Active Phelityl Intensive Cream is a very thick, greasy moisturizer that contains mostly Vaseline (petrolatum), plant oil, and lanolin. Although these ingredients are marvelous for dry to very dry skin, they're less elegant than many others and absolutely do not justify this moisturizer's price. Without question, this leaves dry skin wanting more, and the fragrance ingredients pose a risk of irritation (see More Info for details).
The jar packaging is a problem for the stability of the plant oil, but otherwise there's little here to be concerned with in terms of the issues jar packaging presents (further discussed in More Info) because there's nothing state-of-the-art you need to worry about losing its potency.
Truthfully, you can save a lot of money and moisturize very dry skin with plain Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment instead—for certain this is not the state-of-the-art moisturizer those with extremely dry skin have been waiting for! A formula with rich emollients, skin-repairing ingredients, antioxidants, and cell-communicating ingredients will go much further toward making dry skin smoother, healthier, and younger-looking. You'll find those on our list of Best Moisturizers.
Why Irritation from Fragrance Ingredients is a Problem: Daily use of products that contain a high amount or several forms of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Why Jar Packaging is a Problem: The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
Erno Laszlo's original, all-purpose 24-hour cream intensively protects your skin's natural moisture around the clock, even in extreme weather conditions.
Petrolatum, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Lanolin, Lanolin Alcohol, Diisopropyl Adipate, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Propylene Glycol Dipelargonate, Parfum (Fragrance), Silica, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Isopropyl Stearate, BHT, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Ci 77947 (Zinc Oxide).
Erno Laszlo At-A-Glance
Strengths: One good toner; some good moisturizers; pH-correct AHA product; tinted moisturizer with sunscreen; workable concealer, powders, and powder blush.
Weaknesses: Expensive; the majority of products contain one or more considerably irritating ingredients; basic skin-care regimen revolves around using drying bar soap and alcohol-laden toners; the TranspHuse line; jar packaging.
According to the company's brochure, Dr. Erno Laszlo, a Hungarian dermatologist, was "the first to combine the exact science of his profession with the art of cosmetology" using "precisely diagnosed treatments dispensed with a doctor's touch." He treated Hungarian royalty, women whose lack of beautiful skin was apparently enough to get them shot in the face by potential suitors (no kidding)—until Laszlo saved the day with his revolutionary products. We admit that that's great copy, but there are rumors that he was never a medical doctor in Hungary or anywhere else in Europe, and he was certainly never licensed to practice medicine in the United States. Medical status aside, the claims and "story" behind these products are just another verse in the litany of hyperbole the cosmetics industry is famous for.
In his time (1920s through the 1930s), Laszlo's notoriety was built on "prescribing" skin-care regimens for wealthy women who could afford to "succumb to the 'Laszlo Ritual' of daily skin care." The ritual included regimented splashing of the face with extremely hot water before and after washing with bar soap. Today's Laszlo ritual talks of harnessing the power of water not only to cleanse skin but also to tone, firm, hydrate, clear, and energize skin. Amazing isn't it? If water alone and a certain splashing technique with traditional bar soap can take care of skin, then what's the point of Laszlo's profusion of (mostly poor) products? Why not just offer some soap and a tip sheet on how to splash most effectively, and let the water perform the miracles the company claims it can? If you think this sounds as ridiculous as we do, imagine trying to explain it to customers without backing away sheepishly. While neighboring cosmetics counters extol advanced formulas claiming to work like Botox or speak of their potent, patented cosmeceutical ingredients, Laszlo's team is going on and on about splashing skin with water and the "clocking system" they use to determine your skin type (a system that is more complicated than helpful).
Looking at historical background is one thing, but the real problem with legendary or ancient skin-care routines is that new research more often than not negates what we once thought to be true. After all, in Laszlo's heyday, no one knew about sun damage or the need for exfoliation, or that hot water can hurt skin and cause surfaced capillaries. Water-soluble cleansers weren't around, no one knew the connection between antioxidants and skin care, elegant sunscreens didn't exist, and Laszlo clearly didn't know that soap is too irritating and that irritation is a problem for skin (it's one of the major causes of collagen destruction). Plus, alkaline substances (that's what soap contains) have research showing they can increase the bacterial content in skin and damage the skin's healing process. With today's gentle cleansing options, there is no need to subject skin to the harshness of soap, regardless of how oily it is.
Further, anyone with any skin type who adheres to routine use of Laszlo's products is only setting themselves up for trouble, whether it's persistent irritation or a dry, tight feeling that will have you reaching for a moisturizer in desperation (and possibly making oily or breakout-prone areas worse as a result). There are some reliable, well-formulated products in this line, but following Laszlo's regimented routine is a path to skin irritation and dryness—and that's not the way to "worship your skin."
For more information about Erno Laszlo, call (888) 352-7956 or visit www.ernolaszlo.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!