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After much soul searching, denial, experimentation, overindulgence, withdrawal, and finally, acceptance, I have come to the decision to come out publicly and admit to myself and everyone, that I am a LUSH-aholic.
Like many fellow addicts, I have been through all of the stages. I have read their stories and reviews, chortling to myself that I would never be as bad as them. I may dabble from time to time, I told myself, but I was no slave to the black and white lettering, the pungent odours of Karma, the sweet Cherry Tree Lane emanating onto my high street did not tempt me uncontrollably. I had a taste for the stuff, yes, but I was in control.
I have a friend, let's call her Shakira. Shakira is a true addict, it is known in our circle but never admitted to. We try to laugh it off, but we all know that she is a raving LUSH addict whose lust for the store is unabated and frankly dangerous. She cannot walk past the shop without emptying her pockets to the LUSH gods, offering all that she has for the chance to bathe, shower, moisturise, buff, brush, soak and absorb every ounce of LUSH nectar they are willing to give her. She truly is powerless. But she smells divine! I used to look at her with a slight sense of smugness and pity "At least I will never be like THAT". Then one day I took an honest look in the mirror - the bathroom mirror - and reflected back at me were my bathroom shelves, which told a slightly different story than the face I present to the outside world. Karma. Sexy Peel. Angels on Bare Skin.Glitterbug. Bare Naked Lady. Sakura. Flying Fox. Sweet Japanese Girl, .… oh god where did this all come from? And why did I receive a Two-Timing Tart as a gift this year?! What do these things mean, anyone reading the titles in my bathroom could come away with an erotic novel half written!…I walk away from the bathroom, closing my eyes to the shame. I go to the fridge for a drink - oh look a pot of yoghurt - um wait no that is Brazened Honey face mask, crap, keep forgetting to use that. My dirty little secret is everywhere I look.
Not unlike the main character in the Shopaholic books, I seem to have an ability to acquire masses of stuff without realising it. It happens in increments, rather than binges, allowing me to fool myself that I am in control of my LUSH urges. I can vividly recall my first foray into LUSH. It used to be in a different location in my town, a much more exclusive, attractive locale than the cramped space it now inhabits on my high street. It was tucked away in a posh shopping centre full of shops I generally can't afford. It was very inviting, with large piles of colourful bath bombs attracting the eye like an old fashioned sweet shop. Everything was attractively displayed, with samples available for all of the lotions and potions to invite testing. Americans love free samples, I do not tell a lie, and this is where the seeds of addiction were planted.
I tried to look around undisturbed, but the LUSH worker bees do like to chat to you. Somehow they were not pushy though. I have worked in enough shops to know the various techniques these places employ, but the LUSH method was so clever even I felt curious and a strange desire to speak with these LUSH types. They seemed to have tried everything in the shop, and somehow I believed them as they caressed my ear with lists of natural ingredients that rolled off of their tongues like poetry: "Coconut, rosehips, honey, orange oil", they intoned like muses posessed of many secret truths.
These were not mere salespeople, I began to see, but messengers of some divine wholesome beauty Goddess called LUSH who had decided to bless this earth with her organic, animal friendly treats for special people, special people like ME! People who did not straighten their hair or fake tan, people who liked flowers in their hair and to roll around in the grass. They murmured to me of their coconut hair nectar for my beautiful curls. They did not tell me my curls were ugly and offer to heat fry them. They noted my pale skin and offered me gorgeous creams, because I was clearly someone who cared about my skin in a very natural and unique way. They understood me perfectly!
Yes, it was an obvious honey trap, I hear you say. Like any good drug, LUSH makes you feel special and different. Once you leave the confines of the shop the products themselves begin to transfix you. I have often been known to stagger out of the shower in a honey and jasmine-induced haze of delirium from their Flying Fox shower gel. In fact, I was eerily disturbed when reading the popular 12 step recovery plan to find the symptoms are all indeed glaringly obvious:
12 Steps for a LUSH addict ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. We admitted we were powerless over LUSH-that our lives had become unmanageable. (I cannot function without a hit of powerful fragrance in the shower now, no other brand will do)
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of LUSH as we understood HER
4. Made a searching and fearless LUSH inventory of ourselves. (still working on that)
5. Admitted to LUSH, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Cynthia Sylvia Stout, beer shampoo, peuw!)
6. Were entirely ready to have LUSH remove all these defects of character. (Imperialis for my combination skin)
7. Humbly asked LUSH to remove our shortcomings.(too numerous to mention)
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (in a shameful attempt at co-dependency I have been known to buy the husband numerous LUSH products of which he has no need or want)
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Buffy the Backside Slayer should be used with extreme care!)
