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30 April 2016

Lush Oxford Street Wine And Perfume Pairing


To put the record straight - my experience with wine is far removed from the classy and sophisticated one that wine-drinking is normally associated with. In fact, the last time wine touched my lips, I vowed never to drink again - a statement I'll leave you to decipher for yourselves.

Yet, while browsing in Oxford Street last night, I stumbled across an event that happened to have a couple of places left. Jumping at the chance to not only 'live in the now' but also to experience Lush in yet another context, I signed myself up - a decision that resulted in an incredibly insightful and very life-affirming evening.

Held in the same room as Lush's current perfume gallery, this intimate gathering consisted of seven participants, two very knowledgeable employees and a rather humungous hat. Featuring four of Lush's most complex and interesting fragrances; The President's Hat, B Scent, Breath Of God and Stayin' Alive, the evening began with the former - one of two perfumes featured in the very instalment we were nestled in at the time. 

While the wine was being poured and the atmosphere was setting, we were retold the story of the The President's Hat - a novel written by Helene Gestern and one of Mark Constantine's favourite novels. The inspiration behind this perfume stems from not only the story itself, but because of the founder's love for the book, which makes listening to the beautiful words even more captivating. 

Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President Fran├žois Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him, and then later departs, leaving behind his hat - one that Daniel decides to keep as a souvenir.

Passed from person to person, the story follows the journey of said hat, and how it leaves an impression in the life of each and every single person it intercepts. We are to believe that the last person it meets is a perfumer who takes inspiration from the smells radiating from the hat - one of warm suede, blustery weather and the remnants of past wearers, and in turn creates a perfume that embodies these notes - welcome to the birth of The President's Hat.

As the story is retold, we are encouraged to smell and savour the wine paired with the fragrance, and breathe life into the story through the use of our senses. There are moments where we share our own journeys with the scents and tastes, and other moments where we are left to enjoy the changes that occur as our senses heighten throughout the evening. 


In turn, we looked at all four of the featured perfumes - the wines that had been chosen to accompany the fragrances and why they had been paired with said scent. This in turn allowed me to explore each of the perfumes in far greater depth than I have ever allowed myself to do so, and I developed a much better, well-rounded appreciation for all four of the fragrances.

What enraptured me was the fact that for the first time in my life, I was able to actually detect the various layers that made up the wines, and I was able to appreciate how and why they had been paired with the perfumes on offer. These wine choices actually intensified some of the perfumes for me as I enjoyed the tipple, and I left having fallen in love with all four of the fragrances all over again.


I went fully expecting my lack of expertise in wine to betray my knowledge and appreciation of smells, and left feeling as if I'd been given a valuable lesson in fragrance along with a generous dose of respect for the complexity of wine. The hosts of the evening (Teddy and Roya) were so knowledgeable and warming in their approach - so much so that I am now inspired to attend future pairing events that Lush decide to organise. What a wonderful way to break into the weekend.

26 April 2016

American Pie Shower Jelly


I always find it odd when products such as this rear their heads from the deepest, darkest vaults of Lush's past. Only because I have spent so many hours trawling through near enough every gem that the company have released, and it's a strange concept being presented with a freshly-made specimen when I've only ever seen pictures of the watery, festering artefacts that have survived being on the internet for the last ten years.

American Pie Shower Jelly would definitely have made it into my top twenty most wanted items, if I'd ever been brave enough to commit myself to such a list. Released originally back when Lush would hold forum parties, this extremely rare exclusive was never made commercially available to buy to the general public. That is, until a couple of week ago when the Kitchen unleashed it for one of their menus.

Sharing its scent with the American Cream family, this limited edition beauty is easily one of the creamiest, yet subtlest shower jellies out there - a feature that makes it a very unique and very beautiful addition to Lush's shower selection. If you're familiar with the fragrance, I can honestly say that it is exactly in-keeping with your expectations, and if you're new to the smell, you're in for a royal treat. 

