Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Utterly Spellbinding

Arriving at Lush Liverpool Spa on the 23rd of April, I was feeling excited beyond belief that the time to get my ‘The Spell’ treatment had finally arrived.

Down the Rabbit Hole...
Led upstairs to the spa area by my therapist Emily, I was transported from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre to a peaceful English country cottage, sprinkled with a little Alice in wonderland quirkiness.

Shelves and dressers are adorned with jars filled with massage bars and an array of coloured glass vials containing oils, each inspired by and labelled with feelings and emotional states.  Nature books, copperware, pottery and various other vintage style knick-knacks were also dotted around continuing the rural feel. It’s an inviting and homely atmosphere immediately putting you at ease and providing a welcome break from the stark almost clinical looking spa waiting areas you usually come across.

Invited into the cosy kitchen area and seated at a long table made from beautiful reclaimed timber, Emily introduced me to the products that would be used during my treatment, talking passionately about their purpose during the treatment and the beneficial properties of the ingredients they contained. She went on to tell me more about the treatment itself.

Lush believe that sometimes we get stuck in life, unable to move forward and encounter new experiences due to worries, fears and anxieties that become stored up in the body. The Spell is able to rid you of these worries and help you move forward through the ancient art of treating the body through the feet.  The treatment consists of three stages; ground, cleanse and release each stage containing different elements and techniques.

The magic begins…

I was asked to write a down worry or something that was having trouble letting go of on a piece of parchment and then to place it in a small copper kettle left on the table. No one see’s what you’ve written other than yourself so you really can feel free to write anything you feel is relevant. I then witnessed a magical and profound moment as my therapist literally made my worry disappear before my eyes. It is during this stage that Lush and your therapist are giving you permission not to worry, you are assured that your worry has gone and you don’t need to think about it again.

I was led into the treatment room which was gently lit, enhanced by a number of tea lights running all the way around the room, giving a really warm and relaxing ambiance.

Before I go on to discuss the treatment I feel that it’s fundamental that I mention the soundtrack which accompanies it. You see this isn’t just some relaxation music that’s plonked on haphazardly in the background. The music to the Spell (composed by the brilliant Simon Emerson) and its narrative are absolutely central to the treatment itself taking you on a truly magical journey.  It’s all about voyaging, moving forwards, and achieving something. The tracks have a folksy feel to them, filled with soft haunting vocals, string instruments and birdsong as well as familiar sounds from everyday life.

The Spell is cast... 

As the music begins the therapist turns to a beautiful old spell book, opening it on a particular page which
portrays the narrative read out by the hypnotic voice of Lady Helen (a hypnotherapist that helped develop the Spa treatments).

Sitting at the edge of the bed your feet are bathed in a traditional pail to which the Volcanic ballistic is added. This is a brand new product created for this treatment and is exclusive to the Lush Spas. It contains grounding rosemary, thyme and sage which are known to calm and clear the mind. Your feet then get an invigorating scrub with Stepping Stone before being rinsed off and dried thoroughly.

Settling back onto bed, I was comfortably tucked up in warm towels. A hot stone was used giving a feeling of grounding and centring as I felt myself drifting deeper into the music. My feet were then treated to Volcano foot mask and wrapped up in warm towels.  This is one of Lush’s great unsung products containing healing clays, exfoliating pumice, cooling tomatoes, and warming cinnamon to stimulate circulation. 

While beautiful ingredients in the mask got to work, my therapist moved on to a beautiful temple massage using hot stones coated in Dreamtime temple balm. My senses filled with soothing aromas of lavender, chamomile, jasmine and sandalwood, providing a feeling of pure contentment and clarity of mind. The hot stones were then placed just under my shoulders, creating a strong feeling of letting go as I felt myself sinking deeper into the bed, and being carried deeper into my journey.

What followed was an incredible head, neck and shoulder massage which literally took me to another place. I could feel all the tension I was holding in my body melting away, leaving my body feeling so light and relaxed.

