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Para aquellos interesados en el cuidado dermatológico, saber para qué sirve la urea en la piel es importante, ya que regula el pH cutáneo manteniéndolo ligeramente ácido.

What urea is good for the skin: keys and benefits?

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Have you ever wondered what urea is used for in the skin? You’ve probably seen this ingredient in dozens of cosmetics. Urea, commonly associated with urine, is a chemical compound naturally present in our body with multiple benefits for the skin. This organic compound, known chemically as carbamide, is a powerful moisturizer found both in nature and in numerous cosmetic products. We will tell you about it in detail below.

What is urea?

Urea, whose chemical formula is CO(NH2)2, is an organic compound that plays a vital role in natural and industrial processes. This compound is notable for its high water solubility and hygroscopic properties, which allow it to attract and retain moisture from the environment. These characteristics make urea a valuable ingredient in numerous products, especially skincare.

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Urea is produced naturally in the human body as part of the urea cycle, a metabolic process that helps eliminate excess nitrogen. This cycle is essential for converting ammonia, a highly toxic substance, into urea, which is much less harmful and is easily excreted by the kidneys through urine. The efficiency of this cycle is vital to health. Its proper functioning is an indication of a balanced metabolism.

In parallel, at the industrial level, urea is synthesized on a large-scale using ammonia and carbon dioxide under high pressure and temperature conditions. This method, known as the Bosch-Meiser process, allows the production of urea in solid form, which is then used in agriculture as a fertiliser and in cosmetic and dermatological products for its moisturising and keratolytic properties.

Synthetic urea is added to creams and lotions in cosmetics because it can moisturise and intensely improve skin texture. As a component mimicking urea produced naturally in our skin, its integration into personal care products helps reinforce the skin barrier and keep skin soft and supple.

Benefits of urea for the skin

Urea is a common ingredient in many skin care products due to its multiple dermatological benefits. This compound not only improves the look and feel of the skin but also contributes significantly to its overall health.

Deep hydration

One of urea’s most celebrated roles in skin care is its ability to provide deep hydration. It functions as a humectant, meaning that it attracts and retains moisture from the environment at the skin’s surface. This mechanism not only improves surface hydration but also penetrates the deeper layers of the dermis, helping to keep skin hydrated for longer. 

Strengthening the skin barrier

The skin’s barrier function is vital for protecting the body from bacteria, viruses, and other external pathogens. Urea strengthens this barrier by enhancing the synthesis of lipids and proteins that form an essential part of the healthy skin barrier. In doing so, it helps reduce trans epidermal water loss, a common process in dry or damaged skin conditions. This reduction in water loss keeps the skin hydrated and more resistant to external aggressions. As a result, the skin is healthier and less prone to irritation and sensitivities.

Exfoliation and pH regulation

In addition to moisturising and strengthening the skin barrier, urea has natural exfoliating properties that promote skin cell renewal. By helping to break down the proteins that bind dead cells to the skin’s surface, urea facilitates their removal, revealing a fresher, more radiant complexion. This exfoliation process improves skin texture and tone and optimises the efficacy of other skincare products by improving the penetration of their active ingredients.

On the other hand, Urea helps maintain the skin’s optimal pH, which must be slightly acidic to inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This pH balance is essential to maintain the skin’s barrier function and integrity.

If you are wondering what urea does for the skin, you should know that this compound improves hydration by retaining moisture from the environment.

What urea is used for in the skin: common uses in dermatology?

Urea in dermatology covers a wide spectrum of treatments for various skin conditions. This compound plays an essential role in maintaining healthy skin, helping to treat everything from mild problems to more severe conditions.

Treatment of specific problems

Urea’s ability to act as a moisturiser and keratolytic makes it particularly valuable in treating dermatological conditions. This is why it is frequently found in formulations intended to relieve psoriasis and eczema, which cause extreme dryness, flaking and sometimes pain. Urea helps alleviate these symptoms by softening the skin’s surface layers and facilitating the exfoliation of dead skin cells. It also provides deep hydration, which can be difficult to achieve with other ingredients.

In addition, its effect on regulating the skin’s pH allows it to maintain its barrier function more effectively, protecting it from infections and other external agents. This is especially important for people with extremely dry skin, where the skin’s natural barrier is compromised.

Incorporation in daily care products

Urea is found in a wide variety of everyday products, including lotions, creams, emulsions, and serums. Depending on the concentration, these products can be used to maintain skin health and treat specific conditions.

Lower concentrations (around 5%) are effective for general moisturisation and are safe for frequent use, even on sensitive skin.

Formulations may contain urea concentrations of up to 40% for more intense cases, such as thickened skin or calluses. Dermatologists often recommend these products, which require more controlled application to avoid irritation or adverse reactions.

It is important to know what urea does for the skin, especially because it helps strengthen the skin barrier by increasing lipid and protein synthesis.

 Get the most out of urea for your skin.

When introducing urea into your skincare routine, start with low-concentration products to allow your skin to adapt gently and avoid irritation. You’ll also be pleased to know that urea combines effectively with moisturisers such as hyaluronic acid and repairers such as ceramides, boosting their effectiveness, especially on dry or damaged skin.

On the other hand, remember to maintain consistent application to see significant improvements in skin texture and appearance. Also, check how your skin reacts to these products and consult a dermatologist for any signs of irritation. Since urea can increase sensitivity to the sun, it is important to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day.

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