Saturday, May 29, 2010
Question: How does Lush use fresh fruit in their products?
For a company that goes on and on about not using preservatives, how the heck can they use fresh ingredients in their products?
I have a few theories...
1. They have some super secret way of using fresh fruit in their products, and because it's proprietary technology we will never know;
2. They are using fresh fruit in their products and using a ton of preservatives plus refrigeration to keep them safe; or
3. They aren't being exactly truthful with us.
Let's take a look at how they might use "fresh fruit" in an unpreserved product like Jungle, the solid conditioner (I'm editing out the INCI information for ease of reading). I'm using the definition of fresh as being fruit shortly before adding it to the product, squished that very day.
Ingredients: Fair Trade Cocoa Butter, Cetearyl Alcohol and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Fresh Avocado Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Perfume, Soya Lecithin, Fresh Figs, Fresh Bananas, Fresh Passion Fruit, Fresh Kumquat, Fresh Kiwi Fruit, Cetrimonium Bromide, Ylang Ylang Oil, Vetivert Oil, Cypress Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Chlorophyll, *Limonene, *Linalool.
As you can see, there are no preservatives listed for this product. Or are there?
Most of the time when we buy aloe vera, hydrosols, or surfactants containing water (for example), there are preservatives in those products. But if you made a spray completely out of aloe vera liquid, you'd probably put your ingredients list as 100% aloe vera without including the preservative, probably because you don't even realize it's in there. So is it possible that Lush is using preservatives in their "fresh" products without declaring it?
Or they could be using purees from this company, VegeTech, which are listed as being stable out of the fridge. (I don't see preservatives listed for these products, but their website is definitely lacking a certain something!) If they aren't using purees specifically from this company, they could be using the same technology.
Does that qualify as "fresh"? Well, it's not recently squished fruit, but I think it the definition might extend as far as using fruit purees from a fruit puree-ing company.
Or perhaps they're using powdered extracts? But then again, strawberry extract is notoriously hard to preserve, so powdered extracts have to be preserved when they meet water. This product - as an example - doesn't contain water, so perhaps it doesn't need to preserved until it enters your shower?
Or they could be calling things "fresh" under the logic that at one time they were fresh. (Which reminds me of a line from the Simpsons. "All the profits go to children." "Which children?" "Us - we're somebody's children!) I've seen this kind of interpretation used a lot, mostly on Etsy type pages, but I think you could get away with it under the pretty lax labelling laws we see in some parts of the world. This would just be deceitful, in my opinion. (Lest you doubt, I have seen silicones listed as "natural" ingredients because they're derived from sand. By this definition, everything is natural!)
Or they could also be using these ingredients at a really low level. I find this a very surprising conditioner bar as cetrimonium bromide - the conditioning ingredient - make an appearance at number 16, below perfume. What do we know about ingredient lists? We know that perfume isn't going to be at 10% - so anything in the area of perfume and below will likely be at 1% to 2% tops. Which means everything after perfume is at 2% or lower, which includes all but the fresh avocado extract. From what I can tell about readers' reviews on the Lush site, this is a very oily bar suitable for dry or curly haired types, which means it's mostly oils and butters. (Based on this, I'm guessing the "fresh avocado extract" is some kind of oil or butter.)
Lush has been known to hide their preservative listing as "perfume". Based on where "perfume" falls in this list, and based on the other essential oils included, I'm thinking that's the preservative.
So what can we tell about this bar? It's not chock full of conditioning agents - I like to use at least 60% conditioners in my bar, and I'd be surprised if we found 10% in this bar - and it's chock full of butters, oils, and emollients. But this isn't a review of their bar as a conditioner...
Do I think there's fresh fruit in there? By my definition - recently squished - I doubt it.