There are a couple of stages in the treatment where the therapist uses an enchanting technique that quite literally feels like you’re gently walking along and moving forwards in your journey.

As the Volcano was removed from my feet with warm cloths, the now hardened mask filled with pumice provided a stimulating exfoliation, removing any dead skin in the process and leaving my feet feeling polished and renewed. A beautiful foot massage followed using reflexology techniques to treat other areas of the body (including the solar plexus) in the process. Again during this massage there was a strong feeling of releasing and letting go throughout my mind and whole body. My feet were then thoroughly moisturised with cooling Fairtrade Foot Lotion, then dusted with T for Toes dusting powder to keep them feeling dry and smelling fresh.

As my treatment came to an end I was brought a refreshing drink made of hot water, fresh lemon, mint and lemon grass, all of which were ingredients which had been used during my treatment. As I sat coming round from the trance like state I’d fallen under, a feeling of contentment, lightness and pure euphoria washed over me. Once I’d collected myself and made my way back into the Spa’s ‘reception’ area,  I sat chatting to my therapist in a cosy lounge area like old friends as she asked me about my experience.

Forget your worries come on get happy...

I had a feeling that this treatment was going to be something special knowing how innovative, creative and refreshingly unconventional Lush are as a company, however I didn’t anticipate just how special an experience it would be. It isn’t just the carefully thought out products, the stunning soundtrack, or indeed the techniques themselves that makes this treatment so special, it’s the way they’ve all been cleverly intertwined with one another with such creativity and attention to detail that makes this such a magical and transformative experience.

As a self-confessed worrier held back in life this holistic treatment was spot on for me.  I can’t begin to explain how strengthening and energising it felt to be able to let go of those worries, fears and anxieties during my treatment and feeling able to continue moving forward from them on leaving the spa.

I also suffer from a lot of muscle tension and spasm, having lived with chronic pain for three and a half years. So to feel this melting away during the treatment and be replaced with such a state of relaxation, lightness and fluidity in my body was a truly moving and memorable experience for me.

There was a point in the treatment where it felt as though I dropped all the baggage weighing me down in life and continued on my journey feeling light on my feet. This exactly the transformation I feel as I leave the spa with a clear mind and a spring in my step.  

Although Lush call this a foot treatment (and I can confirm your feet do feel spectacular after this) at the end of The Spell you feel as though you’ve just experienced a full mind and body overhaul. I cannot recommend this treatment enough; I believe everyone would benefit from the magic of The Spell in their lives. To be freed from their worries and move forward with joy, understanding and courage.

With special thanks... Lush Preston for their generosity and support in making this experience possible, and of course to Lush Liverpool Spa, especially my lovely therapist Emily for looking after me throughout my treatment and for giving me such a special experience.

And last bust by no means least a huge thank you to everyone at Lush ltd, the Lush Spa’s team who contributed to creating such a magical treatment. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Compounders on Tour visit LUSH Preston

LUSH have been running the compounders tours on an annual basis for the past 3 years. The tour gives customers the exclusive opportunity to meet the people who make their favourite products, discover firsthand how they are made and even have a go at making a fresh product on the day to take home and enjoy.

Last Friday was the first time that I’ve had the oppertunity to go along and meet the compounders at my wonderful local LUSH store in Preston. When I arrived there was definitely an air of excitement and curiosity buzzing around the shop floor. I was introduced to the lovely Jamie (Ballistics Manager) and Kerri (UK Trainer) who despite their very early start were so friendly and approachable and were more than happy to answer my many questions.

What was clearly evident throughout the day was their genuine enthusiasm and passion behind what they do and their commitment and loyalty to LUSH as a brand and all that they stand for. At one point even fondly describing working for LUSH as being a part of a huge family. For me knowing this makes using and experiencing LUSH products even more special. I seriously doubt that this sort of passion and loyalty exists in any other cosmetics company that I know of. 

