Beauty shop Lush launched its first UK “naked” shop in Manchester last month and made quite a splash thanks to its staff posing naked (well, almost) outside to herald its arrival.
But with the publicity stunt done and dusted, what’s the real story inside the new shop that aims to be packaging-free?
And, more importantly, how can you pick up your favourite shower gels, shampoos and soaps without containers or wrapping and not end up in a slippery mess?
The first thing to make clear is that the store is not free from all packaging – just plastics. So if you were worrying about juggling your bath bombs in your handbag, worry no more.
The store has lots of recycled and sustainable options for carrying your beauty goodies – including colourful scarfs and cork pots. You also get the option of a paper bag to take your purchases too.
Staff at the Manchester store, the first ‘naked’ Lush in the UK, are only too keen to talk you about the reasons behind the changes – and assure you that if it doesn’t float your boat, there’s still the regular Lush store just across the road in the Manchester Arndale.
The launch in Manchester follows the success of Lush’s first Naked shops in Milan and Berlin. Since opening in 2018, the solid shampoo bars have been their most popular products, with almost 8,000 sold. Lush estimate that’s up to 616,880 hair washes that haven’t come from plastic bottles.
But I have to admit I was a little sceptical as I headed in to the store to see how it all worked – particularly as to how the costs would stack up if you needed to buy a cork pot to carry your shampoo bar in, for example.
But to number crunch it all, the reusable cork pot costs £7.50 and shampoo bar £7.50. Staff say it will last as long as a 500 ml bottle of shampoo they sell which costs £19.95.
In launching the concept in the UK, Lush’s co-founder Mark Constantine OBE spoke of the benefits to the consumer.
He said: “In Lush we work in an industry where the packaging costs the customer more than the product. Now, the customer needs to worry about how to recycle something they didn’t want to buy in the first place.
“This seems like a raw deal to us. If we can cut out all the plastic packaging, we can give our customers better value for money.”
Amen to that. Browsing the Manchester store makes you stop and think about how much needless packaging we all use in everyday life. And that even for seemingly gloopy products, there is actually a way to avoid using plastic bottles.
It’s already proving a popular new addition to Manchester’s bustling Market Street – and could well be the shape of things to come.