You will find different treatment solutions in the market for acne. If you are looking for a creative way of solving this problem, you might have to be forthcoming with the unpleasant odor of sulfur. The reasons why sulfur is used is because sulfur directly affects two of the three leading causes of acne. This makes it possible to offer better results with sensitive and oily skin. Often, these skin types are very sensitive and need a lot of care, but since sulfur is gentle and drying, it works for both.
There is very little evidence that supports sulfur for acne treatment. So the claims are not scientifically proven. But going by the anecdotal evidence compiled over time, sulfur’s natural properties gives it higher chances of countering acne. It can also be used to fade off dark acne scars.
Before you try using sulfur, it is essential to know what it's about, how it helps to counter acne and the kind of products you would choose from. Let us look at the main points of sulfur that we know so far:
General summary of what we know about sulfur
- Sulfur is a common ingredient in the formation of sulfuric acid, and it is abundantly available.
- There is little proof to support the use of sulfur on acne even though it has been used for years.
- Sulfur works to counter acne by reducing the bacteria that cause acne, and it also removes dead skin cells and excess oil.
- Sensitive and oily skin tend to benefit the most with sulfur.
- There is still ongoing research on how sulfur is an effective treatment for the treatment of dark acne scars.
- When sulfur is used with the full acne treatment system, it is more effective.
- There are various sulfur products available like foaming washes, spot treatments, and masks.
- Sulfur can be used to treat acne, but it can also be taken as a supplement for countering other medical conditions.
What is sulfur?
Sulfur used to be known as “brimstone." At school, it is commonly characterized by its pungent smell. It is known to be in the white powdered form. Pure sulfur is also found in minerals like Epsom or gypsum salts.
Sulfur can be made into compounds like sulfuric acids, sulfides, and sulfate. These compounds are common in shampoos and fertilizers. There are other naturally occurring compounds like sulfur dioxide which is found in volcanos. Sulfur dioxide is known to be harmful as it causes acid rain.
What Makes Sulfur Work on Acne?
Although no concrete evidence confirms how sulfur is effective to treat acne, it has some properties that make it work as a treating agent. Three things cause acne, bacteria, inflammation, and sebum. Sulfur works to counter two of these issues:
Whiteheads and blackheads form when there is inflammation on the skin, which clogs the pores with dead skin cells and sebum. Cysts, pimples, papules, tend to form when inflammation of the skin occurs and acne-causing bacteria are trapped under the surface. Sulfur is common in treating whitehead and blackheads and preventing pimples, but it is not an effective way of treating pimples.
If you have blackheads, you should consider using sulfur since it works as a drying agent. Although clearing your skin dry extensively can actually cause inflammation and irritation, this can lead to more acne. Sulfur helps to clear excess sebum and in clearing out skin cells that are dead. This has the potential of breaking dead skin cells and sebum that prevents the skin through pore blockage.
Sulfur is also a bacteriostatic agent; this enables it to prevent pimple development. Now, instead of sulfur killing the bacteria, it prevents bacteria from multiplying. This limits their numbers and decreases the formation of pimples. It is not clear how sulfur has this effect, but it does work. Inflammation is the most elusive trigger of acne that sulfur does not address, but some products have combined sulfur with an anti-inflammatory agent to treat acne. Exceptional results are seen on sensitive and oily skin types
Sensitive and oily skin types are the ones that benefit because of the drying effect of sulfur. Although it is safe to say that sulfur is a drying agent, it is not an aggressive agent like other acne products. Sulfur acne facewash or using sulfur acne mask can help you have a clear skin without causing any irritation and redness if applied once a week. To get the best results, you will have to use a gentle moisturizing acne product.
For oily skin, it is easy to form whiteheads and blackheads because the excess oil under the skin can clog the pores. Acne treatments that are meant to reduce inflammation or kill bacteria cannot work well with oily skin because the products can't get through the skin through the extra oil. Sulfur, on the other hand, can dry out the oil.
Regardless of the type of skin you have, you need to test any acne product you have before you apply it. When you are trying a product that has sulfur, apply a small amount on your forearm and let is the recommended time. If your skin itches, turns red, or burns, then gently wash it off and avoid using it.
You can also use sulfur to reduce acne scars
As we mentioned earlier, there is no concrete evidence of how sulfur works on acne. In the same way, no conclusive amount of research supports the effects of sulfur on the reduction of acne scars, although it can help to even out the skin through its exfoliating nature. Many people stick with marks on their skin after acne has healed or after a pimple clears. This is referred to as hyperpigmentation. The dark spots can last for several months for people with fair skin, and for dark skin, it can last for years.