Ltd edition Space Girl mould
This year customers had the opportunity to make their very own Limited edition ‘I met the compounders’ Space Girl ballistic free of charge (while stocks lasted) and later on the opportunity to make Think Pink or Blackberry Bomb (other stores may vary?). So with Jamie’s guidance I got stuck in on making my very own ballistic.

The first job was to mix the sodium bicarbonate (containing the colour and fragrance/essential oils) with the citric acid (which although sounds scary, is a natural occurring fruit acid).

Blackberry Bomb mixture
Interesting Jamie fact #1 When these two ingredients are added to hot water they create carbon dioxide which is what makes the ballistic fizz around the bath.

I have to admit I was half waiting for some wet ingredients to be presented to me to add to the mixture but was soon to find out that there weren’t any. I found it so bizarre that these two dry, powdered ingredients alone could end up becoming a solid ballistic but learned that it’s all down to a clever chemical reaction (or as I like to think of it LUSH magic, hehe).

Interesting Jamie fact #2 In the factory a piece of machinery called a ribbon mixer mixes these dry ingredients together in a gentle lifting and dropping motion. This is the only piece of machinery used in the process of making the ballistics, everything else being done by hand.

After a little taste test to guess the flavour (it’s strawberry by the way, well done Fi) we added the popping candy to the mixture before sprinkling a little glitter in the ‘I met the compounders’ design on the mould. We then scooped the mixture generously into each half of the mould, before carefully pressing together in a sort of twisting motion (it’s more difficult than it sounds).

And VoilĂ  my Space Girl ballistic (I did a Blackberry too) was born! The ballistics need to be left in the mould for at least 24 hrs before they can be used, and I learned that it is during this time that the chemical reaction between the citric acid and sodium bicarb causes the compressed powder mixture to solidify.

Interesting Jamie fact #3 The product is kept in the mould right up until it is picked for packing. This is where it has its final quality control check before it is carefully packed and sent on its way to you or your local store.

Jamie explained that for the more innovative ballistics such as Twilight, Dragons Egg, Fizzbanger, Rocketeer etc the process can be far more intricate and lengthy as the product needs to be made in layers/stages to achieve the overall effect. He spoke passionately and proudly to me about the fact that LUSH don’t just rest on their laurels, but that they’re constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation in cosmetics, especially with their bath products. I couldn’t agree more, just when you think LUSH can wow you no more, they release yet another product that’s even more mind blowing.

The next time I drop a ballistic into my bath, I just know I’m going to remember this amazing experience, and appreciate even more the time and effort that is put in to creating these wonderful products. All the customers who took part appeared to really enjoy the experience of meeting the compounders and making their own product to take home. Even those who were a little unsure/more reserved about what was going on were soon donning a pair of blue gloves and getting stuck in.

A massive thank-you to Jamie and Kerri and the lovely staff at LUSH Preston (Fi, Helen and Heather) for making the afternoon so much fun. I felt like a small child who was finding out about some of the secrets about what goes on at Santa’s workshop. Very exciting and fascinating stuff!

LUSH Compounders on Tour 2012 really isn’t an opportunity to be missed, it’s so much fun for kids and adults alike whether you're new to LUSH or a veteran. To find out when the compounders are visiting your local store visit;

Friday, 24 December 2010

Cinders Ballistic

On the twelfth week of Christmas my LUSH limited gave to me......
12 Cinders Ballistics,
11 Gingerbread Houses,
10 Sacred Truths,
9 Snowcake soaps,
8 Buffy body butters,
7 Sonic Death Monkeys, 
6 Bearded Ladies,
4 Ghost shower gels,
3 Hottie bars,
2 Halloween specials,
and a Snow Fairy lip and cheek tint!

