Sulfur for Acne: The Ultimate Guide

Sulfur for Acne: The Ultimate Guide

You might be asking yourself, what does sulfur have to do with acne? But the truth is, you probably already own some cosmetic or skincare products that contain sulfur. It’s a very popular ingredient often found in skincare, particularly for its acne benefits.

But have you ever thought of using sulfur treatments in isolation?

You can incorporate sulfur into your skincare routine in many ways, ranging from face wash and soap to toners and moisturizers. You can even use it simply as a spot treatment. In this article, we’ll explore all the benefits of sulfur and show you how to use it for treating acne.

The History of Sulfur as a Skin Remedy

Some evidence suggests that sulfur has been used in Ancient Egypt, Rome, and China. Romans would bathe themselves in water filled with sulfur - among other things. This would calm down any skin irritations or inflammations that they might’ve experienced.

Experts claim that because it’s so easy to access, people have used it for all kinds of conditions – ranging from eczema to bad skin reactions. Some even claim that Europeans during the Renaissance period used it to harmonize the “humors” in their bodies, back in the day when the theory of humors was the extent of medical knowledge.

How Does Sulfur Work on Acne?

Before we get to the good part, it’s important to understand how sulfur works on the skin. When using sulfur as a direct spot treatment, it’s safe to say that it has a similar effect to other common skincare products such as salicylic acid, zinc, or benzoyl peroxide, except sulfur is deemed more gentle by skincare experts.

So, what happens when you apply it to the skin? We all know that acne is caused by excessive oil production of the sebaceous glands. Sulfur effectively dries out pimples and helps remove any excess oil (otherwise known as excess sebum) sitting on top of the skin. Sulfur also decreases the amount of acne-causing bacteria.

Sulfur can also remove any dead skin cells that contribute to acne and unclog the pores. It’s often referred to as a keratolytic, meaning that when applied on the skin, it makes the top skin layer peel off. This means that it not only directly works on the pimple, but it also prevents future acne from appearing. Pretty cool, right?

Best Sulfur Sources for Great Skin

Many food sources contain high amounts of sulfur, such as:

  • Eggs
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Nuts
  • Onion
  • Avocado
  • Watermelon
  • Garlic
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough sulfur through food is to increase your intake of the above-mentioned products. Supplementing is also an option if you’re looking for an easier and faster way to absorb more sulfur.

How Does Dietary Sulfur Help with Skin Conditions?

There is no direct correlation between eating high amounts of sulfur and positive effects on skin conditions such as acne. But that doesn’t mean that a high sulfur intake can’t indirectly contribute to reducing the appearance of your acne.

In addition, it can help treat allergies, injuries, and bladder disorders. So, there’s no harm in trying it. But remember that dramatically increasing your sulfur intake might not be the best idea if you suffer from these health conditions. Always talk to your doctor about any changes you want to make regarding your sulfur intake.

Which Skin Types is Sulfur Suitable For?

Since we’ve mentioned how sulfur can effectively improve the appearance of pimples, it’s safe to conclude that it works great on acne-prone skin types, particularly people who suffer from whiteheads and blackheads. Although sulfur is an effective acne treatment, when it comes to more serious cases of acne, you would probably need to go to a dermatologist for a well-rounded treatment. Since sulfur is very gentle, it’s appropriate for sensitive skin types.

And because of its ability to combat excessive oil production, oily skin types will see improvements if they incorporate sulfur into their skincare routines.

People with dry skin types are the only ones who should be wary of using sulfur regularly since it might cause more dryness and irritation. If you want to prevent this, invest in a good quality moisturizer to apply in conjunction with the sulfur treatment. Misumi's moisturizer features a range of acne-fighting ingredients to help you achieve clear skin.

Is Sulfur Soap Effective?

Experts on the subject have known about the benefits of using sulfur for a while now, which is why they insist on adding it to so many skincare products. Sulfur soap is no exception.

The content of sulfur in soap is around 10 percent. There's also likely to be some natural fragrance too. If you remember any experiments you might have done in school, you'll remember the horrendous smell of sulfur. Usually, fragrances of this kind don’t cause any irritation since they’re from a natural source.

This soap's main goal is to gently exfoliate the skin, which causes it to peel. This might sound like a nightmare if you have dry skin. In fact, it’s not the best idea to use this soap if you suffer from dryness or skin irritation.

But if your skin is on the oilier side, this product can absorb excess oil, decrease skin inflammation and shrink acne.

