Most of us don’t think about sulfur when we think about our skin care needs, but this mineral is actually one of the most important—and influential—nutrients to consider for optimal skin health.
In fact, sulfur is the third most common mineral found in the body and is vital to the body’s overall health. Sulfur helps support the liver, plays a role in immune function and contributes to joint as well as overall cardiovascular health. Sulfur benefits also include the ability to support the appearance and wellness of our skin.†
Sulfur benefits for skin care
- Fights aging - Sulfur helps to protect skin from the effects of the sun's UV rays, radiation, pollution and other contributors to aging that we encounter daily, mainly through our environment.†
- Aids in collagen synthesis - Although collagen supplements are popular, they're not essential to maintain beautiful skin, hair and nails -- as long as you're eating well. Aim to eat a plant-based diet that supports collagen production, along with sulfur-rich foods (see list below) that naturally support the body's own synthesis of collagen. Sulfur helps provide strength to hair, skin and nails and supports skin’s suppleness and elasticity.†
- Supports detoxification - As noted above, sulfur plays an important part in liver health, and the liver is the body’s master cleansing and detoxification organ. The better your body is able to detoxify naturally on its own, the better your skin will look!†
Sulfur-rich foods to include in your diet
Sulfur is found abundantly in many foods, so there’s no reason to seek out special creams, pills or potions; you just need to eat right! Stock up on some of these amazing sulfur-rich foods, which also supply other nutrients for optimal skin health.
- Dark green and cruciferous vegetables - Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccolini, collards, asparagus, arugula and Brussels sprouts are all good sources of sulfur. Artichokes, leeks, turnips and celery also supply this important mineral.
- Fruits - Most fruits contain sulfur, but it's especially abundant in apples, apricots, berries, guava, mango, pineapple, bananas, watermelon, avocados and coconut. Dried fruits such as raisins, mulberries, dates and figs are additional sources. Of course, fruit also delivers a wealth of other beauty-boosting nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, anthocyanins and more--so a diet rich in fruit is beneficial for skin in many ways.
- Legumes - All legumes are loaded with minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium; some contain high levels of sulfur, too. Stock up on peas, beans and lentils, and incorporate them into your diet however you can. As a bonus, legumes' amino acid profile and high-fiber content will also aid in the overall appearance of skin as well as a healthy, energized body. Lentils, soybeans and mung beans provide some of the highest amounts of sulfur found in legumes.
- Allium veggies - Garlic, onions and scallions are members of the allium family and are some of the highest sulfur rich foods of all. They’re also a source of the potent antioxidant vitamin C and offer detoxification properties, as well.
- Potatoes - All potatoes provide sulfur, most delivering more of the mineral per potato than animal sources such as eggs or milk. Potatoes are also incredible for skin health due to their vitamin C content; plus, they're great sources of fiber and potassium.
- Winter squash - Pumpkin, acorn, butternut, buttercup and other types of winter squash are excellent for skin health. These foods are some of the best sources of sulfur found in the produce aisle and are also high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, both important antioxidants for immune and skin health.
- Nuts and seeds - Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are additional sources of sulfur and and other minerals that are excellent for skin health.
Eating a primarily plant-based diet is an ideal way to increase your daily sulfur intake. Some animal products, such as fish, milk and eggs, also contain sulfur; but most plants provide just as much or more of this mineral -- along with other benefits -- to keep your skin at its healthiest.
Sulfur soap and skin care products
A variety of topical sulfur products are available, intended to address oil skin, breakouts and acne. But these products do come with some risks to be aware of. For starters, sulfur skin care products may overly dry or damage the exterior layer of the skin, causing irritation, burning rashes or scarring.
When trying a clay-based sulfur soap or sulfur bath powder, be sure to test the product first on a small area of your skin to make sure you don't have any negative reactions. You could also use a sulfur blemish drying lotion made with a combination of sulfur and other plant-based ingredients for gentler effects on your skin.
To best experience the benefits of sulfur in skin care for skin, however, start from within, eating a diet rich in sulfur-containing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds for naturally beautiful skin.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.