The Smell of Bullshit, part 44: alternatives

Since I stopped using Lush, I’ve been looking for alternatives, and I’m gradually working my way through a variety of different products. And it’s been fascinating to see that, contrary to what Lush would like us to think, there are lots of manufacturers and retailers out there offering products made with natural ingredients, no animal ingredients, no animal testing (other than where required by law), minimal preservatives, safe synthetics, etc etc etc – all the things we used to love Lush for. But Lush’s type of product isn’t unique any more, and finding acceptable alternatives has been straightforward and fun. Oh, the joy of soap which keeps its texture and scent! Oh the pleasure of moisturiser which doesn’t go runny and smell off after three weeks!

One of my new favourites is Future Primitive. The soaps are lovely – richly scented and beautifully coloured, and the scents are unusual and beautiful. I particularly liked the sugar scrubs, which were scrubby enough to be exfoliating without being scratchy, and left my skin moisturised without being oily. I haven’t tried the bubbling sugar buff yet, but I might get one in my next order, and if I do, I’ll try to remember to amend this post to include it. The body whips are moisturising and beautifully scented, but a little bit too thick for easy spreading, in my opinion. There used to be a lovely moussey whipped soap too, which was wonderfully softening and moisturising, ideal for after swimming, but they seem to have stopped doing those. The olfactory bathing grains are great too – they leave my skin soft and smelling great. My favourite scents so far are Black Honey, Shadow Show and Niu Kafa, but I’ve liked everything that I’ve tried.

A friend bought me a Balance Me gift box for Christmas, containing their Super Moisturising Hand Cream and their Rose Otto hand cream. Although their blurb says no parabens, sulphates, mineral oils, petroleum, silicones, dea, pegs, propylene glycol, artificial fragrances and colours, both of the products I have contain lanolin. I emailed them about that, and their response was helpful

I wanted to reassure you that I’ll pass your comments onto the Balance Me team as we constantly look to develop our products. I completely understand about not wanting to use animal products; one of my close friends is vegan and is a fan of the rest of the range. Just so you have a full list, the other products that contain beeswax, honey quat or lanolin aside from the hand creams are:

rose otto body balm
rose otto lip salve
stellar face balm
shiny clean conditioner

I hope you continue to enjoy the hand creams and please do get in touch if you’d like any advice on our products or skincare generally.
If you have any further queries about your enquiry, then please let me know.

With kind regards,

I like the hand creams that I have and if they can sort out the animal products issues, I’d buy them myself. I haven’t tried their other products, but the shampoo looks good.

I’ve been using Faith In Nature gingko biloba shampoo & conditioner for a little while. I bought it in a hurry and although I like the conditioner, I’m not impressed with the shampoo. It’s ok for ordinary hair washing, but it doesn’t cope well with after-swimming hair. On the other hand, my bleached hair hasn’t turned green yet, so it must be doing some good!

My skincare life after Lush is now predominantly Origins. Cleansers, toners, moisturisers, exfoliators, eye cream – I’m using all Origins now. As much as I used to like Lush skincare, I did find it gave me blackheads, and Origins doesn’t. Origins is great, the quality of their products is consistent, their staff are lovely – I’m very happy with them.

Planet Soap had a market stall outside the Commie Pool one day and I bought a couple of bars. Very nice. I haven’t tried much of their stuff yet, but I liked what I did try.

I’ve been doing some googling and bookmarking other companies I might try in the future. So far I have found

I want to find haircare that will cope with my bleached and regularly swimming hair, and I want to find a handcream that will work for me like Dream Cream does. For soaps, body lotions and bath treats, Future Primitive are great and I’m sure I’ll find other things as I work my way through the retailers listed above. I know a few people are wondering where to look now they’re not buying Lush and I hope the suggestions here will be useful for them – and that they have fun trying things out!


