Making bathing a fine art: A chat with the inventors
You’ve heard of conceptual art, you’ve heard of the performing arts, but have you heard of bath art? Bath bombs have become a form of artistic expression, a solid bicarb structure which explodes into a visual show in your bathtub.
Rewind almost thirty years to the invention of the bath bomb by co-founder and product inventor Mo Constantine and it’s clear they have been on quite a journey from the humble Butterball; a creamy bath bomb full of skin-softening cocoa butter, to The Experimenter; an explosion of colour and in-your-face creativity.
When Mo began making bath bombs in her garden shed she was unaware they would take off with such a bang. Despite the evolution of the bath bombs, product inventors continue to return to their original values. Mo explains: “We’ve never done packaging or preservatives. The products are always naked, bright, accessible and affordable, and despite producing millions of products we want them to remain fresh and handmade.”
Lush stores have also retained the same principles, with the visual nature of the products staying at the forefront of the shop’s design. Mo says: “The whole shop was based on a fruit and veg store, with graduated racks and crates. The bright nature of the products entices people in.”
Bath bombs remain tangible and unpackaged today, allowing us to peruse the shelves - feeling the texture, breathing in their fragrance and perhaps being shown a demo or two to add a touch of theatre to the whole experience.
The original, old school ballistics are shop classics, the equivalent to a wardrobe staple. We return devotedly to these retro bath bombs year after year like we would our favourite sweater, knowing that they will deliver on comfort and reliability. They are benefits-first bath bombs, their innovation is in the effect they have on the skin and the stunning essential oils and natural ingredients they contain.
The bath bomb was born when Mo wanted something to turn an ordinary bath into a luxurious event without irritating delicate skin. She explains: “I wanted to be able to introduce things to the bath which you wouldn’t normally be able to, such as peels, petals, butters and essential oils; lovely ingredients which would be beneficial to the skin.”
Aside from treating the skin to an abundance of rich butters and oils, these bath bombs create a unique ambience in your bathroom through fragrance and colour, drawing on inspiration from aromatherapy and taking your senses on a journey.
From pacifying lavender, cheerful neroli and spicy frankincense to earthy clary sage and classic rose, each bath bomb is bursting with exquisite essential oils, which can boost the wellbeing of both mind and body.
Twenty years after the bath bombs revolutionised bathing, bath bombs faced a reinvention by product inventor and digital director Jack Constantine. A new generation of lively, kaleidoscopic bath bombs arose, and with the rebirth of an old favourite came something very visual - Bath Art.
Jack explains the phenomenon: “We created a new generation of bath bombs. Every time we formulate new products there has to be a benefit to them, but we also want to make bath time a bit more interesting.''
A little like an art installation unfolding within your very own bath tub, these bath bombs create a canvas that is unique every time.They are all about experimentation, pushing boundaries and often contain a playful twist such as popping candy or a vibrant lustre made from seaweed. The ability to build up multiple layers to bath bombs has altered things too. As these colourful ballistics dissolve they leave a blanket of swirling coloured foam on the surface of the water.
Speaking about the artistic element of the next generation bath bombs, Jack says: “All of this creates a worldwide collaborative art project in which customers join in, creating their own interpretation using water as their canvas and bath bombs as their paint, photographing and sharing with the world.”
Of course they still have a wonderful effect on the skin but these bath bombs also create quite the spectacle, encouraging us to pause and luxuriate in the moment.
Bath bomb discoveries continue to advance and product inventors show no sign of slowing down; continuing to spitball kooky ideas and rather importantly having fun while doing so. There is no knowing where this experiment in creativity could lead.
Jelly Bombs show yet another step in the bath art journey - unleashing fountains of skin nourishing jelly as they hit the water for a gloriously playful bathtime. As well as adding tonnes of fun to your tub, this jelly is made from a type of mineral-rich seaweed called sodium alginate, which conditions the skin to leave it incredibly soft. From Secret Arts, a mysterious Jelly Bomb which dissolves into supernatural black jelly, to mellow The Big Sleep full of calming lavender oil, this range is all about entertainment and innovation, all the while enriching the skin.
The release of the online exclusive #LushLabs unveiled even more bathing innovation. From bubble bars shaped like paint brushes to dip, splatter and colour the bubbles in your bath to I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles, a reusable bubble bar that doubles a bubble blower, innovation is around every corner to help make your bathtime as unique as you are.
Jack says: “There are experiments, ideas and collaborations that come with drama, frustrations and successes. The culmination is put on display for the world to experience, discuss, and judge as they see fit.”
Enter Lush Moods, the newest addition to the limited #LushLabs range for summer 2018. Created by Mark, each product is filled with innovation and inspiration as individual doses of mood-altering aromatherapy, from Spinning Plates bubble spinner to help encourage you to drop everything for a while, to Not Sleepy shower bomb - an explosion of bright lemon and citrus oils to kick apathy to the kerb and whimsical Under The Umbrella Tree which takes its inspiration from the Japanese art of shinrin-yoku ("forest bathing" in English). You don't have to take an umbrella into the bath with you to enjoy this potent bath bomb, but it's recommended. Each product has a specific purpose and use in mind to help you turn bathing from a thoughtless habit into an empowering, transformative experience.
“These new products aren’t medicines, they are to do with transforming your mood," says Mark, "There’s this thing called Brief Strategic Therapy, where someone comes in in one state of mind and leaves in another. That’s the idea behind all of this. You have one mood when you get in the bath and another when you leave. They’re a single-use products - they’re a dose.” Lush perfumer Emma Dick agrees, saying of lavender-rich Little Bottle of Calm bath bomb, "It's like adding a few drops of essential oil to your bath without the bottle." Mood transforming products with naked credentials? All the more reason to indulge.
So whether you are an intrepid bathtime adventurer, or seeking a serene soak, have a browse and see what you fancy, because when it comes to bathtime exploration, who knows where you will be transported to next!