10. Continued to take LUSH inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (the original lip balm is far superior to any other)
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with LUSH as we understood Her, praying only for knowledge of LUSH's will for us and the power to carry that out. (Our bible, er, The LUSH Times, is always full of great wisdom)
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to LUSH aholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Um o.k., so that actually reveals I have some work to do in my recovery. But I am learning. I love Karma, but am not a Happy Hippy. Some days I am a Flying Fox, others only Honey I Washed the Kids will do. American Cream is not for me, nor are many of their hair products which do contain Sodium Laurel Sulphate. Tea Tree water is great in the summer, in the winter I need a little Helping Hands. I have a strange need for Sonic Death Monkey which I will explain later. LUSH grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, etc etc. Amen.
As is patently obvious, LUSH is not something to be dabbled with lightly. Much like Scientology, it causes an inexplicable (to outsiders) allegiance, and no doubt the sexy fragrances have led to some impulsive unions as well that otherwise wouldn't be found in nature! It is more than just a shop, it is a powerful force that even the strongest of wills would find hard to resist. I do wonder if the government cracked down on their blatant attempts to hook people on the stuff, the freebies are much less plentiful these days. That said I came away with a free bar of soap on my last visit, which I admit did make me giddy.
LUSH's products are largely handmade. The ingredients are natural wherever possible, which is why most of their face masks have short shelf lives and require refrigeration. The friendly cartoon LUSH worker imprinted on your bottle of shampoo/showergel tells you for example that "Neal" or "Gemma" had a grand old time making this package just for you precisely 17 days ago. Generally they are environmentally friendly, making many of the products solid and packaging the soaps in paper after you purchase them. The value for money varies. The shampoo bars last forever, the bath bombs and melts at £2-£3 a pop are an indulgence (although they can be cut in half, especially the big ones). The shower gel is potent and so you end up using it sparingly, whereas many of the soaps are creamy and get used much more quickly than other brands. LUSH is completely ethical when it comes to animal testing, they do not buy from anyone who tests, which apparently is unique as many "animal friendly" companies actually buy from companies who have committed to stop by a certain date but actually do still test.
I won't say anymore. I feel guilty if I turn on anyone else to the LUSH habit. It's a hard habit to break. If anything please read this as a cautionary tale. You could end up like me. To the outside world, I am (was!) fairly normal, but the truth reveals a creature who cannot help but thrill at the introduction of new LUSH goodies, which are continuous as they know how to feed an addiction . A person who will climb into bathwater of such unnatural colours, which has strange bits floating in it (even poetry at times!), that it sometimes feels otherworldly, and perplexes the hubby as to what on earth you were doing in there! Who will pretty blindly try anything LUSH once, even if it seems a very weird idea indeed, like putting beer in one's hair. Who happily walks around smelling like a chocolate orange as if it is the most natural thing on earth (which in fact done the LUSH way it is ;-). I am deluded, yes, but I am happy! LUSH is currently aiming for world domination with 400 stores worldwide. Should you ever end up in Slovenia, you can rest assured LUSH will be there waiting for you. Resistance is futile.
I like Lush products but the shops are a bit too smelly for me, nice review though
l-m-n-o-p 22.07.2007 18:33
Ha ha, fantastic review, it's always nice to read something that's a little bit different! I do like walking past and breathing in, but now I'm too scared to enter in case those super-seductive salespeople tempt me into spending all my money!
titusbumus 18.06.2007 13:56
Hello my name it titusbumus and I'm a lush-aholic!! As the only lush-aholic in my village it's good to see that others like me are out there :-)