Lush Skincare: An Overview

I’ve had a lot of blog hits recently from people searching for Lush products for their skin types and a couple of people have expressed interest in my post-Lush-job product knowledge, so hey, I thought, let’s infodump the hell out of this. I’m always going to use Lush and I’m pretty biased (in fairness I think I got my job with them because I knew loads about the products on the back of having been a long-time fan), but if anyone can recommend products from other companies with similar ethics or quality of ingredients then I’ll happily edit this post to say that. I’m more interested in being helpful than trying to sell anything here seeing as it ain’t my job to sell skin care any more!

BY THE WAY you should totally support your local bookstores. 😀

AHEM. Anyway: I have oily problem skin. That is me. That is the perspective from which this blog post is coming. Everyone’s skin is different and everyone likes different things for their face (I like my skin matte, some people like their skin soft and dewy, no two people are ever the same). Your mileage may vary with regard to each one of these products but I will be speaking in generalities, so there will undoubtedly be people who disagree.

The Lush forum is full of invaluable sources of advice – lots of other people who use the products. If you want more specific advice without going into a shop, you can’t really do better. Have a look if you’re curious or need any specific help. The people who invent and make the products are on there and they absolutely know their stuff.

In addition the Lush site is full of really valuable information about skin types and the science behind the products – here’s their page about oily skin. Have a wander around the site and read about all the ingredients and what they do – it’s exactly how I started learning about the products years ago. Rose oil and neroli oil are particularly interesting to read about!

Things to bear in mind:

1) It takes one month minimum to adjust to a new skin care regime, sometimes up to three.

2) If you use a facemask or moisturizer and get spots the next day it’s massively unlikely the new product caused them. It takes two weeks for spots to come up. TWO WEEKS. If however you have a reaction (like redness or soreness), that’s a different matter entirely, and you’ll know when it’s an allergy or sensitivity.

3) Start gently. Don’t go straight for the strongest cleanser because you have a couple of pimples. It won’t really help. In fact it usually does more harm than good – start with something nice and gentle and soothing and build up product strength as needed. This is especially true for teenagers, who (in my experience) want the products with all the tea tree oil and all the strength because omfg spots are bad and there’s almost an immediate knee-jerk reaction to just throw everything at the problem to deal with it. Don’t!

4) Eat well. Drink water. Don’t smoke. The healthier you are on the inside, the more it will show on the outside. I hate myself for adding this but it’s the biggest thing you can do for your skin and the rest of you. It’s so obvious and repeated so often it just ends up sounding like white noise in the background – you’ll hear this from all sorts of places but it really can’t be ignored. If you take anything away from this blog post, please let it be this – you’ve got to be good to yourself.

5) Stress is a major cause when it comes to skin problems. Don’t be surprised if you work in retail and your skin gets bad over Christmas. Don’t be surprised if you start a new job and your skin goes to hell within a couple of weeks. Don’t be surprised if your skin clears up AFTER your awesome relaxing holiday. Bear it in mind.

6) GIRLS. Hormones can be a major issue – if your skin is very susceptible to this, then treat your skin like it’s sensitive during the week you’re on your period. The week before you can do some detoxing, brightening, circulation-boosting facemasks and whatnot (Brazened Honey!) to combat puffiness, but the real tip is to be gentle during that week. The rest of the month you can treat it as you normally would. I usually just add the Catastrophe Cosmetic mask to my routine during the week because it’s really soothing and doesn’t mean I have to change everything, but then I am a lazy heffer and as I said, everyone’s different.

So. I’m going to mark which products I use with an asterisk (*). You can take that as a recommendation if you’re another oily-problem-skin person, but Lush staff will be better able to recommend things for you specifically – though I get that not everyone wants to talk about their skin problems with a complete stranger.

– CLEANSERS

There are three kinds – soap, oil-based, and clay-based.

The soaps (Fresh Farmacy and Coal Face*) are going to be more drying because anything that foams will dry the skin out, so be ready to use a slightly heavier moisturizer to counteract that. Fresh Farmacy is best for acne. Don’t assume that because it has tea tree it’s good for all spots – I would really only recommend it for acne-prone skin because it’s quite strong. It’s a product to be built up to. Coal Face is milder, better if you’re not certain what skin type you have, if your skin is oily, or if you get problematic skin at times. I use it some evenings when I’m feeling lazy. It’s a great option for guys because the liquorice is soothing for post-shaving soreness. I wouldn’t recommend either for drier skins, for the most part, but – and you’re going to get tired of me saying this, but it’s an important point – everyone’s different.