With the key ingredient being a strawberry infusion, it's not surprising that the main note that you experience upon opening the tub is one that features the fruit quite heavily in the mix. Although you might then expect it to be a very vibrant, zesty smell, what you get instead is a very placid, milky strawberry aroma. As many reviews and descriptions have referenced, this aroma really does hold a resemblance to a fresh, strawberry milkshake.


Alongside the fruit element is vanilla absolute, clary sage oil and lavender oil - the former of which gives this shower jelly its sweet, creamy note and rounds off the scent with a strong dose of vanillary goodness. The clary sage adds a very subtle herbal aroma, which is the lightest component overall and just gives the jelly a very gentle earthy finish. The latter ingredient, aside from acting as a suppressant to calm the nerves and relax the mind, is also really good for the skin, and with the vanilla present, just gives a sweet smell reminiscent of Twilight Shower Gel.

With an array of different oils - clary sage and lavender especially, this shower jelly is really gentle on the skin and leaves it feeling silky-soft, not to mention incredibly moisturised. All of the ingredients present work in harmony to clean, cleanse and nourish the skin - producing a light, fluffy lather that doesn't initially look as if it's going to be that effective on the skin, but one that quickly surprises you when you begin using it. 

While I found it easier to cut the jelly into smaller chunks, American Pie works just as well if you decide to keep it whole. Either way - the product began to produce foam with very little stimulation on my part, and once I had a surplus amount between my palms, I was able to wash myself and spread the lather over quite an expanse of skin. 

Once rinsed off, this shower jelly lingered on my skin for a short while after towelling myself down, and the fragrance that did remain was not overly strong, which was expected given the strength of the original aroma in the tub. After a number of washes, the shower jelly had barely altered in size, leading me to believe that this 240g tub could easily see me through 5-6 months of daily cleaning - making it great value for money.

Overall, this product was exactly what I was expecting, and I'd go as far as to say that I preferred this to the scent of the conditioner - not only because this jelly is vegan so I'm able to use it to begin with, but also because the scent is much better balanced and you get an extra dosage of strawberry without it ruining the original fragrance.

Quantitative Ingredients: Glycerine, Fresh Strawberry Infusion, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Carrageenan Extract, Perfume, Fair Trade Vanilla Absolute, Clary Sage Oil, Lavender Oil, Benzoin Resinoid, Titanium Dioxide, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Coumarin, Colour 14700, Colour 45410, Colour 17200, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Vegan?: Yes.

2016 Price: £8.25 for 250g.

Year Of Original Release: ?

Scent Family:
American Cream Body Lotion
American Cream Conditioner
American Cream Liquid Perfume
American Cream Solid Perfume
American Pie Shower Jelly
Flosty Gritter Bubble Bar
I Am 10 Bubble Bar
Twinkle Bath Ballistic



24 April 2016

Phoenix Bubble Bar



Those who have watched most of my Youtube videos will know that this was one of the most sought out bubble bars on my wish list. While most of my favourites are of the fruity variety, there was something about the description that appealed to the 'foody' in me, and I couldn't wait for them to arrive so that I could bathe in the 'cinnamon toast-scented' waters that had been promised. 

When Phoenix Bubble Bar arrived however, I was rather taken back by the fragrance that greeted me through the packaging. In as many words, this product possessed an aroma that was incredibly different from the reviews and descriptions that I had based my initial assumptions on. Disappointing.


Instead of the sweet, cinnamon-laced experience I was expecting, the bubble bar gave off a very strong dose of clove - a note that I feel is stronger than the cinnamon element, which is surprising as the ingredients list reads as if the latter would be the most dominating component. In fact, I would say that the smell of this is very similar to that of the New Shampoo Bar. Alongside both of these scents  is a subtle smidgen of sandalwood - a note that doesn't shine through all that much but does give the bubble bar a well-rounded finish.

As to be expected from a bubble bar that features both clove and cinnamon, it is definitely a very strong, spicy experience. Both of the ingredients give Phoenix a distinctively dry and very aromatic fragrance - one that smells as if you've stuck your nose in a fresh packet of herbs. It's very natural smelling and rather woody - one that possesses a very light but natural sweet smell to it. 

