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Lush Life

Fresh Gets Fresher

LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics bath and body shop has taken the concept of fresh to the extreme by featuring many vegan products. Most comprise of organic ingredients with no animal testing, recyclable packaging and everything made by hand. In every store there is a refrigerated section of "bio-fresh" products. But it's also their attitude that's really fresh. With names like "You've Been Mangoed Bath Melt," "Brazened Honey," "Buffy the Backside Slayer," and "I Should Coco Soap," LUSH displays a sense of humor as well as a concern for the environment. Many products have labels with pictures and names of the individuals who made, gift wrapped or packaged the product. Now that's a fresh idea you're unlikely to see anywhere else.

After ten years on the international scene, and over 230 shops worldwide, British-based LUSH finally made its first foray into the US at Union Square just last year. This March they opened up a second shop on Union Street. Consider yourself lucky; while the store openings were part of a grander plan for aggressive North American expansion, LUSH intends to maintain its brand exclusivity by limiting the number of stores in each market. Both "beauty delis" offer up their wares much like a food retailer with many products sliced to order, priced by weight, wrapped in grease-proof wrapping paper and featuring best-by dates.

LUSH products are divided into Bath, Soap, Closeup, Fragrance, Haircare, Massage Bars, Skincare and Gifts. One of the more unique products are frozen shower gels that come in a blister pack so they can be popped out of the freezer and into the shower. Sure to please the girliest of girls is the "Melting Marshmallow Moment", a bright pink fluffy frothy bath melt that dissolves and turns a bath into a marshmallow, musk and marigold soup. For men, there are a myriad of shaving creams, "Cosmetic Lad" which is a moisturizer, after-sun product, hair cream and shaving balm, and a manly shampoo called "Cynthia Sylvia Stout" that contains cognac oil and Irish stout and promises extreme shine and control.

LUSH devotees are such a rabid bunch that there are at least three online bulletin board style forums where they can rant and rave. Because some products are seasonal there are frequent pleas to bring back certain products or to nix others, and offers to swap one product for another. Some "LUSHies" even advocate the mixing of products into "cocktail" style bath concoctions; those recipes along with illustrations sent in by customers are also featured prominently in their catalog the LUSH Times.

So why are customers so passionate? One reason is that LUSH packs their products with plenty of super-fragrant essential oils, which means you can actually smell them before you get inside the store. Their bath bombs are a must try, and something they happily demonstrate in-store. While you may have seen look alike products, the original belongs to LUSH. It literally explodes when it hits the bath, fizzing up the water and scenting it with those exquisite oils. Some bath bombs also include flower petals, seaweed, glitter stars or other sparkly additions. For the indecisive they have gifts that range from $4.95 for a "Buttercup" floral wrapped bath bomb to the $137.95 "Big Spender" ultimate gift box that includes a whopping twenty products.