Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly: Lush Cosmetics

Lush is a company that I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with…I love the people who work on the floor, but I am somewhat dubious about the faux ethics of the upper echelons of the company. I love some of their products so much and have yet to find products that can top them, but there many products that I cannot stand and that are genuinely full of chemicals that are simply bad for you.

THE GOOD

I have three top Lush products that I cannot live without. They are the following:

Aromaco Deodorant


This is the best, the most effective and the gentlest deodorant that you will ever have the pleasure to discover. It comes in solid little off-white blocks of heavenly patchouli gorgeousness. I have been using it for more than six years, before which I struggled to find natural deodorant that actually lasted for more than half-an-hour. This stuff is phenomenal. It is basically translucent so there are no unsightly streaks left on clothes. You can put it on directly after shaving and you will feel no irritation whatsoever. You just rub it on and that’s it. It’s amazing for travelling and there’s no worrying about liquid limits at the airport. I have tested this stuff in 45 degree heat in Spain and it lasts all day and all night.

The ingredients in Aromaco are:

Witch Hazel Infusion (Hamamelis virginiana), Propylene Glycol, Sodium Stearate, Chamomile Vinegar (Anthemis nobilis), Sodium Bicarbonate, Patchouli Oil (Pogostemon cablin), Citral, Limonene, Perfume.

You will notice listed an ingredient that is on my Ingredients to Avoid list, namely Propylene Glycol. That is the only naughty ingredient in this product that I know of, because it is a potential cancer risk and an allergen and it has been tested on animals for the assessment of its toxicity (although Lush does buy their ingredients from sources that do not test on animals).

Figs and Leaves soap


This is the most natural soap that Lush has, although on reading through the ingredients you will notice some chemical additives such as Sodium Hydroxide and EDTA (Lush argues that they use these ingredients in such small amounts that it is ok…more on that later!). It is very gentle on the skin and is full of scrubby fig seeds which give just the right amount of exfoliation action. Figs and Leaves is actually the first Lush product that I bought, all of 10 years ago, and it is still top of my list. It is one of the few Lush soaps that does not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).

The ingredients in Figs and Leaves soap are:

Water (Aqua), Rapeseed Oil; Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera), Fig Decoction (Ficus carica), Glycerine, Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis), Sodium Hydroxide, Perfume, Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata), Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium amara), Organic Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis), Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool

1000 Kisses Deep perfume



I cannot live without this perfume. Anyone who has gone on the a mission to find cruelty-free perfume will know that it is virtually impossible to find any that does not smell like toilet spray. However, Lush has succeeded in creating some exquisite fragrances that are almost entirely composed of essential oils. This is the only perfume I will wear, and it is great to be able to wear a fragrance that almost no-one else has! (unlike the proliferation of the Armani-Dior-Prada-predictables).

The ingredients in 1000 Kisses Deep are:

DRF Alcohol, Perfume, Myrrh Resinoid (Commiphora myrrha), Labdanum Resinoid (Cistus labdaniferus), Osmanthus Absolute (Osmanthus fragrans), Citral, Coumarin, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene, Linalool

THE BAD

I actually started my 'Ingredients to Avoid' page by going through the Lush ingredients glossary and doing a full investigation into each ingredient (interestingly, the Lush homepage no longer has a direct link to their ingredients list, and this is a very recent change. You can view the old list here http://www.lush.com/lushlife/glossary.htm. It is by no means comprehensive). Lush very conveniently and vaguely define some toxic and dangerous chemicals in such a way as to brush over the health risks associated with continued exposure to these ingredients. For example, they define Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as "a shampoo base that is derived from coconut and palm kernel oils", and tell you that it foams. That is a very convenient summary of what SLS is and does...you can see a more truthful assessment here (scroll down to 'S').

The ingredients that Lush uses that are dubious are: Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate, Cocomide DEA, Lauramide DEA, Methyl- and Propyl- parabens, Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulphate, Sodium Hydroxide (not listed in their glossary, aka Caustic Soda), Talc and Triethanlamine (TEA). You can see my comprehensive list of the effects of these chemicals here.

I used to work for Lush, and during our training we were informed that using parabens is ok because the company uses less that 0.05% per product. At the time I swallowed it. It took a while for me to start doing my own research, and I quickly realised that saying "oh, we use so little it doesn't matter" is just a lazy cop-out that ignores the cumulative effects of these toxins. Parabens are notoriously dangerous for the environment and cause hormonal imbalances in animals, sometimes rendering them infertile and causing sexual mutations. There has been much media coverage of late into the dangers of parabens for the environment and for people. There are now so many companies who are successfully using safe, natural alternatives (such as the awesome Organic Pharmacy), that I do not see how Lush has a valid excuse to use parabens anymore. Lush describes Methyl- and Propyl- parabens as "the safest and mildest preservatives we can find".  They add parabens to most of their non-solid skincare products and a few of their solid ones (such as King of Skin), and in the entire history of the company have never made any effort to find natural alternative methods to preserve their products.

Most of the public I spoke to while working for Lush simply assumed the products were all natural because of Lush's very clever branding and the tactful placement of herby, muddy facemasks kept on ice. I am not ashamed to admit that I regularly informed customers of the truth. You could say I was not the most popular employee with the management! However, there was nothing they could do, since I was simply speaking candidly about the ingredients in the products. While working there, I began to understand that Lush is a whitewash brand that is incredibly skilled at putting on a natural 'front' and reaping the profits from this subtle deception.

THE UGLY

Lush management is disorganised and ineffective and most managers treat the floor staff with little respect. There is overwhelming pressure to link-sell, which at times borders on customer harassment (I have been on the receiving end of this harrasment-slash-link-selling as a customer and it is not pleasant!). All the staff are overworked and underpaid.

