Lush Oxford Street: First and Second Impressions

It would take but a little scrolling from a novice SWB reader to discover that I am an unabashed Lush fan. I use a multitude of their products on a daily basis, support their ethics and love their innovative and fabulous cosmetic creations. When I saw the teasers for their new flagship store flash up across their various social media accounts, I knew that I would have to visit as soon as I could after launch day. Rumours flew of a colossal unit with vast displays full of mountains of new, exclusive products; of a store filled with innovative features quite unlike any other Lush shop worldwide. I wanted to see it all for myself.

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The Oxford Street store is located about two minutes walk eastwards along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus tube station, just next door to Marks and Spencer. The chic black frontage stands prominently between the other name brands, but the experience inside is quite other. The front of the shop peels open, unencumbered by dressed, inaccessible windows. The whole feel of the place, as with all Lush outlets, is hands on. Even in the heart of the busy city, Lush unabashedly wants you to touch all of the things.

The unit itself goes back and back and is truly vast. Set over three floors, the new store has plenty of room for elaborate displays featuring live plants (to highlight the ingredients of their neighbouring products), countless sinks for demos of the new innovations and lofty display units to fill the space floor-to-ceiling with eye-catching colour.

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As you enter on the ground floor, an enormous round demo sink greets you to the left (and is usually populated with one of the new bath bombs), with handcare and deodorants on the right. On entering the store on my first visit, I was instantly greeted by a staff member and treated to an on-the-spot hand massage and treatment featuring two of the new products (Salted Coconut Scrub and Elbow Grease). This area also houses the hand/body lotions, and here I noticed that some staple products have been given a better size range. They now come in a half size, and a double size, modelled below by the ever charismatic Simon.

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After handcare, you progress past the stairs and haircare into the back part of the shop, which is full of skin care, facial skin care, a vast display of soaps and shower products, the all new make up sections and mouth care.

Let me break that down a little, and it will have to be a little because, despite have spent hours in Oxford Street, the shop is so overwhelming and there is so much to see that I simply haven’t made it round everything yet.

The facemask display is much larger, with seating for consultations with an attending member of staff. Incidentally, I noticed that staff were zoned to product ranges, which meant you could always find someone if you needed help, despite the crowds. There are three or four new facemasks. I’ve only picked up the one designed for sensitive skin (Rosy Cheeks, a rose based formula), but there is also a mushroom based mask with a yoghurt consistency much like Sacred Truth (It’s called The Man in The Mushroom Mask), a bright blue delight called Don’t Look at Me and I think I saw a black, charcoal one too… Lush have also added another non-fresh (by which I mean that it doesn’t require refrigeration) mask to their repertoire in Cup o’ Coffee, which is mocha-y and delightful.

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I didn’t have time to check out skin care, but the soap display, like a gleaming multi-coloured candy land drew my eye. Old favourite scents have been reformulated into new permanent products (like Maypole, which smells like candy canes), and old products have been brought back, like Milky Bar. All of the current soaps (Rock Star, etc) are present, but in new shapes to catch the eye. Oxford Street also boasts a selection of cold-pressed soaps, which are a new product entirely. Cold pressing helps preserve more goodness in the natural ingredients, so these products should be extra nourishing. They also have a small range of ‘luxury’ soaps. These are very soft in consistency, pricy compared even with the regular soaps, but luscious in fragrance. I highly recommend checking them out- though I have forgotten their names, the aniseedy one and the almondy one are particularly lovely.

Shower is another area where Lush have upped the anti. A few store staples seem to missing from Oxford Street, which makes me wonder if they are being retired, but in their place are probably a dozen new gels, jellies and scrubs. Fan favourite scents like Lord of Misrule, Comforter and Yuzu and Cocoa are represented in new ‘Shower Creams’, which are aerated and rich in wheatgerm oil. Other product scents have new homes in new products. Tuca Tuca massage bar and fragrance is now Don’t Rain On My Parade, Wicci Magic Muscles is now 93,000 Miles jelly, Rub Rub Rub shower scrub is now a solid body scrub bar and Cocktail perfume (my FAVOURITE) is now Wash That Man Right Out of Your Hair shower gel. There are also Soap Sheets- solid, sponge like wash cloths that are actually made of soap. I have no idea how they work, but they are pricey.

