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At Lush Cosmetics' factory, natural ingredients are transformed into delectable personal care products

There is a satisfying simplicity to hopping in the car and getting any random brand of soap, shampoo or makeup at the grocery store while doing the weekly shopping. But, what’s inside the various containers may be detrimental to the health and well-being of consumers.

Lush Cosmetics, based in Poole, England, has revolutionized the practice of keeping harmful chemicals out of its products.

The international hair and beauty company, with hundreds of stores worldwide, was founded on the principles of no animal testing and producing 100 percent vegetarian, and a lot of the time, vegan, products.

Unlike a majority of brands on shelves in supermarkets and big box stores, Lush does not use harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and parabens, which can cause extreme hormonal imbalance and various types of cancer.

During the company’s 21 years in business, competitors have tried to challenge the idea that Lush is living up to the standard of freshness that it is supposed to abide by. But, the employees at Lush’s Etobicoke, Ont., production facility beg to differ.

Just about two hours away from the Peace Bridge, dozens of factory workers pump out hundreds of products an hour to be shipped to Lush stores across North America. The company’s iconic bath bombs, soaps, shampoos, lotions and bubble bars that come from this facility even make their way to Lush’s Walden Galleria store.

A visit to the factory, which is just outside of Toronto, is unlike any production facility tour imaginable. Not only is there an immediate whirlwind of delectable scents, but a welcome from go-getters with glitter – a lot of glitter.

From room to room, employees labor tirelessly over every single tub, bottle and bar. But they are not the first to handle their fresh ingredients.

Before the fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and oils that are essential for making every product hit the factory floor, they are stored in industrial-size refrigerators.

These ingredients can be traced back to nations such as Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia and Turkey.

Though the workers who harvest and produce these ingredients are oceans away, their contributions do not go unnoticed; Lush has an ethical trading program.

Many large companies who use overseas labor underpay workers for their lengthy shifts. Unlike these companies, Lush fully compensates every person who provides the ingredients that make their company as successful as it is today.

Once the fresh ingredients are gathered, compounders consistently analyze every detail of the production to ensure top-notch quality for the consumer.

The work that those at the factory put in each day may sound thoroughly exhausting – and it is – but amid the vats of bath and skin products are dozens of employees who dance to the greatest hits of yesterday and today. That is, when they are done filling their daily quotas.

Among the products manufactured in the factory are products so popular that once they hit store shelves they are gone. One of these products is Charity Pot, a hand and body lotion created in 2007 to be sold with proceeds, minus taxes, going to various charities.

Foundations like Women’s Empowerment International and Integrated Conservation are two of the beneficiaries of the generosity of Lush. But, the giving does not stop there.

Lush offers a bathtime product called "Fun" in partnership with their foundation, Lush FunD.

Lush FunD was created after a major earthquake in Japan caused a nuclear explosion of a power plant so bad that the children cannot go outside and play. A portion of proceeds from this product goes directly into the FunD to create indoor playgrounds for the children who were affected.

Despite its charitable activities, many still complain that Lush’s prices are far too steep for the typical household. But many consumers feel the peace of mind one gets knowing that the products are 100 percent safe for the family and made from pure ingredients makes the price worth paying.

From overseas farms to its factories and stores, Lush Cosmetics continues revolutionize the beauty industry.

Deanna Garwol is a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy.


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