What's In It Wednesday: Lush Gorgeous

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is this cream worth more than $85?
Photo from lush.com




One of my delightful readers sent me an email asking me to talk about two facial moisturizers from Lush, Gorgeous and Paradise Regained. Next week, I will discuss the latter cream, although it is nothing to write home about. Today, though, I would like to take a look at Gorgeous.

Lush is one of those brands that seems so natural and wholesome, but usually contains a plethora of ingredients that aren't so good for the skin. They are also typically overpriced for what you get in terms of quality.

This product is $85.45 for 1.5 ounces.


What Is In It? We'll look in depth. Items in red are problems.


  • Ingredients (as listed on the Lush website): Orange Blossom Honey Water (Miel, Aqua),
  • Olive Oil (Olea europaea),
  • Stearic Acid,
  • Cold Pressed Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis),
  • Cold Pressed Avocado Oil (Persea gratissima),
  • Glycerine,
  • Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera),
  • Fresh Lemon Juice (Citrus limonum),
  • Cold Pressed Wheatgerm Oil (Triticum vulgare),
  • Fresh Orange Juice (Citrus dulcis),
  • Cold Pressed Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera),
  • Fresh Pineapple Juice (Ananas comosus),
  • Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Dulcis),
  • Neroli Oil (Citrus amara),
  • Myrrh Resinoid (Commiphora myrrha),
  • Triethanolamine,
  • Cetearyl Alcohol,
  • Geraniol,
  • Farnesol,
  • Limonene,
  • Linalool,
  • Hydroxycitronellol,
  • Perfume,
  • Methylparaben,
  • Propylparaben


Orange Blossom Honey Water--This is a mixture of orange blossom water and honey. Orange blossom water is lovely and not to be confused with a floral water made with sweet orange. True orange blossom comes from the Seville orange. It has a distinctive aroma and flavor. It is commonly found in Middle Eastern cooking. You may see it marked as Neroli Hydrosol as well in shops.

For the skin, it is great for oilier skin types. Why? It is antiseptic and really helps target acne and oiliness without being harsh. It is also wonderful for aging skin. I really like to see this, though, for oily skin because it gets right to that debris lurking in the pores.

I also find that if you use orange blossom water, that there are many aromatherapy benefits. People always associate lavender with peace and calm (with good reason), but this is very calming and soothing as well.

Combined with honey (depending on what Lush chose for their honey as there are so many varieties), this is even better. Honey is just wonderful for the skin--nourishing, cleansing, toning, and antibacterial. The antioxidant benefits are great, too.

Olive Oil--I've used it on my skin for years and in products, too. It's great. There is so much research as of late when it comes to the skin benefits (in addition to the health benefits) of using it. Olive oil is full of vitamins--it has A, B1 and B2, vitamin C, E & K. More importantly, it also contains flavonoids and polyphenols which are both potent antioxidants. These help to prevent damage to skin cells and help to combat free radicals. I read a study not too long ago that shows that in countries where they apply a small amount of EVOO to their skin after being out in the sun, that it helps SLIGHTLY to prevent damage from UV rays... I also mix EVOO in my skin serums--even in soaps and moisturizers. It has never clogged my pores and I really think it's a miracle ingredient!


Stearic Acid--This is a fatty acid. This oftens comes from animals unless labeled Vegetable Stearic Acid like most companies do. Lush doesn't, I believe, use animal sources at this time. It most likely has come from palm oil. You can find coconut sources, but it is rather hard to find and generally costs more.

Evening Primrose Oil--Love it. If you're oily, this may bother you. If you're worried about aging, this is a great oil, as it can help tackle the signs of aging. It is also wonderful for dry skin.

Avocado Oil--This is one of my favorites for the driest of dry skins. It works wonders for dry skin as it provides superior emolliency and studies have actually shown that it works to improve skin's collagen. It's also chock full of vitamins.

Glycerin--Another ingredient like stearic acid in terms of its source. This is a simple humectant and not harmful in any way to the skin.

