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Sulfur – Volcanic Personal Care

June 6, 2010

Inspired by  Environment Day and the recent events in Iceland we take a look at Sulfur and discover the skin care secrets of our abundant planet. Delicious!

Volcano photo by Cyrus Read USGS

In nature Sulfur is mainly found in areas of high volcanic activity. Indeed it is Sulfur and  its  compounds that make Icelandic bathtubs  smell like eggs as Iceland uses geothermal energy to heat it’s water.   But it is not just around volcano’s that sulfur can be found. Salt flats are a cozy home for many sulfur producing bacteria and sulfur is an essential element in pretty much all living things – it helps our cells to utilize oxygen efficiently and is also part of our DNA. In addition to that much of the strength in our hair can be attributed to sulphur and the disulphide bonds that occur in our keratin (the hairs protein). It is through making changes to these bonds that we can straighten or wave our hair into different styles using chemicals such as ammonium thioglycolate and hydrogen peroxide to help us.

So sulfur is good even if it smells bad as  it occurs naturally in both our bodies and the environment but what good does it do in skin care? Let’s have a look….

Cosmetic Info.Org lists the properties of Sulfur as an ingredient to reduce blemishes and to control dandruff  and dermatitis.  That marries up with my experience of the ingredient which is also sold neat by many health food shops as a skin care cure-all due to its excellent skin-calming and anti-bacterial properties. It is pretty amazing stuff really!

So where can I try Sulfur skin care?

I am sure that there are more but here are some products that caught my eye.

Before we go it is important to note that while this looks like the most amazing ingredient ever with its anti-acne, anti-ageing and anti-bacterial credentials it is not for everyone.  Yes it can be calming and soothing for some but others find it too harsh and irritating, especially when used in large  quantities (as a rule it will  not be present in large quantities in off-the-shelf skin care ranges).

As far as the hair goes, it can help some scalp conditions but not all as only a percentage of dandruff is due to a bacterial problem or imbalance. In addition  it is claimed to help boost hair growth in some people but not everyone finds this to be the case.   If you do suffer from acne, psoriasis, scalp problems or other skin conditions it would be worth speaking to your dermatologist or trichologist before trying a full-on sulfur regimen just to be safe.  After that though I think it is time to put the feet up, get the face pack on and thank nature for another wonderful ingredient.

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