Let’s be honest, sulfur stinks. No, we mean it literally stinks. For that reason, you might’ve skipped over it in the past as an acne remedy (who wants to put something that smells like rotten eggs near their nose?), but once you learn more about the popular ingredient, you might want to reconsider.

What Is Sulfur?

Simply put, sulfur is a natural element that is found throughout our body in amino acids, vitamins, and our skin and hair. When it comes to skincare, you’ll commonly find it in acne spot treatments, masks, and soaps.

Sulfur-based products work great for mild-to-moderate acne but it isn’t as effective for more more severe acne, especially as a lone treatment.

What’s it good for?

  1. Dries out blemishes: Sulfur reduces sebum (oil) on the skin. When applied to the blemish, sulfur works to dry out the skin so it can then be sloughed away.
  2. Promotes exfoliation:Sulfur works to exfoliate dead skin and remove impurities because it has a keratolytic effect (meaning it works to soften and thin the epidermis).
  3. Fights bacteria: Sulfur has antibacterial properties which makes it a dermatologist-favorite because it kills bacteria, fungi, and various parasites.
  4. Treats skin conditions: Because sulfur is anti-inflammatory and helps to soften and exfoliate thick dead skin, it’s great for treating acne, psoriasis, and dandruff. It’s also known to treat eczema and rosacea.

Side Effects of Sulfur

Sulfur can be drying and may irritate sensitive skin, but it tends to be gentler than some other acne medications like benzoyl peroxide, which usually makes it a good choice for people with sensitive skin (confusing, we know.) For this reason, it’s always smart to consult your skin specialist for guidance in selecting the best topical treatment for you.

How to Use It

Because it can be drying and irritating for some it’s best used as a short-contact cleanser once a day, usually at bedtime because of the strong scent. Avoid layering sulfur with your other acne treatments that dry out the skin or exfoliate such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid.

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