What is it?

“Urea, also known as carbamide, is an organic compound with chemical formula CO(NH2)2. This amide has two –NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl (C=O) functional group.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

This substance may be derived from animals. Urea is an organic substance that can be excreted via the urine or other bodily fluids of mammals. But the substance can also be made synthetically by heating and reacting carbon dioxide and ammonia under high pressure.

Urea is in fact manufactured synthetically on a large scale. Both the naturally occurring, animal-derived urea, and the synthetically manufactured version of this substance are named the same.

Look for “vegetarian”, “vegan” or “cruelty-free” on the product or in the product description in cases of uncertainty. In some cases, you may have to ask the manufacturer about how the different ingredients are sourced to know if they are of animal origin. However, if the product is free from animal derived ingredients it is usually stated somewhere on the product.

Urea is restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada. Maximum concentration allowed is 10 %.

There are some compounds that contain urea that may release formaldehyde. They can be found under formaldehyde but also tagged as “may be animal derived”.

The compound urea peroxide is a mixture of urea and hydrogen peroxide and may cause skin irritation. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) writes that it “causes serious eye damage and causes skin irritation”.

How is it used?

When urea is used in cosmetics* it is often called carbamide. The substance is also often part of different compounds and could therefore also be found under other names. Some examples are urea peroxide, diazolidinyl urea (under formaldehyde), and polyoxymethylene urea.

The charitable nonprofit organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) writes that they have found this substance “In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels.”

Urea-containing topical creams and ointments are often prescribed by dermatologists to people with dry skin.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

Did you find this ingredient in a product?

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