I know I’ve been gushing a lot about Lush lately, and I promise, no one is paying me to do that. However, when you live overseas, can’t read and have a specific requirement that your cosmetics NOT be tested on animals (and vegan if possible), your choices are limited and it might be best to go with what you know.
That being said, the second I learn to read Japanese, I WILL be trying out products and checking out local companies that might be cruelty-free. However, from what I understand, Japan is still ok with animal testing across the board.
For Christmas, my future sister-in-law got me an EXCELLENT gift box from Lush. In it was a fabulous facial moisturizer called ‘Million Dollar Moisturizer’. It’s gd amazing and perfect for winter. Of course, as soon as I tried it, it was excellent and I loved it, and I decided that this was a far better choice for face cream than my current Caudalie moisturizer, who may or may not actually test on animals, or uses ingredients that may be, etc. It’s also not available in Japan, and has to be brought over or mailed to me by my friends. NOT convenient.
So I went on over to the tiny Lush outpost that’s conveniently located in my train station, to see if they had it and price it out. I really didn’t know at the time how much it should or might cost, but imagined that with a name like ‘Million Dollar Moisturizer’, it wasn’t going to be cheap.
It costs something like Y6800 here. This was the equivalent, in my mind, to $68. Of course I didn’t buy it on the spot (but still bought a tub of their ‘Big’ shampoo, since that was reasonably priced and came from a secret santa gift, which I also loved) since it was FAR too expensive for the size of the tub. Instead, I went home and checked out the price on the Lush UK site, which was clearly NOT going to have a markup on it, as the products are made in London.
I was convinced there had to be a huge markup happening.
I should have checked my memory bank to remember that just days before, I’d been to the bank on my monthly ‘transfer my entire paycheck to pay off shit in the US and UK’ trip. I’d JUST been there and seen the insane exchange rate. Way to go, Japan. The Yen is so weak right now, its exchange against the dollar is Y120. The exchange to the British Pound is closer to Y188. Seriously.
So it should have come as no surprise when I found it on the site for 32.50 POUNDS. When I did the math, it turned out that the markup actually was really minimal. Almost nonexistent.
But still, regardless of the minimal markup, I’m not going to drop Y6900 on 45 grams of moisturizer. So I checked out some of their other options that were closer to my price range (under Y3000).
I found a few that looked promising and stopped again, last night, at the same station Lush shop to see if they had them. I had the list of the ones I wanted on my phone and proceeded to find them all and try them out on the small amount of skin I had available (because, winter). I honestly couldn’t make a choice, because they all felt similar, although I know they’re for different uses.
The salespeople, as usual, were doing their ‘telling me about the product’ in Japanese and I was ‘yes’ing them while saying ‘my Japanese isn’t good’, and they continued showing me things I was already looking at. I felt kind of bad because I was in a super shitty mood and tired after a long day at work, so I pulled out my phone to show the one salesperson that I’d already made a list and knew what I was looking for.
She was super excited about this because I’d prepared, I guess, and went on talking. I felt really bad that I had no idea what was going on, and couldn’t really make any decisions with that happening, or on that day, since I still have a tube of Caudalie and the rest of the Million Dollar Moisturizer sample gift at home. This was more of a recon mission to make sure they had any of them, anyway. I was happy enough they had the 3 I wanted.
So I rinsed off my hands and went to leave, and the salesperson came running after me, still talking in Japanese. I repeated that my Japanese was terrible, so she just said ‘sample?’. I understood that word completely.
I basically said ‘wow, thank you, great!’ and she pulled me back to the register, where she proceeded to give me a sample of each of the moisturizers I’d been looking at. And these aren’t the samples you get from Sephora that last for a day or two, these are large and full enough to get me through at least a week or two, each. And now I have 3 of them. I must have said ‘great’ and ‘thank you so much’ 20 times.
I really appreciate the samples so much, because it is just NOT enough to try one of them on in the store, especially when I seem to have sensitive skin that doesn’t often react well to all-natural products (I think it’s a soy allergy). Also, I really don’t want to drop the Japanese equivalent of $30 on a small amount of moisturising cream if I’m not sure it’s awesome, you know? I felt terrible for not being able to talk to the ladies trying to sell me stuff, but they’ve definitely won a customer in me by giving me all those samples. I will definitely make sure to ONLY shop from that outpost, if I can, just as a thank you until I can actually talk to them.
I totally forgot that Lush gives out free samples. And even though I definitely remembered later that I got samples from the German shop as well, it’s still SO appreciated, especially here, where I can’t read the labels on anything. If nothing else, I know I can buy from one company that doesn’t test on animals. And I will most certainly be buying from the ladies in the basement of Ikebukuro station.