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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Lush Colours

New make-up line by British brand Lush promises to be as natural and eco-friendly as its skincare products.
The Straits Times - August 17, 2012
By: Gladys Chung
| More
Lush Colours Lush co-founder Rowena Bird says the brand stands out from the competition with its inventiveness. -- PHOTOS: LUSH

Known for its handmade and eco-friendly bath and skincare products, British beauty brand Lush has rolled out its first make-up line.

Called Emotional Brilliance, the make-up range comprises 13 pigmented and glossy liquid lipsticks, 11 bright eyeliners and six cream eyeshadows ($30 each).

Customers choose their favourite shades from a spinning wooden wheel covered with 30 colourful plastic circles.

Each colour, named after an emotion or attitude - like "Strong", a bright scarlet; "Calm", a cool blue; and "Happiness", a golden bronze - promises to positively influence the wearer.

To complement the colours, there are also two skin tints, mascara and face powder that cost $25 each.

Like all Lush products, the make-up contains natural ingredients - such as jojoba oil, oat milk and cocoa butter - so they are kinder to the skin.

They contain no more than two kinds of preservatives - methylparaben and propylparaben.

Do not expect fancy packaging though, as the products are stored in simple glass jars or bottles.

Launched last month, Lush's make-up line is available at its only store here at B1-13 Wisma Atria, which opened in December last year.

In an e-mail reply, Mr Andrew Gerrie, the brand's chief executive, says the make-up line is an extension of Lush's non-conformist philosophy: "We've created a different way of looking at make-up that's not based on fast fashion or packaging."

STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD

Lush has always done things its own way.

Unlike the shiny and sleek counters of most beauty brands, Lush stores resemble a farmer's market, where chunks and slices of soaps, solid shampoo bars and bath bombs are stacked up without any packaging, in order to reduce waste.

The concept was inspired by the fresh produce which are key ingredients in Lush products. It has also given rise to some witty presentation ideas.

For example, its best-selling facemasks resemble cheese dips.

Containing anything from fresh asparagus to seaweed, the preservative-free masks must be refrigerated and used within 30days.

All Lush products are handpacked too, with a label that tells you the name of the packer and the date of production.

One of the eco-friendly brand's innovative products is its Toothy Tabs, which is solid toothpaste in the form of pills made from essential oils and herbs. This helps reduce waste created by discarded tubes.

The brand pioneered the formulation of solid products as they require no preservatives or packaging. "Because there's no water content, bacteria does not grow," explains MsRowena Bird, one of the brand's co-founders, who was in town to launch Emotional Brilliance.

Today, 69 per cent of Lush products are preservative-free, and 67 per cent are sold without packaging. Other items, like the make-up, need preservatives and packaging because they are in a viscous form, and require a longer shelf-life.

Lush is also known for its strong stand on social causes; it turns its stores into campaigning grounds, sometimes courting controversy in the process.

In April, it made headlines when it turned the window at its London Regent Street store into a "live" testing lab to protest against animal testing in cosmetic labs.

For 10 hours, a female performance artist in a skin-coloured bodysuit was force-fed, injected and shaved, while restrained, in front of stunned onlookers, who were then asked to sign a petition.

While some applauded Lush's effort, others criticised it for portraying sexual violence.

"The main thing that distinguishes us from other brands would be our inventiveness," says Ms Bird.

"We invent all our own products. We are pioneering in our ethical buying methods, we are inventive in our marketing. Invention runs through our whole business".

PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES

Perhaps Lush is successful because it is the result of quite a few reinventions.

It was founded in 1995 by six individuals, including the duo Liz Weir and Mark Constantine. The pair supplied soap and bath products to The Body Shop under the company Constantine & Weir for more than a decade.

The other four co-founders are MsBird, MsMargaret Constantine, MrPaul Greaves, and MsHelen Ambrosen.

The six had previously worked together on a beauty mail order business called Cosmetics To Go (CTG), which was started in 1987 but went bust in 1994.

"After CTG, we were not excited by other jobs and decided to get back together and come up with a new business idea," says Ms Bird.

The first few products sold at Lush were soaps, shampoo bars and massage masks that were already formulated at CTG.

Today, there are more than 800 Lush stores in 50countries, including Croatia, Japan and Norway. Last year, Lush's turnover increased by 10 per cent and reached £272 million (S$529 million).

By the end of this year, there will also be Lush stores in South Africa, Poland and Brazil.

However, the brand has no plans to be in China any time soon.

Says Mr Gerrie: "We would love to take Lush there. However, our strong anti-animal testing beliefs make this impossible at present due to the conflict with Chinese regulations."

Lush first came to Singapore in 1998, but it pulled out of the local market in 2001 due to an alleged conflict with its local partners.

The brand has new partners this time around: Singaporean Nafees Khundker; his wife, American Sohana Chowdhury; and cousin, Bangladeshi May Mahboob.

The trio approached Lush about two years ago to relaunch the brand here.

Mr Khundker declines to reveal figures, but says business is good enough for him to work on opening another two stores here by the end of next year, as well as an online shop that offers regional delivery by next month at Lushsg.com.

In a crowded market where most women tend to go for whitening and anti-ageing products, Ms Bird says Lush is a fresh alternative.

"We don't offer whitening formulas because we don't believe they are good for the skin," she says.

"And we recommend growing old gracefully. Our approach to skincare has always been to help people make the best of whatever skin they have, with fresh and natural products."

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