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What Does Sulfur for Acne do to Your Skin?

For centuries, sulfur has been used to treat acne of all sorts, but just how does this one ingredient make such a difference when it comes to skin care?

Sulfur is a successful part of many acne treatments thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and oil-reducing properties, which allow it to target the main causes of breakouts. Sulfur is gentle enough for even sensitive skin, making it a strong alternative to other, more aggressive acne-fighting ingredients.

Sulfur may not be enough to get rid of your acne on its own, but using sulfur, especially in combination with other ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your skin. Many acne treatments on the market imitate the effects of sulfur, including controlling excess sebum and banishing dead skin cells.

A woman looks at her skin in a mirror
When your skin is acne-prone, products that contain sulfur can be incredibly useful.

What Exactly Is Sulfur?

Sulfur is the 16th element on the periodic table, and it is one of the five essential elements for human life, along with oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen.

A fairly recent review of data surrounding the treatment of acne mentions sulfur by name; today, it’s a well-known and accepted fact that sulfur can prevent and treat some aspects of acne because of how it interacts with the skin.

Does Sulfur Get Rid of Acne?

As an ingredient in an acne-fighting product, sulfur can help you get rid of acne by addressing one or more of the three main causes of acne: inflammation, an imbalance of bacteria (strains of the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes), and excess oil (sebum) production.

Sulfur has been shown to help all three of these acne-causing triggers.

How Does Sulfur Help Acne?

  • When applied to the skin, sulfur dries up excess oil and helps prevent acne. Products formulated with sulfur are a step above other acne products, which generally reduce sebum and reduce bacteria but often fail to address inflammation.

  • Sulfur, in contrast, has been noted to have anti-inflammatory properties, which means it treats various aspects of acne simultaneously.

  • When discussing acne treatments, it’s important to consider bacteria as well. While sulfur is most useful for reducing oil in a non-inflammatory way, it also has mild antibacterial properties that can help reduce acne-causing bacteria, P. acnes.

A man cleanses his face

Is Sulfur Good for All Skin Types?

Sulfur is a time-honored acne treatment because it tends to be non-irritating and has very few adverse reactions. This is because sulfur works its magic by reducing sebum (oil) buildup without stripping and over-drying the skin.

Those with combination or dry skin may find that sulfur's ability to tackle multiple concerns at once makes it ideal because it means fewer products and exposure to chemicals to get the job done.

Extremely dry or sensitive skin may not be the best fit for heavy sulfur use, but lower concentrations of the ingredient, as is found in the Exposed Skincare kit, often make it possible to still use it and reap its benefits without sucking too much moisture from your skin.

Does Sulfur Make Acne Worse?

Sulfur should not make acne worse; it's a very low-risk ingredient to use because it's unlikely to cause side effects and is gentle on the skin.

Sulfur Side Effects

Based on the research that's been conducted on sulfur so far, few side effects are commonly reported. Itching and dryness at the application site are possible, but even these reports are far and few between.

A woman studies her skin in the mirror
Sulfur-based products are unlikely to cause any side effects, even for those with more sensitive skin.

How to Use Sulfur for Acne Treatment

Integrating sulfur into a larger acne treatment regimen could enhance your products' effectiveness. Sulfur provides some stability to the skin; by keeping bacteria and inflammation at bay and keeping oil production in check, sulfur can help you both treat pre-existing and prevent future breakouts.

Sulfur Face Mask

One of the most straightforward ways to incorporate sulfur and its healing properties into your routine is through a topical product like a spot treatment or face mask.

These products apply a concentrated dose of sulfur to your acne to break down and remove dead skin cells, dry up extra oil, and calm down irritated or inflamed pores.

The Exposed Skincare clarifying mask

In the image above, our Clarifying Mask features sulfur in combination with active charcoal, bentonite, and more to treat acne and bring life back to your skin.

The Exposed Clarifying Mask contains sulfur, among other natural ingredients, to do just that. It removes toxins and impurities from the skin while battling the oil and bacteria that lead to breakouts, leaving behind a clean, soothed, and vibrant complexion.

A Consistent Skincare Routine

As mentioned above, sulfur, and any ingredient for that matter, works better when used in combination with other acne-fighting ingredients. By being consistent with your skincare routine, you can enjoy the benefits of many effective, natural ingredients working all at once.

Our Skincare kits are available with a monthly subscription, meaning that an ideal skincare routine including toner, cleanser, spot treatment, probiotics, and more, arrive right to your door.

Our skin care kits are guaranteed to work against acne. That's because we combine not only sulfur but also other ingredients that we carefully selected based on modern, medically reviewed research.

Before and after photos of an Exposed user
Morgan saw major differences in her skin after using the Exposed Skincare Kits monthly.

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