What you do every time a pimple pops up is crucial to its healing. The spot treatments you use are especially a big factor, since these are supposed to shoo breakouts away. Usually, acne-prone skin depends on two tried-and-tested ingredients: depending on your skin type, you probably either use the pore-unclogging salicylic acid or the bacteria-killing benzoyl peroxide. There's also tea tree oil, an anti-microbial essential oil, if you fancy more natural remedies.
Whatever it is that currently works for you, take note that using a product too often has the tendency to dull its effects over time. This is why we need to build up the intensity of benzoyl peroxide once we start using it—from 2%, we go up to 5%, then 10%. Nothing against BP, of course; it's just proof that having a diverse collection of acne treatments will save you from having nothing to work with. And as long as you're careful, trying out new ingredients is totally safe. Who knows, you might even find something your skin likes better!
Recently, a lot of skin care fans are rediscovering the wonders of sulfur. You might be familiar with it if you're a fan of Mario Badescu's famous Drying Lotion. Outside of its skin benefits, its defining quality is probably its less-than-pleasant smell. But before you get turned off, let Dr. Michael Chua of Imperial Dermatology lure you into it:
To clear the air, the derm's definition of sulfur addresses its putrid smell. "Sulfur is an essential chemical element that is commonly used industrially and, in certain cases, in skin care," he says. Its industrial uses are too many to mention, but let's just say its derivatives are important for maintaining food crops and other everyday products like matches. But in certain forms, it's definitely safe as a skin care ingredient.
"Its mechanism of action is still unknown, although its uses for skin care has been known since the ancient times," the dermatologist clarifies. "In acne treatment, it is used for its drying capability, which is postulated to be due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties."
How different is it from salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide? Dr. Michael explains, "In dermatology, we combine sulfur with resorcinol (a skin softening ingredient). Together, they are potent drying agents for the nodular inflammatory type of acne. Meanwhile, benzoyl peroxide is a keratolytic, which means it helps in softening the skin. Salicylic acid also functions similarly. Sulfur doesn't do either of these."
In short, if it's quick spot drying that you need, sulfur can be your new go-to. As with all potent skin care, however, do exercise caution when using it. "Sulfur, if used excessively, can irritate the skin and clog the pores as well," warns the dermatologist. So use it sparingly, since it will definitely parch the area that it's on. That's why most sulfur-infused skin care are spot treatments! It could be also be great in masks in controlled amounts, combined with other clarifying ingredients.
Ready to give this acne solution a spin? Shop sulfur-infused skin care below!
IMAGE Mario Badescu
Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, P1095, Rustan's Department Stores
Snoe Shoo-zit! Don't Bother Me! Buff The Magic Cystic Buffering Solution, P499, Zalora
AcneCare Acne Drying Lotion, P299, Lazada
Origins Out of Trouble 10-Minute Mask, SM Megamall
Murad Clarifying Acne Mask, Rustan's