Price: £1.95/90g.
Product category: Ballistic
Contains: Coarse Sea Salt stimulate, cleanse, soften and hydrate the skin; Fizzy Candy for the crackling ambers on the fire effect; Gardenia Extract for its exotic scent and it’s beautiful Mediterranean sunset colour; Almond Essential Oil to give a warm, comforting almond scent. Almonds have a high vitamin E content, protect the skin and leaves it silky soft and smooth; Sweet Orange Oil for its antiseptic and toning properties and uplifting fragrance; Cinnamon Leaf Oil for its warming, spicy aroma,  great for warming the body on cold winter nights.
Other Interesting facts:
·  Almond essential oil comes from processing the kernels of bitter almonds and apricots
·  Sweet orange oil is generally used to lift the mood and as a cheery scent for dark winter days.
·  Orange blossoms have been are highly symbolic in many countries. Traditionally brides wore orange blossoms to symbolise fertility. The scent of orange blossoms many also have been used for calming wedding nerves.
·  Cinnamon leaf oil is used to fight feelings of depression, weakness and exhaustion, so it’s great for those winter blues and winding down after the Christmas rush.
·  Course sea salt is packed full of minerals which maintain the water balance essential for healthy skin.
How to use:
To get the full effects of your ballistic (unless you’re cocktailing);
·  Run your bath fully and climb in.
·  Then drop the ballistic into the bath
·  Lay back and enjoy the magic, inhaling the beautiful oils and fragrances dispersed by the ballistic.
NOTE: If your cocktailing this ballistic, remember it contains sea salt which will affect the amount of bubbles created by a bubble bar.
I had a hard time deciding which product I’d review for my final Christmas countdown theme, but finally settled on the lovely Cinders. An absolutely divine product to use Christmas Eve, to wind down after all of the Christmas hustle and bustle and relax before the big day itself. Cinders is another product I was really happy to see make a return this year. Not only is it lovely just as it is, it also cocktails well with so many of this year’s Christmas products.
Cinders is one of the smaller ballistics which is certainly reflected with the price tag. It’s beautiful golden yellow in colour, with a patch of red salt crystals on the top. LUSH describe Cinders as ‘Feisty, Fiery Spice Ballistic’, and have obviously spent some time and effort in the design to reflect this fiery theme.
Cinders’ scent is truly Christmassy. The fresh scent of sweet orange oil really lifts the mood, while the cinnamon relaxes and de stresses and gives you that lovely warm, comforting feeling. In the water the true magic happens adding to the warming, comforting experience. When Cinders hits the water it disperses it’s warm golden yellow colour around the tub, with the red combining with it in swirls to give the overall water a fire like effect. When the colours mix the water turns a warm orangey colour. As the ballistic is fizzing away the fizzing candy crackles like an open log fire.  The overall bathing experience with cinders is mesmerising and relaxing.
To see Cinders in action in the water take a look at my Winter Warmer Cocktail video . Skip to 11mins 58sec to just view Cinders :)
Following your bath you’ll feel like all the stresses of Christmas shopping, wrapping and general rushing around will have been washes away. Cinders leaves you so warm and cosy and ready for a good night’s sleep before Santa arrives the next day ;) I great product for Christmas Eve!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Cocktails well with: Glogg shower gel; Christmas Kisses bubble bar; New Shampoo Bar; Gingerbread House; Bearded Lady; Snowcake soap; Wiccy Magic Muscles; Once a Year massage bar; Bob Soap; Hot Toddy bubble bar.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Gingerbread House Bubble Bar

(Owed for Friday the 17th December)

On the eleventh week of Christmas LUSH limited gave to me......
11 Gingerbread Houses,
10 Sacred Truths,
9 Snowcake soaps,
8 Buffy body butters,
7 Sonic Death Monkeys,
6 Bearded Ladies,
4 Ghost shower gels,
3 Hottie bars,
2 Halloween specials,
and a Snow Fairy lip and cheek tint!