Lush claims to be rigorous about their environmental policies, but I know for a fact that this is not true. Lush does not ensure that each shop has a functioning recyling scheme, and it is down to the passion of individual employees to make sure recycling happens. I have some friends who still work there and are constantly struggling to implement environmental improvements to the company on a daily basis. It is an uphill struggle, as upper management really do not care or provide funding or training to floor staff on important, day-to-day issues. There is a lot (A LOT) of money and training put into their environmental campaigns and window displays, and of course this is great, but again it is a front and the actually nitty-gritty is ignored.

But by far the thing that I found  most uncomfortable while working there was the cultish nature of the company, the glass ceiling that exists for all except those who practically worship Mark Constantine (the founder of Lush), and the environmental hipocrisy of the individuals in upper management (Starbucks and MacDonalds daily...I could carry on!).

Most of the general public know nothing of the truth behind Lush, and I feel it is important that people are at least made aware so that a little bit of the veneer can be chipped away. It is all about informed decision making. I still choose to purchase my top three Lush products because they work, are mostly natural and are not tested on animals. However, I in no way view the company as the pioneering environmental heroes that they like to masquerade as.

My time at Lush partially steered me towards my current career, and if I had not worked there I probably would not have become so acutely aware of how important personal initiative and research is in the world of ethical cosmetics and makeup. You cannot simply trust the slogan and words like 'organic' and 'natural' do not always mean organic and natural. So I am happy I had my time there; Lush served me well, but perhaps not in the way they intended!

 
 

114 comments:

  1. My my my dear.
    I applaud you for sharing with this well-written article, and for sharing with us yur thoughts and experience working for LUSH.

    Sad, but i would have to agree with you.
    Having had worked there too (as you know cause we were working together) i have experienced much, and thought that as wonderful as LUSH places itself to be, or wants others to be, the trust is always not spot on.

    Staff care needs to be looked at - i once asked, i can't remember to whom - i said, "Isn't it hypocrisy when they claim to champion animal and human rights, when they actually first look inside the house before outside of it?"

    Again, well written, and fabulous!

    Oh - by the way - i love some of their products too - i can never get enough of Fresh Pharmacy - it saved my skin - you've seen how my skin transformed from pimpled gay boy, to sexy, smooth kitten with dick.
    I absolutely ADORE sea vegetable.. hmm... and Sandstone - love the lemony, zest feel of it.

    Oh well - nothing's perfect.

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    1. Hello. Good sharing, Lelan Vital Organic skin care range is done from a rich blend of world finest organic increased. Lelan Vital Organic Skin Care from FRANCE and is created by Nutritionist, Aromatherapist & Massage Therapist, Nancy Evans - a respected formulator with profound knowledge and experience in health and beauty. Read more at:
      http://kidbuxblog.com/lelan-vital-organic-skin-care/

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    2. OHhh my goodness! I am so happy to finally see soo many people finally realizing what a sham LUSH really is. They have taken a wonderful concept, cornered an entire market on miss information and deceptive company practices. The honest little companies that truly make natural and organic beauty products the best to their ability can not get a fair share of the market because of the monopoly that they have created in the industry. I also applaud you for writing this article in attempt to open the eyes of the blinded by the colorful marketing tactics LUSH uses to lure innocent.
      perhaps we should start a world wide campaign #LUSH#STOPTHECHIRADE

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  2. Depressing! But very inspiring you've spoken out so eloquently about them - hopefully whistle blowing like this will gain traction and force them to clean up their act!

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  3. It's refreshing to hear someone else whose worked there have the same problems with the company.

    We also didn't have a disciplined recycling system with our pots. Many, many times I found pots in the garbage can and not in the recycling bin. They didn't talk about it or enforce it. BUT they did enforce keeping AVERAGE SALE around $35 and SELL SELL SELLLLL!!!!!

    Lush is also a very cheap company with its staff. I was training to be a key holder and they never paid me as one. They're excuse was that they were "training me". Also, our store won a lump sum of money but we only got 60 dollars worth of products BEFORE employee discount basically making it a $10 bonus. Those products are marked up tremendously. That really made it feel like " What's the point of winning these 'competitions'?" when in the end you get no monetary bonus just more Lush products you don't even need.

    Also I always found it ridiculous they didn't have sales because " it cheapens" the product. What pretentiousness.

    I'm happy not to work there anymore and thanks to this blog I'm more informed of the bad ingredients in their products. It's amazing how much of a front this company is. Also, it's amazing to see whom corporate values: Employees that are far from intelligent and gullible because they become their pawns.

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  4. So glad I found this commentary on Lush and Lush products.

    I've been working for Lush since fall 2011. I had so much enthusiasm for the products and the company. But over time, I have discovered that while some products are great, most are not. I have found their body moisturizers to be drying , actually triggering eczema. Even Dream Cream did nothing to relieve my winter dryness and did in fact spur eczema breakouts on my legs--places where I never experienced eczema before! Same goes for Buffy: Feels great right after the shower, then an hour later I feel like my skin is cracking!

    The Bubble Bars, Shower Gels, and Bombs also irritate and dry out the skin.

    The expensive facial moisturizers (Imperialis, Skin's Shangri-La) wreak havoc on my breakout prone areas and my son, who deals with occasional spots had a huge blemish breakout after using Cosmetic Lad for several weeks.

    What is in these products that cause such discomfort? Apart from the chemical elements in their ingredients, could the "Perfume" element--the secret blends that Lush loves to boast about--be the culprit??

    So I try to use the products with the least amount of ingredients to avoid skin irritation, but alas, there are so few...

    I have some top products that I feel are effective and agree with Sarah's choices of Aromoco Deodorant and Figs and Leaves--both are lovely! Sympathy for the Skin is a gentle body moisturizer that does not cause eczema flare-ups. Dark Angels is a nice exfoliating product that helps with breakout prone areas, but use sparingly, maybe once a week because it is scratchy stuff and tough on the epidermis (skin surface).

