It’s pretty tough to start an article about LUSH Cosmetics, a brand that has it’s fingers in so many pies on so many levels in so many ways – skincare, haircare, hair styling, fragrance, essential oils, makeup, spa treatments and philanthropy – you se what I mean? Maybe it’s best to just start with the facts.

I was lucky enough to be invited by LUSH down to their base in Poole, Dorset where the label was founded back in 1995. This may be another reason why I have always been a champion of this brand, and smile every time I see it – Poole is my home town too, and I’ve grown up near the factories, and the original store at 29 The High Street, and have seen the brand grown and expand through the country and globally (it was just a shame that during the trip I didn’t get time to go and see my mother, she was pretty pissed! The “I’m working!” pleas didn’t help).

Two very dear friends and fellow bloggers – Jo Wong from whats-he-wearing.com and Simon G from theverysimong.com joined me on this little adventure and when we arrived in Dorset, the delightful Plum from plumdiddlyumcious.com also joined in the fun.

*Side note and funny story*

Due to LCM, Jo, Simon and I arrived down in Dorset very late at night, where the lovely Olivia from LUSH had been patiently waiting for us. After not being able to find our taxi we jumped in our own one and headed to the hotel. We jumped out the car and went in to meet Olivia and check in. DISASTER STRUCK. Where was my phone? I had just been on it?! IN THE CAB? NOOOOOOOOO! Queue 30 minutes of frantic calling around town and every cab firm in existence to locate our driver – no luck. I had three days of LCM notes and photos on that phone plus countless other work files. Not good. I knew I couldn’t just leave it so I suggested I get a cab back to the station as I hoped the driver would be there as it was the main hub of work for drivers – lucky I was from the area! So the boys and me hoped back in a cab a sped (at the legal limit of 30mph) back to the station. We crawled by each car and there, at the front of the queue was our cab! I jumped out and jumped into his cab, and there was my phone! Lucky or what?!

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Anyway, back to the story, so after our little detour, we ended up back in our rooms at about 1 am. I was upset to not be able to enjoy the room more, knowing we were up at 7! But I refused not to indulge in the little treat basket LUSH had left us – so I promptly ran a bath!

The next morning after breakfast we head down to the LUSH factories to discover how all of their amazing products are created. The first thing that hits you, not surprisingly, is the smell – WOW. It’s truly intoxicating. Imagine that iconic LUSH store smell, and then crank up the juice by 100. You’re just about there.  We were walked through the fridges, packed with all of the fresh fruit that the company uses in its products, as well as fresh seaweed from Poole Harbour – all products are sent to stores within 21 days of manufacture in order to keep its freshness. We got to see how the factory was split up and we met the compounders responsible to creating some of the product. It was great to see it at different stages, from its pre-fragranced state, to cooking and setting. The products are made, cooled, infused and then filled into the carriers, each step sweeter scented than the one before.

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The factory in process

Makeup!

You need muscle to work at LUSH!

Look at the concentration!

Bowing the power of the fragrance

My turn.

We also came across a stash of Steamcream pots! I hadn’t realised this was a sister brand to LUSH and made in the same place. More on that another time.

I was surprised by how open everyone was tell us about their products and process, LUSH has nothing to hide from anyone. Their truly ethical nature became more and more apparent as the day went on. I had endless notes of facts and figures, but now as I read them over, there’s just too much too convey – also my notes are crap – but things like the 1.5 million kg of product the company produces (I forgot to note whether that was monthly or annually).  Or the 25,000 gifts created weekly during the peak Christmas period.

LUSH is a truly global country, with factories in the UK, Croatia, Australia, Japan, and two in Canada. LUSH is sold in 23 countries around the world and produced in 17 languages. Each product is marked with a unique cartoon of the person who made the product with the date of manufacture. It’s a brilliant concept that gives each product a close bond between LUSH and the consumer.

The next stop was the LUSH Kitchen. Now, this has to be one of the most fun places on earth. The LUSH Kitchen team produce small, exclusive batches of products, some specialist, some archived, that are sold online at lush.co.uk/kitchen only.  Whilst in the kitchen we were given the chance to make our own product! We all made the Karma shower gel. It was such a laugh to do, and hilarious watching us struggle with measurements, over mixing and generally appalling chemistry ability. It was here that we also discovered that behind each of the cartoon face stickers there is a secret message! Our’s read ‘Give Good Karma’. Considering the events with my phone, I like to think finding it was good karma coming back to me.

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We also got the chance to pop down to the Head Office on the gorgeous Poole Harbour front. It was a gloriously sunny day so it couldn’t have been better. Their offices are awesome and very Google-esque. It’s set up to spur creativity, productivity and sociability. We had the chance to meet Agnés Gendry-Hearn, one of LUSH’s buyers who is responsible for the set up of the company’s own essential oil products. She taught us about the struggle the brand went through to become as truly ethical as possible. LUSH doesn’t test on animals, their products are 100% vegetarian, they’re handmade and the packaging is 100% recyclable. They also ethically source and produce their essentials oils and ingredients. This is part of the much bigger SLUSH Fund. Click the link below to find out more – it’s too big to add into this post!

Discover the SLUSH Fund

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As the afternoon slowed down there was one thing left to do. Try out some LUSH treatments! We selected the products we wanted to use, I was with the Cosmetic Catastrophe as its soothing agents of antioxidant blueberries and chamomile cleanse and even skin tone and it was just what my redness needed. The treatment was perfect and we all had a giggle wearing our flower wrap-knot headbands.

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So that was it! Our day was done and it was time to head back to London. I had a great time with LUSH and it was so refreshing to see a brand truly living up to their convictions.

LUSH is a brand that marches to beat of its own drum, and it just so happens that their drum also smells pretty damn sweet too.

 

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Written by Neil Thornton
London-based coffee drinker. Editor by day, blogger by whatever time he finds spare.