Lush’s Naked Collection is the first entirely plastic-free skincare range – here, beauty writer Louise Whitbread switches her current, plastic-heavy routine to see what happened.
Lush have long been an industry leader in sustainable, eco-friendly products. It’s a brand that creates cosmetics that are not only fun and beneficial to skin, but that also give back to both the the planet and the ingredient-harvesting communities around the world.
Lush new naked collection is its latest step in eradicating single use plastics from skincare. Within the range you’ll find solid facial oils, cleansing balms, deodorants, pore-cleansing steamer pods, under-eye masks and reusable cleansing wipes. And as Daniel Campbell, one of Lush’s product inventors explains, the reason behind the collection is to give people what they need, but not necessarily in the form they expect.
Following a consultation with the Lush team, my packaging-free regime turned up in the post, safely nestled in eco-flo chips (a biodegradable alternative to polystyrene that has a potato starch base), separated by recycled cardboard dividers to stop any colour blending. Over the next four weeks I’ve been instructed to use Tea Totaler Cleansing Balm, £4.95, Gritty Politti Cleansing Balm, £4.95, 7 To 3 Cleansing Wipe, £2, and Amazon Primer Facial Oil, £9.95 – and true to Lush’s ethos, they’re all vegan and cruelty-free.
I was initially sceptical upon unwrapping my new routine. First up is the Gritty Politti Cleansing Balm, a small sphere – about the size of a £2 coin – made from a blend of coconut oil, kokum butter, rosewood and sandalwood oil. As instructed, I rub it between my palms and slather onto my face at the end of the day, massaging it in thoroughly before using a warm flannel to remove makeup (of which I wear a lot – I don’t do natural so primer, foundation, concealer and setting powder are daily essentials). It easily melted into a soft and creamy balm and a little went a long way. Infused with ground coconut shells, it gently exfoliates without irritating the spots on my chin or leaving any redness.
Next I use Tea Totaler Cleansing Balm. Applied in the same way, I found it less effective than its Gritty Politti counterpart. Enriched with tea tree, sage and rosemary, it’s designed to work with the skin’s natural oil production, acting as an astringent. It didn’t emulsify as well and I struggled to remove the rest of my makeup because it didn’t melt down quite as easily, unless I ran it under a warm tap.
Taking the place of my usual hyaluronic acid serums and humectant-rich moisturisers, is Amazon Primer Facial Oil. A solid, avocado-green oval bar infused with arrowroot powder to keep skin matte and moisturising murumuru butter, sweetly fragranced with tonka, this quickly became the best performing product in my skincare arsenal. To apply I rub it between my hands and massage it into my skin. It instantly diminished redness on my cheeks, reduced shine in my T-zone and left my skin matte, soft and comfortable.
As I’m slathering on my facial oil I wonder why more brands haven’t caught up with this no packaging thing. Storage isn’t an issue either, you can choose from cork pots, square, oval or round tins, pick’n’mix egg carton boxes made from recycled coffee cups and paper bags. You can even have products wrapped in vintage scarves as an alternative to paper.
I choose a small aluminum tin as my storage weapon of choice and it comes with me to the gym without any fear of spillage, plus it’s a huge space-saver. Using the oil each morning has stopped my make-up moving, plus I no longer have that dreaded 11am and 3pm shine on my T-zone. My routine is seriously pared back, but to my surprise I’m not really missing my usual salicylic acids, luxurious oil cleansers in frosted glass bottles or weighty tubs of moisturiser.
Initially, I was concerned about how to stop bacteria transferring through the products because there’s no packaging to protect them. Campbell explains how Lush has created products that ‘self-preserve’, therefore meaning they don’t have to add extra ingredients to do that job. “Restricting water is the key, so we make our formulas preserve themselves by putting less water in them and encouraging customers to add their own at home,” he says.
At the UK’s first Lush naked store opening in Manchester, I meet Gary Shears, another product inventor and the mastermind behind the 7 To 3 Reusable Cleansing Wipe. More hygienic than it sounds, the palm-sized pads look and feel like a mini tortilla wrap, but once wet, turn into a gentle, creamy blend of carrageenan and finely ground cannellini bean base.
Shears explains that by sweeping the wet pad over skin activates the chosen cleanser, which can then be massaged in with hands and removed with a warm flannel. The wipes can be reused up to five times, too – they just need cleansing under running water and left to dry. Once I discover they’re able to remove stubborb mascara and red lipstick easily, they become a game-changer in my routine and soon take pride of place on my bathroom shelf. For £2 each, I’m already planning to pick up a more next time I’m in store.
As I came to the end of my packaging-free trial, my skin has never felt so calm. I no longer had any redness, my spots had cleared up and my make-up stays put all day and evening. The storage tin was durable, lightweight and travel-friendly meaning it quickly found a home in my gym bag and the bathroom shelf.
What I enjoyed the most was be able to scale my skincare back to basics without having to compromise on effectiveness or the fun of trying something new. And in true Marie Kondo style, being able to fit my routine into a small tin did indeed spark joy and I know I’ll definitely continue using the products.
Lush isn’t just doing packaging-free skincare either – there’s already 40 shades of Naked Foundation, lipstick and highlighters all available online – with plans to release more each month.
The Lush Naked Store is located in 10 Market Street, Manchester and the full naked collection is available here.
Main image: courtesy of Lush