8 Crazy-Effective Sulfur Acne Treatments
As any acne sufferer knows well, there are so many products on the market with breakout-taming claims that it's hard to know which products stand a chance and which should be skipped. And if you've tried formula after formula to no avail, we might just have your new solution: sulfur acne treatments.
"Sulfur is a keratolytic, which means it works by softening and thinning the epidermis to prevent clogged pores," explains Arielle Kauvar, MD, of New York Laser & Skincare. "It also reduces the growth of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria and the blockage of pores." Translation: Oily and acne-prone skin types, take note because sulfur might be the zit-fighting and oil-zapping ingredient you’ve been searching for.
While Kauvar explains that sulfur alone is less effective than more common ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, it’s typically combined with impressive co-hosts (like resorcinol and sodium sulfacetamide) that pack products with a powerful punch.
But if even glancing at the word sulfur has you already sensing the smell of rotten eggs, don't worry—most sulfur acne treatments are loaded with masking odors that overbear the scent. Still, Kauvar does suggest incorporating sulfur treatments into your evening skin care routine, in order to minimize any lingering scents.
Ahead, we rounded up eight sulfur acne treatments to try immediately, including heavy-duty masks, spot treatments, cleansers, and more.
Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask ($55)
Sunday Riley’s acne mask is chock-full of wonder-working ingredients: 10% sulfur clears and treats zits, while niacinamide brightens and zinc PCA minimizes excess oil. The mask (which should be left on clean skin for 20 to 30 minutes) is topped off with soothing tea tree and manuka oils, which leave skin smooth and soft.
The 10% sulfur gives Dermadoctor’s mask and spot treatment heavy-duty cleansing powers. Combined with witch hazel (which cleanses skin) and soothing-botanicals, Dermadoctor’s mask can sit on skin for 15 minutes up to three times per week.
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque ($47)
The best part about Peter Thomas Roth’s sulfur mask is that it’s not limited to your face—the highly concentrated product can treat breakouts on your chest and back, too. “[This mask] contains kaolin, which absorbs oil,” explains Kauvar. The formula, she notes, smells like clay, rather than sulfur.
Next up, check out our all-time favorite acne cleansers for a clear complexion.