The Smell of Bullshit, part 18: more comments – thrush, and products going off

A couple of comments have been added to blog posts in the past two days which I feel are worthy of being given a post of their own, to maximise their audience.

The first comment I want to draw your attention to was on this post about Lush and thrush. The comment says

A little google around the subject shows that a fair few people are asking the same question about Lush, thrush, and lower urinary tract cystitis (i.e. inflamed urethral opening. Which is a feeling akin to pissing razor blades). Here are some of the things I found:

(You may have to use the ctrl + F feature to find ‘thrush’ in these posts, but trust me it’s there). This was just a handful of things I found. And of course, I know from bitter experience of how bad some Lush products can be for thrush and lower urinary tract cystitis. I have never had thrush in my life until having a Think Pink bath, and ended up doing some kind of itchy dance until I saw my doctor, who quite sensibly pointed out that anyone bathing in hot sugary solution would possibly get thrush (there are candy flowers atop of Think Pink). I avoided that one for ever more. Then there was the year that “So White” came out. Not sure why it is called that, because it left my urethra, vagina and labia flaming red – I was sitting on a cold flannel for quite some time after that. I was on fire. Several of us voiced our concern at this on the customer forum; Lush’s response? Make the bastard bigger! Last year they brought out the previously diminutive (90gm) So White in a great big 200gm version, now with added dye.

Let’s have a think about the dyes Lush use, as well as the strong perfumes, and the foaming agents, and also the sugar. Doesn’t sound like a great cocktail with which to submerge your mucous membranes and erectile tissues into, does it? I mean, would you want to drink that shit? I wouldn’t! Yet we have possibly all bathed in it at some point. Is it our fault for doing so? Well, no one held us under arrest until we did but then do you expect products marketed and sold as safe for use in the bath to give you acute thrush and cystitis? No, you do not. In fact, I have undertaken a little research with some of Lush’s ingredients, and this is what I found:

Colour 17200 also known as FD&C Red 33. Research tells me this is an “azo dye”. I remember a cartoon featuring Mark Constantine’s voice telling you how bad azo dyes are for you. In fact, it’s this one here. Seriously, your jaw will drop. My research tells me it should not be going anywhere near mucous membranes.

(Does anyone else think the pig in the video looks like it is wearing Emotional Brilliance cosmetics?). And yes, regarding testing ingredients on animals, tell me how you are tackling that one now please Lush? Seeing as REACH is now law – are you side stepping it or do we have ingredients that have been freshly tested on animals? I would genuinely love to know, please tell us how that one is going.

Then we come to Colour 42090 – that is also known as FD&C brilliant blue. Wikipedia will tell you this comes from the petrochemical industry. (Ethical, yeah!). A report from the FDA will tell you this:

Doesn’t sound too good, does it?

Now we come to Colour 14700, also known as FD&C Red number 3. ALSO AN AZO DYE. And also, although permitted for topical cosmetic application (and also in maraschino cherries as a colourant), would you want it on your skin, milling around your urethra, coating you vagina or going up your foreskin? I know I wouldn’t! (To add, I only have a vagina, I am not hermaphrodite, but I don’t want to exclude male readers).

Lastly we have colour 45410. Also known as FD&C Red 27. Another azo dye! This one is a purpley-red one. Again, the type that Mark Constantine slams as being incredibly toxic in the video I linked earlier. Again, regarding long term safety of this azo dye, have a look here:

It’s permitted for cosmetic use but not near eyes. If something isn’t wanted near my eyes, I wouldn’t want it near my vagina either, I’m telling you that.