To look at, this bubble bar looks like something that's been baked in the oven, and the design did have me slightly worried about what to expect in the tub. On the positive side, the product didn't turn my water into the brown, sludgy mess I was expecting. However, I cannot say that it would win any awards for what it did manage to achieve. 

What impressed me about Phoenix was that it was such a soft, crumbly bubble bar, so it simply melted away between my fingers, when I was holding it under the running water. The product immediately began to build a mountain of bubbles across the surface of the tub and the smell radiated around the bathroom very quickly.

Surprisingly, I discovered that once I had finished running my bath, the colour of the water had not changed at all. Underneath the wave of aromatic bubbles that coated the tub like a winter jacket, the water was as translucent and colourless as it was before I had began to crumble the bar in the first place. 

In its favour, cocktailing this with other products would leave a blank canvas to work from, so you could colour the bath as you see fit, while already having a thick, hazy layer of spice to work with. However, if you wanted to use this by itself, you might be a little disappointed by the lack of vibrancy you'd be working with. 

What it lacks in colour however, it more than makes up for in scent. This is a bubble bar that'll stay with you until the end - leaving a strong dose of cinnamon and clove on your skin, until it settles down and allows the sandalwood to come through a little.

I wouldn't say that this is the most moisturising of bubble bars I have had from Lush, and I didn't really find my skin any smoother or soften then I would with most of Lush's bath bombs. In fact, I would say that this product would be better used to loosen the muscles, fight off any colds, clear sinuses and relieve tension over improving the condition of your skin.

Overall, I wouldn't say that this is a bubble bar that I would run out and buy again - although it's certainly not a terrible bar. Fans of the likes of Skinny Dip, New Shampoo Bar, Jacko Bath Bomb and Pied De Pepper Lotion will probably really appreciate the heavy dose of clove featured here; I just wish that the cinnamon was more prominent and little sweeter.

Quantitative Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Cream of Tartar, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl Betaine, Perfume, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Clove Leaf Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Fair Trade Organic Cinnamon Powder, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Cinnamal, *Eugenol, *Limonene, *Linalool.


Vegan?: Yes.


2016 Price: £3.95 each.


Year Of Original Release: ?




Lush Kitchen Menu: April 25th - 29th 2016


Every week I hope to bring you an informative (and fairly entertaining) video on the items making their way into the Lush Kitchen the following week. Above is this week's menu for you to enjoy, and below are the links to each and every one of the items featured in the blog:

Karma Shower Jelly
Antiphilitron Liquid Shampoo
The Comforter Solid Perfume
Happy Bubble Bar
Ghost Shower Gel
Magic Bath Bomb
Hot Java Bath Bomb
Pied De Pepper Foot Lotion
Lord Of Misrule Solid Perfume
Pooh Stix Bath Bomb

21 April 2016

My Lush Kitchen Experience Part 1


Choosing a favourite part of my Lush experience would be like trying to decide which of your children you prefer. However, while every moment of my excursion in Poole was incredible, it was my time spent in the Lush Kitchen that stole the award for the most memorable segment - not only for what I was able to experience while visiting, but because of the surplus knowledge and insight that I gained through being there.

It's hard to believe that the Lush Kitchen has only been in our lives a little over two years; many of us would find it difficult to remember a time before our banks were dictated by the weekly menus we cling to. Yet, during the time the kitchen has been fully-functional, it has come on in leaps and bounds - producing batches that are double and triple the size they were in the initial months, and bringing back more products than the retro section was ever able to achieve.

In fact, the Lush Kitchen has slowly but surely become the prevalent part of the Lush community, and the team behind the scenes have worked incredibly hard to cement itself as the strong forerunner for the company. You only have to compare the number of active followers on the UK kitchen's page to know that there is a far greater interest in this department than the official UK Lush page itself! It has become the familiar window by which most Lush fans have the privilege of peering through, and has only served to both introduce more people to the brand, and rekindle that friendship between themselves and the customers who were perhaps branching away from the company after many years of loyalty.

It is that very familiarity that made the whole scene seem rather surreal when I first stepped foot into the Lush Kitchen that blustery morning. As I stated in my recount of the factory tour, the kitchen is an extension of the bubbles factory, yet it seems like a completely different environment when you make your way into the thick of it.





