Upon walking into Lush, an organic cosmetics store, one is overwhelmed by the perfume that is thick in the air. It’s a sensory experience that is hard to forget. The large chunks of soap could be mistaken for oversized wheels of cheese if it wasn’t for the fact that they were bright blue and deep purple. The whole thing is so intense and colorful that it’s almost hard to believe that the products are 100% vegetarian and 80% vegan.
But it’s true, and the proof is on the labels. Every product has a sizable label that says when it was made, when it is good until, and has a picture of the person who made it. Everything is handmade and nothing is tested on animals. They use minimal packaging. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten almost every ingredient listed on the sides of the small black pots that Lush packages their goods in. A bubbly employee informs me that the store chose black containers over clear ones because light would erode clear containers and make them less easily recyclable. In addition, Lush has a policy that if a customer brings five empty black pots back to the store, they get a free fresh face mask and Lush will recycle the used pots.
I decide to try to get a feel for the products, as the insanely happy staff continuously offers me hand treatments. One ocean salt scrub leaves my hands smoother than they’ve been in months, and the tester creams all feel and smell delicious on my skin. It’s clear my skin is responding well to the influx of fresh, organic materials, though one glittery bath bar leaves my hands stiff and too sparkly. The glitter is the only artificial, plastic ingredient in the store, and seems out-of-place; why embed something so unpleasant into such beautiful, fresh products? I prefer glitter in craft projects, not bath water.
Regardless, the store has a bright, open feel and the employees seem genuinely interested in the items they’re selling. I am obsessed with the face mask section, which looks like a food buffet bar at Whole Foods. It has flavors like blueberry, seaweed, and lettuce, and quite simply smells and looks delicious. YouTube videos of Lush factory tours look more like tours of nice kitchens with all the boxes of produce. Lush skips advertising costs in favor of spending money on fresh ingredients, non of which are discards. It also turns out that every item in their store has been there no longer than four months.
Ironically, a popular makeup chain called Sephora is located only a few doors down. They sell all the major brands, products full of preservatives, and advertise constantly. Lush is clearly the better alternative to what we are being offered in drugstores and massive chains like Sephora. It’s healthier, leaves your skin brighter, and doesn’t kill the environment in the process. We need more businesses like Lush who take responsibility for what they are selling people and take the time to tell people the details of their products. In many ways, it acts as a wake up call for sorts. When did I ever think it was okay to put some unknown chemical or preservative on my skin? Why haven’t I taken the time to care about what’s in my products? Lush raises the bar in a society that they don’t have to; they could easily not have such fresh ingredients, because people today don’t care about what their buying. But they choose to provide good products because it’s ethical, environmentally friendly, and quite simply the right thing to do.