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A section I want a spend a day in, and alas have spent about ten minutes in is the all new makeup section. Lush already has a makeup line, Emotional Brilliance, but the Oxford Street shop has a massive upgrade. Various new powders, solids, crayons, pomades, mascaras and solid lipsticks have joined the party. When I’m next up, I want to spend a good long time having a full consultation. For now, I have three lipsticks that I am LOVING: Witty (Lilac), Secure (Blue-Black) and Soul (Iridescent Shimmer).

In mouth care, which is like a pick a mix leading up to till, there are lots of changes. The existing toothy tabs (solid natural toothpastes- you should try them!) have been repackaged into more practical recyclable plastic bottles, with some being given an updated look (Chou Chou is much prettier now with pink dots)and some being reformulated into tooth powders. There are also several new tooth care products- Tooth Fairy powder for those with a sweet tooth, and new tabs Bling Bling (a citrussy gold tab), Oral Pleasure (fruity and purple) and Boom Boom (charcoal for a deep clean). There are also new lip balms with fruity flavours like lime and passionfruit, and they look to be vegan. The one downside to this section is the low position of the products (hip-waist height on me, and I’m short!), and I really don’t like the way they’re displayed. They are laid out like the sweets are at other highstreet shops- as temptations while you’re queuing, or things you might have forgotten on your way round. Frankly, they shouldn’t be- it undermines the value of the products. If the display was in the same location, for the same function, but more creatively laid out and at a better height, I’d be more happy. As it is, the products are designed to be picked up as an after thought by the customer, as it seems they were an after thought for the creative team.

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Downstairs in the basement level, you will find the Gorilla Gallery. This installation houses some of the stories and inspirations behind the artistic perfumes in the Gorilla Perfume range. I haven’t been able to go in yet, but I have heard very mixed reviews, though generally positive. This area also houses the Gorilla Perfume collection, including the exclusive and otherwise retired ranges that have previously only been available online or at the Gorilla Perfume shop in Islington. My favourite perfume, Cocktail, is available there, as well as the full released range from the new Volume 3: Death, Decay and Renewal, rather than just the in-store picks. This area has some more facial care products, the full massage bar range on a huge table, and the entrance to the Oxford Street Lush Spa.

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Upstairs on the first floor is my least favourite area (after mouth care) and probably my favourite area too. Right at the front, looking out over Oxford Street herself is the Fun area. This popular, multipurpose product isn’t my cup of tea most of the time, so I haven’t really explored it, but this would be a great place to park with the kids if you go as a couple, while one of you browses. There’s plenty of room for them to play with this, well, fun product.

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That ‘least favourite’ area I mentioned is the gift section. For me, it’s sterile, bland, and looks like Ikea threw up. Pure white and boxy, the area is generic high street, not rustic and warm like the rest of the decor of the shop. One step out of the gift area and you are in the bath zone, which is like a farmer’s market, and much more on style. I love this area. The products are in plentiful supply, with dozens of new innovations. There are at least 5 demo sinks set around an island- perfect to compare products all at once. The bombs look like fruits, and it entices you to pick them up and smell them. There are too many new products here to count, between the new bombs, new bubble bars, new reusuable bubble bars and wands, reformulated old favourites and all new bath oil pick and mix. It’s truly a candy land of bath goodies, and if this is what you love about Lush, you NEED to go and experience it for yourself.

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Overall, Oxford Street is overwhelming. 220+ new products over three floors, a gallery, a spa, live hair treatments in a barbers chair, vast new ranges to explore… it’s an entirely new experience quite unlike a visit to your cosy local shop. This is Lush on not an industrial scale, but certainly a massive leap for a company that started in a tiny unit in Poole (which, incidentally, they still own). This feels like the direction the company should be going in. They aren’t compromising on their morals, their great and award winning customer service, their innovation, their creativity or their emphasis on the natural and the handmade. What they are is a slicker, smoother, sleeker, better creature altogether- a more modern, yet nostalgic version of themselves. And I can’t wait to go back.

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Valentine’s Day at Lush- Video!

Hello kittens!

Apologies for the silence following my 2015 planning post. I’ve been very ill with the flu, and it’s taken me a while to recover and get myself going. As promised, I’ve made a video! I’ll still be writing here, but one of my goals for this year was to give YouTube another go.

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This time, I’m looking at all of the great products Lush have given us for Valentine’s Day- two bath bombs, three bubble bars, a soap, a shower gel and two lip products. Look out for DeeDee chiming in part way through!

As per the video, I am living for the Unicorn Horn. I’m a huge unicorn fan in all walks of life, so the name and imagery is right up my street. What wins it for me, however, is the cosmic, magic potion-y herbal fragrance- it’s very relaxing for body and mind.

