Life, Lush and luxury

Yesterday, after training, I went into the Lush shop at Victoria station to stock up on things I was running low on. I spent rather more than I expected, but if you want the best, you expect to pay good money for it.

A friend of mine introduced me to Lush about six or seven years ago (Jo, this is all your fault!), and when I found out about all their ethics, which parallel my own, that was it. Hooked. For. Life.

They were the first company to stop using palm oil in their products (namely soap, which most other companies use because it’s cheap) – extra Brownie points there with me, because the reason they stopped using it was the same reason I hate the stuff – the homes of orang utans are destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations, creating great swathes of mono-cultural, dead, lifeless greenery. The orang utans are just ‘in the way’, an ‘inconvenience’ to the growers; mothers are shot and their babies (those who don’t die from being dropped) are sold as pets. Those of you who’ve seen orang utans up close will know – these do not make good pets. You may as well keep a child in a cage. Moral of this part of the story: DON’T USE THINGS WITH PALM OIL IN THEM.

The ingredients Lush use are natural – fruit juices, essential oils, plants, with only a few artificial preservatives in their liquid products to keep them from going off. All Lush products have a 14-month shelf-life and are made by hand. OK, so they’re not cheap, but neither is a coffee on the go (get a decent one for less than a couple of quid and I salute you).

So, what did I get yesterday? I have dry skin, so I need body lotion – a pot of Dream Cream, their so-called miracle cream, packed with extra-virgin olive oil. A facial cleanser, Aqua Marina, pink squidgy stuff wrapped in seaweed. Fair Trade Foot Lotion (I usually use body lotion for my feet, but I’m training a lot more at home, these days, and I want to take care of my feet, as they’re fundamental to kung fu) – pink, minty foot lotion that feels cool on your feet. Ro’s Argan, a body moisturiser that you spread all over wet skin and then wash off. It feels amazing, smells divine and leaves even me with no need to use body lotion afterwards (the only reason I don’t use it all the time is it’s so messy!). And a jumbo bottle of American Cream conditioner. This is quite the loveliest conditioner I’ve ever used on my hair, it smells delicious, goes great with Big shampoo (which is packed with sea salt crystals) and leaves my hair feeling fabulous. Along with all that, the nice lady in the shop gave me a wee sample of Charity Pot body lotion. I’ve used this before (I’ve tried them all – the most expensive, Crème Anglaise, was part of a goodie bag, so I’ve even tried that one), but a freebie never goes amiss.

The thing about all of this stuff is it’s a real pleasure to use. You may spend a bit longer in the shower than you would otherwise, because it smells and feels so bloody great. You know you’re doing your skin and hair the world of good with all these ingredients, many of which people have been using for hundreds of years.

And to top it all off – NO ANIMAL TESTING INVOLVED. All of the products (about 75%, I believe) are vegetarian, and the rest are vegan. The ingredients have been in use for so long that to test them would be a pointless waste of time, energy and money, anyway. Which brings me onto my next little niggle: REACH. When the suits at the EU said animal testing for cosmetics would be banned, many rejoiced, including me. It wouldn’t come into force until 2013 – hmm, slight issue with the delay, but at least it was set to happen. Now, the big companies are pushing for another delay – of TEN YEARS. From now until 2023, how many animals would suffer in the laboratories of these companies? (I’m mentioning no names here, not because I don’t know who they are or because I want to protect them in any way, but because I don’t want them on my back trying to do me for libel.) There simply is no need for cosmetics to be tested on anyone other than humans, which is what Lush have been doing ever since they launched their business. The BUAV don’t approve them, because they have no fixed cut-off date – of course they don’t, they’ve NEVER used ingredients from companies which test anything at all on animals – and because instead of boycotting companies that test or endorse testing, they lobby to get them to stop, with the promise they will then buy their ingredients. Personally, I think this is a much healthier approach, as it gets things done – companies stop testing – and the RSPCA also recognise their good work, having given them a Good Business Award for their efforts.

So, if you click on the links in this entry and think, ‘My, that’s expensive’… that may well be the case. OK. I concede. But just think about what you’re getting for your money. Do you buy cheap chemical stuff that exploits people and harms animals? Or do you buy high-quality stuff from a company that ensures workers are paid fairly, suppliers are treated well and no animals are harmed in the making of their products? It’s a personal choice, and so I leave it for you to decide. But it’s well worth thinking about it.

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