Glass tests Erno Laszlo – the heritage skincare brand that’s perfect for modern life

VERY few brands’ back-story can compete with that of Erno Laszlo, whose skincare line has been relied upon by women in the know for generations. “Beautiful skin requires commitment, not a miracle,” said Dr Laszlo, and Glass tested his wisdom with a long trial of both his groundbreaking cleansing ritual, and the company’s extensive range of masks.

Erno Laszlo

Erno Laszlo Institute latest launch of cleansing bars

In 1925, the dermatologist Dr Erno Laszlo developed the first products for acne-prone skin  to heal the complexion of Hungary’s Princess Stephanie. He established the first Erno Laszlo Institute of Scientific Cosmetology in Budapest in 1927 and emigrated to Hollywood ten years later. From that point on, Erno Laszlo’s client list would feature many of the 20th century’s most noted and enduring beauty icons: Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardener, Grace Kelly …  Phormula 3-8 was created for Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn famously remarked, “Fifty per cent of my beauty I owe to my mother, 50 per cent to Erno Laszlo.”

High society beat a path to the Erno Laszlo Institute in NYC – nicknamed The House of Silence by Wallis Simpson; a woman who surely understood the value of discretion.

Erno Laszlo InstituteThe Erno Laszlo Institute in New York City

At a time when most women believed that they should cleanse with cold cream and tissue, and soap and water on the face became taboo, those stars that the public most admired – and whose beauty they hoped to emulate – were enjoying a soap and water regime which even today seems ground-breaking in its simplicity, practicality, and in the results it gives. “If water didn’t exist, I would have invented it,” asserted Dr Laszlo.

I was raised by my grandmother – a firm believer that soap on the face destroyed the complexion, and that water was to be enjoyed at a temperature no higher than tepid. Of her many taboos and strict rules on ladylike behaviour, this was the one I most rigorously observed. And although I broke her strictures on water temperature as soon as I was old enough to wrestle control of the taps from her hand, the taboo on washing my face with bar soap held firm.

And yet I was desperate to try the famous Erno Laszlo Black Black Sea Mud Soap.

Erno Laszlo Black Sea Mud SoapErno Laszlo Black Sea Mud Soap

This is, perhaps, the company’s most celebrated product. Woody Allen referenced it in Annie Hall, “She used to wash her face 800 times a day with black soap. Don’t ask me why.” Visually, it’s a treat: a hard slab of dense black soap boxed in a smart black and white dish that won’t over-feminise the look of your bathroom. But for me the fascination was also cultural: I associate Black Sea Mud Soap with the Studio 54 set; with Diane von Fürstenberg, Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Janice Dickinson, Margaret Trudeau – all the nightclub fixtures whose appetite for life and fun showed in the glitter of their eyes, but did not manifest in ravaged complexions. I had it firmly in mind that Erno Laszlo could make the baddest of bad girls pass for an angelic beauty.

The magic of soap and water is central to the Erno Laszlo regime, as is understanding your particular skin type. You can get a diagnosis at an Erno Laszlo counter, or take the online test to learn which selection of Erno Laszlo products will be right for you. As my t-zone becomes oily early in the day, but I do not suffer from dryness, the Black Sea Mud Soap is a recommended product for my skin type. My regime involves massaging the Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil into my skin and following up by massaging my face with the Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar. Massaging the soap into the oil creates a mask that is then rinsed away with hot water.

Erno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing OilErno Laszlo Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil

The Erno Laszlo Duo Cleanse ritual is easy and enjoyable to carry out, but is it transformative? I began testing these products a year ago, and in that time they have helped my skin adjust to every challenge and each change of season. I have been particularly impressed at how very gently, but thoroughly, these products have sorted some areas of my skin that I had long abandoned attempts to change.

Dryness and tightness have never been a problem, even in the first days of the regime, when I expected my skin to protest at such a dramatic change in routine. Congestion under the skin has been hugely improved; little bumps have gradually – and gracefully – subsided. My t-zone is no longer awash with oil by mid-day, and the famed #laszloglow is no myth. My skin looks brighter, clearer and calmer, and my cleansing ritual helps me to sleep better, and to feel more alive in the morning – never my favourite time of day.

Erno Laszlo Firmarine Double Cleanse Set

Erno Laszlo Firmarine Double Cleanse Travel Set

I am not one to be faithful to one product and I love to try new things, but my Erno Laszlo Duo Cleanse products have won themselves a permanent place in the bathroom. Now I know that when I abandon Erno Laszlo to try new products, or find that my pace of life has become so hectic that I’m falling into bed still wearing a full face of make-up, as soon as I return to my Erno Laszlo duo-cleanse ritual my skin will be balanced and glowing within days.

