Overall, the Honey I Just Washed My Hair shampoo bar is a very sustainable product made by a fairly sustainable and ethical company. Made of safe synthetics and relatively sustainable natural ingredients, this package-free shampoo bar is the perfect substitution for traditional liquid shampoo. The natural of it minimizes water and plastic consumption and prevents excess product use, which leads to its high score in the overall rating. The LUSH company generally fulfills its promises of sustainable sourcing and ethical production processes. But it can further expand its positive impact in sustainability by providing more information regarding their supply chain and manufacturing footprint.
LUSH website shows a complete list of the natural and synthetic ingredients for this shampoo bar. The transparency and the concise list instantly won my heart while setting my expectation high.
The making of a shampoo bar inevitably involves some synthetics to serve as the base, but I am happy to find that none of the four synthetics are suspected to be an environmental toxin (sodium lauryl sulfate, amyl cinnamal, citronellol, butylphenyl methylpropional). The company also prides itself in using sustainable raw materials and this product generally lives up to the claim. The beeswax and fair-trade honey not only help with moisturizing and cleansing, but also serve as natural preservative that reduces exposure to potential harmful artificial preservatives. The choice of fair trade honey also supports sustainable practices among beekeepers that helps bees, a keystone species and pollinators, to survive and thrive. The bergamot oil and sweet wild orange oil come from citrus fruits that are “hand-picked during winter”. And we all love it when fruits are harvested in season. However, there is little information on where the essential oil were extracted before being mixed into the shampoo bar. I would assume that they have to travel far because citrus fruits are mostly grown in tropical and sub-tropical area while this product is “made in Canada” at least for the North America region. This is an unfortunate downside but I would understand as it is challenging to find more sustainable substitutes and they seem to be very important for the formula to serve the claimed purpose.
Another aspect that makes me love this product is that it’s also part of LUSH’s Naked initiative that aims to minimize water and plastic use. The product is free of plastic and packaged in recycled brown paper. As the website states that “one bar replaces up to three 250ml bottles of liquid shampoo”, it saves many plastic toiletry bottles from being produced in the first place and helps address the plastic pollution problem. The company also claims that their shampoo bars (including this reviewed product and other similar products) “help save over 450,000 liters (118,800 gallons) of water each year”, which is a significant positive impact thank to the formulas that have little to no water. Additionally, when I substituted the traditional liquid shampoo with the bar, I realized that I used to over-use shampoo because three pumps just create more lathering than two pumps. But the shampoo bar did just as well in terms of cleansing. The lathering isn’t as quick and rich but it gets the job done and I love that tint of fresh smell after getting out of shower. If the lathering is a trade-off, I would happily take it in exchange for a more sustainable product.
LUSH North America has created a YouTube video series literally called “How It’s Made” that shows the production process of its different products. Based on the How It’s Made video for Honey I Washed My Hair, three people are involved in the entire production process. Although the company’s full name is LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, the international business has outgrown its humble start and the “handmade” part has been reduced to adding ingredients, moving the batch around, and adding the final touches. It is not a mature industrial production as human labors are still involved but they are no drastically different than the ones on the assembly line expect for more opportunities to move around and more types of tasks to repeat. Industrial-scale mixers and pressers are employed to keep up with the demand that 100% handmade process can never catch up with. There is nothing wrong with producing at industrial scale and bringing sustainable products to more people. But it probably shouldn’t continue its branding of “hand-made cosmetics stores". I also hope that the company can reveal more information about the energy use of its manufacturing facilities as the electricity needed to power the sites can not be negligible. It would be great if LUSH can commit to 100% renewable energy for its manufacturing facilities and further its sustainability initiative.
Mark Constantine and Liz Weir co-founded LUSH in 1996. The store values fresh and cruelty-free products and thus sells fresh made cosmetics that are not tested on animals. While having grown into a multi-national business with stores across the world, LUSH has generally stayed true to its founding philosophy. It refuses to sell in mainland China due to the animal-testing law, showing their commitment to cruelty-free products. Its sustainable initiative has also positioned it as one of the leading sustainable and ethical beauty brands within the personal care product sector.