    Lush is fun, very appealing to the senses, beautifully presented in it's "nakedness", but repeated use of the products has resulted in disappointment: skin problems that come at a rather high cost. Maybe Lush needs to simplify their ingredients more, but then the enchanting and alluring smells, colors and textures would probably disappear and there goes the profit margin.

    As for working for the company, I agree that there is, to put it in Sarah's words: "overwhelming pressure to link-sell" and I feel certain that the customers sense this. If the products are so effective and amazing, there would be no need to approach the customer in such a way. Lush doesn't pay their store staff well and the so-called bonuses that occur from meeting monthly sales goals amount to an extra $1.30 or so an hour! Psshawhh! A bit of a scam. Oh well...

    Thank you, Sarah for this post. It's been enlightening! All the best to you in your career endeavors!

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  5. So glad I found this; I was beginning to notice these things about Lush products and was frustrated that no one could give me any detailed answers about product information nor relate to my frustrations I'd been having.
    There have been countless times where I've tried to access ingredient information online with no success. This is not only highly annoying but very unnerving! Why would a company that so loudly boasts about their "organic" products be not willing to give consumers a detailed description of their products?! And, moreover, trying to disguise toxic ingredients-I just have no respect for that.
    I've even been in to the store on a few occasions where employees had been relentless and would not leave me be. When I would be checking out the ingredient information they would immediately jump on me:
    "Oh is there an ingredient in there you don't like?!" when I would explain that, yes, there were indeed things I was not pleased seeing they always tried to justify it. This always gave me an uneasy feeling. I didn't like that a company that was selling themselves as "organic" and "natural" were still using parabens! And when confronted with this information they tried to justify it. It just doesn't make sense.
    Naturally, I decided to do more research; where I found this post among other things that makes me not a fan or a supporter.

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  6. Excellent post! As a former US Lush employee I can totally understand how they treat their employees. I've often wondered if things are different in the UK, but from what I heard, I don't think it is. I'm a much more low-key retail employee - I like being there to answer questions or show how something would work, but for the most part, I don't try to bug customers. I can't tell you how many times I was read the riot act because I refused to essentially follow a customer around a tiny store. Our store even got a complaint from a customer because they felt harrassed - and we all got reprimanded, even though everything we did was exactly what the "handbook" wanted! When our store opened they said they would pay for employee parking, and that all full time employees would have insurance. After we signed our life away, they "changed their mind". I was hired as a full-time employee (40 hours a week) but my hours were trimmed here and cut there down to 20 hours a week. Between the pressure to sell and the takebacks, I only stayed there for six months before moving on.

    I've started noticing that their ingredient list is getting a bit funny. I still use their shampoo bars (Seanik and Squeaky Green are two of the only shampoos that don't leave a funky residue in my oily hair), but I stopped using their facewash and moisturizers. When I first started using their charcoal facewash and Enzymion, it was fine, but a couple of years later it made me break out. I have a feeling they started changing something up.

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  7. Thank-you for the thoughtful post. You seem very well informed about cosmetics. However I must inform you that your notions about Sodium Hydroxide as a chemical are a little less knowledgeable than what the rest of your research provided. Sodium Hydroxide is an elemental compound - NaOH - it's not a chemical like a toxic chemical. While it is caustic when combined with water, once oil is added in the natural soap making process it forms bonds to the oils changing it's chemistry and becomes rendered neutral — this makes soap! There is no other way to make natural soap without it.

    If you would like to read more about soap making, and its chemistry, I highly recommend the book I use to make my own soap called The Soap Maker's Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch.

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    1. Agree with PineCone! You have to use lye (sodium hydroxide) to create soap. If you see "saponified" oils or butters, that is just a marketing ploy to remove sodium hydroxide from the ingredient list. Saponified oils have been saponified with sodium or potassium hydroxide. If you don't see these items, you're using a detergent which is much worse for yourself and the environment.

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  8. I am glad someone commented on the caustic soda. No lye, no soap. As long as the soap is correctly calculated, there is no sodium hydroxide left because it has chemically reacted with the fats. The book mentioned is a great one and you can easily learn how to make your own soap. What is even better is you know all the ingredients;-)

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  9. I appreciate the post as well!! I was beginning to wonder what was up with the products once I bought a 40 dollar moisturizer that didn't work or smell like anything natural....everything is perfumed...then came break outs. I also picked up on the sales tactic. Every time I would try to purchase a smaller of something rather then a giant bottle it was a big deal and I'd be told things like "I may as well buy the big one because there's no way I wouldn't love it. But by multiple people...on several occasions. It sucks because WE WANT TO BELIEVE the products are organic and true....its one of the only brands that can claim that. And true is better then 90% of whats out there...but still...dont lie. and pay your employees.

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  10. Well I have an interview to work at LUSH in my city, definitely reconsidering it after reading all of this.

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  11. I have found the same frustrations with most companies that claim to be ethical or natural. I'm constantly looking for a foundation without harmful chemicals. I looked at the organic pharmacy website but could not find ingredients. How do you know that they are what they claim? Just curious because I'm dying for a great company to get makeup. A friend said aveda was good but all their makeup had dimethicone which makes my face itch. Any suggestions?

