Packaging free cosmetics

By 2050 it’s estimated there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, so there's never been a more pertinent time to pursue a plastic-free lifestyle. Here are just a few things we can do to make a difference...

In 2018, the haircare market was worth over $87 billion. As a result, untold numbers of plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles were discarded in landfill sites, where they will remain until they biodegrade (in approximately 450 years) or are dug up by future archaeologists. “Packaging is rubbish and for too long we have had to suffer excessive amounts of it," says product inventor and Lush co-founder, Mark Constantine. "Now that the true financial and environmental costs are becoming obvious, customers are challenging manufacturers and retailers to cut the wrap.”

With that in mind, here are just three ways we think we can all make a difference...

Solution 1: Go naked

Solid products, or naked, as we like to call them, need very little to protect or contain them, which as well as helping the earth, can help to save you money or means you'll get more bang for your buck. "It may come as a surprise that around 40-50% of the cost of a product goes on its packaging," Cosmetic scientist and Lush product inventor Daniel Campbell says. “Taking away the packaging gives us room to put more nice things in.” For instance; bottled cosmetics contain a lot of water, which is cheap to buy, whereas Lush naked products can contain more effective ingredients; more often than not these are Fair Trade, natural and organic ingredients, because there is no packaging to pay for. What's more, we can produce a higher quality of fragrance using essential oils, absolutes and concretes, thus creating an awesome win, win for everyone. Product inventor and co-founder Mo Constantine adds: “Having that extra money to spend on ingredients really does make a difference. The final thing you get is a good price, good amount of content, no wastage at the end, and it just works incredibly well; it’s the way to go.”

Plus there's another benefit! Transforming liquids to solids may be a task of Wonka-esque proportions, but the process often has multiple benefits. Inventing (and reinventing) products naked goes hand in hand with making them self-preserving, which means that products don’t need to be filled with synthetic preservatives to stay safe and fresh. By replacing the water content with ingredients that remain solid at room temperature, like Fair Trade cocoa butter, bacteria growth is inhibited and stays that way.

We have actually been championing naked products for quite a while! Mo explains: “I began unintentionally making naked products and I’ve gone down that route ever since. My first invention was the shampoo bar in the late eighties. Since then we’ve taken the concept much further."

From solid shampoo bars to bath bombs, nude is not new to Lush, here are just a handful of the naked items Lush has to offer...

Bubble bath bars and bath bombs

Forget bubble bath, these foam, fizz and refresh, creating clouds of bubbles, and blanketing you in a sea of oils that leave the skin silky smooth.

Massage oil bars

No need for bottled massage oil, our indulgent massage oil bars; based in cocoa butter to moisturise, feature a plethora of other incredible ingredients, like aduki beans to stimulate and warm the muscles, and lavender oil to calm and balance the skin and the senses.

Shampoo bars and solid hair conditioners

Shampoo and conditioner bars are brilliant for travel. What's more, each one is equivalent to three 250g bottles.

Solid henna hair dyes

Leave the hair gloriously glossy after coating it in a protective layer of cocoa butter like varnish. Our solid henna hair dye range offers a choice of 5 vibrant shades. 

Shower bombs and soap

Shower bombs are funky little numbers that hydrate when they hit the shower and foam up just like a shower gel. Alternatively our traditional soaps nourish as they cleanse, in a wide and exciting variety of styles and scents.


A large selection of our completely vegan, cruelty-free range of makeup features many naked options, including: lipstick, foundation (Slap Sticks), highlighters (Glow Sticks), and concealers (Trix Sticks).


Even gifts our getting naked. Head gift designer, inventor, and creative director Suzie Hackney says: “We want to reduce waste by offering reusable packaging, so we have a wide selection of Knot-Wraps as a gift wrapping alternative.” To discover many, many ways to reuse this fashionable fabric, just take a look here.

Solution 2: Conscientious selling (and buying)

Less is more. It's that simple. Buying what you need means less waste goes to landfill. The average person throws away around 50 disposable razors each year. Simply switching to reusable options can save tons of waste ending up in landfill, and help towards reducing the amount of rubbish entering our oceans every day.

At Lush we believe you should get what you pay for. We price our products carefully to reflect the cost of the ingredients inside. We don’t hike the price of our products year round to cover the cost of holding regular discount sales. We don’t have special offers, two-for-one tempters or free gifts. The only time we discount our products is our clearance sale of seasonal Christmas specials. We sincerely believe proper product advice and a personalised service can bring greater savings to a customer than gimmicky offers. “Providing personal service is the best environmental practice," Mark Constantine, explains. "If we can get you connected to the appropriate product for your needs, you get really good value for money, we get a regular customer, plus the consumption of unneeded products and packaging decreases, and money is no longer wasted.

"It’s an old fashioned idea of service that we have always practised at Lush. We listen to your needs to find out how you like your skin and hair to feel, to learn how and when you like to bathe or shower, and then recommend the products that are best for you. This style of service fell out of use with the rise of self-service and supermarkets. Personalised shopping gave way to aisles of products that customers have to browse and choose from, with only as many words as can be crammed onto the packaging as the guide to which product would best suit them. We went back to basics at the start of Lush - we stripped away the packaging and we put larger numbers of highly knowledgeable staff on the shop floor, to bring back the art of conversation and specialised service - which you'll still find in all our stores today."

Solution 3: Recycle, reuse, repurpose

Reducing isn't the only way we can help the environment; we can repurpose and reuse what already exists instead of throwing it away. For example turn your used Lush black pots into plant pots or mini vases. They could be containers for all manner of things from makeup brushes to pens, paint brushes to nibble holders at a dinner party (we're thinking crudites or bread sticks - yum!). You could create something unique - like modern art, or use them to hold your own DIY cosmetic creations (check out this one suggested by Mo and Claire Constantine). There are so many options, but when you run out of ideas, there's another choice; recycling...

Our recycling scheme, Bring It Back, invites our customers in the UK and Ireland to return their Lush plastic packaging back to our shops for recycling. Not only that but Lush fans can also claim 50p/c towards their Lush shopping per qualifying item they bring back! This ‘deposit return’ will be added towards their total bill at the till-point on the same day. You can even return your 10ml sample pots for an additional 5p/c off your shopping! Alternatively, instead of 50p/c for every qualifying return (and for customers outside the UK and Ireland) you can instead claim a free fresh face mask in exchange for 5 empty Lush pots. This scheme sees thousands of Lush pots returned through our shops each year - so thank you to everyone who has helped us to create our closed-loop recycling system. The returned black pots are cleaned thoroughly and shredded at the Lush Green Hub in Dorset, before being made into pellets, heated and remoulded back into "new" black pots. For all the ins and outs check out the T&Cs for the Bring It Back scheme here.

And that's not all! When you order naked products online, packaging won’t be the spectre at the feast either. In fact, the EcoFlo they’re packed in is created from potato starch that is recycled after use in the crisp manufacturing process. The simple nuggets biodegrade quickly in water and soil; take 23% less energy to make than their predecessor, popcorn; and studies by Brunel University and the University of Humberside have concluded they’re better at keeping products protected during transit than polystyrene counterparts.

Just remember you have power! Customers have the power to demand a change in attitude from retailers and prompt industry-wide improvement. Tell us what you think. Kick up a fuss. Challenge us and others to do better - to recycle harder, better, faster, stronger! For any comments or ideas you have concerning how we can improve, always feel free to give us a shout.

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