I don't have a problem with chemicals in my beauty potions and lotions. It's the chemical in my anti-acne cleanser that keeps my face relatively bump-free (emphasis on "relatively"). It's the super-secret, patented chemical cocktail in my night cream that keeps people guessing the number of candles on my birthday cake (or I'd like to think so). And it's that funky-smelling chemical in my sunless tanning lotion that makes me blend in as an Arizona native.
But I want to go green. Really, I do.
Enter Vancouver-based LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. If anyone could cure a chemical dependency, it's LUSH.
It was 1995 when LUSH opened its first store in London and began quietly garnering a cult-like following. Fast forward to today and Lush stores dot the globe with nearly 100 in the United States alone, including one in my local mall in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Hidden in a sleepy wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square (currently under construction to shed its narcotic status), the store's fresh-cut soaps and piled-high bath balms emit such intoxicating aromas that even the manliest of the species get drawn in like bees to honey. The store is a tactile explosion of color — hot pink bath melts, jiggly cherry-colored shower jellies, slices of canary-yellow soaps laid out like birthday cake — and because LUSH strives to keep product packaging as "naked" as possible, the urge to touch is not only impossible to resist, it's encouraged. Talk about a kid in a candy store. Over time, I developed a serious crush on the brand, and now count myself among the flock of devoted "Lushies" who have a deep appreciation for the company's fun, functional, and innovative products.
If you have even the slightest desire to move onto a greener path in your beauty routine, start with LUSH. Why? Here are three good reasons.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'll assert that you really haven't had a bubble bath until you've made a date with a LUSH bubble bar. Throw a bar under warm running water and you've got yourself a tubful of silky bubbles that leave your skin soft and sweetly scented, not slimy and covered in soap scum. The dizzying blend of aromas available is, frankly, brilliant. My favorite is the chocolaty-sweet Ma Bar Bubble Bar. And the very berry Comforter Bubble Bar. Oh, and the lavender-laced French Kiss Bubble Bar. Heck, give me a bar, any bar, and I'm happy.
But it's not just the bubble bars and their adored bath bombs that make LUSH products so innovative. Think solid shampoo bars for every hair type that are perfect for travel (no mystery goo in your makeup bag); no-mess massage bars; chemical-free deodorant powders; and facial masks so fresh that you can only buy them in stores and have to keep them in the fridge (Ayesha is my fave — it dries to an ugly swamp-thing hue but the afterglow is incredible).
What's more, the company continually introduces new products, so the fun never stops. The latest is simply called Sugar Scrub Sugar Scrub, an invigorating green bar that fits in the palm of your hand to wake up circulation in problem areas and attack cellulite with fennel and ginger.
As a beauty blogger and local news contributor, I've been blabbing about LUSH for a long time. A few years ago, after a TV appearance on a local morning show featuring natural soaps, I got an anonymous email flaming me for having made false claims that LUSH soaps were all natural. Truth be told, "all natural" is a dicey term. Is it not natural if you didn't pick the ingredients from your backyard? Uh, maybe. But naturally occurring chemicals are the stuff of life.
Suffice it to say, LUSH has worked tirelessly since its inception to continually improve their soap mold. They use ethically sourced fresh ingredients and as few preservatives as possible (hence the "packed on" date on the product labels). Products are made by hand in small batches, and as any Lushie knows, the company does absolutely no animal testing.
So, if you're out there, anonymous emailer – my bad. I apologize for any wrongdoing. But do me a favor and try the Sandstone Soap — it might help you take that edge off.
The icing on the soap cake is that LUSH is committed to using its cosmetics prowess for good, not evil. Take their Charity Pot Hand and Body Lotion, for example. It's a super moisturizing body cream that educates the public, via information on the lid, about worthy causes. Every penny of the $20 price, excluding taxes, goes to the cause. Organizations supported by Charity Pot sales range from UNICEF and Clean Ocean Action to their latest charitable partner, the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Chemicals have their place. But green is good. Somewhere in the halls of beauty is a middle ground where you can have your molecular cocktail and your MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment Bath Melt too (a LUSH-ious strawberry-ice-cream-scented bath melt). You'll have to pry that chemical-laced acne cleanser out of my cold dead hand, but I'll admit, companies like LUSH make it easier to step towards a more natural approach to beauty. They can help us find that middle ground…and our happy place.