19 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 44: alternatives

  1. Hello there,

    Since I stopped being a customer of Lush, I also had HUGE fun finding products that

    a) Are vegan and animal friendly
    b) Last well
    c) Are efficacious
    d) Smell nice
    e) Have a good, solid ingredients list, with stuff that’s proven to work
    f) Is paraben, sulfate, mineral oil, PABA etc free
    g) Is value for money

    I don’t mind saving up for splashing out on something if it works, because I won’t be wasting it.

    I am with you on Origins. I love their skincare. I started using it a few years ago when I needed a decent SPF that wouldn’t break me out and Lush didn’t do one, so I started on their Perfect World SPF35 (now, sadly, discontinued). However it got me hooked onto the rest of the range and I love it. So that was my facial skincare sorted.

    Hair care wise, I can highly recommend JASON shampoos and conditioners. Naff name but they are fabulous. I find them mostly in local, independent health food shops but sometimes in TKMaxx!

    I also like Liz Earle shampoos and conditioners – they are so light and smell delicious. And every time you shop with them you get a little luxury sample 30ml Cleanse & Polish!

    One of the things I wanted to replace as soon as possible was an effective natural deodorant as I am one of those people pulled in by scare stories of regular ones. I always found the Lush ones great – I was a big fan of both The Greeench and The Guv’nor. I now love the Weleda spray one – it’s brilliant, doesn’t stain clothes or skin, and only stings a bit post-shaving, but I find all deos are prone to that. The rose one is my favourite – I find the sage one smells a bit savoury – like I am about to be basted and put on gas 5 for 3 hours:

    In terms of body care, I’ve had SO much fun trying out oodles of body creams. My stand out favourite has been Korres, and I ALWAYS get them from TKMaxx! The butters are lovely thick unguents (more for drier skin, I think) and the milks (not that milky, you still squeeze from a tube) absorb quickly and are fabaroony. My favourite scents are:

    – Vanilla Plum
    – Vanilla Cinnamon
    – Mint Tea
    – Coconut
    – Citrus

    They smell great and sink right in. And… no parbens; no mineral oil; no petroleum or paraffin; no propylene glycol; no PEG; no ALES; no SLES; no pthalates; no animal by-products; suitable for vegetarians AND vegans…

    I love their shampoos and conditioners too. Not tried their facial skincare but my mum has and she rates it. I think they may be a good bet for a hand cream for you too, if you can find them.

    Soap wise, I now buy Suma natural glycerine soaps from my local health food shop; they smell beautiful and are not drying. They also last ages.

    I also love the M&S floral collection soaps. They are triple milled and feel like real luxury but at a price that won’t break the bank!

    If I am feeling flush, I do love a nice Roger & Gallet soap. This is what is in my bathroom soap dish at the moment:

    Bath wise, I don’t really have baths any more. I have always been more of a daily shower person; I generally have a bath when my feet and hands are bluish to thaw me out again – not unlike a frozen turkey, defrosting in the sink.

    I am now worried about how I think of myself in meat terms.

    Anyway, those are my picks of the pops.


  2. I forgot to say, Klorane shampoos & conditioners are totes amazeballs. Wait until http://www.escentual,com do their ‘French Pharmacy Brands 1/3 off’ offer (they do it a couple of times a year) as it’s a good time to try them. Or if you know anyone off to France or Spain in the near future, Carrefour sell the big sizes at good prices too.

    (In fact, looking at the Escentual website, it looks like they are 15% off at the moment).

    And Nuxe do great hand creams!

  3. For washing my body I use Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, the liquid unscented one. They are great if you can ignore the god-bothering comments on the label. According to the label you can use the soap for everything, washing clothes, hair, skin and anything else. However I find it strips the hair much too much.

    For hair, I use something I got from Marks and Spencer, can’t remember the name of it, but it’s in yellow bottles and is marked as suitable for vegans. M&S also do another range which has a Vegan Society logo which I will be trying next.

  4. I’ve switched over to Weleda and Korres products, my skin is so much happier and the scents are real and never change or disappear.