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    1. Arbonne is supposed to be really good

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    2. Alima Pure is fabulous makeup . Also Cheeky Cosmetics from Canada which I imported as liked so much. Chantal the maker is awesome and very nice to deal with. I have used it on myself and previous clients (was self employed Organic MUA). I have the same issues with a lot of the products and as places like Jason can make shampoos that lather like nobody's business without the SLS and avoid these irritants at lesser cost... I too am frustrated to hear the so called justification of "Most people can use... Without irritation ". The ingredients are all (I think) back on the site now as maybe many complaints from customers? I know this was an issue. I used to sell a brand made here in the UK called Mother Earth soaps totally free of preservatives, irritants and parables. At 3 pounds a bar with good profit margin. Never reacted or caused any issues to clients. I love Lush... But abhor the things caused with my physiology. Sigh. Could anyone tell me when they started using Sls? I was sure they never used to. I make my own serums, moisturiser and such as studied Biochemistry. I am much healthier that way and have helped many others with psoriasis and other ailments. Less is more. Thanks for your fabulous post :)

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  12. I would first and foremost like to say that I am a LUSH employee in the US, and could not be happier with the company. Your view on the company is completely different than what they are sending out as their global messages, even addressing certain synthetics, and above all, they do believe in transparency. If an employee told you that the products are "all-natural", which some are, but not all, then that is on their conscience, and you should not blame the brand for a human making a mistake with terms that get thrown around back and forth when people do interpret them in many ways. My shop is nothing like you speak of. Yes, they are a business and are in the business to make a profit, they say that on their mission statement, but ultimately, Lush NA is about creating positive customer service through demonstration of the products and how they work. If someone finds that offensive and does not like it, let the sales associate know that they'd rather not try anything on their skin or if they would simply like to look. It is the nature of the store to be very visually interesting, however some of the products are a little "out there" and most employees genuinely want to make sure that the customer knows how to use the product, and does not rub "comforter bubble bar" on their face thinking it's soap (as one customer has actually told me). Lush posts their ingredients on their labels, and ultimately it is up to the customer if they would like to purchase the product. As far as the synthetics that you are talking about, in particular, SLS, it is saponified palm and coconut oils, or other vegetable oils that create that lathering effect through an alteration of it's chemical structure. It has been around and is trusted for a long time, and since LUSH does not do animal testing, they do not have the luxury of using the "new" chemicals that are almost always tested on animals. There is no concrete evidence of SLS as a danger, unless one is obviously allergic, other than the fact that it is a very aggressive cleansing agent, which they balance out with various oils and butters. Parabens are also naturally occurring in almost every fruit, and LUSH legally does not have to list them, as it is 1/8 the amount of which companies have to start listing it as an ingredient. Meaning that LUSH could then use 8x more of the preservative and THEN have to legally list it. But LUSH, believing in transparency, puts it on the label for the customer to see. While your concerns are valid, I suggest that you bring them up on a more public forum so that the company itself can have a response to your concerns, and maybe if you possibly contacted customer care you could list your concerns and bring it to the companies attention, rather than posting it on a blog that the company is very unlikely to see.

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    1. Aside from skin irritation, SLS may cause hair loss and can cause harm to the nervous and cardiovascular system. (I'm sure you have noticed the rise in SLS free shampoo in the marketplace.) SLS is not considered as harmful as parabens, since SLS does not alter hormones. Yes, parabens naturally occur in many fruits, but the parabens in cosmetics and personal care products are synthetic. Animal testing is not needed for "new" ingredients, product chemistry, or the progression of skin care science, so Lush's choice to not use alternatives are for other reasons: cost, texture, shelf-life stabilization, color, etc. This is not to say that Lush isn't testing out alternatives and reworking formulations. Also, this article came up pretty high in Google search, so I think this definitely has come across the screens at Lush corporate. In a time where businesses are now being shaped by their customer reviews (Yelp, Google, Tripadvisor, and virtually all retail sites), I would think Lush is doing their due diligence in all forums. Whether they do anything or respond directly, that is up to them. It is nice to hear you really enjoy working for them. I fell in love with Lush when I first walked into their Brighton location years and years ago. I really do like their shopping experience and ambiance, they were the first company to do create this beauty model. I have grown to be an AVID label reader, so I just walk by their storefronts now, but as I do I remember the giddiness their bath bombs gave me back in the day :)
      http://www.goddesshuntress.com

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    2. I would first like to point out that a company which claims to be pure and preservative-free, to produce products with Tetrasodium Etidronate and EDTA in nearly all of its enticing products is not going to just change its ways.

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  13. I found your article rather interesting to read, although I do wonder when you worked there and also when you left?
    Lush has changed the way they treat floor staff, everyone has got a higher wage than they did before, although London staff were the first one's to receive a Living Wage increase. I can't say about the higher up's, but I do believe that it would be more of an English/London thing, considering that the higher up's don't really travel far.
    It's an interesting article though, as I have said, although it would have been good if you had checked to see what had changed before writing this.

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  14. Everyone is entitled to their opinion...and whilst I respect yours; I have to disagree.

    Your article is very articulately written and bravo to you..but I think you are missing a bigger picture here, lush is still a business and not afraid to admit that either...if they didn't want to then with that small amount of parabens they wouldn't even by law have to list them! But they do, they are honest, they don't hide anything like many conventional products do...

    I am a green hero at a lush store...my job includes looking after the recycling and suchlike.,, every store in the uk has one, I know this because I was recently at a meeting with all of them and we have an extensive communication network also...there is nothing wrong with their green credentials and yes I agree it is up to the individuals to recycle..and by that I mean everyone! I have to keep the girls in check sometimes...but we are only human.

    At the end of the day lush is a fun place to be it makes people happy and fights causes that others are to afraid to fight, it supports grassroots charities with small turnovers and has won 'which' best buy for customer service above John Lewis and apple! So the customers can't be feeling that ' harassed!'

    This is my humble opinion and I would like to once again reiterate that I entirely respect yours too.

    :) much love xxx

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    1. We are only human is you making excuses for people who are too lazy or just don't care enough to make a conscious decision to recycle. Everyone knows to recycle, they either choose to do it or not to. That is my humble opinion.

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    2. Apparently metalbrain83 has never made a mistake or done anything wrong in life. Must be nice. Does anyone have the number for Guinness Book of World Records?

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  15. King of Skin really contains parabens??? They are not listed in the ingredients!!!! Im shocked now....

