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Erno Laszlo

Firmarine Lift Essence Lotion

6.60 fl. oz. for $ 68.00
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Ingredients

Brand Overview

Talk about a product that starts promising and then fizzles out! Erno Laszlo's Firmarine Lift Essence Lotion has the makings of a brilliant essence or toner for all skin types. It's rich in hydrating and moisture-binding ingredients that can significantly improve skin's ability to hold on to water such as glycerin, sodium PCA, and hyaluronic acid, but a few formulary missteps hold this back from earning our recommendation.

The problem with this watery lotion that's impossible to overlook is the inclusion of not one but three irritating ingredients, all forms of menthol. The tingling, cooling sensation this product has on skin is a strong signal it's triggering irritation, not refreshment. See More Info for details.

As for the claims, there's zero research showing collagen boosts skin's renewal rate, and whatever "Liquid Breathing" is, it won't improve collagen production; if anything, oxygenating skin beyond simply breathing normally will only lead to oxidative damage, not youthfulness.

See our list of Best Toners for gentler options.

Pros:
  • Rich in hydrating and moisture-binding ingredients.
  • Contains a few antioxidants.
Cons:
  • Three forms of menthol pose a strong risk of irritating skin.
  • Fragrance poses further risk of irritating skin.
  • Completely off-base claims about collagen and skin breathing.
More Info:

Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice!

Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.

Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.

A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don't get lulled into thinking that if you don't see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.

Generally, it's best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there's no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.

References for this information:

Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36

International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385

Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

This watery gel-like essence tones, hydrates and revitalizes the skin. With encapsulated collagen, it boosts skin renewal by penetrating skin cells for long-acting lifting and protects the skin from free-radical damage. Spirulina Maxima, a high-powered algae extract, boosts skin renewal and is both water-activated and nano-encapsulated in this formula. Aloe has been used across centuries and cultures for its proven moisture-giving and soothing properties, especially on dry, sensitive or stressed skin. Energizing Oxygen Complex, a unique delivery system, allows for Liquid Breathing to boost collagen production.

Water (Aqua/Eau), Glycerin, Propanediol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Spirulina Maxima Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Oryza Sativa Bran Extract, Sodium PCA, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Lactic Acid, Arginine, Polyglutamic Acid, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, PVP, Sodium Polyacrylate, Decafluoropentane, Isohexadecane, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG 20 Crosspolymer, Menthol, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Ethyl Menthane Carboxamide, Menthyl Lactate, Hydroxypropyl Cellulose, Acrylates Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Parfum (Fragrance), Blue 1 (CI 42090), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Red 33 (CI 17200).

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 drynessand that's not the way to "worship your skin."

For more information about Erno Laszlo, call (888) 352-7956 or visit www.ernolaszlo.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.