Gingerbread House

(Dedicated to Rachael Juma) 
Price: £2.45/100g.
Product category: Bubble bar.
Contains: Sodium Bicarbonate, Cream of Tartar and Sodium Laureth Sulfate to give you masses of thick, rich, frothy, Hollywood style bubbles; Ginger Oil for its warming effects, circulation stimulating action, and its astringent and antiseptic properties. Ginger is also for soothing aching joints and relaxing tense muscles; Lemon Oil for its antiseptic and cleansing properties, and its uplifting fragrance; Buchu Oil has a sweet fruity blackcurrant scent and is used for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties by aroma-therapists; Ginger Powder promotes relaxation, helps our bodies eliminate toxins, stimulates circulation and warms the skin; Cinnamon Stick for decoration (the cute little chimney).
Other Interesting facts:
·         In Chinese medical literature, ginger was mentioned around 400 B.C. Wowza!

How to use: Start running your bath, crumble bar (or ½ a bar) into the bath while water is running (crumble under the running water). Give the water a really good swish, enjoy the mountains of bubbles.
I must admit when LUSH released their Christmas line this year, I was super excited about the Gingerbread House. For its appearance to its scent description, they had me hook line and sinker. I did my usually trip to my local LUSH store to give all the new items a good sniff and inspection and I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed by the scent of this product . As cute as it was I decided not to purchase it during my trip and off I went home with my bag full of other Christmas lovelies.
That was until a couple of weeks ago, when one of my friends presented me with a bag full of LUSH for my Christmas present. In there was a little Gingerbread House, and out of the LUSH store the scent definitely grabbed my attention more and of course it’s cute design had me at the word go. I happily gave this product a go the day after receiving it and I was so glad that I didn’t miss the opportunity of using this product before it goes, as I absolutely adore it. I’ll definitely be buying more in the New Year before it disappears!
OK so onto the review and let’s start with the design/appearance. Its design is an adorable, chubby gingerbread house, decorated with white mock icing (for the roof), hundreds and thousands sprinkles and a little chimney made of a cinnamon stick. Enough to make even the scrooges stop and go awww! As for the size, I feel that while it can easily do two baths, any more and you wouldn’t get the full effects of the scent and bubbles.
Gingerbread House’s scent out of the bath is much a more subtle warm gingerbread cookie scent, but it really comes alive when it hits the water. The orange house part of the bar crumbles easily, however the white roof is much firmer and I struggled to crumble it (with my feeble lack of strength). In saying that I easily managed to break it into small enough chunks to melt away merrily in the tub. Half a bar created lots of lovely soft bubbles even with my dismal water pressure, and the water turned a lovely warming, burnt orange colour.
Like I said the scent really comes alive in the water. Gingerbread House brings a sweet (not sickly), subtly spicy and fruity scent to your bath. It’s quite a difficult scent to describe as it seems to have layers which hit you during your bath but those are the key notes that hit me. It’s a very warming, comforting scent that definitely reminds me of freshly baked gingerbread cookies with fruity notes coming through from the buchu oil. The ginger comes through in a sweet cookie sense, not a fresh ginger root way if that makes sense. It’s not an overpoweringly strong scent, or a scent that’s super subtle. LUSH seem to have got the perfect balance of sweet, spicy, warming and comforting with Gingerbread House.
Gingerbread house leaves your skin lovely and soft once you’ve dried off. Admittedly it’s not as softening and moisturising as some of LUSH’s other bubble bars, but my skin definitely felt pleasantly soft after my bath. The scent on the skin is subtly sweet and comforting, and I felt so snugly and warm after my bath. Gingerbread House is a winner for those cold winter nights; its gorgeous scent will warm you right up, and wrap its arms around you in a comforting, relaxing cuddle.  Try taking a yummy cup of hot chocolate with you to enjoy in your Gingerbread House bath. Trust me it’s a winner!
You might also like: Hottie massage bar (sensual warming blend of ginger, vanilla and black pepper); Bob Soap (chocolate orange with spicy cinnamon and clove); Cinders (spicy cinnamon, fresh orange and softening almond, crackling ballistic); Butterball (super softening ballistic packed full of cocoa butter and ylang); Brandy Butter (softening cocoa butter, warming cinnamon and brandy and fresh tangerine); Egg Snog lip balm.

