You’ll be happy to know that these days most sulfur-infused skincare products actually smell pleasant (or at least not awful), thanks to clever formulators and the addition of natural fragrances. Read on to find out what some of the best sulfur masks and other skincare products are for treating acne. I’ll also help you figure out what kind of sulfur product will be best for you based on your skin type.
In this article:
Our Picks of the Best Sulfur Acne Treatments
1. Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Mask Acne Treatment Mask
This white clay mask goes on the skin smoothly to help clarify the skin. It absorbs excess oils, helps to deep clean the pores, and targets acne with a whopping amount of 10% sulfur. It is a great choice for those with oily and combination skin, and is available for purchase at Sephora.
2. Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask
It’s hard to write about Sunday Riley without acknowledging their recent review scandal, but that being said, their products are still quite good, this sulfur mask included. In addition to fungal acne-busting sulfur, it also includes mattifying niacinamide and acne-fighting tea tree oil and turmeric extract. It is heavy-duty, but works well for most skin types except the very sensitive. You can buy it at Sephora.
3. DDF Sulfur Therapeutic Mask
This mask combines bentonite clay with 10% sulfur for acne, fungal acne, and excessive oiliness. It leaves the skin feeling deeply cleansed and totally matte, and with weekly use over time it can help prevent the recurrence of breakouts. You can order it online from Ulta Beauty.
4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask
If you’re not a fan of typical 15-minute masking (I’m not – I always forget), then this overnight sulfur mask might be exactly for you. It is definitely a hard-core option, since it combines resurfacing retinol with acne fighters like colloidal sulfur and bentonite clay. A touch of licorice root extract helps to brighten up post-acne marks. It is available for sale at Sephora.
5. Dermadoctor Ain’t Misbehavin’ Intensive 10% Sulfur Acne Mask & Emergency Spot Treatment
This white mask purifies and exfoliates the skin to absorb excess oil and prevent acne with sulfur at 10% as well as kaolin clay and willow bark extract. It can be used as a spot treatment overnight to treat stubborn pimples. It’s a great choice for those with oily and combination skin. Find it at Sephora!
6. Vivant Skin Care Sulfur Clay Mask
This sulfur for acne product is yet another bentonite clay mask that deep cleanses and mattifies. It does have some additional soothing ingredients to reduce acne-related inflammation, like zinc sulfate. It’s a lovely choice for those with oily and combination skin. You can order it online from Dermstore.
7. Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment
Now we’re getting into anti-acne sulfure spot treatments, which are some of my favorite ways of treating breakouts! This two-phase product has a bottom layer of sulfur and zinc and a top layer of alcohol and salicylic acid. You dip a Q-tip in the bottle, and apply as a spot treatment. It’s a great acne treatment for all skin types, and can be picked up at Sephora.
8. Tarte Knockout Tingling Treatment
This product shows one of the more unique sulfur uses, since you normally wouldn’t see this ingredient in a toner. This exfoliating toner contains both lactic and salicylic acids, as well as mattifying niacinamide, and a collection of skin-repairing extracts. It treats texture and acne issues, while also preventing premature aging. You can buy a bottle at Sephora.
9. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
This is another two-phase sulfur acne treatment. In addition to sulfur, it also contains resurfacing and pore-clearing salicylic acid and soothing calamine to quickly reduce the redness and inflammation of painful pimples. It is applied as a spot treatment, with a cotton bud. It is available for purchase at Nordstrom.
10. PCA Skin Blemish Control Bar
This unique product is essentially an anti-acne soap in a jar. It contains a large collection of potent acne fighters, including sulfur, salicylic acid, and azelaic acid. It cleanses the skin, promotes exfoliation, and reduces the acne bacteria. Just remember that pH-adjusting toner is required afterwards! It is sold online via Dermstore.
11. Origins Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask to Rescue Problem Skin
If your skin gets oily but you’re sick of those clay-based masks, this anti-acne sulfur mask should definitely be on your radar. It is formulated with soothing camphor and zinc oxide to rapidly reduce redness and inflammation, and prevent breakouts in the long term with sulfur and salicylic acid. You can pick up a bottle at Sephora.
12. Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant
This weekly chemical exfoliant will help slough away all of your dead skin while also targeting those pesky breakouts. It contains both enzymes and lactic and salicylic acids to exfoliate, sulfur to treat acne, and diatomaceous earth to mattify. Order it online from Ulta Beauty!
13. Indie Lee Clearing Mask
Indie Lee is a lovely natural brand that makes excellent skin care, including this acne-clearing sulfur mask. It includes both glycolic and salicylic acids to exfoliate both inside and outside the pore, as well as soothing zinc oxide and hydrating hyaluronic acid to prevent irritation. It keeps the skin soft and clear, and works for most skin types. You can find it at Sephora.
How to Choose Sulfur Products for Every Skin Type?
If you have acne-prone skin, especially if you suspect it is fungal, then you definitely want to give sulfur a try. However, these types of skin issues are not reserved for those with severely oily skin. Those with dry and normal skin can also experience breakouts, including ones caused by yeast. However, the kinds of sulfur products you should choose will change, depending on your skin type!
Sulfur for Oily Skin
Those with larger pores and heavy oil production are much likelier to experience both normal breakouts and breakouts caused by the Malassezia yeast. Because of that, most sulfur-infused products are actually made for oily skin types.
Masks with both sulfur and kaolin and bentonite clay will help treat your pimples while also deep cleansing your pores and mattifying your skin, so they are a great option. However, chances are you could use any sulfur products, including spot treatments, toners, and cleansers.
Sulfur for Normal Skin and Combination Skin
Normal skin is easy to recognize, since the pores are medium or small sized, and oil production is normal. Combination skin can be a little more confusing, since some parts of the face will product more oil than others, and the pores might be larger in the T-zone and smaller everywhere else.
If you have a normal or combination skin type, you want to think more carefully about the kind of sulfur products you should use. Sulfur masks are a decent option, and you might find yourself preferring ones without skin-drying clays.
If you are hoping to mitigate some T-zone oiliness, however, you might want to only use clay and sulfur masks on the localized areas where you are breaking out and getting greasy, rather than all over the face. Using spot treatments or toners with sulfur will also be a great way of enjoying the sulfur benefits without drying out your skin.
Sulfur for Dry Skin
Even those whose skin produces little to no oil might still find themselves experiencing breakouts once in a while, or they might be dealing with other skin issues that sulfur can mitigate, like seborrheic dermatitis. However, if you have dry skin you want to be careful about the kind of sulfur masks and skincare products you use.
Sulfur masks with clay are best avoided since they can seriously dry out and dehydrate your skin. Spot treatments are a better choice for treating the occasional pimple, while a gentle toner with sulfur can give you that all-over treatment without drying you out.
Photos via Sephora, Ulta, Instagram