Erno Laszlo changed my face.
Doesn’t matter that the Hungarian dermatologist had been dead for decades by the time I learned of the prestige skincare line based on his formulas. My 44-year-old complexion is unusually healthy largely because of his face-splashing ritual and Laszlo products in my regimen such as Advanced Retexturizing Complex, TRANSpHUSE, and the near-miraculous black Sea Mud Soap.
Now there’s a new Laszlo product, adding a splash of bright blue to an ocean of clinical black-and-white jars and bottles. The color is appropriate, because Laszlo Blue Firmarine SPF 30 contains mineral-rich deep sea water to nourish skin. The firming face cream, formulated for skin types ranging from slightly dry to slightly oily, also contains organic green tea, a multi-mineral complex, and vitamins A, C, and E to lift and tighten skin and promote collagen production by increasing circulation.
The product is $195 for 1.7 ounces at ernolaszlo.com and select upscale retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue. The price tag is predictably hefty because Laszlo’s “surgiceutical” skin care line occupies the same rarefied air as Darphin, La Mer and La Prairie. All of these luxury brands command higher prices largely because of the quality of their ingredients - all vitamin Cs are not created equal - and their reputation for delivering results.
What makes Laszlo unique is his long list of firsts. He was the first to create sunscreen products, to pH balance skincare, to formulate water-based products for oily skin, and to create skincare items specifically for men and teens.
The doctor emerged in the 1920s, initially treating a small roster of clients handpicked from among European royalty, nobility, and high society. He opened the Erno Laszlo Institute of Scientific Cosmetology in Budapest in 1927 and quickly gained a renown that forced him to branch out to other continents. He moved to the United States and established his U.S. institute on New York City’s posh Fifth Avenue in 1939, and along with wife Sibille became a U.S. citizen in 1945. Until his sudden death of heart failure in 1973 at the age of 75, he treated some of America’s most famous faces: Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Lillian Gish, Gloria Vanderbilt, Truman Capote and Yul Brynner, to name a few. Even Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, who we assume were never booked back-to-back.
Dr. Laszlo customized skincare regimens at a time when that was unheard of, convinced that any complexion could be healthy if it were properly cared for. He created a clock that categorized skin types far beyond simply dry, oily, or combination, and he was passionate and strict about the discipline of a skincare ritual that prevented, corrected, and protected. He once nearly threw Ava Gardner out of his office after gazing at her countenance and accusing her of lying about implementing a regimen he had prescribed. She fessed up and was allowed to stay after promising to follow his instructions faithfully.
“A woman may not tell me the truth about everything,” he once said, “but her skin will never lie.”