Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar

Purchased (Affiliate Links)

As you may remember, I began using Erno Laszlo when I was 17 years old, and my mom, sister and I had a ritual, that we adhered to for many years, that included purchasing our Laszlo products together in San Francisco, followed by having a lovely lunch, and then going back home and playing show and tell before we disappeared in our rooms to start testing our new products. My dad would just smile and ask if we had a nice time when we walked in the door, knowing that the ritual was about the time spent together and punctuated by the fun of shopping all day in the City. For a more lengthy narrative, and a real trip down memory lane for me, see my post written on December 8, 2011 HERE. Suffice it to say, Erno Laszlo is woven into a very complex set of memories that have to do with coming of age, and shared time with my family, therefore the nostalgia cannot not be disentangled from the use of these products. Furthermore, Laszlo was my first luxury skincare brand to which I remained loyal and faithful for many, many years.
Back in 2011 when I wrote that post, Sea Mud Soap, as it was then called, was $40.00 for 6 oz. (and it certainly cost less when I was 17), and the heft of that bar was a big part of the tactile experience of its use. Now the bar is nearly half the size, at 3.4 oz., and my only real complaint is that it is far less satisfying to use that that big and thick bar that fit perfectly into the hand, and that was incredibly satisfying to use. It used to come in its own thick plastic faux veined white marble lidded soap dish (of which I still have many), but that was replaced by more sustainable recyclable packaging,

I have read customer reviews complaining that the formula is radically different in that it no longer smells the same, and that it no longer has all of the refined and tiny exfoliating particles for which this iconic bar is known. Having used that bar as long as I did, and having the visceral reaction that I do– I have to state that it smells precisely the same, and I see no appreciable difference in the concentration of exfoliating particles. I also do not fault Erno Laszlo for becoming more sustainable and eco-conscious in their packaging. I just wish that they had not made the bar smaller, and I would gladly pay more for the 6 oz. bar, and I mean gladly.

Back when I was a bonafide Laszlo girl, and only used their products, I would massage their Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil (then just called Active Phelityl Oil) into my face, dip my Sea Mud Soap into my filled basin of warm to hot water, and then rub the bar all over my face and form a creamy lather. Afterward I would splash my face with the warm soapy water 20 times, empty the basin and splash my face 10 more times with warm running water. Then I would lightly towel dry my skin and use my serum and lotion or cream. The Laszlo ritual, was a visceral part of the whole experience, and the result was gorgeous glowing skin, or the Laszlo Glow as it was known. 

Now it seems as though much of the ritual has been cut down to accommodate modern living, but in my experience the few products that I have recently tried again are the same as I remember them.

Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar does an exceptional job cleaning and exfoliating my skin, and it does so without drying, stripping or irritating. Skin is left soft, clear and luminous, and while it is now said to be formulated for all skin types, it used to be for normal, combination and oily skin types. I would say that dryer skin types would only use it periodically for its deep cleaning and exfoliating abilities, but not as a daily soap. I do like to use it with a cleansing oil, but sometimes I use it alone. I don't have a bottle of the Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil, but I have actually been thinking about buying one to see how I feel about using it with this bar, and whether there is a marked difference between it and my other cleansing oils. 
According to Erno Laszlo,

This facial bar soap uses therapeutic benefits of mineral-rich Dead Sea mud to help reduce the appearance of blemishes. Skin is left radiant, smooth, and soft.

The famous black soap. Boasting several of nature’s most incredible ingredients to simultaneously deep-clean (without stripping), refine, and rejuvenate. Dead Sea Mud is a natural wonder, boasting 26 minerals essential to healthy skin. Charcoal regulates oil content while deeply cleansing and renewing the complexion. Glycerin acts as a moisture magnet, attracting and holding hydration

Directions: For best results, use after cleansing oil as part of your Double-Cleanse ritual. Use morning and night to cleanse and prep skin before laying other elements of your routine, such as toner, serums, and moisturizers. Formulated for all skin types.

Ingredients: Sodium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Water (Aqua/Eau), Silt (Dead Sea Mud), Charcoal Powder, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Chloride, Glycerin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Evernia Prunastri (Oakmoss) Extract, Benzyl Cinnamate, Benzyl Benzoate, CI 77489 (Iron Oxides), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide). Made without: Phthalates, Parabens, Sulfates, Mineral Oil, Petrolatum and Urea.
Overall Assessment: I still love this bar, and my only complaint (and it's a big one) is that this smaller size bar is far less satisfying to use. Perhaps as a Limited Edition gift idea they could bring back the full size bar in the gorgeous plastic soap dish, and then consider relaunching the 6 oz. bar refill. If you are new to Laszlo, then you don't know what you are missing, but if you have used this brand for a long time, then you likely mourn the old size of this gorgeous bar!

$40.00 for 3.4 oz. from Erno Laszlo, Nordstrom, Sephora, Violet Grey, Saks Fifth Avenue, Revolve, Amazon, b-glowing and Look Fantastic (Affiliate Links). Purchased. All views expressed are categorically my own. Copyright © 2021 www.lolassecretbeautyblog.com All Rights Reserved.


  1. When I met my now sister-in-law she had very finicky skin. She followed the Laszlo routine to a tee and it made such a huge difference for her. She too still uses some Laszlo to this day.

    1. That is the same type of story you hear so much about from people who had such great results with Laszlo products. When I look at reviews on retailer websites, there are always people who say that they have been using their products for 40+ years! That type of brand loyalty isn't something that you see too often!

  2. What a fabulous post! Once I started reading it, I remembered from past posts that when you were younger you used to shop with your mother and sister for beauty products, but I didn't know it was Laszlo. I love reading about your memories. When I was younger, I first learned about "the black soap" in Annie Hall. Annie used black soap on her face throughout the movie. I went to Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue to check out Erno Laszlo and the black soap. The brand seemed like the height of luxury, and it's glass cases were situated right in the middle of the beauty department near the middle door on the first floor. I thought I might spend my hard-earned money on a black bar, but I had dry skin even back then, so I passed on it. I think now it would still not work for me. But one of these days, I have to try something luxe from the brand.

    1. Thank you, Allison! Writing it was so nostalgic for me! Your description of walking into Saks is perfect! That was my experience each time I walked up to the fancy counter filled with such wonder! I definitely think that Sea Mud Soap isn't the best choice for you. My mom used their Phelityl Soap for years and loved it! She no longer uses any of their products, but when I told her that I was feeling nostalgic (for the pre-pandemic days) and that I purchased a few Laszlo products she walked down memory lane with me!

  3. The erno sea mud soap is not the same. It doesn't smell the same and it doesn't lather the way it used to.im 73 years old and I was using the bar in college when I was 19. No bar is not the real thing.

    1. I didn't personally find a difference in the smell, or the amount of exfoliating particles, but I agree that the lather isn't the same (with or without the use of the Phelityl Oil. I do find the size COMPLETELY unsatisfying and frustrating, and after having used up more than one of their new small bars I have to say that they aren't very long-lasting. I also really wish that they would have maintained more of Dr. Laszlo's vision, and that they hadn't discontinued so many of the old products.


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