When you think of Lush, you think of bath bombs and almost-edible soaps.
And when you think of Lush's flagship store in Oxford Street, you probably have visions of soapy chaos, with hundreds of shoppers clambering over piles of Avobath and shampoo bars.
But did you know that Lush also now does a whole host of treatments in-house? And that the downstairs of the Oxford St branch is actually a spa?
No, me neither. I went down there for a 30- minute vegan facial - the kind of pick-me-up treatment anyone could fit into their lunch hour.
Lush vegan facial
No stranger to having treatments, I was kind of concerned about having it done literally in the middle of the shop floor - where everyone could see me. Every salon on Treatwell promises to provide a tranquil, dimly-lit room complete with whale song. And nearly every facial I've had has required that I take off my top...which I draw the line at doing in the middle of a central London store - even if it is Lush.
But anyway, the spot where you have these kinds of treatments is a kind of little cage in the basement where it's surprisingly quiet and peaceful. It's bedecked with floral decorations and is surrounded by beautiful displays of products; honestly, it's hard to believe that you’re just a flight of stairs away from the Bath Bomb Wars above.
I had a quick consultation about my skin (I asked for dewy and fresh after a week of 6am gym sessions) and my therapist set to work after asking whether I was vegan (a first at a spa!).
No need to take off my polo neck (thank God!), she went around gathering together a selection of vegan products that would do the job.
Products used for the facial
We started with a block of Naked Cold Cream Cleaner called Like a Virgin - a vegan version of Lush's classic Ultrabland cleanser, which replaces beeswax with organic extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil and sunflower and candelilla waxes. That gently removed all that London smog from my skin while quenching, brightening and toning the skin (it also contains lemon essential oil).
Next up was a seaweed and calamine-based cleanser called Aqua Marina, which was amazingly cooling and calming - so great for the giant bags under my eyes and the odd little spot eruption.
A light facial oil bar (Light Touch) was then massaged all over my face. It's a solid bar that’s been developed to promote clear complexions, thanks to the fact that it has a witch hazel toner built into it. The blue spirulina which gives it its fresh colour is supposed to protect the skin from environmental damage - something we could all probably do with.
Then came a Don't Look At Me face mask - so called because it’s bright blue and is the kind of face mask that you'd put on at home when you don't expect any visitors. But there I was, being painted bright blue in the middle of Oxford Street.
You’re supposed to leave it on for 15 minutes and while I sat proofing, my therapist gave me an incredible hand massage - pressing my palms and twiddling in between my finger joints to help the rest of my body to relax. It was genuinely dreamy. In fact, I actually fell asleep around the time when the face mask was put on and woke up towards the end of the treatment worried that my mouth had been slightly open the whole time. I mean...that's how relaxing the whole experience was.
Finally a wonderfully light but nourishing moisturiser was slathered on (I *think* it was Celestial - whatever it was, it smelled heavenly), and time was up.
Was it worth it? Emphatically, yes
The big sign in the therapy space read: "Receive an expert consultation, sit back and immerse yourself before stepping out feeling renewed and refreshed."
So, did I?
Absolutely. My skin felt like it glowed and I felt so relaxed (nothing short of a miracle after nine hours in a busy national newspaper office!) that I could barely keep my eyes open on my home.
While I'm something of a Lush addict, I also swore that I'd track down the products used on my skin (which is something most therapists try to foist on you and which this one didn't even mention a hint of extra sales) because they felt and smelt so damn good.
Lush takes care to make sure vegans are catered to
Lush's skincare range is still pretty new and as such, I’m not that au fait with it. I still get my cosmetics from standard companies and my moisturisers from skincare brands. But I'm now going to start replacing my processed stuff with Lush options. After all, there's no need to check if they're cruelty-free. And most of the stuff is vegan anyway - with any vegetarian options labelled clearly.
As for spa experience, very few spas ask about veganism and that can lead to not only having non-vegan products slathered on your skin but also products that aren't even necessarily cruelty-free. Half the time, therapists don't know if the stuff they're using has been tested on animals - many of the 'top end' brands do.
There's no pressure to spend more money afterwards
I'd go to Lush every time, simply because I know that my ethics can be accommodated and the fact that you're not pushed to buy whatever products have been used afterwards.
In fact, my therapist offered to give me samples of everything we tried so that I could give some of the regime a go myself before committing to buying anything. How often does that happen?
So yes, I was incredibly impressed. Now all I need is someone to buy me a full body massage...
There are eight spa locations: Poole, Bath, Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Liverpool.
You can find out more about Lush’s spa treatments here
This review is not a paid-for advertorial.