Unlike fairly new active ingredients like retinol and peptides, sulphur has been on the skincare scene for a long time. Naturally found in rocks and minerals, sulphur is also present in the human body in the form of amino acids, vitamins and the structure of skin and hair. Despite its off-putting smell, and the fact that it reminds us of sweaty chemistry lab periods from high school, sulphur can be extremely beneficial for your skin. Plus, most sulphur-infused products are formulated to mask the strong smell and focus on clearing pimples and blemishes. So, how exactly does it work and how to use it the right way? We have all the deets…
What makes sulphur so good at fighting acne?
There are a number of ways in which sulphur can help treat mild to moderate acne, whiteheads, blackheads and pimples.
- It can mimic the zit-zapping effect of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The only difference is that sulphur is known to be more tolerable and gentle on the skin.
- Sulphur is keratolytic - meaning it softens and thins the epidermis layer of the skin. Which is why the ingredient is often used as a chemical exfoliant to slough off dead skin cells, clear impurities and unclog the pores.
- Sulphur helps control excess sebum production in the skin. Which makes it a good investment for oily-skinned girls to help deal with acne and keep their skin looking shine-free.
- Sulphur can help keep your skin bacteria, fungi and parasite-free; especially the surface acne-causing bacteria P. acnes. It is therefore also used for treating other sensitive skin issues like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), eczema and rosacea too.
How to use sulphur for acne-prone skin
There are a couple of ways you can add sulphur to your skincare routine. Products include spot treatments, face lotions, anti-acne masks and foaming cleansers. Make sure to give other acne and exfoliating ingredients a rest during this time as it can lead to over-exfoliation and inflammation. You also need to start slowly with a sulphur-based skin product because even though it is gentler than other acne-fighting ingredients, overuse can lead to skin dryness, flaking and irritation. Keep it away from irritated skin and open wounds; double up on moisturiser if your sulphur products are drying out your face too much.
Pro tip: Much like other potent acne-fighting ingredients, some people can be allergic to sulphur as well. Make sure you are doing a patch test on your arm and keep for 24 hours. If you do not notice any redness, burning or itching sensation, you can then use it on your face.