The clay-based ones are what I would recommend for anyone who is unsure of their skin type or isn’t sure what product to try first. Angels On Bare Skin is the easiest one to recommend – it’s soothing, balancing, healing and softening. Anyone with normal, combination or sensitive skin can use it (as long as you’re not allergic to nuts/almonds and are okay with the mild scrub (it’s more like a massage if you use it gently though)). The lavender heals and balances oil production so that’s a biiig thing to keep an eye out for if you have oily, problem or sensitive skin. Rose soothes redness, which is also useful in the Aqua Marina cleanser too. Aqua Marina is the non-soapy version of Fresh Farmacy – it too has rose and calamine, so it’s excellent for sensitive skin. It’s very oily so it’s good for dry skin too. If you have normal skin, it’s not a bad idea to consider it as a winter cleanser to prevent the skin getting dried out by the wind and cold. My favourite of the cleansers is, however, Herbalism* – antiseptic, mattifying, brilliant. It’s my Desert Island Lush product. I can’t go without it. It smells like vinegar and it’s green and I don’t even mind, that’s how much I love it – if you have combination to oily skin, it is definitely to be considered. It does wonders for my skin when it’s being problematic, and has been much less so since I started using it. Dark Angels is scrubbiest and is the soapless version of Coal Face. I can’t comment on it too much as I never used it much more than a couple of times a week as an exfoliator. It’s good, very mattifying, but I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone with oily skin (like mine) because it’s very, very scrubby and can make the skin produce more oil as a result. Remember, everyone’s different, so it’s worth trying it on the back of your hand in the shop to check that.

The oil-based ones (9 To 5, Ultrabland, Ultrabalm*) are the best for removing make-up and for dry or sensitive skin. I use Ultrabalm even though I have oily skin because they’re actually decently thorough cleansers that are ace at soothing skin that’s prone to spots. I use it with Tea Tree Water* toner most evenings because it’s the most de-greasing of the toners; sensitive skins should probably go for Eau Roma Water. Breath of Fresh Air is a great one when you’re travelling or want a bit of a nutrition boost, but I found it a bit heavy for my skin (probably means it’s great for dry skin!).

Sidenote: it used to really trouble me when parents came into the shop with a child and asked for products “to deal with their spots”, especially since they usually had nothing much to worry about and were getting stressed out by their parent’s reaction. Pre-puberty only the mildest products are best – think rose, lavender, that sort of thing. Gentle and soothing. Nothing more than something like Eau Roma Water on a cotton wool pad to cleanse the skin, morning and evening. Making your child self-conscious about a couple of spots is just mean and the urge to “do something about it”, i.e., go for the most spot-fighting product straight away isn’t going to solve anything, even with products as mild as Lush’s. 

– MOISTURIZERS

I’m out of date with these since the range has changed since I left. I’ll go through the ones I’ve used to save any confusion.

Enzymion* – The best option for oily skin if you’re not sure where to turn. Anything with citrus ingredients will absorb/break down oils (I’m unsure as to the chemistry here) and brighten the skin. It’s not heavy at all oil-wise. This is also great if you have normal skin and want to have a matte base for make up. I mix mine with the Colour Supplements so it’s also my tinted moisturizer.

Vanishing Cream – Light enough to work for oily skins, but the lavender also works to balance the skin. Aimed at combination skin, also excellent for problem skin with spots, or sensitive oily skin types. I liked it well enough, but Enzymion and Gorgeous worked better for me.

Gorgeous – Oh now here’s a product. I’ve heard both that it’s suitable for all skin types AND that it’s meant to be a pro-aging nourishing mattifying moisturizer for oily skins of all kinds. All I can tell you is that it’s my favourite and the only reason I don’t use it at the moment is because I’m saving up for my next pot. It lasts me roughly six months per pot and I use it usually as a night cream. It’s SO worth the investment, in my opinion. It has both neroli oil (hence the price as it’s an expensive oil) and sweet orange blossom, which are closely related, and apparently help to maintain the skin’s elasticity – all I can tell you is that it made my skin feel soft and glowy without making it feel heavy at all. Again, everyone’s different, but I’d recommend it most for normal to oily skin types.

