8.8.14

Lush - Love it or Hate it? The Great Preservative Debate


LUSH
If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I am up front about my dislike for Lush. It stems from using one of their products and experiencing a rather nasty rash from it. Not a recent occurrence I may add, this happened long before I was a blogger and when I first began educating myself about ingredients. I have held a grudge for a very long time. 

This evening (07/08/14) Lush had a live debate titled “The Great Preservative Debate”. I followed with keen interest as I enjoy keeping up with brands whether I approve of them or not. Lush state "We've always used natural preservatives like salt, honey and clay to keep Lush products fresh for longer. As a result, more than 70% of our range is entirely self-preserving, across every single category from cleansers to shampoo and bath bombs. Although we’re happy that some synthetic preservatives are absolutely safe, we know that some of our customers prefer to avoid them."


At the moment the buzz word in Lush's current campaign is "self preserve". They have reformulated some of their popular products (Mask of Magnaminity Face and Back Pack, Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub and Charity Pot Body Lotion) and offer the customer a "self preserving" version alongside the original. During the debate Lush expressed a desire to be 100% free from synthetic preservatives in the future. An interesting stand point and one that appears to come from customers pressure but I would suspect Lush are aware of the competition and growth in green and organic trends. The panel implied Parabens were a “dirty” word because of media scaremongering particularly in regard to ingredients and cancer. If you browse the Lush website you’ll notice they like to promote what they refer to as “safe synthetics”. Personally, I am wary of cancer claims and I do not believe (at this present time) anyone can say one way or the other if there is a link. Research is lacking and I am avoiding ingredients because I can’t find concrete evidence to put my mind at rest. Of course a large part of my avoidance policy relates to my feelings (and experiences) that there is a link between synthetic ingredients, eczema and allergies. Now I'm not daft, products containing water need preserving but so many other green and organic companies are managing to do this without the use of parabens. Lush have gone with the cheapest option and I find their stubbornness for this choice of ingredient rather infuriating.


On one hand, I welcome the basic principles and campaigns of Lush. I cannot knock them for their efforts against animal testing, a topic which I have been passionate about since my teens. In my mind they fill the void that The Body Shop left behind when it sold out to L’Oreal. The bigger picture for me is their ingredients are a let down, they do not meet my standards. Too many Lush products contain parabens, perfume, colours, SLS/SLES, Triethanolamine and Lanolin (to name a few) which I believe are best avoided. In the grand scheme of things, yes you can do worse, you're probably better off with a Lush product than one off the shelf in Boots/Superdrug. What I object to is the perceived image that Lush is a natural green brand, there is a certain expectation to handmade cosmetics. If your tag line includes the word "fresh" then why are you preserving? Surely that no longer makes it a fresh product because it has a shelf life several months after purchase. To me it's a play on words, of course it is clever marketing, it's deliberately promoting an image in the consumer's mind. Many will argue this is why Lush are greenwashers. For me, promoting Lush against the purest brands (by that I mean the brands who are 100% natural) is wrong as they can’t be compared, Lush are not in the same league as these companies. They are using ingredients which other green and organic companies are actively seeking to avoid and campaigning against.

The subject of preservatives is an important discussion for the beauty industry and Lush attempted to open up the debate. Transparency was a key word during the conversation and I can not argue with that. I encourage brands to give customers information and allow them the right to formulate their own opinions. I repeatedly ask companies to disclose full ingredients and Lush do this without being asked.

There is no denying that Lush are a controversial brand amongst Green Bloggers (or at least that’s how I view it). The passion of fellow green bloggers was strong this evening and I thank Amber and Tamara for a great discussion. I think we will all be keeping a closer eye on this brand in the future.

Sarah x

26 comments:

  1. Amazing article I so agree since going green with facial bath and beauty products

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    1. Thank you, I pleased you enjoyed reading :)

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  2. Well written post Sarah & thanks for the mention and for chatting away to me last night! I am a bit annoyed with myself for promoting Lush's "Self Preserving" products after the Northampton Blogger Meet now because they clearly don't care about selling 100% preservative free products as the others would be taken off the market by now. And the fact that the woman pulled a face at my question just PISSED ME OFF! Rude!

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    1. Amber, don't feel guilty about your blog post because I still think the idea is worth promoting to a certain extent and at the time you were only doing what you felt was right. My streaming was buffering last night so I think I missed the "look" you were given. Lets face it at the end of the day, there wasn't much debating going on. I was leaving questions in text stream, no one was engaging with me.

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    2. That's exactly what I thought, it wasn't a "debate". More of a "We're going to tell you this, this and this". That's not good that they were ignoring your questions!

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  3. Really good post...we are lucky that we look beyond the punch line when it comes to their products, it's the majority of the public who will fall short thinking they have made a great choice :( sad times xx

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    1. I agree with you and it makes me sad that people take interest in the ingredients in food but not with their skincare

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  4. Here in the USA they have Propylene Glycol in some of their bath bombs. I mean really? Why is that even necessary. So not a fan. I itched like hell fire when I tried a few of them back in the day before I went green. (if you curious as to which one I give you: Twilight, Sex Bomb, Pink Bath bomb, Dragon's Egg, bath bombs as examples). Here is the kicker for me and Proplyene Glycol. It can be a skin irritant! HELLO, how am I going to relax in the bath with a skin irritant. Um, no. Bath bombs can easily be made without this ingredient. Why, Lush, why?

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    1. I've never used one of their bath bombs because just looking at the colours and scent I just know that we would not be friends. I agree with you about PG and it doesn't need to be in a bath bomb

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  5. I did watch the debate and one thing that stood out for me is that they kept referring to the idea of "self-preserving" as innovative, whereas I see it as simply a first step. Innovative are all the brands such as Lyons Leaf etc who have completely removed the need for any kind of preservative, paraben or otherwise. I do applaud Lush for their commitment and contribution to the cruelty-free movement (something that I hold in superiority to whether a product is natural or not), but I do not appreciate the carelessness of their marketing. They put themselves across as eco-friendly and "fresh", but continue to use the most basic of synthetic irritants, i.e. sulphates. Look up "greenwashed" in the green beauty dictionary and sure enough, there you shall find Lush.

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    1. Thank you very much for your input. I totally agree, I also noticed them claiming the self preserving idea as innovative and I tweeted that other green & organic brands had been doing it for years so they are late to the party but of course it's marketing spin for them.

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  6. I agree. I would buy more products from Lush if there weren't so many chemicals in them. It's frustrating when so many so-called 'natural' products still contain chemicals. I am trying to only buy natural products now and am looking into making my own x

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    1. That's awesome you are looking to make your own products. Rachel (All Natural Aspirations) and Annie (Hello Purple Clouds) are great to follow if you want DIY tips and ideas for skincare products :)

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  7. Loved reading this, I missed the 'debate' unfortunately but it sounds like a glorified marketing push to me! Despite their limitations however I think Lush are a good stepping stone company for exposing people to the idea of natural products and getting them to 'want' to use these kinds of products. I think the initial reaction to green and organic brands is one of ineffectiveness and blandness. Lush are in a precious place of power with a huge following and a much larger reach than most green brands. Hopefully after discussions like this, fans of Lush will begin to do their own research and start to explore the world of real natural skincare, and with more of an open mind than they might have done before - who knows they might start avoiding Lush and cross to the green side ;)

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    1. Yes, in hindsight it was a good marketing exercise for them but still interesting to watch. You make a very igood point about being a stepping stone because that's exactly how I started out in the early days maybe if I hadn't of reacted I wouldn't be where I am today, now that's an interesting thought.

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  8. {\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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    \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 Ok so I like to be the devils advocate in these things, and never really liked the "green washing" label, it's all marketing to me so kinda over it. It is like an. Annoying mosquito, it bugs me but not enough for me up in arms about it. What irritated me about the whole thing is that it was not a debate! A debate is were you have to opposing sides one argues for preservatives and the other against, well this was a consensus, half veiled hints about I know were this unreasonable fear of parabens come from... Well in that case please share with us! It was a discussion at best, a marketing campaign for their self preserve line most likely. Do I have a problem with such a campaign, nope, but don't call it a debate cause it isn't one! It was superficial chat, the only thing I learned is that apparently coming up with a name for something that everyone else is doing is pushing boundaries. Like really? Also show me the people who demand preservatives in their products, people that use conventional skincare that I know don't read ingredient lists and assume that cosmetics that are sold are safe cause there is government regulation for such things, so to them it wouldn't matter either way}

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    1. Tamara, I love that you want to be devils advocate and surely that's what was needed for Lush to really call the other evening a debate. I know us bloggers were asking questions but aside from Amber nothing was addressed that I noticed.

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  9. Loved this post Sarah - so balanced and the points you highlighted are very valid! As I'm sure you know I'm not opposed to the occasional Lush product (it's more about price point for me and accessibility). I love their campaigns and the fact that they are beginning to reformulate some of their products, but I agree with some of the above comments that the chat sounds as if it was more of a promotional tool rather than actually delving deeper into preservatives. Although I wasn't able to take part myself so I can't form much of an opinion on it!

    Mayah x

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    1. Thank you Mayah. I'm can understand why you and others want to buy some of the products. I hope they upload the footage somewhere so that it can be viewed again and people like yourself can catch up on what happened.

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  10. Fascinated to read this Sarah, it's so informative! I have to say I'm not as much of an ingredients purist and don't mind promoting Lush as what I call a 'hybrid' range. That said, you've certainly made me think twice about highlighting this aspect to readers. Definitely wishing I'd caught the whole debate! x

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    1. Thank you Gem, I'm pleased to hear that you found this post informative. I'm hoping that the debate will go up online somewhere so that more people could view it.

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  11. Great post Sarah! It is annoying, and I think you have every reason to to hold a grudge. Every time a company promotes themselves as pure or natural when they clearly use irritant synthetic products it creates another layer of confusion and distrust and taints the industry as a whole, making it more and more difficult for truly natural brands to get their message heard and believed. However, (whinge over) fortunately there are a growing number ingredient savvy bloggers such as your self working tirelessly to keep the record straight - Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Vicky, I can certainly see how it confuses the industry and consumer, one reason to keep the blog going is to help spread the message about companies such as yours :)

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  12. I only caught the end of the "debate" but I agree with everyone, it definitely seemed like more of a marketing pitch than anything else. I've never used anything from Lush - even back when I'm sure I would have bought into their green washing, I was put off by just how strongly all their stores smell.
    I consider Lush a step up from a lot of mainstream, but it isn't cheap and once you're spending that, there are just SO many better options out there ingredient-wise!

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    1. You can smell a Lush store from a mile off and I very much dislike that. You make a valid point that Lush doesn't come cheap and you could spend more wisely elsewhere :)

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