Bananas, avocados and lemons may sound like items on your grocery list, but they’re also healthful ingredients used in luxurious organic lotions, hair products and more. We talked with U.K.-based Helen Ambrosen, LUSH product creator and co-founder, about what makes natural ingredients and minimal packaging good for you, good for the economy and good for the environment. Now that’s a trio we can all get behind!
LN: Can you tell us about your work as a product creator?
HA: I’m an inventor. I created our bubble bath base, solid conditioner, solid hennas and shower jellies. I’m really lucky in my job—it’s very creative. We’re always inventing things; it’s particularly me creating chaos. It’s unusual for founders to remain involved in the creation of products, but we’re so interested in the experience that the customer has.
What I’ve looked to is minimal or no packaging, and minimal or no preservatives. I even had a list of what things are liquid that you could make into a solid so you wouldn’t need a bottle or container. For example, with the Therapy Massage Bar, we’re using cocoa butter, which is a solid anyway. You don’t need to have a bottle and you’ve also got a massage medium that is beautiful for the skin and more controllable. All the materials are organic, and we’re very proud of that. Get all of those factors together with a wonderful name and you start to create something.
LN: What is the link between food and cosmetics?
HA: We’re using very simple things: bananas, avocados, lemons, oranges, vanilla, cinnamon—you don’t have to go look in the rainforest for something exclusive that no one can get their hands on. You just need to use beautiful, simple things that are really good for the hair and skin. We crush it up, process it and put it directly into the product. By using fresh ingredients and getting it out to the customer quickly, it shows.
LN: What makes these food products so good for you?
HA: We’re putting the whole thing in the product: plenty of it but the right amount. You can definitely overdose on fresh ingredients. It’s about being an expert in how much to use. It is also about making fresh products: The ingredients are fresh and the product is fresh. And it is shipped to the customers as fast as we can get it, and we tell you when we made it, who made it, and you can look on the website and see how we made it.
LN: I love that you show on the products who made them!
HA: Many customers have their favorite compounders. They look on the shelf to find that particular person’s cream. It’s all made the same, but customers develop a loyalty to that particular compounder. The compounders themselves are very proud of the work that they do. They know that their product must be very beautiful because their face and their name are going to be on it.
LN: Can you tell us some plants that are beneficial when incorporated into cosmetics?
HA: We make a range of fresh cosmetics where we use fresh fruits. Also, I’ve had a lifelong love of seaweed. We use blueberries, avocados, limes, coconuts, all sorts of things like that. And lots of flowers: fresh roses, lilies, irises and herbs. I think oats must be one of our very favorite things. Oats are one of our best selling products worldwide; we use them in a product called Dream Cream. They are miraculous for the skin and the hair. They are very mild for the skin and they’re great for eczema and dry skin conditions. People don’t want a heavy lotion that is normally given to them; they want something light that helps the skin be more healthy and normal.
LN: Are there any other benefits to organic cosmetics?
HA: These products are good for the environment, and they help people growing the things that are organic. It helps support them in what they’re trying to do and enabling them to be in touch with the earth and the environment again. That’s what we’re supporting. We feel that organic is better for us because it’s not being produced using chemicals or fertilizers. If you’re buying organic you are buying into that, which is a very lovely thing to do. LN