31 March 2016

My Lush Factory Tour - Part 1

Way back before the Kitchen sunk its claws into the lives of Lushies all across the globe, the excitement and mystery rested solely on what went on in the Lush factories. For a company that make their own products by hand, and who happen to make some of the most amazing cosmetics on the planet, there is something incredibly interesting about knowing where and how the process of these items begin, and how they make their way into our bathrooms and ultimately, into our hearts.

Walking into each and every one of the Lush factories yesterday was like being ten again and stepping into a sweet shop for the very first time. And right there may be the first piece of information that you didn't know about the Lush factories - there are many of them. In fact, I was told that Lush are constantly looking for new spaces to branch out in, as the company are forever expanding due to consumer demand. They are doing incredibly well for themselves, and good for them. 

Not only does the company have numerous warehouses for the many different departments within the Lush brand, but the buildings are actually scattered about across Poole - some within metres of each other, others a fair bit further. This meant that there was a fair bit of walking and driving between the visits, which may not be particularly conducive for visitors,  but it's something that Lush make work when it comes to production and shipment. 

My tour started off in the dairy/filling department - a place that initially seemed fairly empty and quiet. Here I learnt that it was products such as the lotions, hair care, scrubs and shower gels that were made in this factory, and I was able to catch a glimpse of the meticulous planning and execution that goes into making certain fan favourites such as Enzymion and Dream Cream.

At the start of my tour, I learnt that there was a room kept especially for the preparation of the fresh produce, and here I was introduced to a machine that was supposedly able to de-shell 300 eggs in under a minute. I was also treated to a tour of the refrigerator, where all of the fruit and vegetables were stored, and I was amazed at just how much is needed on a daily basis to fulfil the demand. 

While this area wasn't particularly busy, I was able to witness a fresh batch of Self-Preserving Ocean Salt being combined, and when I say I wanted to bathe in it, it's no word of a lie. I was also able to observe and admire the barrels of creams and hair care that were close to being finished, and although it's difficult to make out the fragrances while they're in this state, I was able to appreciate the exciting prospect of a colossal barrel full of Happy Happy Joy Joy.

What I love about Lush is that they're all about the small detail as well as the larger gestures, and one aspect of this initial stage of the tour that impressed me was the decoration around each and every one of the compound rooms. As demonstrated in the photo above, the factory was all about celebrating where the raw ingredients had come from, and the people/communities that went behind sourcing those components. Ladened around the rooms were pictures and captions about these incredible people and the effort they go to harvest these ingredients for the company. A small but very powerful message to anyone who is working in that room at the time.

As we continued through the warehouse, I was introduced to the 'shop floor' where a good few hundred employees were filling and labelling bottles and tubs - getting them ready to be shipped off to the various shops around the country, and indeed the world. While they made it look so incredibly easy, you'd be amazed at how difficult it was to not only fill the bottles with the correct amount of product, but to execute it fast enough to keep up with the competitive  production line. Hats off to each and every one of those employees: as you can see from the photo above, I was definitely not up for this particular challenge.

Despite my terrible execution of the bottles, I was given another chance to fill some tubs with a fresh batch of Dream Cream. I didn't fair too badly with these, but it was very clear that, was I to work at the speed I was going at, an eight-hour shift would probably take me in the realm of thirty hours to complete. I left the experts to their work, and just hoped that I hadn't messed up their regime too much.

Above the production floor, I found myself in a maze of sticker rolls - towering mounds to coincide with each and every product that was made in that particular factory. What was amazing was that; firstly, Lush Oxford Street had its own section; secondly, there were labels from products that were no longer around (and a few that gave away some future releases); and finally, that there were labels to coincide with every other country that Lush ship to.

During my tour, I found out that Lush have been constantly trialling and testing out new, more manageable ways of 'manning' their factories. While there were a number of machines present on the warehouse floor, not very many of them were being used, and this is because Lush have found that it's more efficient to use people to stick on the labels, than it is a piece of machinery. For this reason, most of what I witnessed in this factory was being done by hand. A personal touch that we all know goes, but is always nice to see. 

While this part of the tour only took us about fifteen minutes to complete, my head was already cluttered with the amount of fascinating and incredibly compelling information involving the way that Lush function outside of their stores. Who knew what laid ahead for me in the next factory? If one thing was for certain, it was that I couldn't wait to find out...