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  16. Propylene Glycol???? Yuck! Not in my natural cream deodorant -I've found it's not healthy OR necessary!

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  17. I'm very concerned about chemicals in my products, but I've recently researched SLS and it does appear that the statements about its so called harmful properties are not actually true. It's been taken out of a lot of products mostly as a marketing ploy because the public has grabbed a hold of this myth and companies just don't want to lose business. EWG is a website I heavily rely on for the safety of products and chemicals and they give SLS a very low hazardous rating:
    http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706110/SODIUM_LAURYL_SULFATE/

    Granted, I am not a chemist but there are starting be as many green myths out there as there is propaganda from the chemical companies so everything must be thoroughly researched. Everything I look at online seems to be opinion based. If anyone has actual scientific papers showing the harm of SLS I would love to read them.

    One thing I have not seen mention of in the comments is the packaging. I first became interested in Lush because they have shampoo bars that are free of plastic packaging. Plastics contain all sorts of hormone disrupting and mimicking chemicals. Why worry about all natural products if you purchase them in a toxin laden container? Just another thing to think about...

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  18. Can you please update this review? Im really interested in knowing what Lush is like today compare to what it was before. Like has anything change,if so what? if not why?

    annieyang159@hotmail.com

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  19. The first blow to my image of Lush was when I brought up an issue I had with the ingredients lists in-store. The words are so tiny and have so many extra words in parenthesis that looking for specific, problem ingredients is difficult. I need to be careful how much grapefruit I use in any form because it cancels out my medication. Not a huge deal for me because it's my antidepressant that suffers, but people with serious medical problems could potentially die if too much builds up in their system. I first started paying attention because after a week using Snowglobe I noticed that I felt like I hadn't been taking my medicine at all, so I asked if it might be feasible to add a sticker (like the vegan stickers and whatnot) indicating grapefruit essential oil and was promptly dismissed. I'm currently trying replacements for my shampoo bar and the last lush product in my arsenal is 9 to 5 as a makeup remover.

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  20. I am a US Lush employee as well, and while I respect your right to voice your opinion I feel like your examples of the bad and the ugly are not true in every Lush shop.

    My shop is incredible. We go out of our way to help people and guide them through the shop to find out what works for them. This is why we demo products and do consultations. We also offer the opportunity for customers to return items they don't like. And better than that we give samples, and people come back because they've enjoyed the products and wanted to purchase them.

    About the ingredients, Lush uses minimal preservatives and safe synthetics in their products. Yes there is SLS in some products but sometimes that's necessary to lift and remove dirt. It's better to have small amounts of SLS in liquid shampoos than to have Silicones which make the hair shiny and soft for a day and then dry out the hair even worse than any damage SLS would do.

    Lush also goes out of its way to create solid products that contain no preservatives which is great. If you find the products affect your skin negatively, then stop using it. But this is not the case for everyone. We have repeat customers that come back to restock on Buffy (for example) whenever they run out. (including my own mom who is extremely picky about her cosmetics!)

    Also, my manager and MIT are incredible and treat us ( SA's and KH's) with the utmost respect. We are always getting positive feedback and constructive criticism . We are encouraged and supported at all times. It's the only company I have ever worked for where I have really enjoyed the amazing leadership.

    Thanks everyone for expressing your opinions. Everyone is entitled, but I hope this clears up some confusion about Lush! It truly is a wonderful company to work for.

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    1. Great points and issues! No company is infallible and glad to hear the positive side of things :)

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  21. 100% Agree. I can no longer walk past a Lush store without my skin crawling.

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  22. Hi Sarah,
    Your place is valuable for me. Thanks!
    I loved reading this piece! Well written! :)

    Prety
    http://beauty-steals.co.uk/beauty-and-lifestyle-blog

    ReplyDelete
  23. I had never heard of Lush until a week ago and I absolutely love the whole concept. I am sorry to hear that some people are not happy with their products but I think they are awesome and I love it all. I love that they give samples on anything you like and I love the smell and feel. While nothing on Earth is perfect, they have an excellent concept and are a very inspirational company. There is another line called 100percentpure.com that is really cool as well for those purists looking for love . . . thanks for the article and I will keep your thoughts in mind.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thankyou for your article. I am convinced that the propylene glycol in the Lush soaps aroused bad symptoms in my body: nausea, low blood pressure and general weakness. I stopped using products containing pg and I feel much better now. Greetings..Martina from Italy.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for your article. It is facts like these that form part of my inspiration to create a brand that actually does what it says on the tin. I do not understand why Lush is using these horrible ingredients in their solid products when it's not necessary at all! I understand the need for preservatives in liquids because of the use of water, but they could reach for paraben-free preservatives! Sodium hydroxide in soap making is an important part of the saponification process, the process that turns oils into soap. Any trace of the sodium hydroxide will be completely vanished after the soap has been cured. So why are they listing sodium hydroxide in their list of ingredients when there should be none left in the product??? And having EDTA, also used to dissolve limescale, and SLS as an ingredient that's supposed to be natural....shocking to say the least! And adding perfume to a product that is using essential oils is quite odd.
    I make soaps using only vegetable oils, essential oils and botanical's and my body butters and scrubs are 98-100% made of vegetable butters and oils and salts, no chemicals, no preservatives. My mango range contains perfume and mineral colouring (mica) because it's the only way to get the flavour and it's a very popular flavour, in this case it's 98% natural.
    Have a look and tell me what you think! www.body-foods.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hi I am very amazed by this article. And I see your point there. It's wonderful since there were no opposing opinion to Rush ,so far I saw. This helped me to get a critical view on Rush and their slogan.
    I am so worried now that what products should I trust on now? Is there any good product that doesn't contain chemical which can be very harmful for my body? Any sugesstions, please? :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. http://www.lush.com/lushlife/glossary.htm

    The link you gave to the old glossary seems to have been rebuttled by LUSH. I noticed how politely and innocently they swept their old glossary under the rug, and suggesting their new glossary, finishing it off with a "perhaps we could forget the past and start again?"

