Sulfur description

Can be a potent skin sensitizer. Sulfur also has a high pH, which can encourage the growth of bacteria on skin. Sulfur has more negatives than positives for skin, and its use to treat skin concerns should be seen as a last resort if other ingredients (such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid) don’t work as well as you had hoped.

Sulfur references

  • Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2012, pages 32-40

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.