Urea is an important component of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which is essential for maintaining a healthy and hydrated skin barrier. In skincare, urea is often used in body cleansers and moisturizers for its unique combination of moisturizing and exfoliating benefits. At higher concentrations, this ingredient is a keratolytic agent, meaning it can help reduce dead skin buildup on your skin’s surface. When used topically as part of a consistent skincare regimen, urea can help improve the appearance of dry, rough, or scaly skin. You can find urea in several of CeraVe’s dermatologist-developed skincare products for dry skin and psoriasis—including our Psoriasis Body Wash.
Important Things To Know About Urea for Skin
What is urea?
Sometimes also known as carbamide, urea is a molecule that’s naturally produced by your body as part of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF). Urea was discovered in 1773 by a French chemist named Hilaire Rouelle and has since been replicated in a laboratory.1 Today, urea is one of the most common moisturizing and exfoliating ingredients used in skincare products.
How does urea work?
Urea can help improve the appearance of dry, rough, scaly skin in two ways: by providing hydration to smooth your skin's texture and by helping to reduce the buildup of dead skin cells. As a moisturizer, urea is considered to be both a humectant (a type of ingredient that helps attract and retain moisture) and an emollient (a type of ingredient that helps soften and smooth your skin). As a keratolytic agent, urea helps exfoliate the outermost layer of your skin to reduce the look of rough, flaky patches and scales.
What does urea do for skin?
Because of its hydrating properties and ability to help remove excess dead skin cells, urea can be found in a variety of skincare products—including moisturizing body washes, lotions, and creams. Urea skincare products are often designed to help improve the symptoms of dry, flaky, itchy, and scaly skin concerns related to conditions like psoriasis and eczema. (Note: If you suspect you may be experiencing one of the aforementioned skin conditions, it’s important to always seek the help of a board-certified dermatologist.)
Who should use skincare products with urea
Skincare products with urea can be used by many skin types and for a number of skin concerns. Urea’s humectant properties make it an ideal ingredient for anyone with dry, itchy skin. Urea lotions and creams can also be helpful choices for those with diabetic skin or flaky, scaly skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema (when used under the direction of a board-certified dermatologist). Always remember to apply urea skincare products as directed, according to the product label.
Can urea be used with other skincare ingredients?
Yes, CeraVe offers a range of formulas that include urea in combination with other skincare ingredients to help support smooth, hydrated, and healthy-looking skin. CeraVe Psoriasis Cleanser, for example, is a medicated formula that gently cleanses psoriasis-prone skin, helps remove scales, and helps the skin retain moisture. It features urea, as well as a combination of ingredients like lactic acid, 2% salicylic acid, and three essential ceramides.
Can all skin types use urea?
When applied topically, urea is generally well-tolerated. However, this can vary based on the urea product you choose. Always read the label carefully when deciphering whether or not a specific product is suitable for your skin’s needs. CeraVe’s urea skincare products are formulated for those with dry skin and psoriasis. For specific questions about urea and your skin type or concerns, consult with a board-certified dermatologist.
Can urea be used on the body?
Yes, you can find urea in CeraVe skincare products formulated for body care—such as CeraVe Soothing Body Wash for very dry skin. Urea can be particularly helpful for softening and moisturizing thick, rough, or callused skin found on the feet, knees, hands, and elbows. For this reason, it’s common to find urea creams for feet, as well as urea hand creams for rough, dry skin.
How to use urea products in your skincare routine?
In order to enjoy urea’s skin benefits, you’ll need to choose the right product for your skin type and individual preferences. Our range of products are developed with dermatologists, fragrance-free, feature three essential ceramides, and are formulated to help maintain your skin’s protective barrier. You can find urea in CeraVe products such as our Psoriasis Cleanser and Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream. When used consistently, this body care duo can help with skin itching, scaling, redness, flaking, and irritation associated with psoriasis.
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