In addition, it also has antibacterial and antiseptic benefits that are known to help with certain skin conditions such as rosacea, scabies, and seborrheic dermatitis. So if you have oily or acne-prone skin, you should give sulfur soap a go!

There aren’t many side effects of using the soap topically. The most common side effects include redness, itching, irritation, a burning sensation, or skin peeling. If you experience these, try to moisturize more often or switch the brand of moisturizer you’re currently using. And if that doesn’t help, stop using the soap and switch to something else.

Sulfur Skincare Products

Nowadays, so many available skincare products contain a decent percentage of sulfur. You can find anything from face washes to moisturizers and masks.

When it comes to spot treatments, the process is pretty straightforward. Wash your face as normal and apply a generous layer of your favorite nighttime moisturizer. Then, simply dip a cotton ball in a sulfur-infused spot treatment. Apply it directly on the acne you want to treat and let it sit overnight. When you get up in the morning, wash your face with warm water, and you’ll be good to go. If the pimple is stubborn, repeat this process the following night.

Sulfur for Acne Scars

Everyone with a history of severe or even moderate acne can relate to the problem of treating scars once the acne is gone. It’s a difficult skin condition to deal with, leaving many people frustrated. But don’t despair - sulfur might also help remove them.

How does it work exactly? As discussed, applying sulfur directly on the skin can help you eliminate dead skin cells. By doing this, you shed off the skin's top layers, reducing acne scars.

However, due to sulfur's gentle nature, you shouldn’t completely rely on it for your acne scars treatment. When it comes down to it, you need to decide what’s most important for you. Do you need a faster and easier treatment for your acne scars? You might want to consider incorporating sulfur in your skincare routine alongside more abrasive treatments, such as Retin A products, benzoyl peroxide, chemical peels, or microdermabrasion. The right treatment option is out there somewhere; you just need to be persistent to find it.

How Long Until I See Results from Using Sulfur Topically?

We all want a quick cure when it comes to acne. This is understandable if you consider the incredible burden of acne physically, psychologically, and economically. It’s incredibly frustrating if you’re persistent with your acne treatment and it produces no results. You might feel like you’re wasting precious time.

Like other acne-fighting ingredients and treatments, sulfur takes longer to produce fruitful results. Due to its gentle nature, it might take even longer to work than conventional acne treatments for some people.

If you’re only using sulfur as a spot treatment and the rest of your skincare isn’t meant to treat acne, you might want to reconsider changing your skincare routine. You could also include more abrasive treatment options such as peels, lasers, or, when the acne is severe, even oral medication.

Make sure you’re not using sulfur in large amounts or applying it. Using it more frequently will not produce any positive effects; it will probably just dry out and irritate your skin, causing a delay in the treatment process.

Side-Effects of Using Sulfur on the Skin

There are a few side effects that might occur if you’re starting to use sulfur products on the skin. Don’t be alarmed since these are fairly common and pretty harmless. These side effects include dry skin, peeling, irritation, itching, and redness. Your skin might need to get used to the sulfur, so if these happen at the beginning of your treatment, don’t stop using it. Be patient and let your skin adjust to the product. Once those few initial weeks are over, chances are your skin will calm down and start benefiting from regular sulfur usage, and your acne will reduce.

If you have sensitive skin, start adding it to your routine gradually. So, if you’re using a spot treatment, add it to your pimples every two or three days. If you’re using a sulfur-infused face mask, consider applying it once a week and leaving it on for a short amount of time, and you can build up from there.

Consider doing a patch test before using sulfur products. Simply put the sulfur product on a pimple or two and see how your skin reacts. Repeat this for a couple of days. Your skin won’t show signs of improvement right away, but it won’t show any signs of irritation immediately after applying it, either.

Some people find the smell of sulfur nauseating. The closest description is that it smells of rotten eggs, which can be a problem for some. However, modern medicine and skincare have improved to such an extent that the smell is likely untraceable to anyone who uses a store-bought skincare product. The potent smell usually comes with pure sulfur, which people often use as a spot treatment.

Final Thoughts

If you’re the type of person who hasn’t had much luck with conventional skincare products, think about incorporating sulfur into your regular skincare routine. In most cases, it won’t do any harm if used in moderate amounts, so there’s nothing to lose if you try it out.

If you have severe acne that’s disrupting the quality of your life, consider visiting a dermatologist who will put you on a more rigorous skincare regime and possibly include harsher acne treatments to produce faster results.

The most important thing with any acne treatment is to be patient and consistent.


The use of sulfur in dermatology

Traditional ancient Egyptian medicine: A review

Back to blog

Items You May Like