Erno Laszlo At-A-Glance
Strengths: One good toner; some good moisturizers; pH-correct AHA product; tinted moisturizer with sunscreen; workable concealer, powders, and powder blush.
Weaknesses: Expensive; the majority of products contain one or more considerably irritating ingredients; basic skin-care regimen revolves around using drying bar soap and alcohol-laden toners; the TranspHuse line; jar packaging.
According to the company's brochure, Dr. Erno Laszlo, a Hungarian dermatologist, was "the first to combine the exact science of his profession with the art of cosmetology" using "precisely diagnosed treatments dispensed with a doctor's touch." He treated Hungarian royalty, women whose lack of beautiful skin was apparently enough to get them shot in the face by potential suitors (no kidding)—until Laszlo saved the day with his revolutionary products. We admit that that's great copy, but there are rumors that he was never a medical doctor in Hungary or anywhere else in Europe, and he was certainly never licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Medical status aside, the claims and "story" behind these products are just another verse in the litany of hyperbole the cosmetics industry is famous for.
In his time (1920s through the 1930s), Laszlo's notoriety was built on "prescribing" skin-care regimens for wealthy women who could afford to "succumb to the 'Laszlo Ritual' of daily skin care." The ritual included regimented splashing of the face with extremely hot water before and after washing with bar soap. Today's Laszlo ritual talks of harnessing the power of water not only to cleanse skin but also to tone, firm, hydrate, clear, and energize skin. Amazing isn't it? If water alone and a certain splashing technique with traditional bar soap can take care of skin, then what's the point of Laszlo's profusion of (mostly poor) products? Why not just offer some soap and a tip sheet on how to splash most effectively, and let the water perform the miracles the company claims it can? If you think this sounds as ridiculous as we do, imagine trying to explain it to customers without backing away sheepishly. While neighboring cosmetics counters extol advanced formulas claiming to work like Botox or speak of their potent, patented cosmeceutical ingredients, Laszlo's team is going on and on about splashing skin with water and the "clocking system" they use to determine your skin type (a system that is more complicated than helpful).
Looking at historical background is one thing, but the real problem with legendary or ancient skin-care routines is that new research more often than not negates what we once thought to be true. After all, in Laszlo's heyday, no one knew about sun damage or the need for exfoliation, or that hot water can hurt skin and cause surfaced capillaries. Water-soluble cleansers weren't around, no one knew the connection between antioxidants and skin care, elegant sunscreens didn't exist, and Laszlo clearly didn't know that soap is too irritating and that irritation is a problem for skin (it's one of the major causes of collagen destruction). Plus, alkaline substances (that's what soap contains) have research showing they can increase the bacterial content in skin and damage the skin's healing process. With today's gentle cleansing options, there is no need to subject skin to the harshness of soap, regardless of how oily it is.
Further, anyone with any skin type who adheres to routine use of Laszlo's products is only setting themselves up for trouble, whether it's persistent irritation or a dry, tight feeling that will have you reaching for a moisturizer in desperation (and possibly making oily or breakout-prone areas worse as a result). There are some reliable, well-formulated products in this line, but following Laszlo's regimented routine is a path to skin irritation and dryness—and that's not the way to "worship your skin."
For more information about Erno Laszlo, call (888) 352-7956 or visit www.ernolaszlo.com.