On the twelfth week of Christmas LUSH limited gave to me.......
tune in on Christmas Eve for the final instalment of my Christmas countdown.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Q&A- Melissa

Q. I actually have a question about Catastrophe Cosmetic, since you mentioned that you use it for hormonal breakouts. My skin type is odd, I have dry skin with breakouts. A bit tricky, since many of the good products for spots are formulated for oily skin. So my question is whether Catastrophe Cosmetic is drying at all? I'm interested in trying it (for breakouts), but I don't want to use something that will dry my skin out a lot! It doesn't need to be super moisturizing, as long as it doesn't make my skin more dry. Anyway, just wanted to see what you think! Thanks for your help!

A. I understand your predicament  Melissa with regards to your skin care. I too have quite complicated skin and don’t want to use something that strips my skin too much that the dry bits get dryer, but I want something that will help clear my skin.
First of all what I can tell you is stay well clear of Cupcake, as this product is designed for oily acne prone skin types. As for Catastrophe Cosmetic, I don’t find it drying at all. It soothes and calms my spots, while leaving my skin softened and smooth. It does contain Calamine powder which is absorbent, but certainly doesn’t dry. From what I remember Cosmic Warrior is slightly more softening (though the scent isn’t great), and still works great on spots. In saying that what works for me (or anyone else to that matter), may not work for you.  We all have very individual skin needs which, react and behave differently to different products even if our skin types are similar.  
Some people feel put off by the tightening effects these 2 masks have, as they think its drying their skin. However, this is simply down to the pores being deeply cleansed and closing and isn’t anything to worry about. It’s also important to remember that your skin may appear worse to start with as the mask draws out all the impurities in the skin, before it will clear.  Some people believe some masks have made their skin worse, but it’s just the skins way of clearing itself up. There is no such magic product that will just make your spots vanish straight away, just products that will calm the skin and draw out the impurities.
Another very important thing to remember is that, as a general rule of thumb you should only use a face mask 1-3 times a week. Once a week for dryer skin types, twice for combo, three times for oilier skin types. Any more than this can have an adverse effect on your skin as it will strip too much of the skins natural oil production (which is actually good for your skin), causing it to over produce oil more than what is normal. Some people panic that as this products have a short shelf life, that they have to use them up quickly, therefore using them far too often. However even if you only use once a week, you’ll get at least 5 treatments out of the pot for less than £1 each.

I’d also highly recommend that you don’t dismiss some of LUSH’s other fresh face masks that don’t have ‘spot fighting’ claims to them. Many of the fresh face masks contain great ingredients that have antibacterial, antiseptic, antioxidant properties for the skin (such as honey), which will help clear your skin, while moisturising at the same time. BB Seaweed is a great all rounder that is pretty uneatable in my opinion.
My best piece of advice would be to pop into your local LUSH store and speak to the staff. Explain your skin type and needs in as much detail possible and tell them what you want from the mask. They’ll be able to advise you on the best product for you. I’m sorry this is a bit vague but without seeing your skin, and knowing its specific needs it’s difficult to say ‘this one is for you’.  Quite often it’s just trial and error. What I would highly recommend is that if you don’t have joy with one you have bought, say for example Catastrophe Cosmetic, don’t throw it away. Try using it just over the affected area rather than all over the face.
Remember a great skin care routine is essential too in keeping the skin clear. Make sure you cleanse, tone and moisturise regularly as well as using a face mask. I cleanse, tone and moisturise in the morning then sometimes cut out the toner in the evenings and just cleanse and moisturise.  Eau Roma is the best toner for dryer/combo skin types and I’d also highly recommend Angles on Bare Skin as a cleanser or 9-5 (if you want a lotion like cleanser). You can find mini reviews of these products in my Skin Care Routine post
Please let me know how you get on :)

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