The Smell of Bullshit, part 29: call the wahmbulance, social media’s being mean

I laughed the other day when somebody showed me Mark Constantine commenting on facebook about how awful it is when people use their blogs to criticise Lush. I laughed even more when I read this. He just has no idea what a hypocrite he is, does he?

After school, he went to work as an apprentice hairdresser. His real passion was for theatrical make-up, but a common route to enter the profession is via hair, he explains. “I was never that interested in hair, but it means I understand hair and I understand skin, which is a very good basis for the businesses we started later.” … Mark’s career as a trichologist was going great guns. He and friend Liz Weir, now retail director at Lush, set up a clinic called Constantine and Weir, with Mark providing the hair and scalp treatments and consultations, and Weir running the beauty side of the business. But in his spare time, Mark began creating hair products from scratch, using the vast amount of knowledge he’d accumulated during his training and years in practice.

Since when has trainee hairdresser equalled trichologist? The Institute of Trichologists has no record of Mark Constantine. Why would anyone train as a trichologist if they had no interest in hair? What trichology training did he undertake? You’d expect the article to say, wouldn’t you? Was he, in fact, never a trichologist at all? Who knows? And even if he is a qualified, experienced, competent trichologist, what does that have to do with understanding skin? Fair enough, scalps are skin, but trichologists don’t deal with skin anywhere else, such as the face or the rest of the body. (Also – theatrical makeup? That explains the B and Lush makeup ranges).

Mo says

“The truth of the ethics of where we are today is it’s something we’ve always done by default – to use fresh ingredients, natural ingredients, we like not to have animal-tested things. Mark has been instrumental in addressing that for decades. When he and Anita began working together, he had the basis of it and she had the platform.”

Still not addressing how Lush is dealing with REACH, is she?

While The Body Shop got swallowed into the huge conglomerate, Lush has continued to grow and expand, all the time staying true to its staunch ethical approach to doing business. “Everyone lives in the real world and everyone makes their contribution accordingly,” explains Mark. “I’m not very keen on the term ‘ethical business’, but I do think we’re ethical buyers, I really think we get that right.”

Still not addressing the difference between certified Fairtrade and Lush’s own “fair trade,” are they? Still not addressing the fact that the “real world” includes employment law Lush have to follow, are they? And of course, it has to be said that maybe the reason Mark doesn’t like the term “ethical business” is because he doesn’t have one.

It has certainly become easier to put pressure on suppliers now Lush is a bigger business. “Most of the time it’s to do with dough, isn’t it? In the beginning, you can’t afford to do anything, and you have to take what you’re given, to a certain extent. Now I absolutely say, ‘I want the real thing, thank you,’” says Mark. “We had a huge problem with the adulteration of essential oils. I wrote everyone a letter saying if it says it on the invoice, it says it on the label, and I find out that doesn’t correlate with the contents, I will prosecute you.”

ORLY OWLDid you write and send those letters? Chinny reckon.








The biggest challenge for the business is getting its people processes right, says Mark. “I make this joke that if we are in The Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies to Work For, then god help the rest of them,” he laughs.

Yeah, hilarious. Hilarious that there is comment after comment from Lush employee after Lush employee spelling out exactly how badly your company treats people, on here and on several other sites. And really hilarious that there might be companies out there even worse than yours. I don’t know anyone else, apart from a few former Bullingdon Club members, who find the ill-treatment of ordinary working people so downright amusing.

“The problem is that if someone has to leave, they might hold a grudge for five or six years. They’ll go on social media and talk about the company. The challenge is trying to make the process as ethical as possible.”

Seriously, call the roflcopter to airlift me to loltown. Mark held a grudge against Anita for far longer than 6 years, and talked about it quite openly on the forum, gloating when TBS did badly, even though he’s a bazillionaire. But let’s look a bit more closely at this statement. What does he mean by “has to leave”? Does he mean sacked? Does he mean constructive dismissal as a result of being treated badly? Does he mean choosing to leave after realising just how bad things really are at Lush? “They’ll go on social media and talk about the company”? Only if they’ve got something to say Mark, only if they’ve got something to say. And which process is he talking about making ethical here? Zero hours contracts? Trying to avoid responsibilities under employment law? Putting staff into sexual harassment situations? Ignoring health and safety law? Trying to paint ex-employees as bitter and vengeful is as tasteful and classy as describing customers as fat nutters.

When the personnel team at Lush can’t figure it out, they consult the services of alternative consumer organisation Ethical Consumer (think a lefter-leaning Which?). “We’re trying to get them to do a survey of the staff to find out what they really think. We have the Best Companies accolade and that’s great but we want to work on a programme with the staff worldwide to give them something a little better.”

What personnel team? Lush doesn’t have an HR department. Why not encourage staff to join an appropriate union and let them get help and advice themselves? Why not use ACAS? If you want to know how to deal with a workforce, use organisations which specialise in workforce matters, for fuck’s sake.