    I think that is pretty translucent.

    ReplyDelete
  29. There is still a descriptive of every ingredient in every product. Either go to the bottom left hand of the page, or go to the product and you can click on the ingredient to get info about it. Not very translucent at all, actually. As more and different studies are done, the information is updated to the best of the knowledge of the company, and yes, will be put across in a flattering light. It is a company. Among their goals is making money. Has everyone forgotten this?
    Is everyone that is negatively viewing this company also looking at everything you ingest, and every day products, ie laundry detergents, cleaners, toothpastes, even teas, fruits, etc? Maybe instead of attacking one company, and a company that has helped so many different charities, and brought knowledge of different campaigns to the general public. My advice? Go do your own research on these products which you so freely hate because of what you read on internet reviews.
    As for the management theme, every time I walk into a store, the staff is beyond helpful and happy, and I personally have seen half of the sales team take out recycling on more than one occasion.
    Oh, and one more thing? I used to have bad skin. No matter what I used. My dermatologist wrote me prescription after prescription to deal with my skin issues, ie acne, eczema, etc, and nothing, during years and years of pain and embarrassment, might I add, NOTHING helped me until I walked into that store. Now my all of my skin- face, arms, back- is clear, soft, and my skin tone is finally evening out.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am going back and writing up at the top of my post right now to explain that it has been 2 and a half years since this post, and many things are different now in the company. Not everything, but many things have changed, as Lush is ever-growing and reforming--which they've never hidden. Lush has always been a company that has said "oh, we were wrong, let's fix that"

    I am a current Lush sales associate in New York City and have worked at two different stores, #1 and #15 or so in volume in the company -- ranked against the entirety of Lush North America. My stores see a LOT of customers, and you can certainly bet we aim to run a business that makes money. You're not going to run a successful retail business without pushing your employees and keeping everyone on task. It is an intense position to be an employee in a shop, because you have to be a good communicator and a good businessman, and if you're what Lush is ideally looking for, you're also passionate about the causes the company fights for. It IS a lot of work, and I want to agree that I think the sales associates start out not making nearly enough money as they should.

    This idea that it's an ugly thing to strictly enforce $35 average sale and to link-sell is just silly. It's good for the well-being of their business. A business that doesn't advertise anywhere other than word of mouth. They're not bombarding people with advertisements or giving in to any of this big-company over-stimulation that you're going to see from this large, "evil corporations."

    About the in-shop policies:
    I have a feeling that my shop needs a lot more attention on the sales, given the massive volume, than the ones that other people on here have been talking about. This means that our employees need to be focusing on customer interactions--potentially leaving much less time to be doing these other tasks the store promises, like recycling. And yet both stores I have been in have green teams and successfully recycle. And you're right, it is about the initiative of the individual stores, but I think to make some broad and sweeping statement that Lush is LYING about recycling. No one enforces this! etc. is just incorrect. Managers are not given that position if they don't care about the ethics of the company. Plain and simple.

    I'd also like to say that your statement about "most managers" not treating the staff with respect is utter B.S. I know there are crappy managers out there. But to say that MOST managers treat their staff with disrespect is so offensive, and completely inaccurate. Don't go "shedding light on Lush" and say horribly false things like that. I've had nothing but a wonderful experiences with both managers I have worked under.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike, as a Lush customer I have to heartily disagree about the sale's technique I've experienced in some of the Lush shops.
      It all depends on the shop, there are some (albeit, not many) that are more laid back where you can enjoy browsing without being hounded. I understand that a sales associate will approach to greet me and ask if I want help. I appreciate the offer but decline politely. Those are the type of stores I have bought more products from.

      On the other side of the spectrum, there are some shops from the time you walk into the shop to the time they make a sale, you are pestered and pressured into buying things you don't want. Just because I'm buying a vanilla bath bomb doesn't mean I want to buy 10 other vanilla fragrance items. It's a common complaint amongst Lush shoppers. Nobody wants to be bagered and asked a dozen questions. As a NY sales associate, you should know that you're driving away customers.
      Thank god there's still mail order.

      Delete
  31. Ingredients

    Parabens, I understand. They're harmful. But they're listed, we're not lying, and I've always explained to customers that lush is as natural as it can be. They're also ALWAYS looking for natural preservatives and many of the products have their own natural preservatives.
    To say: “in the entire history of the company have never made any effort to find natural alternative methods to preserve their products." makes it evident that your opinion simply comes from someone who is disgruntled.

    They are constantly reforming their products. For instance the glitter that they're using now is a seaweed ingredient that, when it re-enters the ecosystem after used, becomes seaweed again, and biodegrades. Before, it use to be a non-biodegradable substance, which they've reformed.

    The harmfulness of the ORGANIC chemical compound SLS is laughable, so to go on a rant about this and blow up its toxic-ness is absurd. Everyone's skin is different, and the figs and leaves soap you love so much is actually a little painful and dries my skin out. To each their own. You can't use your incredibly isolated experience as a broad, sweeping statement about the entirety of lush ingredients and their effects.

    Lush isn't perfect. They don't claim to be. You're going to run into those problems when you're working with thousands of people, though. This isn't a small family business. You're dealing with a successful international company who has maintained an incredibly admirable work ethic ENTIRELY through word of mouth, human-to-human interactions because people love the products and believe in the company. There is no masquerading.

    I challenge you to find a company that follows Lush standards that is as large as Lush is.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Check out the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, it has a huge database of products (including Lush products) with each ingredient listed and rated on a 1-10 toxicity scale.

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  35. I'm not too worried about Lush cosmetics. Any "harmful" stuff they would have are just emulsifiers and preservatives. I get that "all natural" would be awesome, but then we'd have to buy new product every week instead of every few months. I don't have THAT kind of money for Lush lmao...

