LUSH is a brand that I admit I have a bit of uncomfortable history with. It's hard to talk about. You see, at one point in my life, I was what in some circles is known as a LUSH-a-holic. It's easy to get drawn in by their handmade, cruelty free cosmetics - they seem to pump the heady, intoxicating cacophony of fragrance that is unmistakably LUSH onto the streets outside every one of their shops.
You walk in the door, and you are powerless to its effects. You may as well just admit defeat and open your wallet because you are going to be dropping some serious cash. You cannot ever go in for "just one thing".
And so I've had a relapse, and somehow found myself last month, standing awkwardly as a very pleasant fellow massaged my hands with lotion for what can only be described as an illicit amount of time. A few hundred years ago we would have been married by the end of the exchange!
I used to work in a Bath & Body Works, where we employees were commanded to descend upon unsuspecting browsers with lotion in a similiar manner. I used to hide out in the stock room at every given opportunity to avoid the moist palms and callouses of humanity (shudders at memory). Needless to say it was a short lived job for me - no one should have to repeatedly intimately touch members of the general public for minimum wage!
As for LUSH, when I first discovered it it was slightly more laid back with the selling tactics. It was in a larger space in a more relaxed shopping center and not everyone knew about it. I dug the natural ethos and vintage (pre-corporate takeover) Body Shop feel good quality of the brand, and the products were great, too. But then most of them moved to cramped high street spaces, and a little bit of that initial romance wore off for me. After awhile I had to question whether my £8 bar of soap that melted in a week was really worth it. I'm not exactly Gwyneth Paltrow here.
The only way I managed to wean myself off of their stuff was that they kept discontinuing things that I liked (Flying Fox and Sonic Death Monkey shower gels in particular). Though it is worth mentioning, as my friendly hand masseuse told me, once a week they have what is called the LUSH Kitchen on their website where they make up a batch of old favourites/discontinued products. Uh oh!
At any rate, what drove me to LUSH was desperation, my skin has been going through phases of being frankly, a moody bitch. Anytime I try to put anything remotely "anti-aging" or otherwise paper over the growing cracks of doom we call "smile lines", my skin throws a hissy fit and breaks out and starts peeling like the very old papyrus that it is. And in the recesses of my memory I recalled that LUSH had a product called "Ultrabland" whose name alone is soothing.
In I went, intending to pick up just the Ultrabland cleanser (it's a cream/balm type cleanser) to see if it could fix my face. But we all know how that story goes...
I also came away with several small pots of samples, because I am cheeky like that (it is a law that you must ask for a free sample in LUSH, do not abuse the power but also don't be shy about it either!).
Anyway, my skin was not liking something in my admittedly chaotic routine so I figured I would try something new.
Ultrabland Facial Cleanser: I have tried and liked other LUSH cleansers (notably 9 to 5), but my skin was feeling parched, so even though I have combination skin generally I went for this richly moisturizing cleanser. According to LUSH, this is
"Made with almond oil, rose water, beeswax and honey, this cleanser removes all traces of dirt and makeup, without stripping away your skin’s natural defences."
Ultrabland is really a pleasure to use, you massage it into your skin and it goes all melty, almost oil-like, and then remove it with a hot cloth or cotton pads (I prefer the cloth). If you have dry or irritated skin, this cleanser is the bomb. I have a patch between my eyebrows that gets flaky (so attractive!) that this stuff has sorted out no end.
It does leave your skin feeling quite moisturized after, to be honest I have been experimenting with not putting anything on after it because it is that good. It is lightly fragranced but not overpowering at all. I highly recommend this if your skin is being dry or grumpy like mine was.
If my skin is playing up this stuff is an instant soother, I imagine it would be great for anyone with dryness or eczema prone skin as well.
Breath Of Fresh Air: This lightly fragranced toner is facial spritz manna from heaven. There's just something really uplifting and addictive about it, basically I want to bathe in it! It's very gentle and contains no harsh alcohols. I can't honestly say it has transformed my skin but I love love love using it and it refreshes the skin without stripping it of moisture.
I do have one criticism, it's that the spritzer is far too poweful and if you actually spray your face with this it's more like a dousing, I prefer to use it with cotton pads.
Ingredients: Spring Water, Fresh Sea Water, Fair Trade Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Perfume, Carrageenan Extract, Rose Absolute, Patchouli Oil, Rosemary Oil, Seaweed Absolute, Limonene, Linalool, Methylparaben.
Celestial Facial Moisturiser*: I had tried and liked the LUSH Imperialis years ago, more for the combination skin type, but my skin was behaving like such a crepe-y brat I decided to experiment with something a bit more unctious (ok by "decided" I mean was effortless talked into by the sales boy who had a Vulcan death grip on my hands by this point! ;-0).
This moisturizer is lovely and rich, but also weirdly light. It sinks into the skin effortlessly and leaves a nice dewy but not greasy finish. It has a lightly sweet fragrance from the "vanilla water" I imagine but is not super strong. I admit I have been trying to intersperse less rich moisturizers with this one because I am super paranoid about heavy moisturizers breaking me out, with mixed results.
I have had a few breakouts, but I'm pretty sure they are more likely being caused by a cheap silicone laden number I keep stupidly using, or possibly the numerous other day creams I dabble in. Basically I abuse my skin with experimenting, and have only myself to blame for it!
As perhaps a better litmus test, I have been slapping this stuff on my husband every chance I get because his skin is dryness prone, and sensitive, and honestly his skin looks and feels soft like a baby, and hasn't broken out, so I'm pretty sure this stuff is a winner, if perhaps slightly too heavy for me for use as a day cream.
The main ingredients are: Vanilla water, almond oil, almond milk, Fair trade cocoa butter, and fresh dove orchid extract (what's a "dove orchid"? I must know!)
All irony aside, LUSH are one of the better ethical cosmetic companies, they do not test or buy ingredients tested on animals, they recycle (if you bring in 5 empty full sized products you get a free Fresh face mask, which is pretty cool), and for the quality of their ingredients I do think they represent good value for money with the skincare in particular (I'm still not sold on how a travel size shower gel is worth a fiver in many instances now- I mean, that's just CRAZY!).
Ay any rate whether you are treating yo'self or searching for a reasonable-ish skincare regime, they are worth checking out.
*I point out to my American readers the ludicrous British spelling of moisturizer - some things I am willing to cede, nay adapt to even, but when it comes to the letter z - or "ZED" as they insist on calling it (which just sounds like a Superman villain to me), I stand my ground. The poor little letter, so rarely used as it is, is relegated to virtual irrelevancy in British usage, so this expat is standing her ground this once!