What's black and green and natural all over, melts in your hands, and has great karma?


Apart from being a generally positive descriptor, a successful music-making venture, and the categorically truthful explanation of why I don't hang out with most people in my university, Lush is a highly successful chain of stores focusing on those aspects of personal hygiene we are likely to take for granted. From soap to shampoo, lip balm to lotion, Lush offers a large variety of products to pamper your every mood. They help to invigorate, relax, smooth, support, and generally resolve all physical and emotional issues a person may be suffering before allowing themselves a well-seasoned respite from it all. And you want to know the best part? It's almost all natural, never tested on animals, and a supporter of multiple environmental charities to boot.

Here's a quick look at all Lush is, and all it has to offer.

The makings of something beautiful

Lush is an English shop by birth. The primordial inklings were spawned in the late 1970's in Poole, Dorset by Mo and Mark Constantine. Their herbal alchemy attracted the attention of The Body Shop, to whom they were a main supplier for many years. In the early 90's, Body Shop bought out the Constantines for about 6 million quid, and they used the money to perpetuate a mail-order service called Cosmetics to Go. This was the birth of the Bath Ballistics, shampoo bars, and massage bars that have moved with the company in to the modern day. However, Cosmetics to Go floundered and went under like so many bath fizzies, and the company was dissolved.

Not to be defeated, the creators began anew in 1994, beginning the first Lush shop on High Street in Poole. This led to the opening of another store in London, where booming business proved that the company was indeed ready for branching. Lush now sports shops in many countries around the world, which sell products (still made from fresh ingredients by hand) created in the production facilities found on all inhabited continents. Unfortunately, penguins cannot yet purchase Lush locally, but can probably partake in the extensive mail-order services provided. The citizens of the United States must also often resort to this means of procuring their bathing necessities, as Lush has shown an aversion to opening franchise locations on U.S. soil.

One of Lush's main draws is that they point-blank refuse to test products on animals. They do not test their own cosmetics in this fashion, and they also refuse to buy supplies from companies that allow testing. Even if a different sector of a supplier uses animal testing (which Lush considers wholly unneccessary) they refuse to purchase from said company until all testing is ended. To date, they have persuaded two suppliers to give up animal testing in favor of alternative practices. They also try to support causes which they deem worthwhile. Currently, they procure the olive oil for their olive oil-based products from olive groves reclaimed from Sicilian organized crime syndicates. What's more, the groves are tended by recovering heroin addicts. These people are dedicated.

In total, the company pulls about 130 million pounds a year, allowing it to invest in new and more diverse products year after year. Mo can be found to explore new products and scents in the garden shed behind the house. Mark, trained as a perfumer, helps to come up with new ideas as well. Between the two of them and the rest of the staff, new items hit the shelves to celebrate holidays, seasonal changes, and even company anniversaries. Though some offerings change, some favorites have earned a perennial place upon the Lush catalog and shelves, occasionally garnering entire lines of products in that scent. In all, after a rather rocky start, things appear to be going very well for the company.

Fresh products for a fresh world

History of these fresh and fancy grooming aids aside, the products themselves are very intriguing. The layout of the stores compliments the nature of the assorted itemry available. Each store looks more like some sort of exotic foods bazaar than actual soap shop, designed to mimic an old-time grocery store. Because the "produce" is fresh, it's stacked high in wicker baskets like so many oranges and apples. The soaps are formed in large slabs that are cut and sold by weight. Packaging is at a minimum in accordance with the ideals of the company. Walking these well-stocked displays is likely to turn up a variety of interesting and intoxicating treasures. Here are a few that I found rather exciting:

  • Sex Bomb-- Bath Ballistic containing: Jasmine, Clary Sage, synthetic musk, Ylang Ylang-- This bomb is meant to be an aphrodisiac through and through. It's a delicate pink with a flowery scent. It even has a little rice paper rose set into the bomb to set the mood.

  • Romance in a Stone-- Bath Ballistic containing: Sweet wild orange, Mandarin, Tangerine-- This bomb smells like a sophisticated lady, with a delicate size and fragrance. Like certain other bombs, it contains things that may make cleaning a tub after the bath rather unpalatable. However, unlike other bombs, when it melts away it leaves behind a paper slip with a love poem. Adorable!

  • Karma Kream-- Cream containing: Patchouli, Lemongrass, Orange-- Part of the long line of Karma products, this tub of lotion helps keep you and your largest organ balanced, as well as smelling delightful.

  • Caca Marron-- Henna Hair Bar that boosts colored hair in shine and depth. Not too red, but not too brown, this may be the Caca for you.

  • Razorantium-- Shaving Cream containing: Linseed, Jojoba, Cocoa butter-- Don't fool yourself into thinking all Lush products are for ladies! This shaving cream tames the most stubborn of stubble while helping to smooth and calm the skin beneath.

  • The Joy of Jelly--Shower Jelly containing: Tiger lily, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang-- Yet another in the line of aphrodisiac products, this shower jelly is just that. It's a great big jiggly hunk of cleansing gel made from seaweed extracts. Useful on hair or body, you can play with it any way you like.

Add to this list at least another dozen types of bath bombs, massage bars, soaps, shampoos, moisturizers, lip balms, and even some toothpaste. Throw in a variety of boxed gift sets, all hand-packed and wrapped, featuring a sticker of the worker who created the package. Now you've got a good idea of Lush's product landscape. All can be purchased by catalog or online, but you have to keep in mind that summer can be deadly for certain products. Many of the bath melts, moisturizers, and jellies come with a melt warning in hot months (alternating depending on your hemisphere). No one wants to spend money just to end up with a box full of goo.

So there you have it.The company, the products, and the story are all worth a look. I hope you can get as much enjoyment out of them as I do.

Certain respectable noders remind me that most Lush shops are generally easy to find, even in an unfamiliar town. Just follow the overwhelming smell to a world of adventure. DonJaime also points out that if the smell does in fact overpower you, they keep a sniffable jar of coffee beans to help clear you right up again.

ascorbic also informs me that Mark may have trained as a trichologist. I counter with the fact that he also really likes birdwatching. I think the two are rather unrelated.

  • http://lush.com/
  • http://www.multichannelmarketing.co.uk/contentdetail.php?id=CNT_44035fe852d0d
  • http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,2055953,00.html
  • http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg19426071.800-interview-scents-soaps-and-birdsong.html