What does it do?
It’s a humectant, so draws water into the skin
It’s also a keratolytic, helping to soften and shed the top layers of skin

What’s it used for
Dry skin
Keratosis pilaris

How do I use it?
Apply once or twice daily

Evidence rating

Urea is naturally found in the skin, and is also a common ingredient in moisturisers and smoothing creams. It’s a humectant, which means it draws water into the skin, increasing its moisture content. It’s also a keratolytic, meaning it helps to soften and shed the dry, dead top layers of the skin. It’s useful in the treatment of dry skin conditions, including keratosis pilaris.

Celleno L. Topical urea in skincare: A review. Dermatol Ther. 2018 Nov;31(6):e12690.

Jacobi A, Mayer A, Augustin M. Keratolytics and emollients and their role in the therapy of psoriasis: a systematic review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2015;5(1):1-18. 

Pan M, Heinecke G, Bernardo S, Tsui C, Levitt J. Urea: a comprehensive review of the clinical literature. Dermatol Online J. 2013 Nov 15;19(11):20392.


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Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…