Urea for skin

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the humble hydration hero your dry skin will love.

Urea for skin

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the humble hydration hero your dry skin will love.


Whatever your skin type or goals, hydration is essential for healthy, happy skin. When looking for that perfect moisturiser, you may be scanning the ingredients list for familiar buzzwords like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, but there’s another natural moisturising factor (NMF) that should be on your radar: urea.


Granted, the name isn’t particularly appealing, but urea could be a gamechanger if you’re suffering from dry, uncomfortable skin. Keep reading to find out more about the skin benefits of urea – one of the NMFs found in our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturising Lotion+.



What is urea in skincare?

Urea is a moisturising ingredient that naturally occurs in the human body, as part of the skin’s natural moisturising factors. It is a natural byproduct of protein metabolism, though the urea you’ll find in skincare is synthetically produced. Urea is an effective humectant, a moisture-magnet ingredient that attracts and retains moisture, an emollient, which softens and smooths the skin, and a keratolytic, which breaks down the keratin in the skin.


Urea skin benefits

There are many skin benefits of urea, though these vary depending on the concentration used. Primarily, though, urea in skincare is known for its intensely moisturising properties:


• Urea is a humectant. Like hyaluronic acid, urea has water-binding properties, helping to moisturise and soften dry, dehydrated skin and prevent moisture loss..


• Urea is also an emollient, which simply helps to soften, nourish and protect the skin. It also helps to lock in moisture and support skin barrier health.


• In higher concentrations, urea also has exfoliating or keratolytic properties, meaning it helps to break down and dissolve keratin in the skin. These higher doses also have anti-fungal benefits, so are usually most effective in foot creams and prescription-grade formulas for skin conditions like eczema, keratosis pilaris and psoriasis..


• In facial moisturisers like our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, a lower concentrataion of urea is used for its hydrating, smoothing benefits, alongside other natural moisturising factors like glycerin and soothing barley, sunflower and cucumber extracts.


Is urea safe for all skin types?

In lower doses, urea is suitable for all skin types, though it’s most beneficial for those with dry, dehydrated, rough or uncomfortable skin, and it's also a great ingredient to help with skin barrier repair. In higher doses of 10% or more, urea is great for tackling patches of flaky, rough skin and thickened dry skin on the hands and feet.


How to use urea in skincare

Much like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, urea is often found on the INCI list of hydrating products across skincare, hair care and body care. However, it’s most commonly found in moisturisers such as Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion and Dramatically Different™ Hydrating Jelly Anti-Pollution. A facial moisturiser is one of the best ways to reap the hydrating benefits of urea, and you can apply it morning, night and whenever else your skin needs a moisture boost.


What are the best moisturisers with urea?

If you’re looking for the best face moisturiser with urea, we highly recommend trying our iconic Dramatically Different™ Moisturising Lotion+, which has stood the test of time as an effective, fuss-free urea moisturiser for dry to very dry skin types. Our silky moisturising lotion is formulated with a blend of natural moisturising factors, including urea and glycerin, to deliver 8 hours of weightless hydration, while supporting and strengthening your skin’s moisture barrier. The bestselling, dermatologist-developed formula is also infused with soothing barley, sunflower and cucumber extracts to soften, smooth and improve skin.

Need some help creating your ideal skincare routine? Book in for a complimentary Skin School consultation with one of our own experts, where they’ll answer all your skincare questions and prescribe a Clinique skincare routine tailored to your skin type, concerns and goals. You’ll also receive 10% off* your first order following your initial consultation.

* T&Cs apply. Words by Shona Wallace, December 2023.

Shop urea skincare: 

Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, Dermatologist-developed formula that supports a stronger moisture barrier for healthier looking skin.
125ml (With pump)
50ml (bottle)
50ml (Tube)