Lush (company)

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Lush Cosmetics Ltd.
Private limited company
Founded12 November 1995; 24 years ago (1995-11-12)[1]
FounderMark and Mo Constantine, Liz Weir, Helen Ambrosen, Rowena Bird and Paul Greaves
ProductsSkin care

Lush is a cosmetics retailer headquartered in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom, founded by Mark Constantine and Liz Weir. It produces and sells creams, soaps, shampoos, shower gels, lotions, moisturisers, scrubs, masks and other cosmetics for the face, hair, and body using only vegetarian recipes, 85% of which are also vegan.


Early years[edit]

The original Lush store, located in Poole, Dorset, UK. The store also houses a Lush Spa, accessed via the door on the left.

Mark Constantine, a trichologist and herbalist who had hoped to go into theatrical makeup, but became a hairdresser in the 1960s, worked from a hair and beauty salon at 29 High Street in Poole, Dorset, UK.[2] In the 1970s he met Elizabeth Weir, a beauty therapist, in the salon. A few years later, they started their own business, named Constantine & Weir, selling natural hair and beauty products.[3] In the early 1980s, Constantine read about Anita Roddick, who had just started The Body Shop.[4] He called and offered some of his products; Roddick placed an initial order of £1,200. Constantine and Weir developed a number of recipes for bath and beauty products and were a major supplier to The Body Shop, until Roddick was advised to take more products in house. The Body Shop then paid £11 million for the rights of Constantine & Weir's recipes.[5][6][7] The Body Shop's purchase of their product formulas forbade Constantine and Weir from opening another shop for five years, so they set up a mail order cosmetics company called Cosmetics-To-Go until it went into administration.[8]

Creation of LUSH[edit]

Constantine and Weir, along with Mo Constantine, Helen Ambrosen, Rowena Bird and Paul Greaves from Cosmetics-To-Go, spent what money they had left on fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. In a shop in Poole, they hand-made products upstairs that were being sold downstairs. They had previously been paying another company to come up with the fragrances for their products, but found out the perfumes were not always pure, so Mark decided he would create the perfumes himself. A competition was launched for customers to give the company a new name. One customer suggested 'Lush', meaning fresh, green, and verdant.[9] The company was recorded as being founded in 1995.[10]

Recent history[edit]

In December 2010, Mark and Mo Constantine were awarded the OBE in the New Year's Honours list, for services to the beauty industry.[11] 2018 saw UK recruitment website Indeed, name Lush as the UK's seventh best private sector employer[12] based on millions of employee ratings and reviews,[13] and in March 2019, the company introduced the Lush Labs app, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to reduce wasteful packaging.[14]

COVID-19 pandemic response[edit]

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lush offered the public free handwashing in all its stores as a means to help slow down the spread of the virus.[15] However, on 16 March 2020 Lush closed all North American stores but continued to pay staff, with stores in Australia closing four days later and those in the UK closing on 21 March.[16][17][18][19] Later in March, the company announced it was laying off staff in Canada due to the impact that the pandemic was having on its operation, facing a future with a "much smaller business".[20]

Business structure[edit]

Lush is a privately owned company with a small number of shares available on an invitation basis only.[21] The company operates in 49 countries, with the majority of its stores located in the USA.[22] Although Lush is an advocate of fair trade, the company does not partner with a specific labelling organization, choosing instead to monitor its supply chain directly.

The company follows a "no advertising policy" in which the company does not spend money on TV campaigns or celebrity endorsements and instead relies heavily on user-generated content.[10] However, the company partnered with drag-queens from RuPaul's Drag Race; Kim Chi, Detox, and Shea Couleé, during the Holiday season of 2018 to create photo campaigns for their new products.[23] Products can also be advertised through staff engaging in "random acts of kindness" where they are allowed to give away products to customers in need of cheering up, are celebrating a special occasion, they have a good relationship with or other reasons.[24] Lush states that it does not have a target demographic, and that as a brand it is "trying to make [its] stores welcoming to all".[25]


The company created a launch party for new products and to highlight others that occurs annually. In 2018 it was in Manchester. Highlights include sneak peeks at upcoming or exclusive products, ethical consumption panels, and opportunities to see how bath bombs were made as well as the ability for the consumer to make their own products.[26] LUSH has described the event in 2017 as a "...kaleidoscope of imagination, invention and innovation" through "...four spheres of creativity spanning music, product, film, and technology."[27]

Boxing Day[edit]

The company does not partake in Black Friday sales but instead hosts its only sale of the year on Boxing Day. The sale at times will differ from the country that the store is located as in 2018 the North American stores and website featured a "Buy One, Get One" seasonal sale, and the UK stores hosted a 50% seasonal items sale.[28] The change began in 2017, when the company attempted to not have an online sale at all, which led to major backlash.[29]


Lush shampoo bars on display
Lush shower jellies

Lush produces creams, soaps, shampoos, shower gels, lotions, moisturisers, scrubs, masks and other cosmetics for the face, hair, and body using only vegetarian or vegan recipes. Solid shampoos as well as "Toothy Tabs" which are solid toothpaste tablets are also available for purchase online and in retail stores. Lush is also best known for their bath bombs which are solid bars of sodium bicarbonate, citric acid, essential oils and natural butters that fizz out when dropped in water, and can produce an array of colours and fragrances. As of July 2012, Lush began selling their "Emotional Brilliance" makeup collection, which includes liquid lipsticks, liquid eyeliners, and cream shadows. Lush also launched their first mascara, Eyes Right, under the "Emotional Brilliance" line.[30]

