What springs to mind when you think of cosmetics brand Lush? Glittery bath bombs? A strong scent that snakes from the shop and follows you down the road? Perhaps it’s their commitment to ethical buying, fighting animal testing and sustainability?
It might seem odd to describe a cosmetics giant as ‘conscious’ but the brand’s onus is certainly on accountability – not just ours as consumers but their own as manufacturers. Veganism and vegetarianism is on the rise, people are starting to be concerned (I’m terrified) by the estimated eight million tons of plastic that ends up in the ocean each year and Lush are leading the way in what they dub a ‘cosmetic revolution’.
This year’s Lush UK Showcase took place at Manchester Central. Somehow, the clever team transformed the – usually quite simple – space into a cosmetic playground complete with mini hot air balloons, elaborate laboratories, a slide, a faux-grass floor and a stage shaped like a village pavilion. There was a bucket-load of glitter and people milling about dressed as scented bath bombs – “smell me!” said one extremely excitable girl as she proffered her pink, sparkly spherical costume towards us.
Our day began with a pre-booked hair treatment. My mum, who isn’t the biggest fan of getting her hair done (touch her noggin and she retreats into her coat like a turtle back into its shell) didn’t look too sure about the salon set-up. But, after one of the lovely Lush team helped us to pick out various hair products – explaining their ingredients and usage as we went – we settled in for a good pamper. I find getting my hair done awkward – my mum still cuts my hair in her kitchen like she did when I was five – but I enjoyed every minute of my treatment. Steam filled the room, along with the scent of bay leaf and banana, and I nearly nodded off. Later, my mum said: “I had to apologise to that lovely lady at the end. I didn’t say a word to her and I felt so rude, but it was so relaxing. I’ve not felt that calm in days.”
We were then invited to check out the range of styling products – something I know little about. My hair is usually polka-straight or an absolute mess of waves (it can go full Hermione circa The Philosopher’s Stone) and, as I explained this to the stylist, he taught me how to achieve a salon standard blow dry. He spritzed my mane with a detangling spray and I watched in wonder as the comb glided through my hair. “How did you manage that? My hair has usually got more tangles than a string of Christmas lights.” Predictably, I tired of taming my do but I did a relatively good job and I couldn’t believe how shiny and healthy it looked. My mum, on the other hand, took to styling like a duck to water and was soon running products through her pixie cut like a pro. I’m certainly sold on Lush hair products – and I’m definitely taking my mum on a Lush spa day.
We spent the rest of the morning exploring the many weird and wonderful things the showcase had to offer: we wobbled our way through a tunnel of jellies before removing our shoes and socks and wading through a thick clay-like substance that left our trotters as smooth as a baby’s bum; we took a trip in one of the mini hot air balloons (each based on a Lush bath bomb) complete with disco lights and dance tunes; we applied glitter eye shadow in an array of mad colours, taking selfies like teenagers, and marvelled at the giant bath bomb which, weirdly, reminded me of Seymour, the killer plant from The Little Shop of Horrors.
But the day wasn’t just about flogging products (unfortunately, despite a long list of things we wanted to buy, we were informed the shop was at capacity and so we’ve got to wait to get our mitts on the new line), there were talks from experts in the industry and small seminars on well-being and activism. There were informative signs and statistics everywhere about how we can do our bit to sort out the environmental mess that us greedy humans seem to have got ourselves into. There was a ban on single-use plastic with water stations set up around the centre and a coffee stand with no takeaway cups. I’m a huge advocate for using a KeepCup (reusable plastic and glass cups) but unfortunately I’d forgotten to bring mine.
I’ve always admired Lush for their commitment to sustainability and cruelty-free products. The showcase highlighted that to be environmentally conscious and responsible does not mean you have to forgo fun or indulging in a good pamper and – owing to the hoards of people who turned up to the event – I was left feeling that perhaps the beauty industry and its consumers are finally starting to wake up.
Lush have come a long way from hawking Christmas bath bombs and fruit scented shampoo. They’re a huge company who have realised the importance of taking care of our planet. Yeah, sure, they’re making the big bucks but I’d rather companies like Lush – who possess an integrity that I can get on board with – experience this success than other less scrupulous firms.
Plus, they’ve done the unthinkable – tamed my wild, frizzy mop of hair.
If you’d like to find out more about the Lush UK Showcase 2018 or any of the topics covered at the event, see below links:
OBE Lush Co-founder & Managing Director, Mark Constantine’s announcement of The Secret Lush Cosmetics Master Plan
Lush Co-founder and Product Inventor, Rowena Bird talk on the Lush‘s vision and Lush makeup
The announcement of the Lush Harajuku shop, which will be dedicated to bath bombs and filled with exclusive products in Japan.
Transparency in beauty and ethical consumption panel
The launch of Dear John: The Road to Pelindaba, the biography of Mark Constantine OBE, co-founder of Lush as told by his lifelong friend Jeff Osment