Although skin lightening products can reduce dark skin hyperpigmentation, they can also create light spots, and they can darken dark acne scars. Sulfur can help because it clears the dead skin and encourages new skin cells growth, and it is not as harsh as most skin lighteners.
Before you use sulfur for this purpose, keep in mind that very research is still ongoing. As we said earlier, remember to use your forearm when you are testing, and discontinue when you notice any kind of discoloration.
Try adding sulfur into your daily acne treatment
Do not go sulfur and ditch your current treatment regimen, because no solid research supports the use of sulfur as a primary solution. Instead, you can get great results when you add it to your acne treatment system. A good treatment system will cleanse, treat, and moisturize the skin. When you cleanse your skin, you are working to prevent the formation of clogged pores, and you are supporting the removal of excess sebum that can prevent the treatment from working. Treatment tends to be tough on your skin, that is why moisturizing needs to be done. It is tempting to rely on the treatment, but sadly, your skin can dry out and lead to more acne.
How Do You Use Sulfur for Acne?
Lots of products use sulfur, so which one is the best? Let us go through three of the most common options: foaming sulfur soap, sulfur clay mask, and sulfur spot treatment.
Foaming sulfur soap
This product works well for sensitive and oily skin types, depending on its frequency of use. If you have skin that that is oily, you are more inclined to wake up with an oily skin and produce more oil through the day. When you wash your face in the morning with foaming sulfur soap, your morning will start with less oil, and when you wash your face before sleeping, your pores will be clear at night. Although you can have a lot of oil on your skin, do not exceed washing your skin more than two times. This will potentially cause more acne.
If you use soap made from sulfur 2 times a day on sensitive skin, it will become irritated. So, use sulfur soap only once a day. When your skin reacts well to it, add its usage once more in the day, but if it becomes harsh, use a moisturizing facewash early in the day, and in the evening, use sulfur facewash.
Sulfur clay mask
People who have oily skin can use this product because it allows sulfur to stay longer on the dace to remove more oil. When you combine it with clay, it becomes more potent because of clay dry’s skin. Use this product once a week. Test out the clay mask from sulfur on your forearm before you use it on your sensitive skin. If you have both types of skin, you can either apply the mask to your entire face or only on the oily areas.
Before you apply the sulfur mask, use a splash or a facewash. Dry your face using paper towels or a clean cloth and apply the clay on your face. Avoid the eyebrows, the mouth, and the eyes. Simply follow the instructions provided on the masking label. Once the time meant for the mask is over, rinse off the mask gently. Resist from scrubbing if the urge surfaces because you will irritate the skin even more. Use some water on your face as you gently remove the clay.
Sulfur spot treatment
This is a different type of treatment as it is meant to reduce the pimples that are visible. If you already have pimples, sulfur won't help, it can only prevent you from having more when you use it in a foaming wash. If you want to clear whiteheads and blackheads from the skin, use a sulfur spot treatment. Apply some spot treatment on the skin surface and wash it off before bedtime. Only use spot treatment only once per day, because you will dry out your skin.
Frequently asked Questions about Sulfur
I have used sulfur for three weeks now, and I cannot spot any difference. Should I claim a refund?
It can be incredibly frustrating to treat acne, because most products do not work immediately, and sulfur is no exception. Ideally, you can find sulfur taking a long time compared to other products because it is a gentle ingredient.
Do not try sulfur on its own, try using it in combination with your own treatment program for acne. Use your treatment system consistently for 6 weeks. If no visible signs are exhibited, visited a dermatologist for other options.
Caution: sulfur can make your skin dry and it will not give you results much sooner as you expect. Use sulfur treatment regularly to see positive results, but use it with your current treatment regimen.
If no research proves sulfur is a reliable treatment for acne, should I even consider using it?
Like other solutions you find online, like lemon juice or acne, they do not have scientific evidence that supports their effectiveness in acne treatment. Some solutions have been carefully studied, and conclusions have been drawn on their ineffectiveness in treating acne. When it comes to solutions like sulfur, they have not been conclusively studied. Its use has not been disapproved, but again, no scientific research supports it.
These differences may not differ for some people, but it all depends on you. If you are open to trying a new treatment, then sulfur is on the table. If your skin is sensitive skin, or if you are following a great routine, then you can try adding sulfur to your treatment system especially if you have oily skin and you get blackheads.
This is not to state that all the fads on the internet are legit just because they have not been disapproved. It basically means that in some cases, you will have to research on your own. Sulfur is drying and bacteriostatic, and with this qualities, it is a reasonable option to go for.