Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Soap – oily skin’s best friend

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There is just something about the sea—its healing powers are mythological; its calming effect on the psyche is profound. The sea refreshes, rejuvenates and transforms. Happiness assaults the senses with the first breath of clean, salty ocean air. A swim in its waters can refresh the body and the mind. The sound of its waves lapping the shore can lull a full-grown man to sleep like a lullaby to a baby. Yes, the sea is a perfect place.

And, of all the seas, the Dead Sea is known as the most transformative and perfect of all. The unique chemical composition and greater concentration of minerals has been known for it’s curative abilities since ancient times. It’s not a stretch, then, to think that skincare products of the sea, particularly the Dead Sea, should have this same perfection, this same ability to refresh, rejuvenate and transform. Many Dead Sea products try to capture this perfection, and one does it exceptionally well. Erno Laszlo’s Sea-Mud Soap really harnesses Poseidon’s potential.

Erno Laszlo himself was a dermatological visionary with a colorful history. Way back in 1927 in his native Hungary, Laszlo caused a commotion by introducing a skincare ritual involving splashing with soap and water instead of the here-to-then accepted use of cold cream to cleanse the skin. It was practically scandalous, but he healed the skin of Belgium’s Princess Stephanie and opened his first Institute of Scientific Cosmetology. Later, a move to the U.S. had Dr. Laszlo an early Hollywood hero with clients from Greta Garbo to—years later—Marilyn Monroe. He soon opened a U.S. Institute on Fifth Avenue in New York City with an elite, referral-only clientele including Jackie Kennedy. It wasn’t until 1962 that the famous Dr. Laszlo had a retail line.

Erno Laszlo created a “ritual” which begins with a water wash technique where splashing the face with “comfortably-hot” water is meant to deep cleanse, exfoliate, flush out toxins, strengthen and soften the skin, stimulate production of collagen, and allow for the better absorption of a moisturizer. It is with this ritual that I first used my Sea Mud Soap.

After opening my simple, almost masculine, marble looking soap dish, I found my Sea Mud Soap to be black in color (Dead Sea mud has a high concentration of Bitumen, a naturally-occurring tar) and immediately was reminded of the Lava soap my dad would keep in his workroom to scrub impossible stains from his hands. But this is definitely not Dad’s harsh, abrasive work-soap.

Sea Mud Soap is amazingly mild. Meant for oily or combination skin, the Sea Mud Soap strips oil from my face like a toner, but leaves my skin extraordinarily soft to the touch. This is the very paradoxical performance that I have always sought in my skincare routine. Some cleansers have come close, but I feel confident in saying that Erno Laszlo’s is the best I have tried. For my face to be oil-free yet not tight or dry is practically miraculous.

My pores also appeared smaller from the first wash. It seems almost like the soap knows how much oil is enough oil to strip. I know from my lifelong bout with oily skin that overstripping the oils from your skin makes your skin produce even more oil, kind of like your body in starvation mode. Sea Mud Soap doesn’t starve your skin of its essential oils; it just seems to remove the extraneous stuff.

A visit to Erno Laszlo’s site will show you how to “get a ritual.” A quick questionnaire and you are just a click away from a recommended routine. Use of the “Laszlo-Matic” tells you your skin type, confirms your individual concerns, and recommends products for day, for night, and for aging.

I can’t wait to find out if there are lots of (formally) shiny, happy people out there waiting to lavish praise on Sea Mud Soap and the Laszlo ritual. Don’t forget to check the comments for the we heart this review team’s thoughts on the Sea Mud Soap.

Start your own ritual:
Sea Mud Soap at Erno Laszlo
Sea-Mud Soap at Nordstrom

Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. It also contains an affiliate link, a link that gives us a small commission if you purchase the item. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.


  • sherrishera

    Sherri is a writer, dog lover, old movie fanatic, history detective, political junkie, fashion pundit and social media consumer advocate. “A fancy dinner and expensive champagne are better than writing a rent check any day of the week.” skin tone: NC 25 skin type: oily/sensitive favorite beauty product: anti-aging anything


  1. Oh my gosh – I didn’t try this, but it sounds like something I’d just love. I have the oily-meets-dry-and-falls-madly-in-love skin that I just can’t seem to tame, and this sounds just perfect!!! Is it weird that I think the black bar is kind of awesome?

