updated 9 Jan 2012, 18:47
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Pricey soaps, free smells: Lush
by The New Paper

This busy little secret shopper barely has time for candle-lit dinners, let alone"long, candlelit bubble baths".

But that's exactly what Lush wants us to do - indulge, indulge, indulge.

So when the bath-and-body product brand returned to Singapore last month (it was here but quietly left years ago), I thumbed my nose at the shop's second chance at retail success.


But when I stepped into the Lush store at Wisma Atria, it was like stepping into scent heaven - there was an intoxicating blend of vanilla, tropical fruits and some exotic smells I couldn't quite identify.

Lush is known for using fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to make its handcrafted soaps. Sounds pretty good, I must say.

And the product names are quirky.

"Cupcake" is a chocolate-mint mask for teenage skin, while "Ickle Baby Bot" is a chamomile bath bomb that promises to put your little one to sleep.

My favourite is a breast-firming cream whose name minces no words - "Lovely Jubblies" to "help your girls fight the forces of gravity".


Most products are sold by weight - 75g of face mask product scooped from a chilled bowl costs $21, while moisturisers go up to $85 for 15g.

Pretty steep, if you ask me, especially since the face masks have to be thrown out after four weeks.

One of Lush's "belief statements" is to profit while selling products of good value.

How the two fit together, I'm not so sure.

This secret shopper is sceptical of whether its products do what its cleverly-worded labels preach.

A chunk of solid hair conditioner I picked up in Europe last year did little to keep my locks shiny and smooth.

I also tried "Cosmetic Warrior", a herbal face mask. Improvements to my complexion were hardly noticeable.


It's a small place.

When I visited on a Tuesday night, the store was half-full, but I still felt slightly claustrophobic.

I can't imagine what it would be like on weekends.

Having a whiff of another person's odour while I'm sniffing a muddy body mask is not my idea of fun.


When I walked in, I was promptly greeted with a warm grin from one of the service staff members. She told me about the store's promotions, which offered discounted gift sets.

Things went downhill when I asked her if the shop sold concealers.

A concealer, for the uninitiated, acts as camouflage for skin blemishes and evens out skin tones.

I was quickly introduced to a tiny jar of "colour supplement", which provided little or no coverage for spots.

And when I told her I was looking for something to treat facial blemishes while covering them, she recommended a bottle of "enchanted eye cream".

I was stumped. How did we get from a concealer to a product which reduces lines around the eyes?

Maybe she didn't hear me properly over the pop tunes that were blasting away, but by then it had got a little awkward, so I let the matter rest.


Lush's tagline is "fresh handmade cosmetics".

Too bad the closest thing to cosmetics I could find was a lip scrub and a multi-purpose base colour (which is just a lousy excuse for foundation, by the way).

The store doesn't stock make-up essentials like lipstick, eyeshadow or blusher.

The few products which I have tried didn't exactly work wonders.

I must admit, though, that the idea of having someone hack off a hunk of soap from a larger block and wrap it with glossy paper is a mildly intriguing, even exciting, prospect.

I also spotted some pretty nifty gift sets.

So, would I pay for cute little tubs of Lush for my bathroom? Nope.

Would I buy some to pamper a girlfriend? Maybe.

One thing's for sure, though, if I pass by the store, I'll venture in for smells - they're free.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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