Cosmetic Lad – The easy option for guys, but also for anyone with combination sensitive skin. It’s almost entirely constructed to balance and soothe the skin. Probably also worth a try if you have normal skin and want something slightly richer and more soothing during winter.

Imperialis – I would usually recommend this twinned with Fresh Farmacy as it’s balancing and more on the oily side than Vanishing Cream, so helps to counteract the drying soap. It’s not VERY oily though – best for combination skins, also good for the odd spot as it’s also healing and balancing as it’s another cream based on lavender as a central ingredient. A really solid safe option if you don’t know what to go for with your skin type.

– FACE MASKS

Most of these work for most skin types. It just depends what you actually want from a mask – I usually go for something exfoliating and brightening (Brazened Honey), soothing (Catastrophe Cosmetic) or nourishing because I’m getting to the age where I’m terrified about getting old (Sacred Truth). AGAIN: this is massively subjective and the best thing to do is to go into a shop and get a couple on the back of your hand so you can see which you feel happiest with.

I’m just going to mention the ones I’ve used often.

Cupcake – mattifying, also very soothing so good for teen skins and slightly sensitive skin. The rhassoul mud is slightly gritty and thoroughly cleansing so great for getting rid of the last vestiges of make up or if you’ve been out on a run. A great one if you’re not sure which mask is right for you but you know you want something cleansing.

Brazened Honey* – spicy, very, very scrubby and incredibly deep cleansing. Hangover cure for when you need up be up and active the day after the night before. Only go for this if you know you don’t have very sensitive skin – it has honey in, which is antiseptic and very soothing, but the scrub is quite strong. I am addicted to it.

Catastrophe Cosmetic* – soothing, detoxing, mild without being useless. IF IN DOUBT, THIS. Sensitive, dry skins can use this as well as oily, acne-prone or normal. It’s a great leveller. Like Brazened Honey, it’s great when you’ve got a hangover but can spend the day hiding in your room.

Love Lettuce – another good one when you’re not sure what to go for, balancing and scrubby and lavender-centric. Really suitable for normal and combination skins.

Cosmetic Warrior – if you’re having spot issues, this is the bastard. It smells of garlic because it’s full of it – it has garlic, honey and tea tree, three excellent antiseptic ingredients, so you know it’s going to be strong. Honey has the added benefit of being really soothing so it’s not going to be INCREDIBLY powerful, so some sensitive skins can use it too. I’d suggest trying it in the shop before using it though as some people find it drying. I certainly never did, if anything it makes the skin feel silky smooth and no, you don’t smell like garlic afterwards.

– OTHER THINGS

It’s worth having a look at the toner tabs, but I haven’t used them enough to comment on them with any surety. I’d suggest the Token To The Forest Gods for anyone who wants something good for the circulation or for oilier skins, but they’re all going to have benefits for most skin types. Use them as a steam facial before a face mask to make sure the pores are open so they can work deeper into the skin, and then rinse it off with the same water to get as much benefit from the oils as possible.

Grease Lightning* is wonderful spot treatment gel that I use every evening at the very least. It’s light and mattifying enough to be used under or on top of make up too. You could use it just when you get the odd zit if you want to but I take the blanket bombing approach and because it’s not got so much tea tree as to be overly strong and drying it’s perfectly okay to do so.

*

I’m sure there’s more I could add to this but this is all that’s coming to mind now. Current Lush staff, other ex-Lush staff, if there’s anything you want to add, or change, or suggest, please go right ahead, I’m all ears. Everyone else, if you have anything you want to say, please do. Questions are awesome. Links or suggestions to other products and companies encouraged. I will totally be coming back to this to edit, streamline and clarify so all comments are appreciated.

I’m gonna have some tea and a lie down now.

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9 thoughts on “Lush Skincare: An Overview

  1. Jake

    This is excellent. I have a question about a Lush skin care regimen for a guy with combination skin (I think). My facial hair grows fast and I have a mustache so that causes a bit of drying and I tend to have dry cheeks but my forehead and nose are very oily. I have large, visibile pores (ugh) on my forehead and nose and a bit of redness underneath my nose. Generally, I don’t have sensitive skin or acne but I do have occasional blackheads. Overall, my skin seems dull, rough, oily on t-zone, and lifeless.

    What do you recommend as a cleanser-toner-moisturizer-exfoliant skin care regimen for my skin? I’d appreciate any help!

