Debby asks…I use skincare products from Lush. I love their moisturizer “Gorgeous” but it is rather expensive. Lush claims that this cream is expensive because the ingredients are really expensive. Other companies would sell it at a much higher price. Is this true?
The Right Brain Responds:
From a Marketing perspective, we agree that Lush is a terrific brand – their products have a cool and funky look and feel that you don’t see anywhere else. It’s hard NOT to love this stuff! However, from a scientific perspective, we don’t think that Lush is doing anything that technically special. Let’s look at the example of the moisturizer you gave us:
Olive Oil, Stearic Acid, Cold Pressed Evening Primrose Oil, Cold Pressed Avocado Oil, Glycerine, Coconut Oil, Fresh Lemon Juice, Cold Pressed Wheatgerm Oil, Triethanolamine , Fresh Pineapple Juice, Orange Flower Absolute, Neroli Oil, Myrrh Resinoid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Perfume, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
Based on the ingredients, this looks like a good, lightweight moisturizer. The Stearic Acid and Triethanolamine combine to form a soap that emulsifies the natural oils and allows them to form a stable mixture with the water.
Water and oil?
Speaking of water – where is it? Is this product better because it doesn’t have any water and it’s more concentrated? No, because you couldn’t make a product like this without water. So, Lush has made it with pineapple and lemon juice instead, so water doesn’t show up on the ingredient list. Does this make it a better product? Not really. Pineapple and lemon juice don’t have any specific skin benefits when used in this way.
What about the natural oils? Well, Olive Oil is a good moisturizer (not as good as Petrolatum or dimethicone, but it will work.) Same is true for the Coconut Oil. Primrose Oil does contain natural Essential Fatty Acids which are good for skin, but lots of other products use Primrose Oil too.
The other stuff in the formula, like glycerine and the parabens are pretty much standard ingredients you’d see in any skin moisturizer.
The cost of living lush
And what about the price? According to Lush, this stuff sells for $72.00 for 1.5 oz. Does the cost come from the ingredients? Based on what we know about the price ingredients, the cost of ingredients for 1.5 oz of a formula like this would be about $1.00. Ok, maybe it’s $2.00. But it couldn’t be much more than that. That doesn’t mean the company is being dishonest, or any thing like that. As with most cosmetic products the ingredients don’t usually cost that much. The majority of the cost of the product is in packaging, shipping, advertising, manufacturing overhead, etc etc. For what it’s worth, Lush’s ingredients are probably a bit more expensive than most other “regular” brands.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Lush does a nice job of formulating “natural” products but that doesn’t mean that these products work any better. If you really like the way the products feel on your skin and you can afford them, then they’re probably a good deal for you. But don’t spend more money on Lush just because you think the natural ingredients are superior.
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There are a wide expanse of reasons that Lush products are so expensive, starting with their ingredients, but it goes much beyond that! Lush goes above and beyond with their goal to appeal to both cosmetic buyers and their employees. Not only do they have facilities that don’t do animal testing, but they’re paying the people in those facilities at a much higher rate than minimum wage. These are the main reasons that their products are so expensive.
Why would they need to test olive and coconut oil on animals anyway? It’s age old ingredients
Well, you have to ensure that products are safe. Saying that something is “age old” doesn’t mean it is toxicologically safe in a court of law.
Why do you say petrolatum is a good moisturiser? Like other mineral oils it sits on top of the skin like a coating and doesn’t sink in. That’s why baby oil is used for massage, as it doesn’t sink in to keep hands gliding, but aromatherapy massage uses natural oils which sink into the skin
Petrolatum causes the skin to naturally moisturize through a process called Occlusion. It remains on the surface and allows sub-surface moisture to accumulate in the skin. This is why it is such a beneficial moisturizing ingredient.