  5. Yesterday was pay day and I placed an order with the Sugar Loaf Soap Company for two tins of lip balm, one tube of lip balm, and two bars of soap. The order arrived today – speedy! – and it’s great. The soaps are wrapped in thick paper and tied with string so they’re not leaching onto the packaging or each other, and they smell great. There’s a little handwritten compliment slip thanking me for my order, and saying they’ve added a little lemongrass soap as they’re running a Valentine promotion and didn’t want me to miss out. How nice is that?! The lemongrass soap smells great too, and it’s packaged in a little drawstring cotton bag which will be ideal for using in the washing machine with soapnuts. I will try to remember to review the soaps and lipbalms once I’ve used them.

  6. After an extended absence I dropped by the Lush forums today – there used to be that wonderful section on things not Lush. I’m not really surprised Lush nixed that part of the board, but I am wondering where I can find that level of discourse on products. Anyone have some forum suggestions for me?

  7. I have dry/sensitive skin and eczema and I can only wash with aqueous cream.
    I’d like to say that for the cheapest animal friendly products I’ve found on the high street it’s Superdrug. All Superdrug’s own products are vegetarian and vegan and have not been tested on animals. I use their own shampoo and conditioner, and at £1.50 a bottle for 400ml is a fantastic buy and it’s really good!!!!! They also usually have lots of available offers on their own brands such as buy 1 get 1 free, or buy one get another half price. They have also launched their own brand make-up range that is animal testing free!
    I have also for a long time used the website They are a fantastic site full of organic, vegan, natural products, free from animal testing. Also you get points for shopping with them which you can then exchange for products. They always seem to have offers on, and free gifts available and you can always get samples when you purchase. Right now you can get £5 off a £30 order.
    I can really recommend Madara, a Latvian company that makes good skincare products at a really reasonable price. They offer skin-care sets where you get three products for the price of two. They are available through Love Lula, or this is their website if you want to check them out;
    Also if you have eczema I would really recommend Moa – The Green Balm. I’ve been using this on my hands for a while now and it’s amazing. It has also a whole multitude of uses. It is a bit pricey at £10 for 50ml, but it goes a long way. And when you have sore, cracked and bleeding skin it’s a godsend to have something to smooth on that doesn’t sting or burn and helps to heal as well as moisturise. Again, available through Love Lula or their website;
    If you can afford it Estelle & Thild are wonderful. I had a gorgeous sample of their moisturiser which is the only one I’ve had that made my skin look plump, dewy and healthy. I just can’t afford the products at the moment
    I agree that there are a huge amount of products out there that do what Lush do, and that are actually a lot better than Lush now. I’ve actually never really had a product from Lush that I was that impressed with. All the claims sound great but I’m not sure they actually do what they say they do.

  8. Just to let you guys know, Origins is owned by Estee Lauder, one of the biggest animal testing companies on the planet. It is not cruelty free.

  9. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit, part 54: more alternatives to Lush | Mitherings from Morningside

  10. The German company Heymountain is great. They only sell online, I think, but you can buy products from anywhere (I’m French). Products are vegan for most of them, cruelty free and really enjoyable. I buy stuff twice or three times a year and their mail service is great : they send adorable e-mails, you can chose every trial-size product you want and you always get a FREE product with you order (I got a 100g bottle of shampoo). Their body cream “Dream a little dream of me” is a kind of Dreamcream.

    Website here :

  11. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit, part 56: further alternatives to Lush | Mitherings from Morningside

  12. I’ve tried a few different companies in the past, some are good some not so good as expected. I know this post is a few years old and some of the websites I’ve tried finding them again now but they don’t seem to be around any longer. One that I have used to buy bath bombs, solid shampoos and luxury soaps is called http:\\ They have good quality stuff and are reasonably cheap compared to some others out there. I’ve bought a few things off Ebay lately but they either come from China so take weeks to come or they are a lot smaller than expected so not such good value for money as I first thought.

  13. I used to retail for Amphora Aromatics and still recommend them. They deserve inclusion on any ethical trading list.
    They are excellent value for money and from the point of view of a small-trader were very supportive.

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