28 March 2016

Tunbridge Wells Blogger Event

Would you believe that I have never been to a blogging event held by Lush before? Given how much press I've been told I provide the company, you would have thought that I would have at least dipped my toes into the exciting world of promotional nights and product demonstrations at least once in my lifetime!

When I was asked to attend the debut press night at the Tunbridge Wells store, I jumped at the chance. Although I do consider my knowledge of the company and their products to be pretty secure, I am always up for finding out more. And if anything, I thought the event would at least allow me to converse with a few like-minded Lushies. 
As it turned out, the night was a success, for both myself and all of the other thirty attendees present. Not only did everyone leave the premises having learnt at least once new thing about the company, each and every person was also given the opportunity to try their hands at making their own Lush product. What could be better than that? Aside from the fact that we were able to take away a handful of hand-picked goodies for us to enjoy as well... 

The night kicked off with a live demonstration of Butterball being made, and bloggers were given the chance to try their hand at mixing, compressing and moulding the finished product to take home afterwards. It was fascinating observing how a bowl of what looked like flour, ended up becoming the bath bomb we all know and love - a learning curve I would definitely like to experience more of, and hope to do so in the coming week, what with my trip to the Lush Kitchen.
What was great about the event was the lax approach by staff as well as attendees. To me, it seemed as if the night was solely about bringing together enthusiastic beauty bloggers and giving them a glimpse into the magical world of Lush, whilst providing all of this within a calm, organic environment. I felt as if many of those present formed new friendships and made many important contacts tonight, and perhaps gained even more from this side of things than the actual product demos themselves.   

While the Butterball demo was going on, I ventured over to another table where an employee was spreading the word about the rather wonderful Charity Pot and Peace Massage Bar. Here I was able to learn a little more about both products. I also found out about the ethical sourcing and buying policies that goes on behind the scenes at Lush, and it really made me appreciate how proactive the company are with their ethical and moral compass.

With drinks and snacks available throughout the whole night, I took this moment to grab myself some freshly sliced watermelon, and then headed over in the direction of the 'kitchen', where one of the employees, Reece, was making a fresh batch of the Cupcake Face Mask. If there is any Lush product that will make you want to lick the bowl, this may just be it!

The mask was made right before my eyes - the ingredients laid out for all to see, while we were talked through what each component did and why it had been included. It was wonderful to see just how simplistic and natural the product was, and reaffirmed that Lush are a company that don't fill their cosmetics with an endless and rather pointless list of preservatives.

Once the product was completed, and the strong chocolate and mint aroma had filled the entire shop, we were all invited to take a generous sample with us to try out at home. When it was my turn, I scooped up enough to see me through my next pampering session, and was even allowed to take an extra sample as there was so much of it to go around. Yummy!

Again, bloggers were left to mill around the shop - talking about their Lush experiences and meeting new people. It was during this time that I managed to have a chat with the wonderful Phil (@allIknowisphil). I'd briefly spoken to him at the start of the evening, but with the many alluring events taking place, we'd gone our separate ways. As to be expected, he was lovely and I do hope I have another chance to meet him again in the near future.

Before long, I realised that the upper layer of the shop was pretty desolate, and headed downstairs to find product demonstrations taking place to a large and eager crowd. I took this moment to explore Lush's hair care range, and made a note to myself that I needed to invest in another piece of both Avocado Co Wash and Trichomania Solid Shampoo, before the month is out.

After another quick browse of the fruit buffet, I headed upstairs for the final performance of the night - the making of the wonderful Sunnyside Bubble Bar. Out of the three products on offer this evening, this was definitely the one I had been more looking forward to. What's not to love about a citrus bubble bar backed with golden lustre? 

Again, the staff talked us through the process of how and why they made the bubble bars in a certain way. It was during this talk that I learnt about the key components of Lush's bath products in general, and I was amazed to see the transformation from the bowl of white powder that they started with, to the gorgeous, sparkly product we all know and love.

At this stage, we were allowed to scoop a generous amount for ourselves, and mould it into any shape that we wanted. It's funny how artistic and creative I consider myself, and then how blank my mind goes when I'm put on the spot to make something using this skill. In the end, I made a simple star shape and left the work bench, safe in the knowledge that it would still be as beautiful in the bath no matter what the design. 