For those visiting the Kitchen, there are two entrances - a door that takes you directly into the kitchen from the outside, and then a second entrance you use if you've been though the factory. Either way, the second you step into the room, it feels very much like you've been transported into a completely different world - a world existing inside the warm embrace of a much-loved scarf. You really get the feeling that nothing else exists outside of the kitchen, and I can honestly say that I would happily live out my days confined within these four walls.

Now I know that you're probably thinking that I'm being a little overly dramatic because of my excitement that day. However, while it may be difficult for outsiders to understand, the Kitchen has such a warming, zen-like atmosphere - it's so calming and peaceful, and each and every employee I met that day seemed genuinely happy to work there. While the factory workers appeared contented with their job, there was something extra special about the kitchen - something that I think had to do with the wonderful relationships between the members of staff, who all seemed to get along like a house on fire.

Upon walking in, I was greeted by Colette, who is the kitchen's digital manager, and Aaron, kitchen manager. It was these two wonderful people who told me all about the processes and production that go on 'behind the scenes', and just how the Lush Kitchen works on a day to day basis. I came away with my head reeling with knowledge, and with a new-found respect for both how the Kitchen works and just how much effort the team go to, to bring out the products consumers most want.

While I was privy to information that I've been asked not to repeat, and so much information that I could easily write a whole novel about, I will divulge in a few tidbits of information that I think you might find fairly interesting....




1. In both the Kitchen itself, and outside the main entrance, there are screens that are linked to Instagram, that keep the whole team updated with conversations and topics related to the kitchen releases. Colette explained that these are constantly updating to allow the team to get instant feedback on the products themselves when they're being released, and any issues that customers may be having in regards to buying from the Kitchen. Having these screens up ensure that staff members are able to respond to customer queries as quickly as possible. On the flip side, sometimes this tool is simply used as a way of the Kitchen team reading about the positive experiences people are having with their goodies, and storing suggestions for future releases. 

2. They really do listen to customer suggestions. Back when the Kitchen first started, the team would design product rotas that often stretched forward ahead of time for months, so the menus would be planned out with no room for change. However, Mark wanted the menus to be focussed heavily on customer demand, so they are no longer planned out that far ahead, and the majority of the releases that we see on a weekly basis are constructed from customer requests. I know this is one of the biggest complaints that people have in regards to the kitchen menus - unhappy that the team don't appear to listen to the requests that are being made regularly. However, seeing and discussing the effort that these wonderful staff go to to ensure that the menus do reflect customer request lists, has given me a new found appreciation of the Kitchen team. Believe me when I say that they are listening, and they're listening very very well...

3. The Kitchen are unable to make brand new products from existing fragrances. Right from the start, the Kitchen has always been about bringing back items from the deepest, darkest vaults of the company. The idea behind this branch of Lush was to celebrate their past endeavours and re-release them back so that new fans had an opportunity to experience them for themselves. The Kitchen are not in any position to design or create brand new products that have never been released before, unless it's a rare occasion when a member of the Constantine family design a new product and then bring it to the Kitchen themselves. Therefore, that Mumkin Shower Gel you've been craving, is just not feasible. 



4. Another complaint that the Kitchen gets quite frequently, and I have to say that I'm just as much of a culprit as the next person, is that they seem to be re-releasing the same products week in, week out - seldomly offering consumers something completely different it seems. Aside from knowing that these repeats are mostly down to consumer demand, the reason why we are not seeing so many new items from the vault, is that each and every product has to be vigorously tried and tested - going through many stages before it's deemed good enough to release. Old recipes will often seek ingredients that are no longer available; old formulas quite often just don't work anymore, and often this process can take a long time to get 'right'. While I wont go into detail about the inner workings of the Kitchen, just know that they are constantly working on bringing back new items, and when a product does make an appearance, know that a great deal of work has gone into making it possible.

I had an opportunity at this point to marvel over the sights for a few minutes - watching the team at work packing up the latest batch of Twilight Shower Gel to be shipped out. Head compounder Peter was working alongside Matt to shape and complete a fresh tray of Mrs Whippy Bath Bombs, and Mariusz was positioned in the corner cutting and moulding my favourite - fresh slices of Mumkin Bubble Bar.




