The Best Sulfur Soaps

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Written by Marissa DeSantis

When it comes to treating acne without a prescription, sulfur is kind of an unsung hero. The over-the-counter ingredient is a natural element with antifungal and antibacterial properties that can stop acne-causing bacteria in its tracks, and it also has mild exfoliating benefits — something that can help prevent future (and even heal current) breakouts. Sulfur can be found in all different types of products, but for today’s purposes, we’re going to be focusing on sulfur soaps. Whether you prefer a traditional bar soap or a foaming cleanser, the best sulfur soaps are formulated with 3 to 10% of the active ingredient. If your skin is particularly oily or congested, you can look for a soap that pairs sulfur with salicylic acid to help deep-clean your pores, while those with dry or sensitive skin will want to look for additional moisturizing and soothing ingredients like glycerin, avocado oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera.

Sulfur tends to be gentler on sensitive skin than most other acne treatments. In fact, sulfur soaps and creams are sometimes recommended to help with other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. If you have sensitive skin or you're using sulfur to treat one of these other inflammatory conditions, be sure to stick with a formula that only uses sulfur as the active ingredient, and avoid added ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids, and retinol. You'll also want to start with a lower percentage of sulfur (between 3 and 5%) to ensure that your skin can tolerate it, as even gentler actives can sometimes cause dryness or flaking.

With all of those benefits, it's only fair to warn you about sulfur's one drawback: it smells. Described as a rotten egg smell, there's really no denying that it's less than ideal. However, some sulfur products use fragrance to mask the scent (unfortunately, you may need to skip those if you have sensitive skin, though). And because these soaps and cleansers get rinsed right off, the sulfur scent shouldn't linger for long.

Shop The Best Sulfur Soaps

In a hurry? Here are the best sulfur soaps:

  1. Best Multi-Pack: The Grandpa Soap Co. Thylox Bar Soap (3-Pack)
  2. Best Soothing Sulfur Soap: Natural Elephant Dead Sea Sulfur Soap
  3. Best Sulfur Soap With Salicylic Acid: DermaHarmony Sulfur & Salicylic Acid Soap
  4. Best Foaming Cleanser With Sulfur: Kate Somerville EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser
  5. Best Shampoo & Body Wash With Sulfur: Dr. Robaina Sulfur Balsam Shampoo & Body Wash


Best Multi-Pack

This face and body soap uses 3% sulfur to help kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce excess oil while minimizing the risk of irritation. To add to its sensitive-skin-friendly appeal, there are no sulfates, parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrances, or colorants in this soap, which is also vegan and cruelty-free. Because it comes in a pack of three, you’ll be stocked for ages — or, you can add a sulfur soap to every bathroom in your home.

Relevant Review: “Best stuff ever! Really helped the redness in my skin, as well as my acne. I was shocked that this bar soap did not dry out my skin, I have always heard to never use bar soap on your face, to only use liquid soap. This product does not remove eye make up well, but it really deep cleans pores.”


Best Soothing Sulfur Soap

For drier skin types, this Natural Elephant Dead Sea Sulfur Soap combines sulfur with plenty of moisturizing and soothing ingredients. Dead Sea salt further helps to reduce inflammation caused by acne and skin conditions like rosacea and eczema, while also helping to bind more water to the skin thanks to its naturally high mineral content. Additionally, ingredients like aloe vera and green tea leaf extracts have a soothing effect on aggravated skin, and olive fruit oil, avocado oil, and vitamin E work to leave skin moisturized and smooth.

Relevant Review: “I’ve struggled to find a facial soap that actually cleans my skin but doesn’t make my rosacea worse. This helps so much. I’ve been able to keep my flares down thankfully!”


Best Sulfur Soap With Salicylic Acid

If a lower concentration of sulfur doesn't seem to be improving your acne, try a higher percentage and pair it with another proven acne-fighting ingredient. DermaHarmony’s Sulfur & Salicylic Acid Soap uses 10% sulfur and 3% salicylic acid to exfoliate away dead skin cells and clear pores of oil more effectively. The brand says that this bar soap can also be used as a shampoo to help with treating scalp conditions like dandruff and psoriasis. No matter how you use the soap, DermaHarmony recommends working it into a lather and letting it sit on your skin for 60 to 90 seconds before rinsing it off.

Relevant Review: “Love this soap. I have tried every product for my clogged pores and spent hundreds of dollars trying to find the best solution to clear skin. This works unbelievably well. And inexpensive!! Thank you!”


Best Foaming Cleanser With Sulfur

If you prefer a foaming face wash over a bar soap, try Kate Somerville’s EradiKate Daily Foaming Cleanser. Made with 3% sulfur, this cleanser has a whipped texture that gives it a more luxurious feel than a traditional bar of soap. In here, honey and rice bran extracts work to soothe and moisturize skin, oat kernel extract reduces oil, and added fragrance helps to curtail sulfur's telltale “eggish” smell.

Relevant Review: “This stuff is expensive in my opinion, but it lasted me a whole year and I'm pretty generous with this stuff. It's the best face wash I've ever used. It does not cause redness or burning at all on me, and doesn't dry out my skin at all. On me, dry skin usually leads to overproduction of oil and acne. My skin has never looked better. It's taken a long time for me to find a great face wash, and I'm so glad I came across this. I just made my second purchase.”


Best Shampoo & Body Wash With Sulfur

From body acne to flaky scalps, this Dr. Robaina Sulfur Balsam Shampoo & Body Wash can help with it all. In addition to sulfur, it’s formulated with tea tree — a natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial ingredient that’s commonly used to help treat acne — while plenty of soothing and hydrating ingredients (like colloidal oatmeal, aloe, and arnica) work to restore moisture and calm irritation. This is great for treating psoriasis, dandruff, redness, scalp and body acne, and other related conditions.

Relevant Review: “This is truly the only product that works for my psoriasis. I really love this shampoo and body wash! It works on my scalp and on my body. Nothing else compares!”

About The Author:

Marissa DeSantis has worked as a beauty writer and editor for nearly 10 years. Her pieces can be found across print and digital publications like Bustle, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and InStyle.