Lush is in the news again.
Just weeks after one customer turned her skin bright pink from improperly using a Lush bath product, the brand is again making waves in social media for another odd incident.
Several users found that using Lush’s Wiccy Magic Muscles massage bar in their showers was causing plants to sprout from their drains. The massage bar is made from a blend of oils to help soothe muscles and topped with beans that add texture.
“Wiccy Magic Muscles is our spicy massage bar for aching muscles,” says the product description on Lush’s e-commerce site. “The first time you use one of these, it you’ll notice the sensation of peppermint and cinnamon spice oils which make the skin feel warm and tingly. The red pieces on the top are aduki beans, which work into the muscles like firm fingertips for a relaxing massage.”
Aduki beans are popular in Asian cuisine and anyone who has ever had “red bean paste” or anything “red bean” flavored knows the ingredient in question. It turns out, the warm, damp environment of a shower drain is the perfect condition for the seed to sprout, and customers who have used the bar in the shower have been surprised with 18-25 cm plants germinating in their tubs.
Lush’s co-founder Helen Ambrosen, tells BuzzFeed: “We use organic aduki beans to create a texture in the massage bar, so that you’ve got small bead like shapes to massage the muscles. In order for the beans to germinate they must have been left in the shower for a few days. The results you get just go to show how fresh the ingredients really are.”
While we love a great natural product, seeing plants germinate from them in a bathtub is a bit odd—and there is a lesson to be learned.
Cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos says: “Bean seeds have a long storage life, up to several years, due to their strong seed coat. They need just need water, oxygen, and the right temperature to sprout. These massage bars aren’t intended for use in the shower but it’s easy to see how these seeds can sprout in drains and potentially cause damage to plumbing if they were to get caught in drains. Traditional preservatives used in cosmetics protect against the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold but won’t prevent these aduki beans from growing when exposed to the right conditions.”
Bottom line: Never assume you’re using a product correctly without reading the instructions or you may end up with pink skin and a bathtub garden.