The new Duo Cleanse combinations are a thoughtful update in line with the original Erno Laszlo philosophy. For those that like to mix and match their skincare, and press great product upon their friends and relatives, these pretty and practical travel sets are a must-have. Since their release I now have the whole family using Erno Laszlo.

Erno Laszlo Sensitive Double Cleanse Set

Erno Laszlo Firmarine Double Cleanse Travel Set

The pink Sensitive Double Cleanse is so mild that my soap-phobic pre-teen – who considers even the gentlest of face washes to sting – will use it willingly. I’ve given this to a friend whose skin is very sensitive, often feeling uncomfortable and looking reddened. Within one week of use, her skin looked calm, clear and glowing, and her partner has vowed to keep her in Laszlo for life …

My daughter spends a lot of time working outside, and so has higher than average exposure to sun and lashing British rain. The comforting and nourishing Hydra-Therapy Double Cleanse is perfect for her. My partner has to cope with frequent flying and long hours in dark venues and on tour buses. The double hit of pollution and lack of sunlight leads to spots – the Detoxifying Double Cleanse absorbs excess oil without drying the skin, thus avoiding the vicious circle of further breakouts.

I use the Detoxifying Double Cleanse regularly, switching back to Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil once the charcoal powder in the detoxifying set has worked its magic on any blocked pores and blemishes. The light, fresh Firmarine Double Cleanse has a tightening effect and is so refreshing and uplifting I use it as a pick-me-up before going out on the town – it will be my default summer cleanser of choice.


Erno Laszlo Detoxifying Hydrogel Mask


Erno Laszlo Exfoliate & Detox Hydrogel Mask

Masks have been one of the biggest beauty stories of 2016, and the Erno Laszlo sheet masks have been a great success for the company. No surprise: these are the only sheet masks I’ve tried that fit so well that I can actually read a book while wearing, without product slopping out and sticking the pages together. If you like to lie prone and close your eyes, than any old sheet mask might do, but I hate enforced relaxation and so – until discovering this range – have also hated sheet masks.

The sheet masks are colour-coded in the same families as the Duo-Cleanse combinations: pink for the Soothe & Calm Hydrogel Mask (Sensitive Skin), black for Exfoliate & Detox Hydrogel Mask (Pore-Minimizing), blue for the Firm & Lift Hydrogel Mask (Restorative).

Erno Laszlo White Marble Sheet Mask

Erno Laszlo White Marble Sheet Mask

The Erno Laszlo White Marble range is designed to combat dark spots and uneven skintone, neither of which conditions are a particular concern for me. But the White Marble Sheet Mask is currently my favourite of the range. It’s a one-piece that fits so well that I can actually work whilst wearing it – although conversation is best avoided.  After wearing it for 15 minutes my skin looks so dewy and refreshed I rarely want to apply make-up afterwards, but, as it’s my go-to product for perking myself up in anticipation of a night out, I frequently do, and never find that it interferes with the way my base or powder sits on the skin.

The Erno Laszlo sheet masks are wonderful for a quick and easy boost to the complexion, but two additional mask formulations – Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment and Hydra Therapy Memory Sleep Mask are each in their own way must-haves for the holiday season.

Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Sleep Mask


Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask

Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask is an overnight treatment, which effectively fakes all the skin benefits of a brilliant night’s sleep. This pale pink, bouncy gel includes Winged Kelp Extract, Extract of Prickly Pear, and Dual-Action Recovery Complex (an active blend of raspberry and tomato stem cells). Smooth the gel over your face ten minutes before getting into bed and – however full-on your night has been – on waking, your face feels refreshed and looks rested and the very picture of innocence. This is the kind of skincare trickery that no-one should be without in the party season.

Erno Laszlo Hydra Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment


Erno Laszlo Hydra-therapy Skin Vitality Treatment

Hydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Treatment is a  two-phase moisture mask that is applied once a week for four weeks. It’s a liquid/powder combination that you mix in a glass to create a pink mousse that looks exactly like a delicious full-cream strawberry fool. On application, the mask feels cool and a little tingly; you leave to dry for 10 to 15 minutes, and then peel off.

At the time of writing, I am two weeks into this treatment and haven’t yet quite mastered application – you get a generous amount of product, and I suspect I layer it on too lavishly, resulting in as much gommage as peel. Nonetheless, the reveal is firm, smooth hydrated skin that feels soft and pores that appear less visible. One to have on hand for the post-party weeks of the New Year, to restore the complexion and one’s equilibrium.

by Rachel McCormack

Erno Laszlo skincare is available to buy at Harrods and Harvey Nichols and online at Net-A-Porter

Discover more about the Erno Laszlo Institute here

All imagery courtesy of Erno Laszlo

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