To conclude the wonderful evening, we were each given a bag of Lush goodies to take away, along with a few extra edibles that had obviously come from local companies in and around Tunbridge Wells. One of the Lush employees, Tyler, also made the point of giving me an extra bottle of Twilight Shower Gel, which I'm incredibly thankful for.

The evening was a great success, and such an innovative way of getting more people involved with the company. There were people there of every calibre - big fans, small, independent bloggers, and some that were merely there as +1s. No matter where their starting point was, everyone left with a big smile on their face, and a definite appreciation of the company just that little bit more. 

I cannot wait to attend my next blogging event, and I urge you all to get involved with any events that are coming to your local stores. You don't have to be a prevalent blogger or even a huge fan of the company. It's just a great way to learn more about Lush and spread the joy they bring to a few extra fans on a Saturday evening. 

Take Care

Jen x

Lush Kitchen Menu: March 28th 2016

Every week I hope to bring you an informative (and fairly entertaining) video on the items making their way into the Lush Kitchen the following week. Above is this week's menu for you to enjoy, and below are the links to each and every one of the items featured in the blog.    

Twilight Shower Gel
Mrs Whippy Bath Bomb
Avoshower Shower Gel
Mumkin Bubble Bar
Twilight Solid Perfume
Abombinaball Bath Bomb
Calacas Shower Gel
Rose Jam Solid Perfume
Bom Perignon Bath Bomb
Error 404 Bath Bomb
Karma Shower Gel

24 March 2016

Bewitched Massage Bar

When I first began collecting Lush products, I remember browsing the website and looking at all of the different massage bars available at the time. Unfortunately, despite their amazing properties, most of them weren't very interesting to look at, and I remember thinking that a good handful of them looked almost identical, which begged the questions: exactly which one should I go for? Bewitched and Hottie were two such bars that looked a little less than appealing - like a bar of chocolate that had gone horribly wrong and come out in boils. Yuck!

However, once I had tried out my first few bars, I realised that what they looked like really didn't matter at all (isn't that a lesson I should have learned ten times over with Lush by now?), and that Lush nearly always create something a certain way for a specific reason.

Bewitched is a bar that stands out from most of the other massage bars that Lush have produced, past and present. When you think of massage bars, your mind conjures up images of a relaxing experience - one that will perhaps inspire the best sleep of your life, or at least entice you to head in that direction with its calming, herbal properties. Bewitched however, is very different in the fact that it has been designed to be uplifting and is actually supposed to help you stay awake. As a chronic insomniac, I suffer from some of the most mentally painful mornings imaginable, and this massage bar has proven itself to me time and time again.

Much like all of Lush's other massage bars, this one has a ton of wonderful ingredients to give your skin a feast; cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil are all present to help moisturise and remove dry, scaly skin; lime oil has been added to give the bar it's overall zesty scent whilst containing key properties to clean your skin. Lush have then chosen a mixture of chamomile, violet and jojoba to add a floral undertone to the scent that will linger on the body long after your massage, ensuring the persistence of memory.

To me, this massage bar smells mostly of lime, although there is a gentle floral element that lingers at the back. The smell is rather subtle in both bar form and on your skin, so you don't have to worry too much about it's scent overpowering your perfume. However, I recognise it as being from the chamomile - which adds a calming layer that grounds the fruity elements a little, and will also keep the skin calm while it is being applied.  

Much like Hottie Massage BarBewitched is made in the same way - carved to have a flattened base with lots of bobbles on top. It wasn't until I began using it that I realised this design was perfect to massage the oils into your skin, helping to loosen tense muscles and banish aches and pains. 

I tend to apply the flat side across my skin first, careful not to hold the bar too long because of how quickly it melts between your hands. Once I've finished, I will then either use my fingers and hands to massage the oils across my body, or use the bobbly side to stimulate areas that are tense or aching from. It’s made with plenty of coconut oil, which gives the product such a smooth and luxurious texture as it melts on the skin, and you wont find that you have to hold the bar for too long to coat your entire body. 

