I’ll admit, I had my doubts. It has been a long time since I tried using a bar of soap to wash my face. And the dull black bar didn’t really do much to inspire confidence. The Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar, also labeled The Famous Black Soap, arrived in an Allure Beauty Box. I’ve tried the Erno Laszlo makeup removing cleanser (which was really good) that comes in a pump and it had a similar color so I wasn’t ready to judge it by its appearance. Also I have a fondness for their under eye masks. So since I’ve tried and liked skin care products from the Erno Laszlo Company before, I was willing to go on a little faith.
I will say, because I saw a few reviews in passing, this bar has been around a long time so for many it is a familiar and well loved product. There seemed to be some disagreement about formula and scent change. While I may have tried this soap at some point in the dim dark past, as I believe my mother once had a membership with them (I think it was the only way you could get their products at the time), I don’t remember it well enough to compare it to the current bar. This review is solely based on using this product now. This is not a comparison for what once was or what might have been.
So what is this soap now? According to the product page…
Our iconic Laszlo-original cleansing bar boasts the uniquely therapeutic benefits of Dead Sea mud, a mineral-rich miracle of nature, to deeply cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate skin.
To begin our commitment towards sustainability and doing our part in the circular economy, our packaging has been updated to feature 0% plastic.
We are committed to formulating without ingredients that do not meet the Erno Laszlo clean standards. Formulated Without: Phthalates, Parabens, Sulfates Mineral Oil, and PetrolatumErno Laszlo website
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).
Please be aware that ingredient lists may change or vary from time to time. Please refer to the ingredient list on the product package you receive for the most up to date list of ingredients.
I will say right off that the package, a cute little paper wrapper, contained an ingredients list that matched the website. So if they changed the formula it wasn’t with this bar. Although I do appreciate that they let you know which is the most current list and which you should pay attention to. I’ve tried products before where the package and the website didn’t match on the ingredients list and there was no mention of which was the more up to date (printed or posted). For me, I really like knowing that.
So dry, the bar had only a light scent that sort of came and went. I wasn’t sure the scent was from the soap or something I had the soap next to, to be honest. Then I got the soap wet. The scent increased. Oddly enough, it smells like black tea. I was expecting something more earthy and maybe mud like in the scent. I was even sort of expecting the odd almost lack of scent from the charcoal as in skin care it sometimes swallows scents. Maybe tea scent is the parfum ingredient added. Either way I liked it. When I used the bar in the morning it sort of reminded me of waking up in my grandparent’s house. If the morning didn’t smell like black tea at that house then something was seriously wrong.
Because it has been so long since I have used a bar of soap (as opposed to a liquid, oil, gel or cream) to wash my face, it took me a little while to adapt. The first thing I realized was that you not only have to wet the soap down (which I did automatically) but you really need to splash a little water on your face first to help get things started. According to the directions you are supposed to rub the bar on your face, using the corners to massage the planes of your face.
I tried that, because it was recommended. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of this approach. I preferred rubbing the bar of soap between my hands until it lathered and then rubbing the suds onto my face with my hands. I know I lose the rounded corner massage element, but as I use a vibrating cleansing tool on my skin while the soap is on there, I think it makes up for it. I did try the soap without the tool as I know not everyone uses them so I can compare the experience.
But first the soap. So it is scented like black tea. It foams, but not a whole lot and the foam from the soap looks grayish black and to be honest, like dirty water. Applied to the face any sort of exfoliation efforts were so gentle as to feel non-existent while rubbing on the face. There was no harsh scratching or beads or seeds. This was not a physical exfoliate. When rinsed off the skin, the skin did feel as though it had been exfoliated. My skin felt soft and super clean. It was the sort of clean that made me want to wait a while before applying any moisturizer to the skin so I could just relish in the soft clean skin for a little while.
As good as it was on it’s own, I have to say, using the vibrating skin massager with this soap made it better. I think they just worked really well as a tag team. You don’t need the tool to get the soap to perform, but if you are using one, this is a great product to use it with.
There is a little bit of a mess with using this product. There are dark dribbles in the sink that are easily rinsed off, you just have to remember to swirl a little bit of water through the sink to clear them out. The product doesn’t leave any soapy residue, wither on your skin or in the sink so you don’t have to scrub. I originally put the soap on the sink beside the faucet where whatever product I use to wash my face usually lives.
The black smears on the side of the sink and the drips leading from it down the sink kind of bothered me so I moved in a small plate. It keeps the dribbles at bay and even though there are black smears on the dish it bothers me less than on the white sink. I think it is because of the busy pattern of the plate to be honest. The eye is less drawn to the schmutz.
My one regret with this bar is that I didn’t measure it before I started my trial. I’ve been using it for about two weeks now, ever since I finished my Purlisse cleanser, and while the brand imprint on the center of the bar is less sharply cut, I don’t think the bar of soap has gotten all that much smaller. The comparison photos are posted above (but with no real reference scale since I didn’t think before I usd the bar of soap.). While I normally wash my face with my standard cleanser in the morning and evening, this bar was so gentle I was able to use it for my mid-day post workout rinse off with no noticeable issues. While I like my post workout Olay Gentle cleanser, it is really nice to be able to just use one cleansing product.
There are two sizes of soap that Erno Laszlo sells. One is the 100 g bar (retail $38) and the smaller 50 g size (retail $23). The 50 g size is the one that came in the Allure Beauty Box. I am curious to see how long the bar actually lasts. I suspect that it will last for quite a while, in fact it might just last as long as a bottle of liquid style cleanser. I would like to point out that I also keep it by my sink rather than in the shower. I do have an oil makeup remover that I keep in the shower, but it is in a pump.
I wouldn’t leave this bar cleanser in the shower as I think the shower spray might cause it to disappear faster than it needs to. This is a sink facial cleanser not a shower one. As always the final question is would I buy this product to use again. The answer is use. It is a good non drying cleanser that leaves skin soft and smooth. I like the scent and I like the effects. And once I managed to contain the dribbles in the dish instead of having them streak the side of my sink, I even got used to the color of the bar. It is definitely a product I would use again.
While Erno Laszlo products can be purchased on the Erno Laszlo site they are also available on the Look Fantastic Site. Today starts the Exclusive! 15% off Sitewide Sale on Look Fantastic. Just use code EXCLUSIVE15. The offer is good from today through October 5th.