    ReplyDelete
  36. Few personal opinions .......disgruntled employee. Agree, everyone is different and different products for different people. Not recycling - poor management. Pretty nice to have nice, knowledgable, helpful employees to assist you. (very hard to find in most establishments these days) May the people that seem to have a problem with such small amounts of ingredients that are not so natural, maybe should go to their local drugstore. "Bet they have many cosmetics without chemicals that are helping our environment and those less fortunate"!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I found this post because I just bought some shower gel from Lush and read the label when I got home. Shocked to find SLS in it considering their "all natural" image. You can buy a huge number of brands now that are SLS and Paraben free, so there is no reason why Lush should not do the same. I am gutted as I love their products and felt I could trust the brand - clearly not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like my one and only experience with Lush. Our mall got one recently and I was super excited, being one to buy all-natural cruelty-free products. I had heard so many great things about them only using natural ingredients, so I didn't even bother to check the label when I was shopping there. I ended up just getting a bath bomb that first time there, but took one of the catalogues to look at in the car. I was shocked and horrified to see that this "all-natural" image they had was totally not true. SLS, parabens, "fragrance"...I was so disappointed. Recently I decided maybe I was being too harsh and I should give them another try...that's when I came across this post and others like it. I think I'll continue to keep my distance. All the products I use are SLS and paraben free, are cruelty free and work great. Therefore there is absolutely no reason why Lush should be using these stupid ingredients.

      Delete
  38. I noticed you write that one if the products contain Sodium Hydroxide. Do they add this afterwards, and if so why?

    Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) is used to make real, non-detergent soap. It reacts with oils and fats to form soap which does not contain lye or the origional oils any more. So, if it was used in the making of the product the listing it would make no sense as it is not contained any more.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I think this is a great article and I admire you for all of the time you took to write it and share it with people, like myself who care about these things. I do however, have a question concerning your statement towards parabens used in their non-solid skin care products. You talk about the parabens being used and how they are horrible for the environment and for animals. How do you know this? From what I know LUSH claims to not test on animals and if the product is not ever coming into contact with an animal, how does it effect them?

    ReplyDelete
  40. I tried Lush years ago when a store opened in Lincoln Park Chicago. I tried so many things and just about everything dried out my skin and caused little red bumps. I am allergic to certain synthetics and there is no doubt that many of the products are in no way natural. My daughter loves the sea salt shampoo and some of the bath bombs so I just purchases her a few gift items. I did a search for ingredients and found your site. Spot on, for high school kids and folks in their 20s I see this being popular. In my 30s and now 40s, too much perfume and not so natural ingredients, very overpriced for what you are actually getting. I still cringe on some horrible rashes I got. Good news is after I went back to Lush and they witnessed my skin turn flaming red in seconds of the products rubbing on my skin, all my money was refunded for every receipt I had (after talking to corporate). The store in Lincoln Park is still there and the staff is so friendly. My daughter loves their products but she only uses the bath bombs here and there. I used them about times a week and yeah, horrible for your skin. NOT for daily use!!!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I visited the Lush store in San Francisco today and was very excited about how the products weye presented in such a pure, non-dangerous light. The young staff members were very enthusiastic about selling their products. When I was about to purchase a couple of the color palette liquid makeup products I noticed that both methyl-paraben and propyl-paraben were listed at the bottom of the labels. When I told the sales person I wouldn't use them because of the parabens, she asked me what parabens were. After I told her she still tried to talk me into buying them since "there was such a small amount of parabens in the products". I told her I would not use any products with parabens. Maybe she learned something today.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I found this article interesting as after using LUSH my skin has never looked better and for the first time since the age of 14 I have no need to wear foundation because my skin is so clear, smooth and not blotchy areas I love their products and they are very honest about what goes into their products in the store I go to they don't harass you they back off and my friends daughter is very happy working there

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  46. At lisa Keith
    just a note on this, the paraben hype is overinflated. http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/myths/_/parabens-are-they-really-a-problem
    as are mostly anything read in the media.

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  57. I live in singapore. Lush outlet is in a mall and when ever I pass by the outlet,I get such strong whiffs that make me think that those can not be smells from real products. I very strongly feel that all the perfumes are strong chemical based. Lush was in Singapore about 20 years ago,at that time we were not aware so much of real colours or products but today with so much knowledge of real and organic stuff I am rather put off by these aroma

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  59. Thank you! I shared this information with a dear friend today who has loved Lush for many years. She just moved in with me and she recently stocked our bathroom with Lush products. While using the bathroom today ahem I was reading the label on the toner and noticed the "paraben" word and was shocked. She was horrified when I shared this info plus your post. Unfortunately, she just does not have the receipt from her purchase. Any ideas on how to get a refund for these products without a receipt?