As I stated, the consistency of this massage bar is spot on; it's really easy to melt between your hands, and glides over the body wonderfully. What makes it even more special is the fact that this does not leave the skin feeling sticky or greasy. Instead, the oils immediately begin the absorb into the skin, and within twenty minutes of application, you'll be able to reapply clothing without getting them greasy.

What is also great, is that, despite how quickly is melts, this bar is one of the longer lasting ones. I got a good sixteen full-body uses out of it, whereas some bars I will only only get 4-5 because of how much 'product' is needed. Bare in mind though that I use these bars as alternatives to body lotions, so I'm not using them for a prolonged amount of time, as you would do a massage. You may find that, when used as a massage bar, it actually only has a couple of uses out of it.  

The only issue I found with this product is that the bobbly surface flattens after a couple of uses, so you wont be able to target those sore areas with the bar itself after that. Instead, you'll have to revert back to using your fingers to pinpoint and massage these areas. Having said this, I really liked Bewitched, and I would like to see it back in store so that I can purchase a few more.

Quantitative Ingredients: Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Lime Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Chamomile Blue Oil, Violet Leaf Absolute, *Citral, *Geraniol, *Limonene, Perfume.

Vegan?: Yes.

2017 Price: £6.50 each.  

23 March 2016

Black Stockings Solid Body Tint

Black Stockings was a product that I stumbled upon accidentally after winning a handful of Lush goodies in an eBay listing a few months back. When the petite bronze heart fell out of the box, I was rather confused but equally intrigued by the strange object, and quickly got to work at finding out what it could do for me. 

Described as a body tint bar, this is not a product I would be immediately drawn to. Despite being naturally really pale, I don't do much in the way of adding colour to my skin, and I certainly stay away from bronzers and self-tanning products. I just know that if I was given free-reign of bronzer-type products, I would end up looking like I'd lost a fight against a truck of paint. 

Presented as a solid block, this bar doesn't contain any of the nasty synthetic ingredients that you would expect to find in shop-brought liquid alternatives. In fact, this bar boasts the inclusion of both cocoa butter and shea butter, which helps to soften and moisturise the skin whilst you're wearing it. 

Black Stockings also has an array of oils - orange, pimento and cinnamon, which give this bar a gentle and rather pleasant fragrance. However, I don't think the scent of this bar is all that important given that the product is designed to give your skin a healthy glow and add a little colour where it's needed.                                                                                                               I read somewhere that this bar is geared towards people with darker skin, so I was really worried that I'd end up looking like I'd baked myself in an oven after application. Despite my initial fears, my experience was very positive and I ended up falling in love with this little block of bronze.
Lush say that to use it, you should rub it across the areas of your body you wish to add a little colour to. When I did this, my skin was instantly painted with quite a thick layer of gold and I had to massage it with my hands to even out the coverage. The bronzer was a little stubborn when trying to spread it with your hands so I found with practice that it's better to gently shade your skin, rather than press the bar down and drag it aggressively across an area. When you press a little lighter, you don't get so much build up in a single area and it's easier to get the desired effect without rubbing your body until it's sore. 

While Lush claim that it's for the whole body, I found that this bar took a long time to cover every area and it's much easier when you use a liquid alternative. Secondly, the size of the bar means that you won't get many full-body uses out of it. I only used the bar twice to do this and found that it had shrunk considerably afterwards. Finally, Black Stockings has a habit of rubbing off on your clothes, which is rather annoying and not something that would make me try it again.

Despite my bad experience using it on my body, I found it was fantastic when used on my face. At times I have used this as a contouring device and it was very easy to apply; I've also used it to give my whole face a little colour and I was able to massage it across my face to get even coverage. I particularly like using it under my eyes to reduce the appearance of bags and put some colour back into my cheeks.

When used in this way, the small 30g bar lasts ages - it would probably take me close to a year to use one of these up. My face didn't look too dark or overdone - instead giving me a nice, natural looking glow that got me lots of compliments from my work colleagues. 

The only bad aspect about this is that it feels quite heavy on the skin, so I wouldn't recommend using it every day. However, I have found every other bronzer to be equally as heavy so this must be something that comes as standard with body tints.

Overall, I was very impressed with what this bar did to my face and I have continued to use it ever since I initially discovered it. It's a great product to carry around with me so I can top up throughout the day and one that I would recommend to people of every skin type - I'm as pale as can be and this still works for me!