Lush products are made in factories or "kitchens" as the staff calls them, around the world including Poole, Dorset; Toronto, and Vancouver Canada; Zagreb, Croatia; Düsseldorf, Germany; and Australia.[31] Lush marks its trademark black tub products with stickers of the actual creators of the product being sold, a unique trademark placed on their recyclable polypropylene plastic black pots. The company also offers customers a way to recycle used black pots by bringing empty ones back to the store for a free Fresh Face Mask for every five returned.[32] Most Lush products are to be stored at room temperature, with the exception of their Fresh Face Masks, which require refrigeration due to the absence of preservatives and the main ingredients being fruits and vegetables.[33] Stores do not typically sell products older than four or five months and most products have a shelf life of approximately 14 months, depending on the particular item.[34]

In-store catalogues were previously titled as the Lush Times and were produced in a newspaper-style format.[35]

Ingredients and ethics[edit]

Lush products are 100% vegetarian, and 85% of the products are also vegan. They often contain fruits and vegetables such as grapefruit juice, vanilla beans, aloe vera, avocado butter, rosemary oil, fresh papaya, and coconut.[36] However, some products contain lanolin, honey, and/or beeswax. Egg used to be in products but was removed early 2019. Parabens are used to preserve a number of the products.[37]

Lush does not buy from companies that carry out, fund, or commission any animal testing.[38][39] They test their products on human volunteers before they are sold to the public.[40] Lush has also phased out its use of sodium palm kernelate, which is often derived from trees in the natural habitat of orangutans and home to tropical forests with overall endangered biodiversity. Since 2008, all Lush soaps have been made with palm-free soap base, and they have since removed all traces of palm oil from the products.[41] Whilst Lush soaps are currently free of palm oil, the same cannot be said of their shampoo bars and other products.[42]

Donations and campaigns[edit]

A Lush Charity Pot sold in Russia

Lush launched the 'Charity Pot' campaign in 2007. Charity Pot is a hand and body lotion with a self-preserving formula and a delicate floral perfume of ylang ylang and rosewood oils. Lush donates 100% of the profits of every 'Charity Pot' purchased at their stores and online to small, grassroots organisations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights. Since launching the Charity Pot program in 2007, Lush has donated more than $33,000,000 to over 2450 grassroots charities in 42 countries.[43]

Lush is a supporter of direct action, animal rights operations including Sea Shepherd, a group that works to protect whales, seals, and other aquatic animals.[44] Lush has been a supporter of antitax avoidance grouping UK Uncut.[45]

In 2007, Lush started openly supporting campaigning groups by sending a dozen cheques for £1,000 each, including road protests groups such as Road Block and NoM1Widening, Hacan Clear Skies (anti-aviation group), and Dump the Dump (which is fighting against an incinerator).[46][47]

In 2012, Lush had a performance artist endure ten hours of animal testing in the window of their Regent Street store window as part of their 'Fight Animal Testing' campaign.[48]

Since 2013, Lush's 'Charity Pot' has included the campaign to release Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer to the UK, who is currently only cleared for release to Saudi Arabia.[49]

Lush Cosmetics donated £3.8m to charities in 2014.[50]

In 2014, Lush supported the first Hen Harrier Day, with all its UK stores prominently highlighting the illegal persecution of hen harriers on upland grouse moors.[51] The following year it launched Hen Harrier bath bombs to help fund satellite tagging of these raptors.[52]

In Summer 2015, Lush raised £275,000 ($425,000) from the worldwide sale of its "GayIsOK" soap, with funds going to support LBGTI campaigning groups.[53]

In 2016, Lush raised £246,000 ($300,000) from the sale of its "Hands of Friendship" soap, with funds going to support Syrian Refugees.[54]

#Spycops campaign[edit]

On 31 May 2018, Lush launched a campaign aimed to highlight previous abuses by undercover police officers in the UK. The company put up window displays in its stores with a mock-up of a police officer in and out of uniform alongside the tag-line "Paid to lie #Spycops". In some stores replica police tape was put on the shopfront windows with: "Police have crossed the line".[55] The campaign attracted immediate criticism from serving officers and members of the public due to its "broad brush" approach which appeared to suggest that police officers were liars and involved in a cover-up.[56] Many notable figures were critical of the campaign by Lush, including Chief Police Officers and the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.[55] Lush responded to the backlash by stating that the campaign was "not an anti-state/anti-police campaign" and that they were aware "police forces of the UK are doing an increasingly difficult and dangerous job whilst having their funding slashed". They also stated that the campaign was "not about the real police work done by those front line officers who support the public every day – it is about a controversial branch of political undercover policing that ran for many years before being exposed."[57]

Lush suspended the window campaign "for the safety of our staff" on 8 June 2018,[58][59] but resumed it on 13 June.[60]


In 2011, Israel advocacy groups StandWithUs and United With Israel UK launched a campaign encouraging consumers to boycott Lush products on account of the company's decision to promote OneWorld's Freedom for Palestine initiative.[61]

In 2015, Lush was criticised for insensitivity when it stocked a new product, Lavender Hill Mob – a brand of incense inspired by the 2011 London Riots, featuring a graphic of a burning building. Lavender Hill itself had been targeted by looters and rioters, but Lush stated that it was "created to emphasise the importance of community".[62]

In July 2018, Lush Australia admitted owing more than 5,000 staff members up to $2 million in back pay. Lush Australia director Peta Granger said staff across the retail and manufacturing businesses have been underpaid since 2010 due to incorrect interpretations of the retail award.[63]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Media related to Lush (company) at Wikimedia Commons