Our fragrances are made up of approximately 60% natural oils, resins and absolutes. Some formulas are 100% natural, some less so, depending on the product in question. Many of our fragrances are formulated to add treatment properties to the product; for example, chamomile blue has a high azulene content, which may have a soothing effect on the skin and anti-inflammatory properties.
Every natural essential oil is made up of a complex mixture of chemicals. Plants are little chemical factories and produce oils in order to fight disease, attract pollinators and perform many other functions. Some of the chemicals in natural essential oils are formed during processing of the material and did not exist in the plant to start off with. This is the case with orris butter, which starts its life as the rhizome of an iris plant, but ends up as one of the most valuable perfumery materials in use today through long drying and processing.
Citrus oils tend to be fairly simple and are easy to mimic using synthetics. We prefer using the real thing. Rose oil and rose absolute are expensive and chemically complex, with around 350 components making up the whole oil. In traditional perfumery and particularly the manufacture of soap and bath product fragrances, natural materials are usually omitted in favour of cheaper synthetics.
We like to start with natural oils and build up fragrances around them, using synthetic materials to support the formulae. The synthetic ingredients we use may be existing components of materials. For example, adding geraniol to a rose and geranium fragrance will tie together the ‘chemical daisy chain’ because both of these natural materials contain geraniol. We also use synthetic musk and some aromas that are impossible to obtain from nature, e.g. for pineapple scents.
Making perfumes is usually a closely guarded secret to companies – it’s one of the important elements of brand recognition and customer loyalty. There are already many knock-off Lush products in the world and we feel it’s reasonable of us not to publish the perfume formulae.