Do you know who makes your cosmetics? I’m betting that unless you shop at Lush the answer is probably no. However if you do, then you’ll be on first-name terms. This is because Lush affix a ‘Made By’ sticker onto all their hand-made products with the name of just who made your body lotion or face cream. It’s a playful and fun way of proving traceability and adds personality, something that comes across in every step of Lush’s manufacturing process. I recently got to experience this firsthand as I was invited to see exactly what goes on behind-the-scenes at their HQ in Poole. Joined by Simon from The Very Simon G, Neil from The Science of Appearance and Joe from What’s He Wearing we were taken on a guided no-holds-barred-ask-us-anything tour by the effervescent Olivia and got to find out some of Lush’s top secrets*
The factories have a fantastically magical and Willy-Wonka feel to them and unsurprisingly, the first thing I noticed when arriving was the smell; a heady and intoxicating mix of that signature Lush scent blended with punchy whiffs of lemon zest, mint and cinnamon, it’s eye-wateringly strong! Being completely honest I really had no idea of the sheer scale of Lush – they have 900 stores worldwide and the factories I visited in Poole supply 40 countries outside of the UK – nor that literally everything is handmade on the premises and in mind-bogglingly vast quantities. Bath bombs are made by the bucket-load and ingredients shovelled by spades, soaps are made in enormous bubbling scented vats in the aptyly-titled ‘Bubbly Bits’ factory, and daily deliveries of fresh fruit arrive to be housed in ginormous walk-in fridges piled ceiling-high with pallets of papayas, crates of oranges and punnets of strawberries. As freshness is such an integral part of what they do even the salt water used in one of my favourite products (the Sea Spray) is delivered by hand from a local fisherman from Poole, who’s fondly referred to as Fisherman Pete and I’m told he’s quite the catch – ‘scuse the bad pun!
When I asked a few of the Lush team what their favourite products were everyone had a different answer, my favourite though was from Dave The Dairy Manager, a towering burly bloke he said that he loves the Happy Happy Joy Joy hair conditioner “because I can’t stop stroking my hair afterwards and when I play footie the team always pinch it from me!”
Along with making bath bombs, pumping shampoo into bottles, syringing makeup into glass vials and labelling solid bars of sunblock, we got to make shower gel from scratch in the Lush Kitchen. All the products in the The Lush Kitchen are made in smaller batches and it’s also where Lush interact with their dedicated fans – the Lushies –hosting Google hangouts and Twitter Q&As and even re-issuing much-adored limited editions when demand dictates. With expert tutelage from Pete we got to infuse, blend, mix, stir and emulsify an exclusive range of Karma Sutra shower gel that I proudly stuck a ‘Made By Plum’ sticker onto each bottle I’d made with my rather fetching fuschia-glove adorned hands!
I’ve been a Lush fan since a schoolgirl (some 16 years ago now *gulp*) and the more I’ve found out about the brand the more I’ve grown to love them, and the older I’ve become the more important it is to me that the products I use are natural. Plus they don’t just bandy words like ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly around, they actually make a difference; for example, last year their Charity Pot body lotion raised £2.5 million towards human rights, welfare and environmental charities, proving that Lush really are so much more than a high-street shop selling bath-bombs. Just call me a Lushie!
*Here’s a little secret – if you peel away one of the ‘Made By’ stickers on the side of every bottle, each one contains a cryptic message!