    FYI I have used Herbalism and Dark Angels. Herbalism seemed ok enough but I didn’t notice much and DA is great but maybe too rough for daily use. I’ve also used Cosmetic Lad, Celestial, and Imperialis…the latter has only been in use about a week but I seem to like that one best.

    Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    1. ewasr Post author

      Awesome! Firstly, I’d recommend trying the Dirty shaving cream. It’s so good you can use it as a moisturiser sometimes – it’s very rich and a bit much to use on a regular basis but for shaving it’s my favourite of the products.

      Secondly it does sound like you’ve got combination skin. What you should be using depends on what you want from the products though. If you like DA then Coalface is the soap version of it without all the scrub, so I’d suggest trying that. You could try Angels On Bare Skin as well – I liked it a great deal for my skin when it was going through less horrifically oily phases. Both work really well with Imperialis. For a toner, Eau Roma, because it’s more balancing than the other two, though the three of them have their benefits and it just depends what you prefer. As an exfoliator I’d suggest using Love Lettuce face mask once or twice a week, it’s balancing and really nicely scrubby in a very satisfying way. If you don’t want something you have to keep cold there are some excellent DIY scrub recipes around that are really plain and that you can just whip up if and when you need them – http://www.makeupchicliterarygeek.com/2012/01/kitchen-beauty-diy-facial-scrub.html is a good example.

      For the blackheads, your best bet would be to steam your face before using one of the facemasks. Love Lettuce is fine, but the usual recommendation is one of the toner tabs followed by Cupcake because it’s more mattifying and full of clay – steaming opens the pores and the clays do the deep cleaning. LL is multipurpose though so you wouldn’t need more than that. You don’t even necessarily need a toner tab – if you get a bowl of steaming but not too hot water and drop in a couple of drops of lavender essential oil it’ll be balancing enough.

      Let me know how you get on!

      Reply
  2. Jake

    I use the Dirty shaving cream now and I really love it, but it’s so expensive for how often I shave. Maybe I’ll alternate between that and another product. Thanks for all of your suggestions – I’m going to try Coalface and this homemade scrub, which looks fantastic. If you used sea salt instead of sugar it seems like a cheaper version of Ocean Salt. Have you used that? Is it a good exfoliator for combination skin?

    Reply
    1. ewasr Post author

      Alternating is fine, just make sure you’re not using anything with alcohol in (dries the skin out, will make everything less balanced). Ocean Salt is wicked, but I prefer using it on the body as even the smaller particles of salt feel too big for a decent face scrub.

      Reply
  3. Alex

    Hi I love your blog! I have a question about a Lush skin care. I have oily teenage skin with pimples on my face, back and chest. I have been to Lush before but I found it a bit overwhelming as I have no idea where to start! Friends have suggested I use fresh Farmacy but I’m not sure. I was just wondering what you would recommend.

    Reply
  4. Kristina (@hermanastina)

    Daaaang you know your shit. I was going to learn more about the products by reading the LUSH times – since I’m going to apply and have only really used their henna – but the darn US site is lame and needs to update the online times (‘New Years 2012′?…come on…and its the CANADIAN one to boot (is there even a difference?)). That’s why I went to the good ol’ UK site and they have ALL THE LUSH TIMES! Dumb US.

    Yay for working at a bookstore!! The closest one to me is a used bookstore…so I feel lucky since I’m cheap….and it actually smells like books…..and sort of looks like a wizard’s book closet for some reason…if I know what that even means…

    Reply
  5. Ky

    This has been so helpful! I totally agree with what you have been saying because I myself have experienced a few of these products. Also, I know I am not buying products blindly. I have a few more questions though- are the Tea Tree Toner tabs really worth it? Also, can you do an a post with shower gels? I am overwhelmed with all the choices! Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Annie

      The best thing about the toner tabs is their use as a cheap toner. Of course, they have no preservatives so the toner water’s only good for about two weeks, but you can break them in half and you have a $1 bottle of toner good for two weeks. Definitely worth it.

      Reply
  6. Jared

    Hi,
    I am a guy pretty normal skin and I want to start taking better care of it. I don’t really have problems with pimples or excessively oily/dry skin but I do feel that I need to start doing something for it. I would like something that does a good job of exfoliating my skin and keeping it heather. Any suggestions? P.s. I have tried the dirty styling cream and it works fantastic although the smell is a little strong.

    Reply

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