The Kiss lipgloss is a super addition to my lip care products. I’m not much of a gloss girl, but this one I can get behind- it’s smooth and subtle, not sticky or tacky. It looks really pretty over colour, or on nude lips, and is really kind to your skin.

Prince Charming, Prince Charming, ridicule is nothing to be scared of… not that I would EVER ridicule this guy. I LOVE this fragrance, LOVE the effect the combination of softening, soothing vanilla and enzymic fruit notes have on my skin, and love the sweet-tart fragrance on my skin. Yum!

All of the products in the video are being discontinued on saturday in the UK- Valentine’s Day itself. Therefore, if you love any of these, or want to try them, stock up as soon as you can!

That’s all for today- I’m going to go and rest up so I can bring you more content soon.

Later days!

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Lush Christmas: Bombs and Ballistics

So… this post is somewhat belated, considering the Lush Christmas range launched in October, but hey, I try not to feel festive until after Halloween. Let’s do this.

Lush LOVE to go bonkers with new product releases for all holidays, but none so much as Christmas. Ignoring the Halloween products which are staying for the festive season, Lush has 30+ Christmas products this year, excluding gift sets (which are plentiful and GORGEOUS). For ease, I’ve separated them off into their categories: Bath Bombs, Bubblebars, Bath Melts, Soap, Shower and Miscellaneous, which covers a mixture of lip, skin and face care. Today, I’m looking at at the ever popular bombs. Obviously, this post is very picture heavy.

Bath Bombs

Also known as ballistics, these bath fizzers are designed to soften water for sensitive skin, whilst infusing the water with colour, skin kind oils and beautiful natural fragrance. These products are pretty much a gateway drug to the world of Lush- many people never get beyond this part of the shop, and many don’t know that Lush do a whole lot more than just make lovely bath goodies. That isn’t to say they aren’t excellent at making lovely bath goodies, as they surely are.

Dashing Santa

As bright and sunny in fragrance as his boots are gold, this bath ballistic (or bomb, if you like, though he’s hardly bomb shaped), Dashing Santa is a classically festive shaped bomb with bright festive colours. His shape is based on the Cosmetics to Go delivery man logo (this is the company that preceded Lush), but dressed in up a traditional santa outfit. His fragrance is all things orange- gutsy mandarin, sweet orange flower and aromatic Bergamot.These beautiful oils and extracts make for an uplifting, citrussy bath- perfect for the party season.

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Cinders

Cinders has been a Lush Christmas favourite for years, so it’s no surprise she’s back. Sweet and spicy, she simulated the fizzing and crackling of a warm hearth, filled as she is with popping candy and cuddly warming ingredients and scents. Sea salt softens the bath water and provides extra skin nourishing trace minerals, while almond and sweet orange oils sweeten and cinnamon leaf oil warms. This bomb is good enough to eat and leaves you smelling and feeling like a festive confection.

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So White

So White is inspired by Snow White, with her bubble-mix rich white ‘skin’, and her red-as-roses core. Crisp apple fragrances are quite apart from a lot of the usual Christmas fare. Light and beautiful flower notes complement this fragrance- namely rose, orange flower, bergamot and neroli. She’s quite a grown up and pretty bomb, and goes well with the So White shower gel if you need more bubbles.

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Luxury Lush Pud

Another returning Christmas favourite, this technicolour Christmas pud has the same sweet and lovely fragrance and the year round bomb, Twilight. Lavender is sweetned and softened by caramelly Tonka and perfuming Ylang Ylang for sophisticated candy sweetness. I adore Twilight, so I love this bomb.

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Shoot For The Stars

If you like honey, caramel and glitter, you’ll love this bomb. This bomb leaves streamers of bold colour and silver glitter on a deep blue backdrop as it fizzes round your bath, and has the same delectable fragrance as the ever popular Honey I Washed the Kids soap and year-round shower gel It’s Raining Men. For those who don’t know, it smells like honeyed creme brûlée. It has a citrussy addition of sweet orange and bergamot to balance out the fragrance.

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Golden Wonder

This returning creation is probably the most grown up and indulgent fragrance in the bomb range this year. Sharing its chocolate, citrus and boozy notes with two other products in the Christmas range, Golden Wonder is a treat for the senses. This large ballistic is covered in gold lustre, and has a secret filling. It’s and indulgent, grown up and beautiful bath that anyone would be overjoyed to take. Lime and sweet orange provide zingy citrus, while cognac oil adds sophistication. An alcohol-free version of this product is available online.

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Father Christmas

This ballistic returns each year with a new twist and different classic fragrance. This year he has the beloved Snow Fairy fragrance, so he’s a great addition for any S.F. fan. For those who don’t know, Snow Fairy smells like sweets, particularly (to me, anyway) Pear Drops. It’s sweet, intoxicating and addictive, and has been a seasonal favourite for years. Big and super festive, he’s a classic stocking filler. He also has a touch of bubble mix in his formula, so he’s extra softening and lovely.

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Butterbear

Oh my gosh, is this guy cute. He’s also super reasonable. Butterbear has the same sweet and heady vanilla-tonka fragrance as the year round classic Butterball, but instead of being round, he’s a cute, tubby little bear with a cocoa powder nose. He’s adorable. He’s a nice size and price for a stocking present or kid’s bath bomb, and with added chunks of cocoa butter he’s lovely and moisturising too. Perfect for the cold and skin-cruel winter months.

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If I had to pick a favourite from this selection, it would have to Golden Wonder. Cinders is a close second, as I love anything spicy, but as a little bomb, it is kind of the pauper to the prince that is Golden Wonder. Plus, Golden Wonder has the more exciting light show in the bath.

I’ll be back soon with the next segment of my review.

Later days!

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Lush Halloween Haul and Review

Lush Cosmetics love any excuse for a lim-ed product launch. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter or a campaign special, Lush have our backs with season tailored goodies. Halloween is no different. This year, Lush launched their Christmas and Halloween ranges at the same time (October 1st online, and 3rd in stores in the UK), and whilst some of these tricks and treats all be sticking around for the festive season, I wanted to spotlight them separately from the Christmas haul. After all, these goodies are far too spooky to get lost in the Christmas crowd!

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1. Fairy Ring Soap

As with a lot of Lush products, there’s a lot to say about this products in two categories: looks and function/fragrance/ingredients. I’ll start with the latter.

Fairy Ring has the same fragrance as an old, retired Lush product called Fairy Jasmine. Light and Floral but not too sweet, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang spoil the senses, rapeseed and coconut oils soothe the skin and Shiitake mushrooms provide antibacterial properties and aid circulation. Fairy Ring, and all the seasonal exclusive soaps, are certified vegan and are made with Lush’s new sorbitol soap base. Derived from corn syrup, this new soap base means that Lush have been able to eliminate petrochemicals from their soaps, which is pretty cool.

In the looks department, Fairy Ring really delivers. The soap comes into the shop as a beautiful foot-high mushroom: the red cap is speckled with cutesy white spots, and the stalk is complete with doors and windows. This enchanting display is almost too good to cut into… Almost.

If you have the money and are looking for a really, really special party favour this festive season, a fun idea would be to buy a whole Fairy Ring soap. Use it as a table decoration during your (hopefully fairy themed) party, then cut it up and dish out portions to your guests to take home. Fresh cut soap really does smell best, after all, and this magical fragrance will please all partakers.

 

2. Sparkly Pumpkin

Gloriously glittery, this bubble bar screams Halloween cheer and the glory of Autumnal colours. I would prefer it if it had a sweet Jack O’ Lantern smile, but beggars can’t be choosers, and she’s pretty as she is.

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Sparkly Pumpkin is packed full of citrus notes. Zingy lime and punchy grapefruit provide a universally pleasing, uplifting and skin brightening effect. Also featured are a smidge of spice from the cinnamon stick stalk, and refreshing, balancing Juniperberry. This bitch’s brew of invigorating ingredients leaves your bath piles high with bubbles, pleasantly orange and swirling with golden sparks of lustre and glitter. The ingredients are partnered to perk you up and freshen you- skin, body and mind- for a night of mischief under the full moon. WoooooOOOoooooo!

It’s also worth noting that, like all bubble bars, you can use as little or as much of the pumpkin as you like for your bath. I reckon she will comfortably yield 2-3 baths worth of bubbles- just break off what you want to use and keep the rest of her dry and safe until she’s needed.

It is my understanding that Sparkly Pumpkin is a Halloween exclusive, so will be gone after Halloween. If you want one (or five), stock up now!

 

3 and 4. Northern Lights and Sparkler

Northern Lights and Sparkler are brand spanking new products in terms of their shape if not their fragrance. Capturing the frivolity and fun of Guy Fawkes Night, these fun fizzers will be hanging around for Christmas.

