Sunday, July 14, 2024

How Lush Cosmetics Makes Its Iconic Scents

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Even if it’s been a while since you stepped foot in a physical Lush Cosmetics store, you can likely picture the experience as clear as day. The brand was a trademark of malls everywhere, back when malls were the pinnacle of shopping. You knew a Lush store was near before even setting eyes on it, thanks to the intoxicating, overwhelming scent that wafted through the air and lured you in. Now, even though the heyday of shopping centers has come and gone, Lush has prevailed, and it’s not hard to see why. Though fragrance brands can be a dime a dozen now and natural beauty has become a mainstay, Lush was arguably one of the first of its kind.

The brand is famously known for its bath bombs, but it carries far more than just that. Its shelves are stocked with skin care (including face masks so fresh they need to be stored in the fridge), hair products, body products, and even fine perfumes — all of which have nature and sustainability at their core. Unlike some brands that treat fragrance as an afterthought to formulations, for Lush, it’s a guiding force. And we have perfumers like Alina Gliwinska at the company to thank.

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Gliwinska has been with Lush for years, working on every phase of the process, from compounder to quality control officer to key perfumer. As a result, she’s had a hand in creating some of the brand’s most iconic products — plus, she’s gotten to create a namesake perfume, Alina ($65), which has notes of pink pepper oil, patchouli oil, and vanilla.

With fragrance masterminds like Gliwinska working behind the scenes, Lush is able to create scents that are both unique and nostalgic, fun and out-of-the-box, yet comforting and familiar. Ahead, she pulls the curtain aside on the entire process, explaining where she gets her inspiration and how Lush creates the scents we know and love.

PS: What got you interested in fragrance?
Alina Gliwinska: I didn’t know I would become a perfumer. Life just happens. I grew up in Poland; I finished school there and came to England, and my first job there was with Lush. I fell in love with scent because, how can you not? When I would go to the grocery shop after work, everyone would say, “Oh, you must work at Lush because you smell so good.” I really appreciated my work there and straight away, I thought, this is a good fit for me. After one year, I got the opportunity to work for the fragrance team, and of course I took it because it’s the heart of the company. I worked there for three years as a compounder, so I was mixing the ingredients and making the perfumes, and then I moved to the quality control team. That’s when I knew I was really interested in it. I was on that team for around seven years and I fell in love with the ingredients: how precious they are, how difficult they are to make, the stories behind each of them. Around four years back, I actually got an opportunity to create my own scent for the products, and I was really happy to start working on that. Then, around two years ago, I started working on the body sprays and perfumes.

PS: Where do you get your inspiration for new scents?

AG: From life honestly, from emotion, from books, from what we’re watching, but we also do collaborations. So we take inspiration from movies, from companies, from the colors and themes brands use. But we are very emotional as perfumers, so whatever we are doing and reading and feeling, that reflects in our creativity and what we do. Especially in perfumery, we are quite unique; we have a bit of freedom and we can create perfumes with our creativity, and I love that part.

PS: How does Lush come up with unique scents for its bath and body products?

AG: With product perfumes, it’s a bit different because we have also product developers. They often already have an idea of the product — how it’ll look, what the color will be — so they are giving us that brief or mood board. From that, we try to create a scent. So look at the color, the texture, what it brings to mind, and we try to find ingredients to reflect that.

PS: What is the process of creating a new product for Lush?

AG: It all depends on the product. For example, with bath bombs or bubble bars, we are mostly looking to mirror the theme of the product through the scent. With skin care and hair products, we’re not only looking to create a good-smelling product, we are looking for essential oils that have benefits for the skin, scalp, and hair. So then we just look to highlight the essential oil in those fragrances. For example, with the Sleepy range, when we were looking for calming scents, straight away we think about vanilla and then gourmand notes because that’s what makes you feel comfortable. So it depends on what product we are making, but it’s a different process for each.

PS: What’s your favorite fragrance you’ve ever made?

AG: My favorite product that I created the fragrance for is the Old Songs Are Waking Body Scrub from the Mother’s Day range — I’ve used probably three pots already. I love that one and it’s my scent. But perfume-wise, I love Tank Battle ($105). I use it a lot. It’s a very specific scent with jasmine notes and rain falling, with that damp, muggy, watery smell. I love that because it’s very unique.

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Jessica Harrington is the senior beauty editor at PS, where she writes about hair, makeup, skin care, piercings, tattoos, and more. As a New York City-based writer and editor with a degree in journalism and over eight years of industry experience, she loves to interview industry experts, keep up with the latest trends, and test new products.

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