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 review: Bath Melts and Soaps

Hello kittens!

Today I’m going to focus on the festive bath melts and soaps Lush have graced us with. Hope you enjoy!

Bath Melts

Bath Melts are single use products designed for those looking for a really pampering treat. Unlike fizzy bombs or crumbled up bubble bars, melts melt away over a longer period of time. They were generally made with cocoa and /or shea butter, which will deeply soften and moisturise the skin. They are truly indulgent and ultimately skin kind. For the best results, either add to the bath while the water is running, or run your bath too hot, plonk in your melt, and watch it slowly infuse its moisturising ingredients and beautiful fragrance into the water.

Snow Angel

Do you like marzipan, glitter and feeling like a butter-skinned goddess? Then you will love Snow Angel. This massive melt is indulgently moisturising and delightfully festive.

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Rich in cocoa butter, Snow Angel is obviously very skin kind and moisturising, but cocoa butter is also reputed to be excellent for scarring. Other ingredients include rose absolute, which obviously smells lovely, but is also good and reducing redness and soreness.

It’s good to note that the lustre and glitter in this heavenly melt are all non-plastic.  Lush recently redesigned all their glitters and lustres to remove plastics and therefore minimise the ecological impact of said sparkles. The glitters are now made with seaweed, and will begin to break down in your bath. The lustres are mica based.

Being so big, you could very easily break this melt in two, but it is designed for just one bath.

 

Melting Snowman

In Lush Christmases past, this adorable little puddle of a guy was one of the few Lush items that had a festive, spicy fragrance. This year, he’s in good company, but I’m still glad he’s back.

IMG_6415The Melting Snowman’s  spicy notes come from warming cinnamon leaf oil, so he’s great to help unwind sore muscles after a long day. Like all melts, he turns the bath water into a softening milk. Of the three Christmas melts, I would say he’s probably the least indulgent, but I still adore him. Also, he’s the only non-glittery melt, which for many will be a plus.

 

Star Light, Star Bright

Do you prefer silver to gold? Then Star Light, Star Bright is the melt for you. If Snow Angel is a comforting and sweet, Melting Snowman is warming, then Star Light, Star Bright is restorative. Zippy ginger and bright lime will help energise, while lavender and extra moisturising oils and butters including shea and coconut with balance, calm and spoil your skin.

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When this super glittery melt hits the water, the lustre and glitter comes off pretty quickly, leaving a bright white star in a twinkling sky. Inside there is more lustre, just in case you hadn’t got enough from the first hit. This melt is probably the most moisturising of the three, with Snow Angel a close second.

 

Soap

Cut to size for you in store, the beautiful wheels of handmade Lush soaps are much gentler to the skin than many high street equivalents. They are filled with natural oils and conditioners for great fragrance and skin feel, plus they are put together in the most imaginative and creative ways. All the of the Lush Christmas soaps are vegan, and feature their new soap base, which has no petrochemicals, and are, as far as possible, palm oil free.

Baked Alaska

Sherberty and beautiful, this soap comes into stores are a sphere, and is expertly cut down unto bars. Bright and citrusy grapefruit oil and lemon myrtle make this soap a real breath of fresh air. It’s still nice and skin kind though, with rapeseed and coconut oils to soften your skin.

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Inside its white meringue-like outer layer, the soap herself is blue, filled with orbs of bright colours. It reminds me of the northern lights, or the way fairy lights look through a rainy window. Whatever it looks like, it’s a lovely and uplifting soap with intense cleaning properties.

 

Reindeer Rock

Do you like The Comforter bubblebar? Do you like reindeer? Do you like sparkle? Then you’ll love this soap.

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The look of this soap is inspired by cave paintings of reindeer in their native Norway, where the lingonberries used in this soap are grown. It has a beautifully sweet, but not cloying fruity fragrance. That fruity scent comes from those afore mentioned lingonberries and also cassis, which is balanced by cypress and bergamot. Like Baked Alaska, Reindeer Rock also contains rapeseed and coconut oil to soften the skin.

 

Snow Cake

A returning favourite, this pretty white soap, gestured with a bright layer of gold lustre, smells of sweet marzipan. This is a nice gentle soap, with rose to soothe redness and soreness, plus rapeseed and coconut oil for moisture.

IMG_6479This is the only one of the Christmas soaps that isn’t guaranteed palm oil free. It features the same palm oil free base, but one of the ingredients cannot be guaranteed to be Palm Oil free at this time, despite Lush’s best efforts at their end of the production process. To be honest, Lush is so many leaps and bounds ahead of every else in this regard, and they’ve given their all to avoiding this unethical ingredient, so I think its best to give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

Yog Nog

Someone I know thinks this soap smells like a dirty toilet.

This person is wrong, because this soap smells like a delicious confection, and you will be hard pressed not to take a bite out of it when you smell it.

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The soap itself smells so caramelly because of the tonka in it. A relative of vanilla, this bean has a more burnt sugary note that its lighter cousin. Paired with creamy soy yoghurt, spicy clove bud oil and the dusting powder of nutmeg and cocoa, to me this soap smells like Pierniczki, or other Christmas gingerbread. That soy yoghurt, plus rapeseed and coconut oil, make this a beautifully softening soap.

 

Next time I’ll be looking at the Christmas shower products, including shower gels and Fun.

Later days!

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