What Is It?

Sulfur is a yellow solid. In cosmetics and personal care products, Sulfur is used in body, hair, cleansing, skin care and hand products.

Why Is It Used?

In OTC drug products, Sulfur is used as an ingredient to reduce the number of acne blemishes, acne pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads, and to help to control dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. In cosmetics and personal care products Sulfur is used to enhance the appearance and feel of hair, by increasing hair body, suppleness, or sheen, or by improving the texture of hair that has been damaged physically or by chemical treatment and to enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness.

Scientific Facts

Sulfur is a naturally occurring element that is produced in large quantities in Texas, Louisiana, Canada, Europe and Asia. Sulfur is an essential component of all living cells. Sulfur has been known since ancient times.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits the use of Sulfur in Over-the-Counter (OTC) drug products for treating acne and dandruff. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) has deferred evaluation of this ingredient because the safety has been assessed by FDA. This deferral of review is according to the provisions of the CIR Procedures.

The OTC antiacne drug products may consist of Sulfur 3 to 10% or Sulfur 3 to 8% when combined with other antiacne ingredients. Sulfur may be used as an active ingredient for the control of dandruff at a concentration of 2 to 5%.

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Sulfur

Sulfur may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in the Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:…

More Scientific Information

Sulfur is an abundant, tasteless, odorless, multivalent non-metal. Sulfur, in its native form, is a yellow crystalline solid. In nature, it can be found as the pure element or as sulfide and sulfate minerals. It is an essential element for life and is found in two amino acids, cysteine and methionine. Sulfur is an essential component of all living cells. Sulfur may also serve as chemical food source for some primitive organisms: some forms of bacteria use hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the place of water as the electron donor in a primitive photosynthesis-like process. Sulfur is absorbed by plants via the roots from soil as the sulfate ion and reduced to sulfide before it is incorporated into cysteine and other organic sulfur compounds (sulfur assimilation). In plants and animals the amino acids cysteine and methionine contain sulfur, as do all polypeptides, proteins, and enzymes which contain these amino acids. Glutathione is an important sulfur-containing tripeptide which plays a role in cells as a source of chemical reduction potential in the cell, through its sulfhydryl (-SH) moiety. Many important cellular enzymes use prosthetic groups ending with -SH moieties to handle reactions involving acyl-containing biochemicals: two common examples from basic metabolism are coenzyme A and alpha-lipoic acid. Disulfide bonds (S-S bonds) formed between cysteine residues in peptide chains are very important in protein assembly and structure. These strong covalent bonds between peptide chains give proteins a great deal of extra toughness and resiliency.


Find out more about the regulation of over-the-counter drugs by the Food and Drug Administration

OTC Drug Home Page:…

Information about OTC Drug monographs:

Search the Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory