Ever since I was given some Lush products as a gift from a colleague almost ten years ago, I’ve been a huge fan. Fresh, organic and handmade, not only do their skincare and haircare products smell gorgeous, they are naturally good for you too.
Pick up a ‘normal’ bottle of shampoo, and you’ll be faced with a list of chemical-sounding ingredients. Does the average consumer even know what methylisothiazolinone or dimethicone copolymer are? These are actual ingredients in a well-known ‘salon’ brand of shampoo. Compare this to the ingredients list on a Lush shampoo and you’ll find items such as Orange Flower, Coconut Oil and Coarse Sea Salt – and yes, you can actually see and feel the sea salt and even taste it if a little goes into your mouth. I’d say ninety-five percent of the ingredients on the Lush shampoo are well-known natural ingredients; the other five percent are easy enough to identify. Most people think it doesn’t really matter what goes into our skin or hair products, they just wash out anyway. But what we use on our skin and in our hair is generally absorbed into the bloodstream. A personal trainer once told me that parabens, found in so many everyday products, are chemical compounds possessing oestrogenic properties, which are linked to breast cancer and even weight gain. It’s enough to make you think twice about what you use!
So, when Lush advertised a free facial campaign, it wasn’t long before I got my coupon and got myself booked in. A face-mask workshop – making your own fresh face-mask – plus a facial tailored to your skin type, sounded like a much-needed afternoon of relaxation.
The thing I always notice about Lush stores is that you can smell them before you even see them. As I rounded the corner, running a tad late as always, the smell hit me – their own unique fragrance, the one found in most of their products.
I was greeted by their always-cheerful staff, and offered a cup of tea whilst I made myself comfortable and had a look around. The lovely Kirsty, full of immense knowledge and wonderful facts, was to do my one-to-one workshop and facial. We began with the face-mask workshop, making their blueberry mask, Catastrophe Cosmetic, described as ‘a refreshing mix of cleansing blueberries and deep cleansing clay and soothing calamine. Irish moss mucilage, made from Irish moss seaweed and glycerine, carries all the benefits of the blueberry juice into the skin and helps reduce moisture loss.’
We began by crushing the blueberries, by hand, into a big glass bowl. Blueberries are detoxifying and give the skin a healthy boost. I then mixed some almond oil into the bowl. Almond oil is really softening and adds moisture as well as smoothing the surface of the skin. Next, I added glycerine, which is very gentle and cleansing, and then an infusion of steeped seaweed, which is used in many of the products at Lush because of its highly moisturising properties, as well as being full of protein. The final liquid ingredient was Lush’s secret blend of fragrances and essential oils – this is what you can smell outside the store!
To bind it all together, I mixed in some talc and calamine powder. These two ingredients are soothing and ideal for sensitive skin, drawing out impurities and reducing imperfections. Once mixed to the right consistency, we put it into pots and left them on ice. Because the ingredients are so fresh and preservative-free, all face-masks at Lush are best kept refrigerated and last up to three weeks, whilst the ingredients are still fresh and active.
The second part of the workshop was the facial. After a discussion about my skin type, we looked at appropriate products from the range that would suit me best.
Kirsty began by applying a cleanser, ‘Ultrabland,’ made with beeswax and honey. A thick, buttery cream, it is deeply moisturising and great at deep-cleaning the skin, getting rid of make-up and dirt. I had always thought cleansers were to be applied on a cotton pad, quickly wiped over the face, taking no longer than a couple of minutes. However, in this case, I was treated to a lovely deep massage with the thick cleanser. This was then washed off my face with the toner, ‘Breath of Fresh Air.’ Not only does this tone and tighten the skin, but with lavender being the key ingredient here, it also opens the pores and reduces redness. Cool and refreshing, my skin felt beautifully soft already.
She then used the ‘Moon and Sun’ toner tab, which fizzes in hot water and is then used as a steamer. This water can later be kept in the fridge and used as a toner. The main ingredients here were lavender and neroli, which are both very uplifting and believed to enhance your mood and make you happy.
Kirsty then used a luxurious skin serum bar, ‘Full of Grace,’ which is a solid bar that melts with the heat of your hands, and is packed with moisturising ingredients. It is fantastic as a night-cream, because although it is thick, it is also very gentle and soaks into your skin overnight, leaving it fresh and dewy in the morning. Made with ancient forest butters such as Muru Muru butter, it also contains Portobello mushrooms, rose and chamomile blue oil, which all help to restore and repair skin, returning it to its original state. The rose oil in particular has so many beneficial properties – it is replenishing, and ideal for skin conditions such as rosacea and acne-prone skin. For this facial, Kirsty only used a thin layer of the serum bar, but did advise that it can be used a lot thicker, if used on its own.
Next, she applied the face-mask, ‘Brazened Honey’. On their website, it is described as a mask for when you have overdone things, broken the rules of 5-a-day, 8-hours sleep a night, etc. and need to get your tired and dull skin back to being radiant and glowing. Some of the many ingredients here (a combination of ayurvedic, detoxing ingredients and other favourites) include ground almond shells for smoothing and exfoliating, ginger and lime for revitalising and stimulating, and honey for its antibacterial properties. This was massaged into the skin and left on for between five and ten minutes. Because it had been kept on ice, it gave a lovely, cool sensation on my warm skin when applied. Kirsty then rinsed this off with the steamer water and a spritz of toner water.
Finally, I was treated to some ‘Gorgeous’ moisturiser. Made especially for Princess Diana, the recipe was left to Lush when she died. Ingredients include orange blossom, honey, olive oil, evening primrose oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, grapeseed oil, pineapple juice, and orange flower absolute, to name but a few. It helps with the skin’s elasticity, heals scars, brightens, tightens and moisturises, and the result is beautifully smelling, dewy, fresh looking skin.
This is what I would call the ultimate facial. Not just a quick face-mask applied and washed off, it was deep cleansing, revitalising and wonderfully relaxing. And thanks to Kirsty’s knowledge and expertise, I also came away with masses of information about what goes into Lush’s skincare products and how beneficial these ingredients are.
Make a face mask created by Lush product inventor, Helen Ambrosen
This beautiful, caring facemask is suitable for all skin types. All of these ingredients have been chosen for their gentle effectiveness and beneficial properties. Grapes cleanse without stripping away natural oils; figs have an enzymic action, encouraging the elimination of dead surface skin cells; softening rose petals soothe; and moisturising honey is extremely good for spots and reducing redness. The addition of fine oatmeal is excellent for very dry, sore skin conditions and will gently cleanse and mop up any excess sebum and dirt.
• 12 fresh seedless grapes
• A fresh fig
• A handful of petals from a small rose
• 2 tbsp of honey (ideally a local bee-keepers honey, the fresher the better!)
• 2 tbsp fine oatmeal
1. Start by liquidising the grapes, figs and rose petals.
2. Stir in the honey.
3. Stir in enough oatmeal to thicken to a soft paste.
4. Leave in the fridge for a short time to chill.
5. Apply to the face and neck.
6. Relax for 5 – 10 minutes whilst the mask dries.
7. Splash your face with water and gently exfoliate the skin using circular motions. Then wash the mask away.
Reyhana Ismail is SISTERS’ resident designer, who always prefers natural products for her beauty regime, especially for her children. She also works as a freelance designer and can be found at www.reyoflightdesign.com