Urea is an ingredient increasingly found in foot creams for dry skin, in varying percentages. Most people, if they have heard of this substance at all, know it as a constituent of urine, so what is it doing in foot creams?
Urea is a protein that occurs naturally in skin (as well as urine). It has a number of important properties that help the skin function effectively:
– it is hygroscopic. This means that it absorbs water.
– it is a natural exfoliant, ie it helps to remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface.
– it increases the permeability of the skin, allowing other moisturising ingredients to penetrate more deeply.
– it accelerates the skin’ cellular renewal process.
Not surprisingly, dry skin is found to be lacking in natural urea, and this can happen as we age. Applying a cream containing urea will improve the condition of dry, flaky skin quite dramatically IF it is applied regularly; twice daily is recommended.
So how do you decide what percentage of urea you need? Generally, the 10% formulations are somewhat lighter and can be applied all over the feet (although avoid between the toes). 25% creams tend to be richer and thicker (often described as a ‘Heel Balm’) and are great for spot treating particularly dry, rough areas.
As to which brand you buy, that really comes down to personal preference. We stock the Simply Feet range as we find them quickly absorbed, fresh smelling and excellent value, but as long as your foot cream has that magic ingredient, you won’t go far wrong.
(By the way, you’ll be relieved to know that the urea used in skin care is made synthetically…)