7 Amazing Skin Care Benefits of Sulfur
Sulfur offers many skin benefits, like treating acne and dandruff. This multitasker also has anti-aging and antimicrobial properties.
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Benefits of sulfur
When it comes to skin care, it can be difficult to navigate the endless products that claim to protect your skin from aging, promote clear skin, or get rid of blemishes once and for all. You might think of hyaluronic acid for fresh, younger-looking skin or salicylic acid to treat acne, but what about sulfur? The rotten egg-smelling mineral can actually benefit your skin in unexpected ways.
Not convinced? We spoke with Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, who reveals the benefits of sulfur for your skin that you probably didn’t know.
Sulfur decongests pores
Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral found in hot springs, clay, and volcanic ash—and also as a trace mineral in the human body. It’s known to have bacteria-busting properties according to 2017 research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which makes it ideal for acne-prone skin. It does double duty when it comes to pores. “Sulfur kills bacteria and draws out oil, which in turn reduces buildup in pores,” explains Dr. Engelman. To purify your pores and make them look smaller, try sulfur-based Indie Lee Clearing Mask on your T-zone weekly.
Like the more well-known salicylic acid, sulfur is keratolytic, which means it causes mild shedding of the top layers of the skin. This helps clear away dead skin cells that can contribute to clogged pores, breakouts, uneven texture, and dullness. Apply a mask such as the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask, with 10 percent sulfur, to slough off dead skin cells, sop up oil, and banish breakouts.
Sulfur treats acne gently
Topical acne products with benzoyl peroxide can be too harsh for sensitive skin, leading to irritation and peeling, as well as allergic reactions in some people. Sulfur is a more gentle way to bust blemishes. “It reduces acne by prohibiting new bacteria from growing and spreading,” Dr. Engelman explains. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is great for spot-treating pesky blemishes.
Sulfur soothes rosacea
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Sulfur can help treat rosacea, a chronic condition that causes facial redness for about 10 percent of the population, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Sulfur works by reducing inflammation and killing bacteria, which can help control rosacea symptoms. The Prosacea Rosacea Treatment Gel is a lightweight water-based gel that claims to provide rosacea relief by eliminating bumps, redness, and dryness. Sulfur-containing creams are even occasionally prescribed as an alternative to antibiotics. Other treatments for rosacea may require a prescription.
Sulfur helps clear eczema
Some people use sulfur as a natural treatment for eczema. Sulfur possesses medicinal and therapeutic properties that can help alleviate symptoms, like inflammation and dry, itchy patches. If you’re struggling with eczema, try a cleansing bar that contains sulfur, like Jericho Dead Sea Sulphur Soap, and check out these home remedies for eczema and psoriasis relief.
Sulfur remedies dandruff
The exfoliating properties of sulfur help reduce skin buildup and dry excess oil on your skin, making it an effective treatment for scalp issues, like dandruff. And yes, we recognize that sulfur smells bad (like rotten eggs actually). So while most sulfur-based products contain ingredients that help hide the scent, you might want to apply them at night before bed, like Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo, which contains both salicylic acid and sulfur. This combination aims to prevent the reoccurrence of dryness, flakes, and itch related to dandruff.
Sulfur is anti-aging
Sulfur is an essential part of natural collagen production. But as we age, sulfur is depleted, leaving skin vulnerable to free radical damage and further breakdown of collagen, which leads to wrinkles and sagging. “Harmful bacteria can also damage skin and accelerate the aging process,” Dr. Engelman says. “Keeping skin clean helps reduce bacteria, helping to prevent damage before it happens.” To help turn back the clock, you’ll need to replenish the sulfur with a topical solution, like Dr. Dennis Gross Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask, which works its magic while you sleep.
- University of Minnesota Geology Department: "Sulfur"
- Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Sulphurous Mineral Waters: New Applications for Health”
- American Academy of Dermatology: “Rosacea Treatment: Acne-Like Breakouts”
- National Eczema Association: “Seborrheic Dermatitis”
- Indian Journal of Dermatology: “Dandruff: The Most Commercially Exploited Skin Disease”