FAQ - Sulfur & Salicylic Acid Bar Soap

Why have you temporarily run out of this soap twice since 2020?

When SAL3 ceased selling, the demand for DermaHarmony soaps more than doubled. In normal times it takes around 12 weeks to acquire all of the necessary ingredients and packaging for a production run.  The COVID-19 pandemic limited our production capacity.

We started the planning on the production run in April and were unable to complete the run until October. The August-October 2020 outage of the 10% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid soap was directly related to this spike in demand and COVID-19.

The March-June 2021 outage of many products was caused by global shortages of raw ingredients, shipping container delays, packing film delays, and workers who were unwilling to return to work because of the pandemic.  By the summer of 2021 the lead time had grown from 12 weeks to more than 30 weeks. Despite more than doubling our inventory levels in 2020, sales continue to outstrip supply.

As a response we've increased inventory on Sulfur and Salicylic Acid products by a factor of 4X since the start of the pandemic.  We're hopeful that the pandemic will be behind us by the end of 2021 and things will return to normal.

What is Sulfur & Salicylic Acid bar soap used for?

Acne, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis are medical conditions. When treating a medical condition only certain percentages and combinations are 'monographed'. A drug monograph is a predetermined checklist covering medical conditions, active ingredients, doses, formulations, and product labeling that the Food & Drug Administration deems safe and effective.

Salicylic Acid in concentrations from 1.8% to 2%, when formulated to be applied and then washed off after brief exposure, is used to treat dandruff. Sulfur in concentrations from 1.8% to 3% is used to treat dandruff. Salicylic acid in concentrations from 1.8% to 3% is used to treat seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. A combination of sulfur and salicylic acid can be used to treat dandruff provided that each concentration is within the established concentrations. Sulfur in concentrations from 3% to 10% is used to treat acne. Salicylic acid in concentrations from 0.5% to 2% is used to treat acne. Sulfur cannot be combined with saliicylic acid in a drug to treat acne. There are many other uses.  So many that it would be difficult to list them all.

These are other popular uses for sulfur as an OTC drug:

  • Antifungal
  • Scabicide (a medication used to treat scabies)
  • Pediculicide (an agent that destroys lice)
  • Anorectal keratolytic (medical treatment to remove warts, calluses and other lesions in which the epidermis produces excess skin)
  • External analgesic (a drug acting to relieve pain) for poison ivy/oak/sumac
  • Skin protector for dipper rash
  • Agent to help clear up fever blisters and cold sores 

We don't market our soaps for these bulleted uses.

Our 5% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap is an OTC drug used to treat dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. 

Our 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap is marketed only for use as soap. 10% sulfur and 3% salicylic acid soap is a popular combination that has been manufactured and sold for decades. This product is NOT intended to treat or prevent disease, such as by killing germs, or treating skin conditions such as acne. Its only purpose is to cleanse skin.

Doctors are permitted to use drugs off-label.  We are prohibited from marketing off-label uses.

What happened to Braunfels Labs & the SAL3 brand?

We don't know. We have reports from previous SAL3 customers that placed orders and paid but never received their order. It appears as thought Braunfels Labs closed without warning or planning during the COVID-19 outbreak in the summer of 2020. They were a long-time manufacturer of 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic acid soap.

Why does the packaging on the 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic Acid soap not list the percentages?

Because we are attempting to de-emphasize the percentage of the sulfur and salicylic acid.  This bar soap is for cleansing skin. As a soap, ingredients are listed in descending order by ingredient weight. The "regulatory" definition of "soap" is different from the way in which people commonly use the word. The bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product's detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds. This product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap.

Does the 5% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap work?