Now all these dyes are permitted for cosmetic use, I am not saying otherwise. But considering said linked video openly says how bad azo dyes are, why the hell are Lush using them? Another form of inconsistency? All those dyes I have mentioned are in their best selling ballistic, Sex Bomb. The ingredients are listed clearly on their website, and you can then do your own research and see what you find. They are quite open about the ingredients they use, but tell me, would you want any of those going near eyes, mouth, genitalia, little cuts and grazes, children’s sensitive skin, anyone’s sensitive skin, hell, any skin, sensitive or not!! I know I wouldn’t. And yet I did, for years, believing Lush to be ‘better’ (because that’s what they always tell us, they are better, you know). They have always applauded their usage of ‘safe synthetics’. Well, they’re not better or safe for my vagina or urethra, that’s for sure.

I encourage other people who have had myriad skin, scalp, eye or genital irritation post Lush bathing to have a look at the products you used most and then have a link up to the ingredients and join the dots. It’s fucking scary, I can tell you.

And another comment from the same person on a similar topic

Oh, also, from page 38 of the last Lush Times (from January 2013 – leaving such a gap in a major marketing tool sounds a bit… ‘creative’) you will see this:

Page 38, titled “Our hair dyes are safe and 100% natural. Les Cacas, no s**t hair colour”.
During the Victorian era, a lot of modern chemical compounds were developed; one of the things they had a lot of was coal tar. It was a by product from street lamps, so it was free. If you were a research chemist you could get a lot of it. People developed all sorts of chemicals from coal tar – including azo dyes. Soon enough you could dye curtains and carpets and bedding and clothes; and it wasn’t very long before some bright spark took carpet dyes and started to dye peoples’ hair with it. The problem with that is that it was very very allergenic, so many people had dreadful reactions to it. Their tongues would swell, they would asphyxiate and die, or they would just get dreadful allergic reactions and itch and be in a bad state for several days. But that didn’t stop people from doing it because they did like to have their hair coloured. We believe in using a dye for your hair that has thousands and thousands of years of safe use – that’s why our all-natural hair dyes are made from red henna and indigo herb. Not only will you get great colour, you’re putting a 100%natural, unpreserved, unpackaged product on your hair and scalp – that won’t show up in your wee the next day

True, Lush Henna has no azo dyes. Now tell us about the azo dyes you openly use in bath products. Double standards, much? You cannot say you don’t use azo dyes in hair dye and use it as a marketable point when you still use them in bath products – it’s scandalous. It’s amusing Lush call their hair colours ‘caca’ from this point of view, because whilst they are 100% natural and also very effective, their marketing around non-usage of azo dye appears to be a great big pile of steaming shit.

And then there’s this, from someone who must be a Lush employee

This is a copy of what is being discussed on Lush’s staff facebook at the moment. It just shows how ‘well informed’ the staff are when faced with issues such as Thrush…


Now that I have your attention… We’ve had a lady in today who has had a reaction, potentially (not confirmed) with our bath bombs. She bought a load of stuff about a week ago, and has since had a minor skin reaction, but has also developed thrush. She has been to her doctor, and the doctor in fact said to her that he gets a lot of people in who have shopped with us in for the same problem…

While it isn’t great that the Doctor bad mouthed us to this customer, I was just curious if this is a common complaint, or is there something else at work here? As a biologist I am certain that bathroom moulds and chemical cleaning products used in baths are far more likely to cause something like thrush, or am I mistaken?”

Here are some of the replies:

“I know lots of anecdotes (friends, relatives etc) about our ballistics and bubbles giving people thrush, but no hard data and as we all know the plural of anecdote is not evidence!”

“I know a few people who got thrush from cinders, which poses the question, I know thrust is an yeast infection could popping candy be a irritant to it? (did your customer have the reaction to Dragons Egg, Twilight, Space Girl, Fizzbanger?)”

“Honey can be a natural treatment so any honey products should be nice and safe! I’d just say to stay away from the more citrus ones etc when they’re sensitive”

“Wouldn’t honey be a little bit more of an irritant to thrush too? Because it’s a yeast infection? Even though i know its antibacterial.”

“Technically nothing we sell can give you thrush… unless of course we’ve started using candida as an ingredient and I’ve missed the memo.”