  2. This soap sounds like heaven! My oily skin is in desperate need of some loving. I must check this out.

  3. Ooo, this sounds nice. There’s something interesting about this bar, it reminds me of Lush’s Coal Face.

    Sherri, how long do you think the bar will last you? Did it have a lot of lather?

  4. So, I have known of Erno Laszlo since I was a little girl because my mother used to use their cosmetics, back when they carried a full line. My mom used to say that before she had kids and actually had a skincare routine, she had used this soap and loved it, so I was really excited to get to test this out. My first impression was that my pores appeared smaller. My skin, which is oily/combo, usually feels squeaky clean after using bar soap to wash my face (which is bad because that means I’ve stripped all the oils and usually leads to more breakouts), but with this soap, it just felt soft and clean. After a week, my pores looked much smaller and my blackheads were a lot less noticeable. After a few weeks, my skin looks calmer and more balanced. Sadly, this soap doesn’t work so great on my monthly hormonal breakouts, but for the rest of the benefits, I can use something else when I need something stronger. Overall, this little bar of soap is definitely a must have in the arsenal of the oily/combo skinned girl. 5 stars!

  5. This was a really interesting post, sherrishera! I’ve heard of Erno Laszlo products, but didn’t know anything about the man himself, so thanks for his story. The soap sounds like something I’d love in the summer, when my skins gets a little oily.

  6. I hate that tight dry feeling I get after washing my face. I would love to try this soap especially if it leaves you feeling soft afterward. I’m a combination girl and have such a hard time finding a good cleanser that works perfectly on my skin. This one sounds like it’s worth a try.

  7. Sherri, your post has me longing for a day at the Ocean! Too bad it’s cold and windy here in LA. I was super excited to test out the legendary Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Soap – not only have I noticed it in magazines and on blogs for years, I have also heard our own Stef RAVE about this soap for the last year or two. I’m sure she will be here soon to wax poetic. However, she did not take a bar for testing because the bars she has, has lasted so long. Not only does this soap perform like a champ – it lasts a long, long time. I’ve been using my soap for a good month and a half and (to my eyes) there’s barely a change in size. Top marks for value.

    I think part of the reason the bar wears so well (besides the fact that it’s a dense bar of soap) is the cute, little marbleized soap dish. On the sink counter or even in the shower the dish keeps the soap dry and safe. Looks great too!

    Now on to the actual Mud Sea Soap. Oh my word, it is truly an oily/combo skin girls dream! As Sherri mentioned, the soap seems to clear away just the right amount of oils – leaving skin soft, matte and shine free. Plus, if you have a sprinkle of blackheads on your nose or cheeks this soap helps to diminish, even get rid of them! And, as I mentioned above, it’s cold for us Angelinos, so I’ve been in and out of heated places and chilly winds – the time when my skin is always dry and sensitive while still being oily in spots. The Sea Mud Soap keeps that oil in check and has soothed (rather then irritated) my environmentally stressed skin. An absolutely 5 star worthy bar o’ soap!
    .-= Tyna Werner´s last blog ..MAC Give Me Liberty of London Unveiling party =-.

  8. Oily skin’s best friend? You aren’t kidding! Finding a product that fights oil, yet doesn’t fight so hard that you’re left feeling dry, is quite the search! I highly recommend Sea Mud Soap.

    I’ve had a full size bar of this soap for well over a year now (so Alyssa, it last a very long time) and it’s my summer staple. The rest of the year, I tend to bounce around with cleansers, but every time I come back to it I’m surprised at just how good it is.

    The whole ritual is really cleansing. It involves filling your sink with water as hot as you can stand, splashing your soapy face 20 times (yes, 20!) then draining the sink, running hot water and splashing 10 more. The first time I ever used it, my hubby asked me if I was bathing in the sink. Honestly, it feels a bit like you’re trying to drown yourself. But it works, and works really, really well! The rich mud in the soap, combined with the hot water cleans pores like a vacuum, then shrinks them to almost non existent. And you’re left with gorgeous smooth, glowing skin.

    I only do the whole ritual every so often (Sorry Erno). I enjoy it, but as a Clarisonic owner, I’ve got my own ritual going on! Happily, the sea mud soap holds up well while using it. But when I do it at least once a week, my skin is always very happy.
    .-= stef´s last blog ..Julie Hewett Los Angeles – Tish and Simone =-.