The 5% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid formulation is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for treating seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, and psoriasis.  Drugs are required to list the active ingredients with percentages on a drug facts panel. OTC drugs are medicines sold directly to a consumer without a requirement for a prescription from a healthcare professional. This bar soap has been proven to be "safe and effective" when you follow the directions on the label.  Scientific data has proven to support product claims.  Yes, the 5% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid Bar Soap works.  Dandruff is a condition involving an increased rate of shedding of dead epidermal cells of the scalp. Psoriasis is a condition of the scalp or body characterized by irritation, itching, redness, and extreme excess shedding of dead epidermal cells. Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition of the scalp or body characterized by irritation, itching, redness, and excess shedding of dead epidermal cells. The DermaHarmony 5% Sulfur & 2% Salicylic Acid bar soap is for relief of or the control of the symptoms of dandruff seborrheic dermatitis, and/or psoriasis. It is for the relief of or controls of (fights, reduces, helps eliminate, helps stop, controls recurrence of, fights recurrence of, helps prevent recurrence of, reduces recurrence of, helps eliminate recurrence of, helps stop recurrence of) itching, irritation, redness, flaking, and scaling. 

How is the 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic Acid soap different than SAL3?

There are lots of little differences. Here are the top three: 1) DermaHarmony uses a precipitated sulfur. Precipitated sulfur, aka "Milk of Sulfur", as a raw ingredient, is a topical scabicide, antiparasitic, antibacterial, antifungal, and keratolytic. Sublimed sulfur, as a raw ingredient, aka "Flower of Sulfur (FOS)", is a topical scabicide and antiparasitic ointment. Sublimed sulfur is sulfur that has been purified through sublimation (gas-to-solid without transitioing through a liquid state) transition. We find milk of sulfur to be a bit more mild than flower of sulfur. It has a more mellow smell and interacts well with Soyethyl Morpholinium Ethosulfate (a soy-derived natural odor control). The result is a much nicer smelling soap. SAStid, made by Stiefel Laboratories prior to being acquired by GlaxoSmithKline, was the most popular 10% Sulfur & 3% Salicylic Acid soap in the world. Glaxo discontinued SAStid after acquiring Stiefel in 2009. It is noteworthy that SAStid also used Precipitated Sulfur. 2) DermaHarmony soap does not contain lanolin (also known as wool wax or wool grease because it is secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals). DermaHarmony soap does not contain animal ingredients. 3) We make our soap here in the USA. SAL3 is made in Southeast Asia.

My soap has dark rust colored spots. Is this normal?

Dark rust colored spots are caused by flakes of sulfur that leach into the surrounding soap.  We try to remove spotted bars from the production line as bars are inspected. Customers get concerned about brown spots.  We rebatch spotted bars (e.g. grind them up and reprocess) to cut down on customer service questions.  There's nothing wrong with using a spotted bars. 

Does the soap smell like sulfur?


Does the soap smell bad?

That really depends on you.  And we're not kidding.

A few years ago, chemists discovered that the nose is sometimes hypersensitive to sulfur odors. The culprit, as it turns out, is a metallic binding partner that amplifies the signal of smelly thiol molecules.

A thiol is any organosulfur compound of the form R−SH, where R represents an alkyl or other organic substituent. Thiols are the sulfur analogue of alcohols - the smelly part of the sulfur.

The human nose can be particularly sensitive to sulfur compounds. Hypersensitivity is caused by copper, the metallic binding partner.  Roughly half of the world's population has lots of copper particles in their nasal mucus. The other half have very little or no copper in their nasal mucus. It's genetic – in our DNA!

Copper amplifies a thiol's intensity by up to 1,000 times.  If you have lots of copper in your nasal mucus you'll not like the smell of our soap.  If you don't, the soap smells fine.  There's a vast range in how people smell sulfur.

Why do DermaHarmony bars smell better than other sulfur soaps?

We achieve a less smelly bar by adding a substance called Soyethyl Morpholinium Ethosulfate (a soy plant-derived natural odor controller formulated without sulfates). It is classified as a natural or organic ingredient that is used in a variety of natural products. It is used most often as an ingredient in deodorants. We use Soyethyl Morpholinium Ethosulfate in our soap as a masking ingredient to help offset or neutralize the sulfur odor. We use a tiny amount of Soyethyl Morpholinium Ethosulfate because it does not take much to neutralize the thiols odors.