“I actually get thrush from pop in bath and the once was geo phyzz,,, very badly aswell within 24 hours after,,, however no other ballistic or bubblebath causes it,,, ive concluded us ladies just sometimes have hyper sensitivity to certain oils used,,,, x”

“I think it may be due to the bicarb in the bath bomb being an alkaline which causes a pH imbalance and when you remove the acidity it creates good conditions for thrush to grow- any alkaline or bath product can cause it, certainly not just lush  – maybe more citrusy acidic bath bombs would be better as these create conditions that thrush hate”

“I think a lot of bad reactions are due to people not rinsing with clean water after their bath. Also i think a lot of women have their baths way too hot which will affect lady bits too! xx”

“I’ve heard of plenty of women getting thrush by using Lush products in the bath. The doctor wasn’t bad mouthing lush, he was stating a fact.
It is massively advised against to use anything perfumed on your vag. It has a delicate pH balance and doesn’t like anything much other than water.
I don’t think I ever got full on thrush but I’ve found recently that whenever I bath with Lush, I feel a bit sore for a while. And I ALWAYS shower to make sure I’m totally clean after a bath so it’s not a lack of rinsing. I just tend to put less stuff in now because i did pile in the bath goodies for a while.”

Staff have no idea. Head office will never commit and give a definitive answer. so everyone speculates about stuff and suddenly it’s fact.

I don’t know where to start with this. Firstly, a GP advising a patient that lots of people have reported problems they think are related to Lush products is described as “badmouthing” the company. There’s no concern for the customer in that, is there? There’s no respect for the fact the GP might actually know what he or she is talking about. There’s just resentment that the company is being (probably justifiably) criticised.
“Nothing we sell can give you thrush” – well, that’s just not true. Thrush is a fungal infection which is often caused when the body’s internal bacteria become unbalanced. It’s not hard for vaginal bacteria to become deranged by medication, heat, sweat, and irritant products. It’s entirely possible that some Lush customers might have genitals which are sensitive to some of the ingredients in some of the products. And then the suggestion that customers bring it on themselves by not rinsing with clean water after a bath (a bath with the products which earlier couldn’t give you thrush, that is)! Where in any Lush information has it ever said “we advise you to shower in clean water after a bath with our products because our products can give you thrush.”
It’s clear that many women find Lush bath products give them thrush. And it seems pretty clear that Lush know that but either don’t want to accept responsibility or don’t know what to do about it.
Oh, and one more comment about the ingredients

To add to the information given in the above link which is very informative, check out the toxicology studies, in particular point 6.1 that describes the effects of it being on tested on animals such as rats, mice, rabbits and beagle dogs!

Dangerous colours that are tested on animals are being put into lush’s benign ethical and animal friendly products.

I would be interested to find out how Lush only get hold of these chemicals from companies that ‘do not commission testing on animals’.

And to the post about how fresh Lush’s products are, this comment was added.

One product that has a shelf life of 14 months but which goes off after just a couple of months in summer is Sympathy For The Skin. It is a body lotion that contains vanilla, banana and sandalwood..

There are issues being raised on the staff facebook page right now:

“Question about Sympathy For the Skin; How do I go about making it last longer than a month or two? It keeps going off; smelling like paint stripper, going extremely runny.

My house doesn’t get very warm, however it can get high humidity at times. I’m thinking of buying a new pot and popping in the fridge/freezer.

I know many people have this problem but I wonder if anyone has any tried and tested methods of keeping SFTS fresh!”

Here are some of the replies, but please note that not one staff member even questions the subject of removing it from the shelves, withdrawing it from sale so that tests can be made on it to ensure that it is safe to use and warrants its 14 month shelf life. That would mean no sales of it would be made which would detract from making a profit, even tho the brand is being damaged by selling inferior products.