Coconut Oil--I love, love, love coconut oil. It ranks right up there with shea butter for me in terms of favorite multi-use ingredients. It is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Some people with heavy acne may want to avoid this, while others may find that it helps clear it up. It all depends on your skin. It is wonderful for the skin, nails, and hair.

Fresh Lemon Juice--This is another ingredient that may work very well for some and may do more harm than good to others. If your skin is raw at all, has sore spots, painful acne, etc., I would definitely avoid it. The acids can cause painful stinging. On the flip side, some people find lemon applied topically can add a brightness and clarity to the skin, giving it new radiance. I have seen lemon work wonders on some acne cases, though.

Wheat Germ Oil--Wheat Germ Oil is a wonderful skin oil. It helps cell renewal in the skin and is the perfect anti-aging oil and also for dehydration. The oil is naturally high in squalane, vitamins A, D, and E, and protein. I personally do not like it for acne prone and oily skin, but it is beautiful on most other skin types.

Fresh Orange Juice--There needs to be more research on whether orange juice used topically can have skin benefits. I really believe, though, that it does. Why? We all know orange juice (I am talking 100% juice not from concentrate) is very high in vitamin C. It is also known that vitamin C is good for the skin.

Vitamin C is very, very hard to get right in skin care formulations because it is so unstable and is quite tricky to stabilize. Have you ever spent a fortune on a vitamin C product and have it turn orange or rust colored shortly after opening? That means that your C has oxidized and is no longer potent.

When I worked for Lancome, I received a handful of Vitabolic squeeze tubes during my tenure. Each one turned orange within 2 weeks of opening, despite being tightly capped after each use. It would stand to reason that pure orange juice that you would drink could be applied right to the skin and work just as well, if not better. In a formula, though, that sits on shelves for months or years, though? I doubt it.

Grapeseed Oil--is very lightweight and therefore good for everyone. It absorbs quickly into the skin and is high in linoleic acid.

Fresh Pineapple Juice--Pineapple is a wonderful exfoliant for this skin. Back before I started caring about ingredients, I regularly used Kiehl's Pineapple Papaya Facial Scrub and really thought it was lovely. I put pineapple in my own facial scrub that I used to make as well. It helps gently slough off dead skin cells and add radiance to the skin.

Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Dulcis)--Orange Flower Absolute and Neroli Oil come from the same blossom. There is a small difference. The absolute is chemically distilled from solvents. The neroli is steam distilled. The absolute has a very juicy orange type of scent. It is inhere for the fragrance aspect.

Neroli Oil (Citrus Amara)--This has a sharper, more bitter scent. It is in here, I imagine, for the skin care benefits, rather than scent.

Myrrh Resinoid--an oil from natural myrrh resin. It is known for aiding more mature skin and drier skin by boosting hydration. It is often used for dry, cracked skin and conditions such as eczema.

Triethanolamine--Why, oh why, did you add this, Lush? This is one of the most toxic ingredients out there. For more details, check out the Cosmetics Database. It is on so many restricted lists, yet keeps cropping up. The studies show the negative effects even in low doses. It is in this as a pH adjuster, most likely.

Cetearyl Alcohol--a simple fatty acid

Farnesol--masking agent. It's safety is in question, but no bans on it yet.

Geraniol--Masking fragrance, toning agent. Known to be a strong toxin; banned or restricted in other countries; a known environmental toxin

Limonene--skin sensitizer; for perfume. Restricted/banned in other countries


Linalool--Masking fragrance; shown to be hazardous, banned/restricted for use in other countries

Hydroxycitronellal--Yet another masking fragrance! A known immune system toxicant; also banned or restricted in the EU and other areas

Perfume--I am getting so sick and tired of seeing perfume (artificial fragrance) in facial skin care. It has no business being in any facial products and serves no purpose for skin care. If you want to sent your body, that is one thing, but it has no benefits to the skin and doesn't belong on your face. Most artificial fragrances still contain phthalates, too.


Methylparaben--this type of paraben is a preservative agent against fungus. A study 6 years ago in the Journal of Applied Toxicology linked parabens to breast cancer as they may be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth. While the jury is still out on paraben safety, I personally find the links too strong and this home has been paraben free for 3 years.

