The skincare ingredient sulfur is little known and highly underrated. It can be used as a targeted spot treatment, or to help with mild acne and even fungal acne.
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Sulfur skincare benefits
It is often likened to salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide as it helps reduce oil production and shed dead cells away from the top layer of your skin.
Combining this with the fact is has antibacterial products means it can work wonders for spots and mild acne, while antifungal properties help with any fungal breakouts as well.
It tends to go well when used alongside other acne treatments, without causing sensitivity — of course, if you’re getting treatment from a dermatologist always consult them first, but note that sulfur is best for mild acne so if you’re seeing a dermatologist you most likely have a more severe form of acne that sulfur isn’t a suitable treatment option for.
Sulfur tends to be much gentler on this skin than other acne or oil fighting products, so those with sensitive skin will often find it to be a great to other common over-the-counter acne treatments.
One of the features of sulfur in skincare is that it dries out your skin, so if you are one of the few who has acne but dry skin, not oily, then this might not be a great option for you when it comes in a face wash or clay mask. In this instance, it’s probably better to use it as a spot treatment rather than on large patches of skin or across your face.
Reference: An innovative approach to the topical treatment of acne, published online by Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, April 2015. Read me.
The best sulfur skincare product recommendations
Sulfur skincare risks
Despite this ancient ingredient being used to treat spots for millenia, Paula’s Choice warns that it’s drying effect and pH level may do more harm than good.
It states: “It can be a potent skin sensitizer. Sulfur also has a high pH, which can encourage the growth of bacteria on skin. Its use to treat skin concerns should be seen as a last resort if other ingredients (such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid) don’t work as well as you had hoped.”
Always test new skincare behind your ears, and don’t go rushing into daily use. Start twice a week and be sure that your skin isn’t reacting badly or becoming more sensitive before increasing frequency.
Reference: Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2012, pages 32-40. Read me.