Walking down any high street, you can always tell if there's a Lush nearby; you can smell it at 100 paces! Cosmetics, but not as you'd usually find them. The products are ethically produced and ecologically sound. It's a concept as much as a set of products, but with friendly, knowledgeable staff, bright stores and excellent wares, popping in is always fun (and if you feel overwhelmed by the scent on the high street, I can promise somehow it doesn't seem so intense in the shop!).
Products burst out in piles, smelling sweet and looking fabulous. Work your way through your daily beauty routine, and Lush will have something for every phase, from skin care to makeup, essentials to luxuries. The shops are all small, but packed full, offering hundreds of products.
Inside a shop, tight on space, but a riot of carefully stacked colour
The soaps are as much a work of art as a bathing product. Beautiful wheels and sculptures of soap adorn tables adding colour and fragrance to the shop. They'll cut you just as much as you want and package it minimally for you. Products aren't cheap, but once you've found combinations which work for you, they do work out as good value because they last well, and are excellent quality.
A toadstool made of soap! Seems a shame to have to cut it up
Self-preserving cosmetics are being introduced, where natural ingredients such as olive oil are used to both moisturise you and preserve the product. You can get clear advice on what is vegetarian or vegan, so you know your beauty products meet your own ethical standards. No products are tested on animals.
Face packs and hair doctor kept on ice for freshness
Staff know the products inside out and are always happy to help and advise you. Discuss your favourite scents, or what effect you're trying to achieve, or just how dry your skin is, and they'll gladly talk it through with you.
From children's birthday parties, to hen nights and back to school pamper parties, Lush can be a great venue for a small event. You never know quite what else might be going on, from celebratory shopping, to complimentary hand massages.
Black pots of goodness, the packaged products on display.
Given Lush's ethical staff, you also find individual shops running campaigns on issues which matter to them. In Oxford, for example, they might set up stalls on the pedestrian street outside. Where this isn't possible, petitions at the till and posters in the window help get their messages across.
Shampoo bars. No-mess shampoo, great for travelling with!
Stores are now in a number of countries worldwide. Prices vary depending on import costs etc, but can often be worth it for the great products. I was particularly impressed to find my nose leading me to one in the souks of Beirut, just a week after it had opened!
Vibrant makeup too, with a colour wheel to test your emotional brilliance
Their website is also excellent though, with reasonably priced delivery ensuring you can stock up without having to carry it home. The shops are small, but on the website everything is available, well laid-out. Turnover of products is high in the shops, and the website used to be a good place to stock up on your old favourites, through 'Lush Retro'. This has now changed to be the 'Lush Kitchen', where every day they offer a limited stock of a particular limited edition, old or otherwise interesting product.
Bath bars and melts, colourful indulgent bath products
Headquarters are in Poole, from where started the Lush spa movement, which has now spread to a number of other locations. With beauty treatments and music CDs available, it's a great way to turn a physical product into a lived experience. Staff often try out the spa treatments too, so it's worth talking to them about how they found it.