We're not blue about our blueberries
Perfectly ripe blueberries handpicked in Dorset get ready to go from juicy fruit to fresh handmade cosmetics that soothe the skin.
Nestled away in the serene, green Dorset countryside, every June to September the UK’s oldest blueberry farm blooms, providing fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.
Keeping it in the family
Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Lush UK’s headquarters, blueberries are handpicked from the family-run farm, before being prepared into Lush products ready to soothe the skin, leaving you feeling fresh-faced.
Highly-prized in cosmetics for their antioxidant-rich vitamins and minerals, blueberries help to rejuvenate the skin and encourage cell repair and growth, making them the perfect pampering partner.
It started with just 100 blueberry plants, which were first introduced in the UK in 1949 by the grandfather of David Trehane, the owner of the blueberry farm. The plants thrived due to the fertile Dorset soil, and so a few years later the family opened the first British commercial blueberry farm which now supplies Lush with organically grown fruits or fertilised ones, dependant on their supply.
“My grandfather was the first person to introduce the blueberry to the UK after the Second World War, and no one really knew what a blueberry was back then, as they’re a North American plant,” David says.
Good soil, great fruit
“The plants are still cropping as heavily," David continues. "If not heavier than they did when they were first planted. The soil here in Dorset is perfect for blueberries; it’s sandy, it’s acidic, it’s everything a blueberry could want.”
The recently converted organic farm doesn’t usually require fertiliser, thanks in the most part to the rich soil beneath them, which is just right for encouraging sweet, large blueberries. From time to time, if soil tests indicate it’s needed, then an organic fertiliser is sparingly used.
Each of the 12 varieties grown at the farm, which includes Duke, Barclay, and the most popular variety, Bluecrop, has a distinctive taste, varying in size, sweetness, or sharpness. However, the real nutrients that feed the face and not just our tastebuds can be found in the skin of the blueberries, which are full of antioxidant-rich anthocyanins.
Hand-harvested for freshness
The harvesting season lasts for 10 weeks in the summer, but there’s plenty of work to be done in the winter season too.
“We hand-harvest all the blueberries, so everything that comes into Lush is fresh and local, picked straight from the bushes by our own team,” David says.
“During the winter the leaves fall off the bushes, and we prune them and cut them back. Because these crops are Northern Hemisphere blueberry plants, they require at least 1,000 hours below 10℃ to actually set the fruit for the following year!”
Once picked, the blueberries are popped into a blast freezer and are frozen in just 20 minutes - a process that ensures the fresh ingredients retain their colour and nutrients, increasing the juiciness so that they will release more antioxidants and are more beneficial for the skin when used.
“You get the best quality product if we freeze the blueberries before they arrive at the Lush Fresh Kitchen. The real benefits of blueberry are not found in the white inside, but from its skin,” says David.
The freezing of the blueberries also allows the support of a local business all year round as the ingredients are available outside of the short harvesting season, reducing the need to fly soft fruit in when it is out of season in the UK. It also gives Lush the chance to be sure of the growing conditions, and know that they will arrive ripe and in perfect condition.
After the ingredients have arrived at the Fresh Kitchen, they are then expertly hand blended into the calming Catastrophe Cosmetic fresh face mask, which needs to be kept refrigerated in between uses for healthy and happy skin.
From blue to black
Don’t forget once you’ve finished with your potted products, keep hold of your empty (and cleaned) black pots before returning them to your nearest shop. The used pots you return contribute to our in-house closed-loop recycling scheme, which means they are melted down at the Lush Green Hub and reformulated into new black pots over and over again! As a thank you, under the scheme known as Bring It Back, customers in the UK and Ireland can claim 50p/c towards their Lush shopping per qualifying item they return, or get a fresh face mask completely free in exchange for 5 empty Lush pots. All the T&Cs can be found here.