Lush Life

And now for something completely different: Lush.

This UK brand of unabashedly girlie soaps, bath bombs, and haircare products has been flying under my all-seeing, all-knowing radar since it launched in 1994, probably because I’m not so much into $5 lacrosse ball-sized Bromo Seltzers scented with jasmine and ylang-ylang you dump in the tub to make fizzy-fizzy. I guess I’m just old-fashioned that way.

Of course, like many girlie brands these days, Lush has a handful of men’s shaving products, I guess for girlies to buy their boyfriends in the spirit of Queer Eyetc. and so they’ll quit leaving Edge can rust rings on the bathroom counter. With names like “Razorantium”, “Ambrosia”, and (I swear I’m not making this up) “Prince Triple Orange Blossom”, though, I’m guessing a girlie had better be hot and I’m talking about center of the Sun hot for a guy to drink a tub of that bathwater. It’s like when I bought Journey’s “Evolution” because my junior prom date liked them and I felt sure I could choke back the bile if that record could get me some lovin’, touchin’, and/or squeezin’ (no dice, and later I wound up hucking that vinyl so hard against a tree in our backyard I think Steve Perry felt a disturbance in the Suck Force).

Anyway, my friend Andy in the UK told me I needed to check Lush out, that their shaving creams were amazing. Normally, I’ll try anything Andy tells me is amazing — he is, after all, the coolest guy in England, as well as the man who invented the almighty Featherjector. Whereas the forum geeks’ love for a new product is usually a reliable sign it actually sucks, Andy’s one of a handful of guys whose opinion on matters of shavegeekery I take seriously. So I perused Lush’s US web site and called in some of their products to try.

I’m pretty sure I’m not quite the right demographic for the company’s bath bombs and fast-dissolving $7 bath soaps — the former fizzed up a storm in the kids’ bath (“Daddy, there’s ants in the tub!” my daughter squealed as the Golden Slumbers bath bomb left a bunch of little lavender twigs in the bathwater and made the whole house smell like candy), while the latter (Gratuitous Violets) literally dissolved in my hands within the space of two showers, leaving behind a spoor the likes of which no other scented product has ever marked my bathroom’s territory. Hey, my bad — I’m 2o years too old and one Y-chromosome too many for this kind of trip.

But the shaving creams…

First off, these Lush creams are totally different than anything else I’ve ever tried. They’re more like an aftershave balm you shave with than a traditional glycerine-based shaving cream. Both the Razorantium and the (I can’t even type this with a straight face) Prince Triple Orange Blossom come in 8-ounce tubs for $17-and-change. Which is good, because you use a lot more of this stuff per shave than you would an English cream.

Both Lushes are brushless, and I do mean brushless. The creams don’t lather at all, and they just sank into my Simpson Wee Scot brush like it was a black hole. You just wet your puss with warm water after a shower and then slather these Lushes on with your fingers, covering your face and neck. Then you shave.

And when you do shave, you will find something very curious indeed. Because these Lush creams, unlike every other shaving lube on the planet, don’t lube. In fact, they leave kind of a sticky surface on your skin and stubble. At first I thought I did something wrong, so I rinsed off the Razorantium and applied some PTOB. Same deal.

So you figure what the hell, and you bring a 1940’s Gillette Super Speed loaded with a 15-cent Israeli “Super+” DE blade to face, and you make your first stroke. And that’s when everything you know about wetshaving flies out the window.

Because this stuff works. I mean, it works like a goddamn miracle. I shaved with this stuff for a week and got a perfect, effortless shave every time. Shaving with a brushless, non-lathering cream that leaves a clear, tacky coating on your face takes some getting used to, but these Lush creams are, as Andy said they were, freakin’ amazing.

In keeping with the overall Lush trip of skin-friendliness/essential oils/etc., the Lush shaving creams are loaded with good stuff like almond oil, rose water, glycerine, and shea butter. But their secret ingredient is linseed mucilage, which is also a, um, laxative. Beyond its stickiness, linseed mucilage is said to have the curious ability to swell when it comes into contact with water, which may have something to do with why it gives the Lush shaving creams their crazy-excellent shavability.

Because of its brushless nature and amazing shave, Lush has become my new favorite quickie shaving cream, for when I absolutely have to shave in a minute flat without hating my crappy shave for the rest of the day. This stuff shaves like you also applied pre-shave oil, so even a rushed shave doesn’t irritate my skin. It’s the best quickie shave I’ve been able to pull off, by a long shot.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really notice a difference in the shave between Razorantium and the Prince Triple Orange Blossom, and oddly enough, they smell so similarly that I don’t think I could tell them apart blindfolded. I prefer the Razorantium by sheer dint of its less asinine name, but you can’t go wrong with either of these Lush creams. They may be weird, wacky, and completely different from anything else you’ve ever shaved with, but they shave like nobody’s business, too, and serve notice that there’s more than one way to shave a puss.