  9. I’m intrigued….and loving the jet black bar. Very cool! My hormones have definitely started changing because I never used to be that oily but after hitting 30, my face has been a lot oilier! I like that this doesn’t strip your face and leave it tight. Depending on the price, I may have to check this one out!

  10. Yes, Alyssa, as Tyna mentioned this bar will last a very long time. I’ve had mine a month or so and it barely looks as though I made a dent in it. I think many of us (myself included) have given way to liquid soaps for their ease of use (and to avoid a messy soap dish). Having its own classy little soap dish, I don’t have to worry about it mingling and melting away with my guest soaps. As for the “ease of use” thing…did we ever get so lazy that we can’t roll a bar between our hands for a minute or two? I think not, but…
    …As for the “Ritual,” I must admit that I do cheat a little. I don’t rub the bar directly on my face as is the Laszlo reccommendation; I lather in my hands, first (Alyssa, the lather is rather thin, but it DOES lather). Though I do use hot water, I don’t fill the basin of my sink with it and splash for the next twenty minutes; I splash right from the tap. Whether it’s Erno’s way or YOUR way the product itself is definitely the star and does work.
    I really do love they way this makes my skin feel, and I can’t rave about it enough!

  11. I’m also finding my skin is changing as I’ve gotten older. It’s definitely a lot oilier and I’ve been struggling to find a good cleanser. This bar sounds perfect and it’s so dramatic looking!

  12. This product sounds VERY INTRUGING! I know it is not the norm. Most people like the convience of liquid soaps. But, I REALLY LIKE bar soaps. I travel a lot of work. I have never had a bar soap open up and spread all over my suitcase! This is especially true when I can find one that performs as well as its liquid sisters.

    I am going to definitely check this out. Great Review!

  13. Anything that comes from the Dead Sea gets a thumbs up from me. I like the look of this bar. I have really dry skin so I don’t think this would be good for me, however, I don’t doubt that it’s a great product.

  14. Alyssa – it definitely lasts a long time, and that makes the hefty price tag well worth it to me. My husband and I love this so much, we’ve already given it as gifts so other people could experience it, too – and that was his idea! We’ve both used it almost every night since it arrived about 6 weeks ago. It’s still probably half left, if not more.

    It’s true that it dries you up in all the right places, but your skin is silky smooth and glowing after using it. I do use moisturizer right away after and always do anyways after cleansing, so the slight drying feel doesn’t affect me. My husband swears it’s taken years off his face, and that is quite possible – he does look much better after 6 weeks of use! But, it may also be due to the fact that this is the first time in his 38 years he’s ever actually washed his face – eew! (are all men like that – my last boyfriend had never washed his face either – it’s like they think the water running down their face in the shower is good enough).

    Anyways, I’m madly in love with the cleansing power, softness and glow this gives, and pore tightening abilities. I will buy this over and over – it’s my new HG cleanser! And works great with the Clarisonic! Not quite as much lather as I’d normally use for the Clarisonic, but just fine too. 5 stars all the way!!

  15. Sounds amazing, but I’m on the dry side.. I need to investigate this brand and see what they have for dry skin.. sounds well worth it to give it a shot seeing all your rave reviews!! :)

  16. I just checked Erno out online. It looks like he has FOUR bars of soap. Has anyone out there tried the others?

  17. So, I like to feel squeaky clean after washing off my makeup, but not like the moisture has been sucked from every cell in my body. I am also a huge fan of clay masks as anyone who’s kept up with my reviewing over the years knows! So, I really LOVE this bar soap — sort of easy compared to cleanser. (And P.S. IN LOVE with the little case, hello packaging inspiration!!!) It does a great job of removing makeup – my toner pads where pretty darn lean after using this one. I liked to relly let it sit and soak on my skin before rinsing off. I love – I’m going on a 10 trip for work this week, and its going to be the only cleanser I bring!

  18. I’ve been using this soap, and only Laszlo preparations on my skin for 27 years, every time I try something else, I come running back. It’s expensive, but it works!!! I don’t feel like I need facials, or anything else.
    Downside, your skin will most likely purge within the first couple of months, it’s not the products, it’s toxins being pulled to the surface.

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