Ingredient Spotlight: Sulfur
You might be surprised to learn that sulfur — a natural mineral better known for thermal baths — has been a skincare staple for ages. Dermatologists use it to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne. Read on to learn more about this natural wonder, and how you can take advantage of its myriad skin benefits.
2 minute read
You might be surprised to learn that sulfur — a natural mineral better known for thermal baths — has been a skincare staple for ages. Dermatologists use it to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne.
Read on to learn more about this natural wonder, and how you can take advantage of its myriad skin benefits.
2 minute read
Article Quick Links
- 01.What is sulfur?
- 02.What are the skincare benefits of sulfur?
- 03.What skin conditions does sulfur treat?
- 04.Who should use sulfur?
What is sulfur?
Sulfur is a natural mineral that is essential for living things. It’s a bright yellow, crystal solid that’s abundant in our bodies. Sulfur plays an important part in skin form and function and is found in:
- Keratin: the main protein that makes up hair, skin and nails
- Collagen: provides structure to the skin
- Antioxidants: prevent free radical damage
- Amino acids: building blocks of protein and enzyme production
We consume sulfur regularly in our diet, in foods like eggs, meat, fish, garlic, onions, and beans.
What are the skincare benefits of sulfur?
For millennia, people have flocked to thermal baths containing sulfur — famed for their therapeutic benefits. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibiotic properties have kept it popular for treating common skin conditions today.
Research has shown that sulfur acts as a keratolytic, meaning it softens keratin to help remove dead, outer layers of skin. It also may help regulate oil production.
What skin conditions does sulfur treat?
It’s been used for centuries, and modern research has shown that sulfur (both on its own and when combined into various compounds) has many applications for treating skin conditions, including:
- Acne vulgaris
- Seborrheic dermatitis (scaly, waxy patches)
- Tinea versicolor (fungal infection)
- Scabies (mite infestation)
Who should use sulfur?
Sulfur is safe for all skin types. If you have acne-prone or oily skin, it’s an ideal option because it inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Because it’s safe for sensitive skin, this makes sulfur a viable alternative to benzoyl peroxide, which some people find too drying or irritating.
Because sulfur is a gentle exfoliant that curbs oil, it’s also a good choice for treatment products like masks. It can help refine and smooth without overdrying.
What skincare contains sulfur?
If you’re looking to give sulfur a try, SLMD Skincare founder, Sandra Lee MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper), has a few recommendations:
- Sulfur Lotion: treats acne (especially inflammatory pimples) by inhibiting the growth of C. acnes bacteria
- Sensitive Skin Acne System: a three-step routine to treat all stages of acne
- Clear Out: unclogs pores, smooths, and curbs acne-causing bacteria with added salicylic acid and zinc oxide
Dr. Lee's Last Word
Sulfur is an ideal ingredient to treat a variety of skin concerns, especially acne. It helps stop the growth of bacteria on the skin’s surface, while exfoliating and shedding dead skin cells.