Celebrating Dr. Laszlo
Celebrating Dr. Laszlo
When your entire company is named after a specific individual, you know that person must have been a vital force. We’re honored to keep alive the legacy of Dr. Erno Laszlo himself. July marks his birthday month (July 11th, to be exact), providing a perfect reason to celebrate his many accomplishments as a leader in the skincare space.
A Brief History of the Good Doctor
Born and raised in Hungary, Dr. Laszlo studied skin pathology and skin disease in Budapest and finished his clinical studies in Berlin under Professor Max Joseph, the father of modern dermatology.
Dr. Laszlo was a true master of medicine, pioneering many innovative products while introducing specific formulations to treat a variety of skin conditions. A man of firsts, the doctor established the concept of a “ritual” skincare routine with prescriptions for his clients and introduced cleansing oils and bars to the world, the forerunners to the double cleanse we know and love today.
He opened his first institute in Budapest in 1927, complete with a lab for creating his personalized formulations and developing bespoke treatments. Another first: he was the first to develop products specifically to treat acne-prone skin, and it all began with Princess Stephanie of Belgium.
Besieged by acne, the princess had lost her self-confidence and didn’t know where to turn – until she met Dr. Laszlo. He crafted the original Phormula 3-1 cream with an entirely custom formulation for her skin – and it worked! Princess Stephanie’s acne improved, and Dr. Laszlo’s path to bespoke skincare products for women the world over had begun.
His next major breakthrough was for the celebrated Hungarian actress, Frida Gombaszogi. She was shot in the face by a rejected suitor, the treatment of which presented quite a challenge for Dr. Laszlo[a][b][c]. He worked tirelessly in his laboratory, formulating not only preparations that would aid in healing her scar tissue, but also concealing her now-thickened skin. As he tended to Frida, her scars softened to the point where she was able to triumphantly return to her life as an actress!
Word spread about the doctor's ability to treat skin and restore women’s confidence, and soon his skincare creations were in high demand for women around the world.
The next logical move was to the United States, where New York became his home. In 1939, he opened his first institute there at 677 Fifth Avenue.
Innovation in Products
One of Dr. Laszlo’s earliest discoveries was the importance of pH balanced skin. He created the Phelityl range using his understanding of how to properly balance the skin’s pH, which is short for potential hydrogen and refers to a substance’s acidity level.
His other major innovation, one which has become the cornerstone of the Erno Laszlo brand, is the double cleanse ritual. Cleansing with cold cream was standard in the 1930s, but Dr. Laszlo emphasized the importance of two steps: cleansing oil to loosen and remove the day’s impurities, followed by a cleansing bar to stimulate and rejuvenate the face.
A signature component of his customized skincare prescriptions – which originally could only be obtained through a consultation appointment, later through a membership-only service, and are now available to all – is the concept of a ritual. When he gave his clients specific instructions on what, how, and when, he expected them to follow this ritual exactly – and he could tell if they were not following his instructions!
His Cutting-Edge Methods
It wasn’t just the products themselves, though. True to his focus on the ritual aspect of the process, Dr. Laszlo also emphasized methods. One of his key techniques was the “30 Splashes.”
Because Laszlo formulas maximize the skin's ability to benefit from the cleansing and replenishing properties of water, each ritual requires 30 splashes in comfortably hot or warm water. This has a multitude of positive effects, including:
* Deep and thorough cleansing of the skin
* Exfoliation of skin cells and flushing out of toxins
* Plumped and softened skin
* Exercised and strengthened capillaries
* Accelerated cell renewal
* Enhanced absorption of moisturizers
The 30 splashes were an integral part of the “The Clock Method.” Laszlo believed in six different skin types, which he termed “o’ clocks.” Instead of just dry, normal, and oily, Laszlo pointed out six different types, each of which includes a cleansing bar (specially formulated for that type), toning and conditioning, moisturizing and protecting, and one final finishing step. Today, our skin personality quiz helps you figure out which products will help address your specific skin concerns, but our Detoxifying, White Marble, and Phelityl lines are all timeless mainstays from Dr. Laszlo’s legacy of “o’clock” skin types.
In addition to the custom Phormula 3-1 he created for Princess Stephanie, he also created a custom Phormula 3-8 for Marilyn Monroe, who famously said, “Erno Laszlo not only heals my skin, but he soothes my soul.” The Phormula 3-8 (which has been reformulated and reintroduced to the public as Phormula 3-9) healed a scar on her stomach, but she was also kept well-stocked with Active Phelityl Cream, an all-purpose moisturizer that provided her signature on-screen glow.
The doctor became a trusted skincare expert for many of the world’s most recognizable faces, including Audrey Hepburn (who said “I owe 50% of my beauty to my mother and the other 50% to Erno Laszlo”), Jackie Onassis, Greta Garbo, world’s first “supermodel” Suzy Parker, and Katharine Hepburn, who allegedly begged the doctor to remove her freckles… to which he refused, describing them as integral to her beauty. The doctor was smart and kind!
He was also quite ahead of his time, having once described the true secret of skincare as “one part physiology, one part psychology, one part philosophy.” This representation is strikingly similar to a modern depiction of “mind/body/soul” as it relates to today’s expressions of self-care.
From Hungary to Hollywood, Dr. Erno Laszlo left his mark on the world, and it happens to be a particularly gorgeous one. Now the Erno Laszlo brand lives on in the doctor’s legacy. His groundbreaking dermatological discoveries, personalized skincare methods, and emphasis on the value of rituals continue to inform everything we do. Happy birthday to the man who gave us our name, mission, and so much more!