    ReplyDelete
  60. Since its been a few years since this post and the most recent replies have all been ads, I thought I'd give my two cents on an updated lush.
    I work in Canada 10 minutes away from the NA head office and factory so I see a lot of the inner gears of what goes on both in production and in direct line of expectations.
    As for transparency, great strides have been made. There is a comprehensive list of absolutely every ingredient in every product (aside from the "perfume" which we call EC, a blend of essential oils both natural and sometimes synthetic - because, there is no bubblegum essential oil and some like musk are not vegetarian - which are listed as such to provide some secrecy in the way our products will smell) and will be highlighted in green if it is natural (perfume or not) and it will be listed in black if it is synthesized or just inorganic in general for both website and catalog. On the products themselves the unnatural ingredients will be italicized so that the customer can easily see which is which.
    As for lush's "all-natural concept", this is a great thing but ultimately untrue. What I mean by this is that we are incredibly passionate about finding organic and natural ways to compound and present our products, but any employee who claims we are an all natural brand is vastly misinformed. Even as a temp (back in the day) I was provided with extensive training as to the synthetics we use, why we use them, and the alternate routes we are exploring to diminish this reality. But overall, when products ARE totally natural, we'll make a point to tell you - otherwise, we'd love to focus on the specific ingredients that are indeed organic and fresh but not give the illusion that we plucked our shower gels off a shower gel tree in our gardens. This is one point that really pisses me off as an associate personally, because since lush is entirely advertised as word of mouth this false appearance of not using any synthetics at all gives people the wrong idea about what we actually do, and then I get people yelling at me and holding me responsible because they got the wrong ideal of the company.
    As a side note to that, it also really gets me that we get verbally abused as sales associates for decisions that we can't possible be accountable for, and that people come to lush to complain about how we use lathering agents to make our soap actually bubble as soap does, then leave our shop to go have a cigarette, drive their gasoline filled car to another store, and buy their chemical-laden toothpaste and GMO induced groceries without a complaint. (This, of course, is a generalization.)
    Moreover on the recycling, it is up to personal shops and lush as a company shouldn't be responsible for what goes on. Ive seen shops that are infalliable eco warriors, and I have seen shops with so much to do in the means of customer satisfaction that recycling falls lower on their priority list. We have however instilled a "weigh the waste" program at least nationally or possibly globally wherein we track every single pound of waste that enters and leaves the shop and proactively find ways to minimize this.
    As for shitty managers and leadership, this will be found in any job and as an employee who hasn't long been in the job force but has been to many different establishments, lush certainly is making an effort to do all they can for their employees. Between benefits, raises, incentives and upward movement, I'd say they do well. Most of your time being an associate (apart from selling, of course) is tracking your own development and being vocal about your aspirations so that you can go on and flourish elsewhere in the company.
    Sure, I've had my quips in my year working for lush. But overall it is a company that I would love to make a career in and stand by even if/when I leave.
    But that's just my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I was shocked when I read that Lush uses GreenWashing to sell products after buying my new fancy "hippy" deodorant.

    Rocky Mountain Soap Company is a Local Canadian company that lists all of its ingredients and doesn't use any(!) bad stuff. You could pretty much eat anything they make.

    http://www.rockymountainsoap.com/

    ReplyDelete
  62. Great people do not mean you should be buying or using any of their products. High quantities of artificial and harsh ingredients. The only company you should be looking at is Neal's Yard Remedies. They score 100/100 as an ethical company. How their products are frown, where they are grown, who grows them, no use of pesticides, insecticides, no chemicals, certification by soil association. The list goes on and on. Look for yourselves. They don't get any better than this organisation.

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  74. thanks for this ... you did your homework! I think its crazy that people are paying LUSH prices for what is supposed to be natural products, does that also mean you can make them in your own home! if you check out what is in them you will see that natural and homemade are two very different words.

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  75. I work for a similar brand too lush, although we are marketed in a totally different way, we definetly could be seen as similar in that we both use organic natural plant ingredients , but never claim to be 100% natural. A lot of the perception comes down to the marketing.

    There is absolutely no need for any type of paraben in this day and age, the brand I work for uses no parabens whatsoever , and we are a similar price point to lush, if we can do it than they should have no issue finding an alternative , and we have very little to no solid products. Paraben scare may be all hype, but it is a tarnished word and the consumer is no longer interested in these types of ingredients , so they should not be used. Personally I have no problem with parabens , but consumers have moved on to products that no longer use them.
    There is also absolutely no reason to use synthetic fragrance in a product that already has the high content of essential oils that lush products claim to have, this seems odd. Let the natural aroma shine through! Imagine a bath bomb with just the amazingness of lavender oil?? Synthetic fragrance is really a trend that is dying, I have used a few lush products that contain no synthetic fragrance , and they smelled way better than the others with synthetics ! The perfumers that lush have found a wonderful balance of essential oils to fragrance a soap they used to have , and it was amazing, but I no longer can find this soap , it was green ! Lol that's all I remember.
    I run a retail store. Companies need to demonstrate products and upsell in store in order to stay in buisness, this is the basis of retail knowledge and buisness. We need to make more money every year in order to keep operating, if those lush employees didn't try that hand lotion on you , and trust me 1 out 5 people will buy it if they try it, you wouldn't have that lush store in your local mall anymore. If you want your lush products continently at your local mall let that wonderful retail staff try a little cuticle cream on you so you don't have to drive to a higher traffic mall and go an hour out of your way to get those wonderful bath bombs. :)

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  86. Not once did I ever get the impression that Lush's products are "all natural". They have always been transparent about the use of synthetics. Not only is everything printed on the label, you can also look up complete ingredients lists for every single item they sell on their website and arm yourself with information before you go to a store. (Aesop is another brand people assume is all-natural, but they also use synthetics and are honest about that.)

    A lot of you claim to have done your "research" on SLS and parabens, yet (conveniently), seem to forget to check the ingredients list every time you go to a Lush store and are shocked and angered when you buy a product that contains them. And then you blame Lush for somehow deceiving you when the information was there in writing all along!?! If those ingredients were of any concern to you, wouldn't the ingredients list be the FIRST thing you check? Again, your fault, not Lush's. Take a little responsibility for your own lack of fact checking before you publicly trash a company and I will be able to take you a little more seriously.

    Lush's operative word is "hand made" which is true. The ingredients - natural or otherwise - are mixed and poured by humans and not robots. I don't think I have ever seen the words "natural" or "organic" on a single product label of theirs, that is a conclusion you have jumped to yourselves.

    On a side note, the most violent allergic reaction I've ever had to a skin product was an organic and paraben-free product. I suspect it was one of the essential oils in it. Poisons, irritants and allergens exist in nature, too. Natural doesn't automatically equate to being "better" and the same caution should be taken with completely natural products as with synthetics.

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