Just what would bath time be without an Instagram-worthy, fizzing, frothy bath bomb to go with it? Pretty pointless, that's what. And it's a fact that no one does them better than Lush. Yep, those creative geniuses at the all-natural, cruelty-free cosmetics company are the go-to brand for all things bath time.
We were lucky enough to have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to go behind-the-scenes at Lush HQ, snooping around on a guided tour of the massive factory which is located in the southern seaside town of Poole where Lush was first born. As you might imagine, you can indeed smell the sweet scents before you even set foot inside. A guided tour allowed us to see exactly where and how all the magic happens, including the making of the Insta-famous Intergalactic bath bomb as well as their skincare and soap products - we were even let loose in the Lush Kitchen and left with pots of our very own fresh face masks.
Here's everything we learnt on our journey inside Lush HQ:-
1. They refer to their bath bombs as 'Ballistics'
The Ballistics department (each product has its very own factory - there's around 14 buildings in total) houses giant crates of coloured, scented sodium bicarbonate (aka baking powder) which look like giant tubs of sand. It's this substance that forms the 'bomb' part of the bath bomb and it's combined with citric acid, top-secret essential components (ECs) and essential oils. If you think the smell on entering a Lush shop can be overwhelming, the scent of the Ballistics department is another level as within minutes of stepping inside, we could feel the lovely smelly powders' scents up our noses and bizarrely on our tongues which was a small price to pay for an exclusive look into how bath bombs start their lives.
2. When they say they fresh, they mean it
Lush have been working with fresh produce for many years and have vast experience of how to formulate, manufacture and look after products that incorporate whole fruits and vegetables wherever possible. Fresh ingredients are far more nutritious and effective on the skin and hair than long-lasting, heavily preserved products. Lush minimise the use of synthetics and preservatives too, in fact 65% of their entire product range is self-preserving.
The factory's Fresh department has fruit, eggs and seaweed among other things delivered every single morning so you can be reassured your favourite products only use the freshest ingredients. It's up to the Fresh composers to peel every banana and crack every egg etc. by hand, making them whizzes in the kitchen.
3. The seaweed in their face masks is harvested locally from Poole coastline
Since Lush prides itself on using fresh, natural ingredients it makes perfect sense for them to use the resources on their doorstep, like the beautiful beach. The toothed-wrack seaweed, used to create their cult BB seaweed face mask, is harvested from Poole's coastline once a week, where they make sure to take only the tops of the algae to allow for continuous growth. They also examine the plants before the harvesting process to ensure any sea creatures stay in their home and don't end up in the factory or your face mask. That's what you call cleansing with a conscience.
4. The Ballistics Department made 19 million bath bombs last Christmas
As you can imagine, Christmas is Lush's busiest time. So high is the demand for bath bombs, they have to hire 300 extra staff to meet the massive targets. On a usual day inside the factory, the complete workforce are expected to make 4,500 bath bombs a day, during the festive period that number is in excess of 200,000.
5. The testing process is rigorous
As each product is made by hand, it's important each and every item is worthy of sale. Inside the Ballistics Department they have their very own bath to test any newly-designed bombs before making a batch. For the ones that don't make the cut, it's a short journey to the 'rejects' box which staff can help themselves to.
6. Much of the labour is done by hand, not machinery
Believe it or not, inside the Lush factory there's actually minimal machinery used, as the hard graft is all done by hand by a huge work force - even the soaps are hand poured. The soaps are made into long tube shapes then cut into individual blocks by hand using a cheese cutter. Robots need not apply.
7. The first ever Lush shop was opened in Poole at 29 1/2 High Street
And it's still going strong today. You can visit the cute retail space hidden down a quaint, cobbled street in Poole, and try out all the products for yourself, as we did. FYI this is the only store in the world that sells the 29 High Street perfume, so get yourself a bottle if you're visiting. It's also where the original founders and inventors are based with each of them having a lab to create new weird and wonderful things upstairs. If all this wasn't enough to entice you, it also boasts one of the country's few Lush Spas which is a bucket-list must for any Lush fan, or anyone who likes to kick back and relax to the max for that matter.
8. If you're a LUSH super fan, take a peek inside the Lush Kitchen
Situated inside the factory, the Lush Kitchen is where they make small batches using new twists on cult products, and whip up discontinued favourites like the Grass shower gel. RIP. You can learn more about the Lush Kitchen and follow the 'Cosmetic Chefs' on Twitter: @LushKitchen or by visiting the website. What these guys don't know about Lush ain't worth knowing tbh.
9. The formulas are SUPER top secret
The recipes and formulas used to make our favourites are so top secret that some of the staff don't even know what they are! During our tour, all papers containing these secret recipes were swiftly removed by our lovely tour guide before we got the chance to peek. Even when we tried our hands at making a face masks in the Lush Kitchen, the Cosmetic Chef supervising us kept the recipe inside his apron pocket out of sight, removing it only to quickly check we were following it correctly.
What do you love most about Lush? Let us know @SoFeminineUK!
Liked this? You might also like: