A non-toxic beauty blog focusing on botanical ingredients, honest reviews, affordable options, lifestyle musings, and more than a touch of humor.
"I now look back fondly at those being the most constructive years for preparing me for life in the real world...You have to have pretty thick skin and you have to have big shoulders." - Tom Curley

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Revisiting LUSH - The Good, the Bad, and the Sort of Questionable

I've noticed more and more green beauty blogs talking about LUSH. You know the place -- it's like a more hippie chic version of Bath and Body Works. Overflowing with (admittedly delectable) scents, quirky packaging, a myriad of bath bombs and soaps stacked like colorful fruit ripe for the picking...

The big thing about LUSH isn't all of this gimmicky fun stuff, though. They pride themselves on using safe, natural ingredients, supporting charitable causes and ethical buying, and combating nasties like excessive waste and animal testing.

And this is all great. Fantastic, even.

The thing is, I love the idea of LUSH more than I love the outcome. For me, LUSH toes the greenwashing line a little too closely for my comfort. While LUSH does indeed use many powerful, clean, botanical ingredients, it also uses some very questionable ones -- even some that have been proven dangerous -- such as artificial dyes, talc, preservatives, and sulfates. It falls into the same category as brands like Origins, Aveda, and Mario Badescu. You can use all the "natural" ingredients you want, but throw in some propylene glycol and methylparaben and I'm not going to feel safe using your products.

The other thing that makes me feel a little uncomfortable about LUSH is that it's so in your face about being completely safe and natural, when in fact it's not. They love to show happy, free-spirited girls using their products, happy ethnic minorities harvesting botanical ingredients that may or may not actually be used in their products, and happily implying that they're basically better than everyone else. There's just something sneaky and skeezy about that.

But I get it. It's marketing. You've gotta sell stuff.

I think that people should support LUSH. I really do. I personally don't buy many of their products, but I truly believe that they are a (mostly) ethical company, definitely preferable to the majority of brands out there. They're also easily accessible and, honestly, fun! That's so so so important when it comes to widening the green beauty market. To change things, people have to change their minds. They have to be educated. They also have to spend money, which is where LUSH comes in.

There are a lot of brands like LUSH out there, and it all comes down to reading the ingredients and setting boundaries for yourself. Personally, there are a lot of common ingredients I draw the line at (i.e., propylene glycol, talc, etc.) that others are comfortable using. And that's fine. I'm also more likely to let a questionable ingredient slide in something that I'm not using every day, such as one little bath bomb or a once-monthly face mask. Just educate yourself and be mindful and aware of what you're buying. When buying from psuedo-green brands like LUSH and others, keep a clear head on your shoulders. Don't get caught up in a buying frenzy and compromise your values. Here's some handy tips:

  1. Know which ingredients to avoid. There are plenty of sites out there that can give you handy lists to reference and lots of good reading material. Be confident and steadfast in your choices. Don't be afraid to say no!
  2. Read the ingredients. Especially the first three. These will make up the bulk of the product, so they're the most important. The stuff at the very bottom of the ingredient list will likely be included in miniscule amounts.
  3. Consider how often you use the product. If it has one ingredient you're not fond of, but you really, really want it, you're probably safe if you're only using it once a week or less. That being said, use your best judgment. 
  4. Remember, it's not a contest! Beauty is supposed to be fun. It should make you feel wonderful. Don't feel pressured to use or not use a certain ingredient from either side of the fence.
Now that we've covered all the not-so-nice stuff... Let's talk about the good news! There are quite a few LUSH products that I'm happy to purchase and use. I'll talk about those in detail in Part Two!

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