Rating: Good



  • Current palm oil sources unclear
  • Fragrance fixative is vetivert oil
  • Contains undescribed fragrance

LUSH is a cosmetics company that sells handmade products. They place value on ethical buying, avoiding animal testing, and being vegetarian.

Their Big Solid Conditioner has a lot of positives. It is a concentrated product, which means transport emissions are reduced. Usually a more concentrated product means less packaging too, but this product is sold without any packaging at all. Together, these factors really reduce the environmental impact of this product.

The data that is available for the main ingredients suggests that these chemicals will all be readily biodegradable and, generally, have low aquatic toxicity. Because they are all readily biodegradable, a large amount will be removed during waste water treatment.

Many of these main ingredients could be derived from palm oil. Lush has been working to remove all palm oil from its products, but there is limited information on what measures are being taken to ensure that the palm oil that is currently being used is sustainably sourced. It would also be good to have information to be sure that the production of palm oil replacements is sustainable.

The key conditioning ingredient is guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride. There is not a lot of data available for this chemical. The data that is available indicates that this ingredient is inherently, but not readily, biodegradable. This means that a large amount of the chemical could be released to the environment after waste water treatment, and makes it more important to understand the potential aquatic toxicity – but the information on this is relatively poor quality.

Many of the other ingredients are fragrances. In addition to the named fragrance ingredients, “perfume” is also listed. This could be almost anything, and it would be better if the ingredients were listed. The LUSH website does state that their fragrances are at least around 60% naturally sourced. This provides some reassurance, because natural chemicals are typically less likely to be the chemicals of highest concern – but natural doesn’t always mean better for the environment.

Case in point; vetivert oil. This ingredient is naturally derived, but it is not readily biodegradable and very toxic to aquatic life. Because it is not readily biodegradable, a large amount of the chemical could be released to the environment after waste water treatment. However, given its chemical structure, it should eventual degrade in the environment. Similarly, alpha-isomethyl ionone also seems to be not readily biodegradable and toxic to aquatic life.

Titanium dioxide is included as a colouring pigment. This is a very common pigment, but titanium dioxide often contains some nanoparticles. The environmental impacts of nanoparticles are currently not well known.

But does it work?

Considering how well a product works is a big factor in determining whether a product is a good one or not. A product that does not work is a waste.

This product gets mixed reviews. It seems like it can be difficult to use for those with long hair, and you should not expect it to lather. Those with fine or curly hair seem to like this product best. For more reviews, check out MakeupAlley, thetalko and Jeans & Gems.

Image credit: Steph’s World

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