Is Urea Vegan? What Is Urea Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Published: September 2022.
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Urea is a moisturizing skincare ingredient used in many skincare products. In the cosmetic world, it is made synthetically of ammonia and carbon dioxide. Thus, urea is always vegan.

Thanks to its moisture-regulating and keratolytic properties, urea has been one of the most commonly used active ingredients in dermatology. But let’s learn more about this water-binding substance.

What Is Urea? What Is Urea Made Of?

Urea is a small molecule that performs a wide variety of tasks in our body. It has liquid-binding properties and ensures softer and more supple skin. Urea was once made of urine but is now made synthetically.

From a chemical point of view, urea consists of a carbon atom, an oxygen atom, and two so-called amino groups. These amino groups contain nitrogen.

Urea is the Latin word for urine. It is a metabolism breakdown product that the body excretes through urine and sweat. It is also produced in the liver and helps us get rid of excess nitrogen. Its amount in the body provides information about the health and functioning of the kidneys.

However, urea also occurs naturally in the skin and, thanks to its liquid-binding properties, ensures softer and hydrated skin. Because of its hygroscopic features, urea is considered one of the most effective ingredients in skin care products to combat dry skin. 

In the past, urea was obtained from the urine of horses. But today’s skin care products are free of urine. Urea has been produced synthetically since 1828 and it consists of ammonia and carbon dioxide. 

Why Is Urea Used In Skincare?

Urea is used in skincare because it is a natural moisturizing factor. It is used for dry, scaly, and itchy skin. Plus, urea also has a keratolytic and skin-soothing effect.

Since urea helps the skin to bind water and thereby increases its moisture content, it is found in various products for the care of dry skin. But it is also found in medicines for the treatment of dry or itchy skin. 

Urea helps to protect the skin from drying out by sealing the skin barrier. It also supports cell regeneration and relieves irritation. As it has a keratolytic effect, urea improves desquamation and smoothes the surface of dry skin. 

In addition, urea is also said to have antimicrobial and skin-soothing properties. Plus, it helps with certain fungal infections. For example nail fungus like onychomycosis. Urea can also be used against corns. 

In order for certain active ingredients to penetrate the skin better, urea is sometimes used as a penetration agent. With all of these benefits, urea is also considered to prevent premature aging. So, it is often used in skincare made for mature skin.

Overall, urea suits most skin types, even sensitive. There are no well-known side effects. However, formulations containing urea should be avoided on injured skin as urea can cause skin irritation.

FAQ About Urea

What is urea?

Urea is a small molecule that performs a wide variety of tasks in our body. It is a metabolism breakdown product that the body excretes through urine and sweat. It is also produced in the liver and helps us get rid of excess nitrogen. Urea also occurs naturally in the skin and, thanks to its liquid-binding properties, ensures softer and hydrated skin.

Is urea vegan?

Yes. Urea is vegan.

Is urea made of urine?

No, urea is not made of urine. In the past, urea was obtained from the urine of horses. But today’s skin care products are free of urine.

What is urea made of?

Urea has been produced synthetically since 1828 and it consists of ammonia and carbon dioxide. 

Why is urea used in skincare?

Urea is used in skincare because it is a natural moisturizing factor. It is used for dry, scaly, and itchy skin. Plus, urea also has a keratolytic and skin-soothing effect.

Summary

Urea has been used for dry skin for a very long time. It binds water and increases the moisture content of the skin. Urea also has a keratolytic effect and smoothes the surface of the skin.

The hydrating active substance got its name from urine. Nowadays, however, it is not derived from it. Urea is made synthetically and is therefore always vegan.

You can find urea in a wide variety of skincare products. From hand creams and body lotions to face creams and face masks. However, most commonly, urea is used in skincare designed especially for dry skin.

Although urea is a much loved vegan skincare ingredient, we always recommend shopping at 100% vegan brands. This way you can be sure that all other ingredients in your skincare are also vegan-friendly.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.