Quantitative Ingredients: Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Perfume, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Pimento Berry Oil, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Cinnamal, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene, Linalool, Alumina, Tin Oxide, Colour 77891, Colour 77019, Colour 77491.

Vegan?: Yes.

2016 Price: £7.95 for 30g.

22 March 2016

Lush Cocktail: Gold Goddess

Anonymous' 'The Bath Of Legends' Cocktail



As someone who hoards mostly seasonal and limited edition releases, it's great that the majority of cocktails you suggest to me contain these sorts of items. However, as a regular consumer who can only purchase what is available in the shops, this can mean that trying out these cocktails are near-on impossible. 

When a number of Lush fans asked me to demonstrate a couple of regular, readily-available bathing experiences, I was more than happy to oblige, and I can assure you that I will be including far more of these in the future to satisfy every type of Lushie - new or established.

Gold Goddess is not only made up of regular products, but it's simplistic to boot - meaning that it's a great value cocktail and one that can be enjoyed time and time again. Featuring only two ingredients, both of which can be halved or quartered depending on how conservative you're feeling, this cocktail offers a wonderful experience - one suitable for any time of the year and for any and every mood.

Begin by crumbling a third of a Sunnyside Bubble Bar under the running tap. This is probably the most featured item when it comes to Lush cocktails, and for many reasons. Firstly, the wonder orange aroma is fresh and uplifting -  it's strong enough to remain with you throughout the whole bath, but also light enough to not be at all cloying on the senses.

Not only this but it turns the water into a stunning haven of golden water and thick, luscious swirls of lustre - the latter of which will not turn you into a glitter ball and will rinse away easily with the water. Furthermore, the bubble bar is incredibly softening so you'll feel your skin improving within minutes of climbing into the bath.

Once the water has finished running, add in the Dragon's Egg Bath Bomb. By itself, this can be a rather boring bath bomb, but with the Sunnyside it adds a sweet, zesty layer of lemon sherbet that compliments the orange perfectly. 

Together, these two just work. They create a stunning looking experience - one that will leave you feeling like royalty; they're both strong enough that neither thwarts the other - instead complimenting each other and producing a well-rounded experience; and they both soften the water so you'll leave the tub feeling like a completely new person.

Something so simplistic shouldn't be this good, but it really is. This 'easily to construct' cocktail has become a firm favourite of mine and I enjoy at least one of these a month. If you're looking for something to raise your spirits, moisturise your body and leave you well and truly satisfied, this is the cocktail for you!

Rating?: 9.2 out of 10. 

Vegan?: Yes.

21 March 2016

Bouncy Bunny Gift Set

Before now, the appeal of these types of gift sets have never really been that prevalent in my purchases. I much prefer the boxes and tins that I can reuse afterwards, as I find designs such as this one is more of a novelty, and doesn't really serve much of a purpose once the products have been used up. 

Having said this, as one of only two regular gift sets containing Spring Bunny Bath Bomb, I couldn't resist the idea of stocking up in case I didn't manage to grab any of these Oxford Street exclusive ballistics in the store itself. And in  fairness to this brand new release, I think the selection found inside is more than worth the price tag.

This gift set contains:

What is great about Bouncy Bunny is that it offers a lovely selection of seasonal and regular products - a set that showcases some of the more popular bath and shower items from this year's Easter range. Given that there is a both a jelly and a soap featured here, it's surprising to consider the fact that collectively this gift set could easily stretch out across a couple of months. While you'll need to  top up with a couple of bath bombs if you're a regular bather, the shower items have longevity, and this would be very appealing to someone looking for a set that's going to last.

Priced up at £18.95, the price tag might at first seem a little high. For the size of the collection and the small list of products inside, I can completely understand why some people might shy away from purchasing this to begin with. However, when you consider the fact that the four products inside add up to a little under £14, and the full-size knot wrap that decorates the outside would cost £4 by itself, I think it works out good value for money. 

Overall, this is a great little gift to offer someone who is not looking to over-indulge in chocolate during the festive season. For a cosmetics fan, this is the perfect pint-sized alternative - one that gives them an overview of some of Lush's new releases, while offering at least one epic night in the tub.  

Vegan?: Yes.

2016 Price: £18.95 each.