However, Mark says the real breakthrough with the company’s international expansion came when Mark Wolverton wanted to open Lush in the US. The Constantines were reluctant. The secret to Lush’s success is that its products are made with natural ingredients; they have a 14-month shelf-life. If they were made in England and then shipped to the US, the time that shops would have to sell the product, and the time consumers have to use them, would significantly decrease. “He [Wolverton] said, ‘Teach us how to make it then’,” recalls Mark.

That’s how the first overseas factory came about. Not that it was entirely smooth sailing. “Mark’s partner back then, Andre, was a bit cavalier,” says Mo. “We had given them a series of instructions about the factory, one of which was no animals were allowed. As soon as I left, Andre rode his horse through the factory smoking a cigar.”

The company has since grown rapidly through partnering with global firms. Lush is sold in 50 countries, and has five factories outside of the UK including two in Canada, one in Japan and another in Australia.

No mention of the MD’s link to the tar sands companies there. No mention of the fact that the majority of the other countries don’t have their own factories and the “fresh” products are shipped in months in advance. No mention of the fact that Lush products are not all natural; in fact Lush used to talk quite a lot about their safe synthetics, and get quite pissed off when people question their use of SLS, saying “we say fresh handmade, not natural.”

Elite Business magazine? Lush are about as elite as they are ethical, and the most remarkable thing about that article is the stench of greenwash wafting from it.


19 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 29: call the wahmbulance, social media’s being mean

  1. hysterical. especially the “I’ll prosecute you”. No, you’ll sue them. You are not allowed to prosecute anyone, numbnuts.

  2. Indeed. Chin chin chinny reckon. *strokes chin*

    Suck it up, Constantine; if you don’t like people talking about their experiences on the social media (the ‘free speech’ Lush has always openly championed) then don’t treat people like shit. You cannot control peoples’ thoughts, actions, words or deeds; despite your own high opinion of yourself, you’re not a fucking deity.

    And happy ex-staff don’t bleat do they, unhappy ones do. Now what does 2 + 2 make?

    *continues stroking chin*

  3. “The problem is that if someone has to leave, they might hold a grudge for five or six years. They’ll go on social media and talk about the company. The challenge is trying to make the process as ethical as possible.”

    ‘has’ to leave? Resign? Redundancy? No. You mean sacked: forced out for no other reason than you have another favourite, some other sycophant to stroke your bruised ego. You have no redundancy procedure, no restructure policy, no performance management policy. You have a disciplinary procedure written in comic sans. Yes, comic sans. And it’s shit.
    Ex-employees that have been treated well and have been developed and progressed don’t hold grudges, Mark. Those who have been bullied and victimised do.

    You pay people off, give them a shitty compromise agreement (you may want to check, but those aren’t legally binding) and you get on pretending to be a hairdresser or whatever it is you do.

    I’ve never worked for you, I’m one of the ex-customers you called ‘fat and mental’

    Go and eat a pan of rice pudding.

  4. “There is hardly anything in the world that some peddler can’t make a lot worse and sell for extortionate prices and the people who are taken in by greenwash/powerful marketing techniques* are this man’s lawful prey”

    *saying that, who saw the putrefying fruit & veg on the latest piece of marketing trash? No company name in large bold type on the front, no company name on the binding. And no mention of product until page 35. Competitors will be rubbing their hands for a profitable Christmas!

  5. Lush nearly have an HR department. When they were setting it up someone from head office mis-heard and it was nearly called the ‘eight jars’ department – which shows the brain power that is at head office.

    Eventually it was called the ‘helping hands’ department, which was supposed to help staff to help themselves to resolve staffing issues. A bit like retail support was but with different people as they’d pissed retail support off so much they ended up being pushed out or re-located, which is Lush all over: get rid and start again with a different name and people will never notice! Fingers crossed!

    The helping hands department was the fluffy alternative to retail support and it started with flying colours, except that one of the members was such a dreadful gossip that confidential information about a member of staff to be disciplined was bandied around the company by her other half and inadvertently got back to the person under investigation. Professional to the last as always Lush!

    I don’t know how they keep going, or how they keep fucking it up and getting away with it.

  6. The managers meeting after Anita Roddick died I will never forget. Mark, ethical to the last, never saying a bad word to anyone, never speaking ill of the dead, had us enter the meeting room to music from the wizard of oz. The song? Ding dong the witch is dead!

    Says it all really.

  7. Just found thos and it’s very entertaining, sorry I’m so late to the party. I worked for Lush for 2 years. Fortunately it was only on Saturdays, as I had a day job, but I was horrified to find the manager was barely on minimum wage, and far far less than my main job…..
    Thankfully our manager was pretty good and had experience of retail management but I did feel for some of the younger staff.
    Luckily I worked there while the products were still ok but I’ve been disappointed since.
    I was pushed out (forced to resign) as I had holiday booked at the wrong time….not helped I suspect by rhe fact I am a union member in my main job, and itsprotection extends to any work I do…
    It’s a shame because it used to be good and the shop staff are generally great.
    One thing I did notice….I did visit the factory, made ballistics etc and I have to admit to being unconvinced about the immigration status of some of the staff…not that it’s an accusation.i was asked for copy of my passport when I was employed…I never did though!

  8. So, this still begs the question, is Mark Constantine a qualified Trichologist or not? He claims to be but if it is found that he is actually saying this when he is not, that’s deception. It’s a criminal offence.

    Let’s look at the meanings of deception:

    – communication (written or spoken) that persuades someone to accept something untrue
    – communication (written or spoken) intended to deceive
    – a partially true statement intended to deceive or mislead
    – a showy misrepresentation intended to conceal something unpleasant (very true)
    – making to seem more important than it really is (I’m not just a failed trainee hair dresser, I’m a trichologist)
    – a long and elaborate misrepresentation (he’s probably said it for so long he now believes it himself)
    – pretending with intention to deceive (it’s all a big game to him)
    – verbal misrepresentation intended to take advantage of you in some way (‘trust me, I’m a doctor of hair’)
    – a fraudulent or duplicitous representation
    – a statement that is not literally false but that cleverly avoids an unpleasant truth (I’m only a trainee hairdresser but trichologist sounds much better and really important so I’ll be one of those instead!)
    – a willful perversion of facts
    – the act of faking (or the product of faking)
    – the use of tricks to deceive someone (usually to extract money from them) – (charging extortionate amounts for hair products because they are made by an expert trichologist)
    – a deception for profit to yourself (yeah baby)
    – the act of deluding; deception by creating illusory ideas (just look at the deluded staff)
    – the act of giving a false appearance (he appears to be an honest person but it’s all crap)
    – pretending to be another person (Mark Constantine, trichologist!)
    – the act of taking in as by fooling or cheating or swindling someone (staff, customers, the world)

    “O what a tangled web we weave,When first we practise to deceive!” [Walter Scott Marmion]

    “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time” [ascribed to Abraham Lincoln] (unless you’re a Lush employee)

    “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain” [William Shakespeare Hamlet]

    “We are never so easily deceived as when we imagine we are deceiving others” [Duc de la Rochefoucauld Maxims]

    I rest my case m’lord.

    • Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a trichologist; it’s not a protected title. So it’s not dishonest. It’s very dishonest though to claim qualifications you don’t have. If someone claims to be a trichologist, check their qualifications – they might just be an egotistical ex trainee hairdresser with a superiority complex.

  9. the products speak for themselves if any of you actually gave them a shot you would see the brilliance right there.

    • “The products speak for themselves”.

      1) Ballistics and bubbles which give inflamed labia/inflamed urethral opening/acute cystitis/yeast infections.

      2) Exploding pots/bottles of fermenting Afterlife/Sympathy for the Skin/Blousey/Liquid Plantational.

      3) Shampoos that either dye your scalp purple (Daddyo); leave your hair scattered with coconut dandruff (Curly Wurly); leave a chalky residue that you can scrape off with your nails (all the others).

      4) Ballistics that dye your bath or your person (Bollywood/The Enchanter/Soot Ball).

      5) FUN that turned out to be not so fun for one little boy who was covered in the most aggressive looking urticaria. (Posted on this blog)

      6) Solid products that mould (Aqua Mirabilis is one of the worst). What really grates about that is they are often promoted as ‘needing no preservatives as they have no water in’. Yet, they need water ADDED to work, so they DO need some kind of preservative as they will get wet…

      7) “Perfumes” that cause terrible rashes…(Voice of Reason)

      8) …or just smell like shit. Well, locally sourced ‘fair trade’ shit. (Lord of Goathorn)

      (I put perfume in inverted commas for this reason: Guerlain make perfume; Estee Lauder make perfume; Lanvin make perfume. Lush make something bottled and labelled as perfume but it’s not in the same class, in my opinion. Perfume is an EXPERIENCE, not a load of smelly ingredients thrown into any old bottle [which often aren’t fit for purpose] with a pretentious story attached. It’s about the potential wearer, not the plonker who made it.

      9) Soap that smells like semen – cock-a-doodle-do! (Yep, Red Rooster. And it’s not the only one).

      10) Emotional Brilliance. Like scribbling on your face with Crayola but less artistic and without the subtlety that the waxy hues impart.

      Yes, the products certainly do speak for themselves!

  10. Karl from Lush has posted on the forum today saying “Hi

    Forgive me I can’t remember who said it but someone was saying that Mark Constantine was not a Trichologist so I wanted to clear that up.

    Mark very kindly dug out his certificate to confirm that he passed his final Institute of Trichologists Incorporated examinations on 27/6/77.

    If I was more technically savy I would post a photo of the certificate but as it stands you will have to visit me to see it!

    which appears to clear that up.

  11. 36 years ago? And he has done no further training to update him on ever changing ideas, techniques, products and methods? So… what can I do to pep up my blue rinse and mullet Mark? Should I use curling tongs? Or have a blow wave? Use some styling mousse and Sun In?

    Ahead of the times as always.

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