After chilling in the Kitchen for a short while, Aaron asked if I was able to guess the mystery product that I was going to be making that day. Before my trip, I had been asked to compile a short list of products beforehand for the team to choose from, and I opted for a few beauties that I had not seen in a long while. Presented with the fresh ingredients: cut, measured and ready to go, I was equally shocked and perplexed to find that I wasn't able to name the product like I was expecting to. My mind had failed me at the most inopportune moment, and Colette had to prompt me into guessing More Than Mortal. Such an amateur!
   


Once everything had been set up, it was time to get myself stuck into the task of making my debut Lush Kitchen product, and then progress onto doing my first ever live Periscope interview. Whatever excitement I had been feeling up until that moment was about to be elevated to new heights - I was about to indulge in an afternoon that most Lush fans could only dream about, and I wasn't about to let anything prevent me from absorbing as much from the experience as possible. So how did I did fare in both of these tasks? And is there any chance that I might be invited back? You'll have to find out in my up and coming final instalment...

20 April 2016

Lush Cocktail: Fairy Gold Sparkle


Louie's 'Fairy Gold Sparkle' Cocktail

Contains:

Chunk Of Rock Star Soap

Video:


Verdict:

As I've stated many times before, I am definitely not much of a 'pink' person; I've never had that 'girlie' side of me, and while it was the luscious scent of Snow Fairy that originally hooked me onto Lush, it is be no means my favourite scent from the company.

Having said this, when I had an opportunity to try out the new and improved Magic Wand Reusable Bubble Bar, I couldn't help but gather up all of the pink goodies I could muster and make a cocktail out of it - thus the Fairy Gold Sparkle cocktail came about.

With three out of the four products sharing the same scent, you pretty much know what to expect when it comes to this cocktail. This candy-inspired experience is a statement of scent and colour - perfect to use before a night out. Not only is it creamy and comforting on both the mind and the body, but it'll perk you up and give you that 'get up and go' that you need before a later night on the tiles. 

The seasonal Magic Wand is a great product for cocktails - a multi-use bubble bar that can either act as an integral part of a cocktail, or be swished around for a matter of seconds to add a note of sweetness to your bath. Scented with a sugary-sweet candy floss aroma, and displaying hints of bubblegum for good measure, this would be suited to anyone wanting to bathe in what is essentially a raspberry milkshake.

While running a bath, simply swirl the bubble bar around in the water, like you would a wand in the air. You'll find that the water begins to turn pink instantaneously and within a few seconds large mounds of silky-soft bubbles begin to form across the surface. Although the new design is etched with silver lustre, I didn't see any trace of this in the water. 

Containing both marshmallow powder and synthetic musk, Mmmelting Marshmallow Melt has a wonderful soft and rather playful aroma - like raspberry bubblegum intertwined with a touch of vanilla and a little hint of fruit. While I love Snow Fairy, I find this bath melt to be far more wholesome and creamier than the shower gel. 

Both the cocoa butter and the almond oil not only make this really moisturising in the bath, but offer a really creamy experience in the tub. You only have to drop it into the water to watch it get to work immediately - spewing out thick waves of pastel-pink foam that coats the surface of the tub and creates what looks like a fluffy, cloud-like bath to submerge yourself in.

Finally, I added in a generous chunk of Snow Fairy Sparkle Massage Bar, which is definitely not my favourite product by a far stretch, but does melt very much like a bath melt in the water, and does leave your skin feeling amazing, once you've bathed in its waters. 

Although the obvious choice would be to finish off with Godmother, I opted for Rock Star Soap as I wanted something a little more rounded. This wonderful soap left my skin with a gentle but sweet vanilla fragrance, while the other ingredients offered up some much-appreciated candy goodness. 

While I'm not normally in the mood for cocktails of this nature, I really enjoyed this one and would definitely use this again when I'm looking for that sweet fix.        

Vegan? Yes.

Rating: 8.8 out of 10.

