“my sympathy lasted a month this time! it looks like a lake in there haha”

” Mine lasted about 3 months and had black blobs in it eww shame coz I do love it x”

” sympathy goes off all the time! We have to change the tester all the time as it goes of and smells like sick xx”

“SFTS always goes funny in the summer. It has been happening for a number of years. We do so many refunds and recharges for it in the summer. I’m sure it must have been mentioned to customer services many times so maybe there isn’t anything they can do. The black blobs are just vanilla seeds but totally agree that the smell of sick is very offputting and when it turns to foamy liquid it is not pleasant. Bit embarrasing when you demo it to customers too. ”

” the black blobs in mine were as big as my thumb nail And I do love vanilla seeds so it can’t have been those. It smells a bit like emulsion sometimes too, such a shame as my skin loves it”

“We keep our Sympathy in the fridge and that seems to work fine ”

” I think clean clean hands must be used to stop contamination of bacteria passing through the product!”

So where on Sympathy for the Skin does it say to keep it in the fridge or to only use it with clean hands?

Finally there is a reply from someone who works at Lush as a product inventor :- “Sympathy is a very fragile emulsion. Therefore if it isn’t well looked after the emulsion will break. Don’t expose it to extreme temperatures, keep the lid on when you’re not using it. Don’t forget its got fresh banana in to, so the black bits are also likely to be banana seeds. The banana are filtered prior to adding to the product to remove any seeds and fibre. But because manufacturing can be making up to a tonne at a time sometimes a few seeds will get through. But as with all our products, treat them gently and used them as fresh as possible.”

So shouldn’t the labelling say not to expose it to extreme temperature?

They must need a very big bowl to hand make a tonne of it!

In my shop we have now had 6 batches in a row that get sent on delivery that explode in our stock room and on the shop floor leaking their sick smelling foamy contents all over the place and still they won’t withdraw it from sale. I asked customer services what we could say to the customers who bring back pots that have exploded and they just say to tell them there was a formulation problem.

Thanks, that really helps. Maybe the products are going as rotten as the top knobs who invented them.


The more comments I read, the more convinced I am that I made the right decision when I decided to stop buying Lush.


8 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 18: more comments – thrush, and products going off

  1. As someone who has studied botany, I can tell you that banana seeds are pretty big – about the size of a marble. And the bananas we buy to eat (and presumably Lush use in product manufacture) are sterile and have no seeds in them. So someone is gibbering a lot of pish. Surprise surprise!

    • He is gibbering a lot of pish because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Lush are so fond of the quick come back and every staff member will accept what they are told without question because it’s a Lush God, or a Mafia member, or a founder that gives them some information, even if it’s utter bollocks!
      This particular self named ‘product inventor’ started as a trainee manager, worked for B then moved down to Poole to help with recruitment. When the pathetic ‘Helping Hands’ department was started he didn’t have a purpose so he went into product inventing, having had no previous experience and having no formal training. He’s in with the Constantines so therefore his face fits – at the moment. But once all the products he invents (lots of the most complained about ones) stop selling because they are crap and once he’s found out to be no more knowledgeable at making stuff than the rest of them he’ll soon be given the ‘we don’t think you’re happy here’ talk and will be out on his ear.

  2. It appears there are other azo dyes in Lush products too, more about that below.

    With regard to above posts, which I wrote, there is a typo. FD&C red 33 (Colour 17200) is an azo dye, and colour 14700 is actually FD&C red 4, which is also an azo dye (it is not FD&C red 3 which I stated above). Here is the source for FD&C red 33 and red 4 being azo dies:

    Colour 17200 (red 33) –
    Colour 14700 (red 4) –

    Worryingly, red 33 seems to be used in many of Lush’s pink products, which always seem popular.

    There seems to be confusion about red 27 – some sites say it is, some say it is an azo dye, and some say it isn’t but for clarity I wanted to state that. The brilliant blue, as stated above, is not an azo dye but appears to be a derivative of the petrochemical industry. It appears that many of the synthetic and non-azo dyes used are from coal tar or bitumen sources and due to potential carcinogen toxicity may have to be animal tested (certainly will under REACH). It all makes for interesting extra research.