The baton like shapes of these bombs are supposed to simulate fireworks. Each end fizzes faster than the middle, creating a catherine wheel-esque spin in a hot bath, before shooting out each bomb’s secret contents. For Sparkler, the frankly plain yellow outer layer yields to an popping candy fuelled explosion of rose gold glitter sparks (like a sparkler!), with colours reminding me of bonfires and cinder toffee. Northern lights releases its white star confetti, and swirls of neon bright colours to replicate her name sake, the aurora borealis, over an inky blue night sky. She’s truly beautiful, and a very special new design I hope Lush bring back for years to come.

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Northern Lights shares the Jasmine and Ylang Ylang fragrance of the long time favourite Christmas Eve Bubblebar. The smell is much stronger and sweeter than the same ingredients in the Fairy Ring Soap, and absolutely relaxing.

Where Sparkler really shines is her fragrance. She has the ever popular (and my favourite Lush scent!) Rose Jam fragrance from the bubbleroon and body conditioner. Heady, sweet, scrumptious and very, very special, Sparkler’s scent has a double dose of Rose, plus Geranium and Cypress to intoxicate the senses. An indulgent and sexy fragrance, Sparkler will make you feel and smell phenomenal.

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In terms of looks, Northern Lights, in or out of the bath, looks stunning. The blurple swirled outer layer is dotted with stars, like a special magic wand you can’t help but be drawn to. Sparkler on the other hand is a grower rather than a shower. The solid yellow stick is pretty uninspiring to look at- more a bar of plutonium than a bath time delight. However, once in the bath, it’s an absolute joy. Both bombs look very interesting and different to the balls and character shapes around them on display, but the baton shape isn’t particularly sturdy. If dropped or sometimes even just knocked, it will snap clean in half, ruining the catherine wheel effect when used. My Northern Lights, as you can see from the picture, was single wrapped, and snapped just from the stress of being transported. The batons are also too long for little black product bag. If you’re interested in these treats, ask your sales assistant to either double bag your bomb, or otherwise securely wrap it up for safe keeping.

 

5. Wizard

I think Wizard is probably one of the most adorable things out in Lush’s autumn/winter range this year. He shares his cone shape with The Christmas Penguin bubble bar, which was a favourite with my friends and family last year. Robed in shimmering purple, this cutie is here to make your bath time magical. Crumbled under the hot tap, Wizard creates mountains of bubbles, shimmering royal purple water and a beautiful fragrance of an old school Lush favourite, Jingle Spells. Sweet and bright Tangerine oil, clean Fennel, balancing Juniperberry and sweet Ylang Ylang make for a bath fit for the High Wizard himself- great for brightening the skin and lifting your mood.

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Wizard delivers on looks and function. Fennel might seem an odd inclusion, but the aniseed notes of the fennel and its skin brightening function work perfectly with the citrus Tangerine and the skin doctoring Juniperberry. With his adorable face and star, he’ll please young and old, and the beautiful purple bathwater will make you feel really special. Like most bubble bars, you can use as much or as little as you like of the Wizard for each bath. I think he’ll comfortably do 2-3 baths if you wanted. Just be sure to keep what’s left of him safe and dry somewhere until you want to use him up!

Like Pumpkin, Wizard is a Halloween exclusive.

 

6. Lord of Misrule

This Loki green bomb arrived last year to great applause, and I’m really pleased he’s back. With his party crown design, LoM is inspired by the Pagan Feast of Fools, where the order of society was flipped on its head for a day, the wine flowed and mischief and mayhem abounded. However, the name alone brings thoughts to me of tricksters throughout mythology and literature, and the tricks played around Halloween night.

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The green outer layer of this bomb yield to a plummy centre, inspiring thoughts of sweet mulled wine. The bomb is also full of popping candy, so the fizzing and frolics last and last and last. His fragrance is sweet and moreish Vanilla and earthy, special Patchouli, warmed with Black Pepper. Vanilla is extremely gentle on the skin, so this bath is like a warm, cheeky hug. I love it. Using this bomb makes me feel like some sort of mystical princess, bathing in sacrificial wine. It’s a scrummy bomb, and I’m glad it’ll be sticking around for Christmas. With it’s external design, bath effect and lovely aroma, it’ll be a winner as a stocking filler, or as a treat for yourself after a gruelling slog round the shops.

 

So there you have it, ghouls and gents- Lush Halloween 2014 has landed with a bump in the night. If I had to pick a favourite, I would go for Northern Lights. The light show in the bath is nothing to be sniffed at, and the soothing scent will help you feel magically relaxed this festive season.

Wrap up warm, and have fun this Halloween!