce inflammation.