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Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 0-3


A yellowish element that smells of rotten eggs and it might be familiar to you from the periodic table (has the symbol S in there).  It has a long history of medicinal use thanks to its antifungal, antibacterial and keratolytic activity.   It used to be a very common ingredient in the treatment of inflammation-related skin diseases such as acne, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis, however, due to its malodorousness, it is less popular nowadays. 

Sulfur's precise mechanism of action is not known, but we do know that its effectiveness depends on its direct interaction with the skin surface, meaning the smaller the particle size, the better the effect. The United States Pharmacopeia lists two types of sulfur, sublimed and precipitated. The latter one has a smaller particle size and counts as a superior version. 

Sulfur is also a team-player and works well when combined with other anti-acne agents, such as salicylic acid or sodium sulfacetamide. In fact, the combination of 10% sodium sulfacetamide and 5% sulfur is the active ingredient duo of several Rx-only anti-acne products. 

As for the disadvantages, there is the rotten egg smell.  Also in higher concentrations, it might cause a mild burning sensation and dry skin.  If you are new to sulfur, patch testing it first is a good idea. 

Show me some proof

  • Gupta, Aditya K., and K. Nicol. "The use of sulfur in dermatology." Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD 3.4 (2004): 427.

Products with Sulfur

AcneFree Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Dermadoctor Ain'T Misbehavin' Intensive 10% Sulfur Acne Mask & Emergency Spot Treatment Earth’s Care Acne Spot Treatment Earth’s Care Acne Treatment Mask, Sulfur 5% Face Reality Sulfur Spot Treatment Glytone Acne Tinted Spot Treatment Glytone Acne Treatment Mask Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo LANCER Clarifying Detox Mask with Green Tea + 3% Sulfur MALIN + GOETZ 10 % Sulfur Paste Acne Treatment Murad Clarifying Mask PROSACEA Medicated Rosacea Gel Palmer's Skin Success Anti-Acne Medicated Complexion Bar, Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Rodan + Fields Unblemish Clarifying Mask The Grandpa Soap Co. Thylox Bar Soap Urban Skin Rx Acne And Blemish Control Mask Versed Game Over Acne Drying Treatment yes to tomatoes Detoxifying Maximum Strength Blemish Kit Asepxia Acne Facial Cleanser Epionce Purifying Spot Gel Erha Acne Care Lab Acne Spot Gel Sidmool ACBYE Sulfur Pack Starville Acne Prone Skin Facial Cleanser Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Sos Sulphur Paste skincity skincare Balancing Sulfur Mask terra beaute Acne Soother Serum Acnol Lotion For Acne Bioshield S Skin Solutions Cleansing Bar Dermaharmony 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic Acid Body And Facial Soap Dermologica Clear Start Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask Dr s wong Bioderm Ointment Ilcsi Sulphuric Toner Larissa Acne Lotion Nixoderm Ointment Oxecure Facial Liquid Cleanser San Marcos Sulfur Ointment Starville Facial Cleanser ZO® SKIN HEALTH Zein Obagi Sülfür Mask o3+ Purifying Sulfur Cooling Mask Botanical Lab Clay & Sulfur Drying Lotion Dr. Kaufmann Medicated Sulfur Soap Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment Shunly Aha + Acne Spot Treatment Bruno Vassari Corrective Cream Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque Fourth Ray Later Hater Spot Treatment Gentle Magic The Skincare Soap Heritage Store Hot Springs Sulfur Soap