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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BEDA: The Prettification Wishlist

Alternate title: My Birthday list.

The best thing about make up: ZOMG PRETTIES 😀 ❤

The worst thing about make up: ZOMG PRETTIES THAT I CAN NEVER AFFORD ;_; </3

This season, the big cosmetic companies are making me weep with longing about their new products (and some older ones I’ve been hankering for for AGES), particularly as so many of the new items have turned up the pigment content. This season is all about colour, it seems, and I am all about that.

1. Nails Inc Floral Collection

I love nail polish, if you hadn’t already twigged that. And I love Nails Inc- their product very rarely lets me down, and they are a British company. I do so like to shop local. Their SS14 mini collection this year hasn’t inspired me that much- looking nearly identical to the previous year’s offering. Pastel brights are in this year again, but some different tones might have been more fun. That being said, their new Floral collection of polishes is right on the mark. Perfect pastel spring time shades meet kitsch, adorable flowery glitters to give you an artsy manicure in seconds.

I love glitter and confetti polishes, particularly those that step beyond the basic dot shapes. The lovely little flowers and pollen like specks do this perfectly. The ‘glitter’ is also matte rather than, err, glittery, which is perfect for a daytime-y, sunshiny look. *squeal* I NEED this polish in my life. Don’t get me started on the adorable packaging either. Argh.

This collection is available in 5 shades from nude through to blues and pinks. Each shade is £12, so for the full set you are looking at a £60 spend. My tip, if you are thinking of this collection, is to go for Floral Street Mews and Richmond Gardens. The former is a blossomy pink with hint of turquoise, nude and blue. The latter is turquoise with hints of pastel pink and meadowy, limey green. Between the two of these, you will probably be able to match most spring time outfits, and for me, they are the prettiest shades.

2. Lime Crime Velvetines

Oh lord. I have wanted a velveteen or two since the launch of Red Velvet and Suedeberry back in the day. If I think too hard about Pink Velvet I get the ‘need’ shakes. The latest colours (The Clueless Witch Collection- basically dark red, black and brown) don’t set my heart aflutter as much, but that’s just me.

Now readily availiable in the UK via several online boutiques, I really don’t have much excuse for not snapping one of these beauties up ASAP. If you don’t know about Velvetines, let me lay it down for you. The formula applies like a lipgloss, sets matte like a matte finish lipstick and lasts like a lip stain. They are insanely pigmented and dry to a velvety, rose petal finish. They’re also Vegan and cruelty free.

When I do pull my finger out/find the cash (Approximately £11.50 each) for one of these, I will be going for the gorgeous Red Velvet and the pretty Pink Velvet. Red Velvet is a sexy classic pin up red on the cool side, and Pink Velvet is pretty much the same tone in pink- deeper and bluer than fuchsia.

HNGH.

3. Urban Decay Naked 3

This time last year, I was making the same noises about the Naked 2 palette. I needed a good nude palette for work and play, and this one was the real deal.

I’ve had my Naked 2 palette for nearly 9 months now, and I still use it every time I put on makeup. I love the shadows, particularly Half Baked and Chopper, though there are a few I simply don’t use, I love the big mirror and I love love LOVE the brush. And the primer potion and lipgloss it came with were nothing to sniff at.

Naked 3 had me making whale noises when I saw it in the shop. It’s everything I LOVE about Naked 2, but warmer and pinker. It’s like a hug for your eyes. The 12 shades are all brand new, with the same lovely mix of pearls, shimmers and mattes. They’ve thrown in another of those awesome brushes, plus 4 resealable samples of their range of primer potions (which are awesome, I must add).

Without owning it, the shades I am most excited about are Dust (a pretty shimmery light pink), Buzz (an antique rose pink and likely perfect contour for Dust) and Blackheart (an incredible warm black with floating, shimmery pink glimmers. It’s like bonfire smoke.)

Basically, come hell or high water, I WILL get this palette. Theres no reason not to. It is, for me, a better version of the Naked 2, and therefore perfect. It’s available for around £37 now- I’ve linked above to Debenhams simply because thats where I saw it in the flesh for the first time, and the UK Urban Decay website is SHOCKINGLY AWFUL.

4. Urban Decay Electric Palette or Sugar Pill Electro Cute Neon Pigments

I have bundled these two products together because they perform a similar function: they provide wild, super pigmented neon-bright colour for your eyes. Eee!

Urban Decay’s new Electric Palette gets me weak at the knees. The colours here are pressed pigments, not just ‘eyeshadows’. This means that have a rich, crazily high pigment load- the bright colours on the palette are what you will get on your face, and they won’t fade. Some of the shades are more brights than neons, and there’s even a glittery silver to add some robo-chic to your look. With an audaciously enormous mirror and double ended crease/blending brush, this has to be the palette of the summer.

My top shade picks from this palette are Thrash, a true neon lime/yellow with a touch of gold, Urban, a deep violet, Chaos, a true bold unapologetic blue, and Slowburn, a fiercely bright orangey red. Since this palette contains purn pigments, they should blend together easily into new shades, or so I hope. I look forward to being a neon peacock. At £38, it’s a fair price too.

If you want loose colour, and even more neon-ness, and from a guaranteed cruelty free company, look no further than the wonderful Sugar Pill Cosmetics. Their Electro Cute Neon Pigments look like coloured sugar, full of multifaceted sparkle, but with the same high pigment load and staying power of the other sugar pill products. They’re also Vegan.

The plus side of the loose powders is generally pot size (you will never run out) and ease of brush loading for mind-blowing colour from the first brush stroke. They do like primer or creme shadow to stick to though- the afore mentioned Primer Potion is a good call. The downside is the price. Each shade is $16 (approximately £9.50), or £10.95 with a UK stockist. For all five, you could pay nigh on £55, plus P&P. If this is a bit steep but you are interested, look out for Sugar Pill’s occasional sales, and bear in mind that international shipping from their site is free for purchases over $100. Going in with a friend, this is really easy to achieve.

My favourite Electro Cutes are Hellatronic, a nigh prussian shade of colour excellence, Love Buzz, because it’s piiiiiink, and Sparkage, because neon green is so fun, and green looks awesome with brown eyes, like mine.

 

5: OCC Colour Cosmetic Pencils

Ladies and Gentlemen, they’re vegan and cruelty free. They’re multi functional. They’re endorsed by my favourite Drag Diva, Willam Belli. The Colour Cosmetic Pencils match up with OCC lip tar shades perfectly, to provide the perfect line for the your tarred lips. They can also be used as eye popping eyeliners.

Anti-Feathered is a little different from the rest of the bunch, being clear. It acts as an invisible liner- perfect for use with any rich lip colour, as a lip balm/primer for lip colour wear, and can even be used as a primer for eye colour to keep in in place. This is my top pick of the lot for its extra versatility.

OCC is famous for its pure pigments and colour intensity, and they don’t skimp on these pencils. I can’t wait to get my paws on NSFW, a true rich red, Anime, a perky bright pink and Pool Boy, A luscious swimming-pool blue. If you’re looking for a more pedestrian eyeliner shade, there are several browns and tans, and a true black, but why not go wild with Grandma’s coral goodness, or Black Dahlia’s vampy plummy tones?

$16 (£9.50) on the official website and £11 via a UK stockist, these are my defining pick of the season. D’ya get it? Ha!

 

Which new products are you dying to smear all over your face?

 

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