Urea in cosmetics. What is it and what properties does it have?

We often hear that urea-containing cosmetics are good for our body. However, most of us don’t really know what exactly urea is. Get to know interesting facts about this ingredient and what properties it actually has!

Urea and its effects have been known for hundreds of years but only recently we have started to use it more intensively in cosmetics.

What is urea?

Urea occurs naturally in our body – it is a byproduct of protein metabolism which we excrete with urine (probably that’s why there is a similarity in names) and sweat.

It can also be found on our skin as it is the main component of the natural moisturizing factor (NMF). It is often called our natural humectant – the ingredient responsible for proper skin hydration.

Synthetic urea

The ingredient found in cosmetics is a synthetic version of urea. This is the so-called diamide of carbonic acid, also known as carbamide. For the first time it was isolated in 1828 by a German chemist Friedrich.

Urea is non-toxic and does not cause allergic reactions. It is obtained from ammonia and  carbon dioxide. The synthetic version of urea has the form of a white, odourless powder.

Do you need urea?

Yes, very much! This ingredient naturally occurs on our skin. It should constitute about 7% of all substances responsible for skin hydration. Its excessive loss can lead to skin dehydration.

It is important to note that with age the amount of natural urea decreases. Even though the 20-year-old can have a well-hydrated skin, with time some external support will be needed.

Urea – properties and action

This is one of the best moisturising ingredients used in cosmetics. It works like a sponge as it stores water in the deepest layers of the skin. Not only does it keep the water inside, but it also prevents its loss!

Urea also smooths irritations and supports the treatment of various types of skin diseases, such as psoriasis or AD. This is possible due to its antiseptic and exfoliating effect which supports wound healing. No wonder that urea is sometimes called a dressing for irritated skin.

Urea in cosmetics

Urea is widely used in many types of cosmetics. It is included in most of creams (for hands, feet or face), body lotions, toners, shampoos, hair conditioners and even toothpastes.

Even though the first cream with urea was created at the end of World War II, only recently had it been used as a cosmetic ingredient on a broad scale.

Who needs urea?

Cosmetics with urea should be used by people with dry skin who struggle to maintain the proper level of hydration in other ways. It is also recommended for those with problematic, atopic, flaky and irritated skin – in this case urea will moisten, bring relief and support the regeneration of the skin. What is more, creams with urea will work much better than simple buttermilk after sunbathing. Urea is able to save your skin from damage from reckless sunbathing.

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