    Now that’s cleared up (as I can’t edit the original post) here is some more about some of the colours Lush uses.

    – Colour 19140 (tartrazine) – azo dye.

    – Colour 42043 (fast green fcf) – not an azo dye, but causes irritation.

    – Colour 61570 (D&C green 5) – not an azo dye but from petrochemical industry, may be animal derived.

    – Colour 15985 (Sunset yellow FCF) azo dye.

    – Colour 12085 (FD&C red 36). This is a monoazo dye. Not sure if that’s the same as an azo dye but there you go.

    – Colour 173360 (FD&C red 30). Not an azo dye, but from petrochemical industry.

    So a nice mixture there. And that’s without going through the rainbow of “Emotional Brilliance”…
    Just thought I would add that to clarify…

  3. I don’t have a shower. So should Lush staff really be trying to sell me bath products when I tell them I have no shower? After all, I can’t rinse off afterwards… I guess that’s why it’s my own damn fault I have been getting thrush all this time.

  4. The staff can’t suggest discontinuing a product. They can ask questions but every complaint has to be sandwiched between simpering adoration for the company and prodcut. Staff seem to be discontinued quite easily, and as unsatisfactory as the job is, in this climate, a job is a job.

  5. I’ve struggled with thrush my whole life, and I’ve used a lot of lush products, I have never got thrush from them but I have from sensitive ranges from other company’s! After asking a gynaecologist, she said she loves lush and told me that any scented product what so ever could give you thrush, as well as hot water with nothing in it, and wearing tights, or underwear which isn’t cotton and leaving cleaning products on your bath tub, and antibiotics and many many things!!! Plus as a sales assistant, they aren’t doctors!!! And every single person is different as well!

  6. Oh good God, this post has reminded me of how a Lush product knocked me flat for nearly 2 weeks.

    It was around the time that the B Never stores were opening. I was a tester at the time, and received a few B Never products to test, including a solid bubble bath in the shape of an apple. I think it was part of the ‘Love’ fragrance range. It was very highly scented, and although I wasn’t prone to thrush or cystitis, I decided to hedge my bets and only use half of it as it seemed so strong.

    I *cough* DID THE SEX with my partner after the bath. Nothing to vigorous (sorry, TMI). A couple of minutes in, I got the most appalling stabbing pains where one does not wish to have stabbing pains. I asked my partner to stop and waited for them to subside, but they didn’t. They got worse, and worse, and worse until I was lying on the floor screaming in agony as my abdomen contracted again and again. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t do anything, and nothing helped with the pain. I was driven to hospital, literally screaming all the way. I was diagnosed with a suspected urinary tract infection, but kept in overnight and given strong pain relief because I was passing out with pain by this point. Never before or since have I passed out with pain, and I have since been through labour, which was agonizing, but nothing compared to this. The doctors who saw me that day and the following couple of weeks were convinced that I had severe urinary tract irritation and inflammation due to whatever was in the bath, and that the combination of this and sex straight afterwards had bruised me inside and somehow led to infection or exacerbated a very mild infection that may have been lurking (possible, although I have absolutely no symptoms at all prior to the bath). I was discharged from hospital the next day but had to take a fortnight off work because – and this is no exaggeration – I couldn’t walk – couldn’t even stand up to get to the bathroom without somebody to lean on or I fainted. Urination was not so much pissing daggers as a whole world of abdominal pain. For 4 days, I woke myself up up screaming with pain in my sleep (after having to be given strong, sedative painkillers to get to sleep in the first place).

    Obviously, I was quite concerned about this, especially as so many doctors had told me that it was likely to have been caused, at least in part, by the bubble bath, so I emailed Lush urgently, described the reaction and said that perhaps the product needed reformulating. Their reply told me that I was being hysterical and alarmist, and that it was completely impossible that their bubble bath could have had anything to do with me being so ill. They did not look into the product any further. Months later, stories were emerging of other women who’d suffered from cystitis immediately after using it too. They continued to sell it until the B Never business closed years later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s