19 April 2016

Too Drunk To **** Emotibomb



Emotibombs have always been a strange concept to me. As someone who would opt for a bath over a shower any day, I have never understood why you'd want to fork out money for a product that appears to have very little worth in the great scheme of things. As my flatmate stated yesterday, it appears as if you're quite literally washing your money down the drain, and until I gave this particular item a whirl earlier this week, I was under the same consensus.

Too Drunk is the censored version of an emotibomb named after a Dead  Kennedy's song - a strange-looking disc of sodium bicarbonate that depicts what appears to be a tribal face with a vegan chocolate eye. Measuring roughly 6cm in length and a little less in width, this disc of fragrance is definitely not one that shies away in both scent and productivity.

Designed to be the 'pick me up' we all need after a brutal night out, this limited edition is for when your head feels heavy and your stomach is dancing the waltz, and nothing less than a serious bout of fragrance under a hot shower, will suffice. While I drink very seldomly as it is, there are always mornings when the mere thought of having to even open my eyes is painful enough, and the idea of a soft blanket of smell to wake me up gently sounds like the perfectly remedy.


From the description, I wasn't expecting to like Too Drunk very much; I have never been a huge advocate of mint-scented products, and up until this point, I had never really had a lot of success with Lush's emotibombs. However, despite my initial reservations, I was very surprised to find that I really enjoyed using this one, and I would go as far as to say that this product may have even convinced me to give emotibombs another chance in the near future.

Containing peppermint, fennel, tagetes and orange oil, this item is designed to wake you up, engulf your senses and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. From the get-go, it is the peppermint that leaves the strongest impression, and with the other ingredients intertwined, the smell of the mint reminded me quite a lot of the bitter, mint aroma you get in After Eight Mint chocolates. It's definitely a very icy-cold mint smell, and it's strong enough that I didn't even have to open the Lush box to realise what was inside.

Alongside this is a strong dose of the tagetes oil, which for those unfamiliar with the name, comes from a flower called a marigold, and one that is associated with the sunflower family. The herbaceous, floral oil has a sweet, almost citrus-like smell - but one that is wrapped in a blanket of floral undertones as you would expect. This, coupled with the orange oil, gives the emotibomb a slight fruity tinge, but nothing strong enough to compete with the mint.

To finish off, a generous dose of spicy fennel oil adds a revitalising kick of heat to the mix - engulfing your senses in the shower and helping to warm even the iciest of moods. Together, these ingredients create the strongest and most alluring-smelling emotibomb to date, and one I was happy to have bought six of from the kitchen.

How to use Too Drunk is simple. Get your shower running, let the hot water cascade down your body and pop one of these bad boys by your feet. Much like a bath bomb, the emotibomb will dissolve in the water, while the steam and heat will stimulate the scented oils and douse you senses with a continuous helping of fragrance. 

Although I was a little disappointed to find that the smell only stayed with me for a few minutes, that time was definitely more than enough to invigorate me back to life enough to see me through the day. I really appreciated how fresh and crisp the aroma was in the shower, and this would make an excellent accompaniment for those much-needed summer cool-downs.  

With Too Drunk, I could really smell the peppermint oil straight away, and it was strong enough to engulf my airways so that I felt almost as if I was breathing in a vapour rub or taking a hit from an extra strong mint. My nose cleared almost instantly, and if I had been suffering from a cold at the time, I can imagine it would have cleared out my passage ways and helped me to breathe a little easier.

On the negative side, the price is not that far off the price of a bath bomb, and although a ballistic can do all of the above, as well as offer a colourful and hopefully softening experience, an emotibomb doesn't have any where near as many attributes to its name. For this reason, while I did enjoy using Too Drunk, and I will continue to enjoy the handful I have left, it is not what I call an 'essential' item, and isn't one I'd purchase regularly if given the chance. 

Quantitative Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Perfume, Peppermint Oil, Tagetes Oil, Sweet Wild Orange Oil, Fennel Oil, *Limonene, Linalool.

Vegan?: Yes.


2016 Price: £3.25 each.

2017 Price: £3.50 each.

Year Of Original Release:?






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