Propylparaben--this type of paraben is a preservative agent against fungus. A study 6 years ago in the Journal of Applied Toxicology linked parabens to breast cancer as they may be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth.


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The Bottom Line:


There are some wonderful ingredients in this. I can see why users on the Lush website review it highly. It will be effective on many users. That being said, there are some really bad things in this and I wish LUSH would clean up their act!

Would I recommend this? Minus the red ingredients, yes, and for under $30 only.


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A DIY Project With Similar Benefits to Gorgeous:


You can make this treatment at home to yield at least a one year supply for under $50.

I am going to show you how to make a very simple 100% natural product at home using many of these ingredients. First of all, many gourmet food shops and Middle Eastern food shops sell Orange Blossom Water. If you want to shop online, you can find it right on Amazon.com very affordably (and in a large bottle). Do not get orange water that is just made with sweet orange oil, as it is different. Orange Blossom comes from Seville oranges and there is a difference.

Now get some good honey. I use a local honey. Buckwheat is best for the skin because of its antioxidant properties. The darker the honey, the more beneficial it is for the skin. If you're local, my favorite honey is by Doan's Farm and can be found in Irondequoit at Aman's. In Greece, it's at Green Acre Farms, and I think the Pittsford Farms Dairy and Powers Farm Market both sell it.

You'll also need Neroli and Myrrh. I have a small bottle of 100% pure neroli oil. I used to use it in a serum I made. If you are thinking of buying pure neroli, know that it will be very, very expensive. In its pure form, you would be spending hundreds of dollars per ounce. I have CO Bigelow, which is $60 per bottle for one TENTH of an ounce.

You really only need a drop and that can last you ages, but it is a huge investment unless you're in business. What I recommend doing to get the benefits of the neroli for home formulation is to get Aura Cacia Neroli Oil which is in a carrier oil (jojoba) for much less money. While you're there, get some of the same type of product in Myrrh, although Myrrh essential oil is not anywhere near as costly as Neroli. I am not convinced about Myrrh being a miracle ingredient, so have no qualms about buying the diluted form--plus Jojoba is great for the skin.


The rest of the supplies you will already most likely have in your kitchen and medicine cabinet -- extra virgin olive oil, orange juice, and lemon juice (preferably fresh from a lemon)

We are not making a true lotion or cream today. You will not need to have an emulsifier or heat anything over a double boiler. This is a simple, yet very effective moisture spray. If you're familiar with Clinique's Moisture Surge Face Spray, it is along those lines.

You have enough supplies to last a year (or more, but I would discard most of the ingredients at the one year point because they lose their potency. NOTE: You will need to make this weekly and use it up because it will spoil after that. It is so easy, though!

You will need a spray bottle. I like amber or cobalt glass. You can use clear glass and store in a dark place, but this is messy looking and the amber is more pleasing to the eye and will protect the essential oils.

The measurements don't have to be perfect, either. It is so easy and foolproof. I made this a few days ago. I had some orange blossom water already, so I thought I'd whip it up and test it out and see what adjustments needed to be made before sharing the recipe.

I added about an ounce and a half of orange water, a small drizzle of honey and splash of orange juice (I used Simply Orange), a couple drops of olive oil, two drops of juice from a lemon I was cutting up to use in my tea, a drop of neroli oil and a drop of myrrh oil. Combine and shake. Water and oil do not mix, so you will need to shake each and every time. I had some left over and used on my legs at night.

Spritz on and massage in to the skin with upward, outward motions. It's a great hydrator!

Now you can get as close to the Lush as you would like. I realize not everyone has a collection of oils. If you do, great! I had evening primrose, wheat germ, grapeseed and others already, so they can easily be used instead. If you're dry, add more oil to the water. Not a problem. It all depends on your skin and you can experiment each time you make it.



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If you're a Lush devotee and aren't opposed to parabens, Enzymion looks like your best bet in terms of ingredients used. It looks decent for all types except very oily and for use at night.
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