Lush is a popular brand known primarily for its vibrant bath bombs. For beauty and hygiene product lovers, this brand is a great choice for mostly sustainable products that can easily replace their drug store shampoos, soaps, and facemasks. The “Beauty Sleep” face and body mask is advertised as a perfect bedtime mask that promises to refresh and moisturize skin. I was pleasantly surprised by this product’s sustainability and the brand’s transparency. Though not perfect, Lush’s commitments to sustainability are extensive and leave room for growth. Therefore, I gave this product an overall rating of 2.2 planets as it’s a sustainable but imperfect product from a brand that seems committed to improving its overall sustainability over time.
The primary ingredients in this mask are lemon verbena and valerian root extracted in honey, fresh coconut, and a mullein leaf and linseed decoction. The full ingredients list can be found in the mask’s description, which is linked below. Lush is incredibly transparent about what is in its products. On this mask, the Lush website provides a hyperlink attached to every ingredient in this product explaining what it is, where it’s produced, and how it’s used. However, it is not apparent from these links that each ingredient is sustainably sourced, though Lush does have commitments to sustainability and ethical buying easily located on its website. The product itself is not tested on animals, and Lush also states that none of its suppliers test individual ingredients on animals, either. The mask is packaged in a pot made of 100% post-consumer plastic and can be returned to Lush storefronts for disposal.
If the consumer returns five clean containers, they receive another free mask. If the product is being shipped rather than purchased in-store, Lush uses 100% recycled cardboard boxes and biodegradable packing peanuts. Overall, the product’s packaging is as sustainable as you could hope for a packaged mask, with the only suggested improvement being to perhaps introduce a glass container that could be refilled in store for repeat customers.
Each ingredient in their products can be linked to a specific area, which is incredibly transparent. Each component that goes into Lush products is sourced ethically from communities around the world. Lush does not require their suppliers to have Fair Trade or Organic certifications, but they state that this is because of the inaccessibility of these resources to many global communities. Lush acknowledges that their supply chain is not entirely sustainable, but outlines long-term commitments in multiple places on their websites. In the future, they hope to create growing practices that regenerate the lands they work on and aid the communities that provide them. An example of this is their deforestation prevention project in Guatemala. Lush explains on the Lush Investments page on their website (linked below) that they have invested in local farmers to return areas of the local landscape to biodiverse ecosystems. Since 2017, they have purchased nearly 600 plots of land that can be developed by the local communities and returned to their natural state. This brand makes more of an effort than most others when it comes to giving back what they take from ecosystems and sets a positive example for other cosmetic companies to follow.
Where Lush loses points is in its transportation practices. Sourcing ingredients worldwide is strenuous on the environment when they have to be transported to Canada, Australia, the UK, and other facilities for processing and packaging. While this is unavoidable in our current environment where carbon-neutral ships and airplanes do not exist, it is still worth mentioning. Additionally, Lush ships products to consumers using UPS, FedEx, USPS, and other similar methods. Again, this is virtually unavoidable for most companies, save Amazon and other large and problematic outliers, but it is worth mentioning that a carbon footprint does exist.
In America, all Lush products are manufactured in Canadian facilities and shipped to stores across the country. Lush states that all products are handmade and places a sticker with the factory employee’s face on each product’s packaging (if applicable) for each item they produce. Lush promotes that their facilities are well run and happy workplaces; however, employees have complained about poor working conditions and hard labor, such as lifting heavy objects repetitively with minimal injury prevention from the corporation. A Twitter thread cited by The Gryphon states that employees feel overworked, though this thread has since been made private and cannot be verified. What is on display here is the tradeoff between limiting automation and protecting employees, as the products remain sustainable, but at a cost.
I was unable to find first-hand accounts from agricultural employees with Lush, however, their website does outline how they attempt to source materials sustainably and give back to the ecosystems they harvest from. Something I really like about Lush is that they give investments to community members in sites such as Ghana, Peru, and Guatemala. I outlined their project in Guatemala in the previous section, and other initiatives can be found in the Lush Investments link below.
As a brand, I was pleasantly surprised scrolling through Lush’s website by how transparent they are about their brand, even about its shortcomings regarding sustainability. However, there have been complaints about this transparency ending when it comes to some harmful chemicals that they continue to use. While this does not detract entirely from their positive image, it is worth mentioning to remind consumers that even the most seemingly open brands may still be crafting their image to fit their brand. Additionally, the transparency also seemed to hit a wall when it came to employee treatment. Lush is genuinely making an effort towards sustainability, and it shows, but they need to continue to improve working conditions before they can be lauded as an entirely ethical brand.