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Here is the first of our archive posts about Lush's shower gels, past and present. Below are a bunch of reviews; more will be added to this post as they occur, and changes to this post will be flagged on this community as they happen.

Chai – a thin but clear deep red Retro shower gel which manages to be both refreshing and warming, Chai has quite a divisive scent – people seem either to love or hate it immediately. It's based around tea and spices, obviously, but has enough sharp elements including lemon juice to make one sit up and take notice. Not something to put you to sleep, more of a morning wake-up call, Chai leaves you feeling very clean indeed, and is just the thing for cool showers during a sweltering heat wave. I like it a lot, but it's an odd sort of smell, so its lack of universal appeal means I can only give it 6.5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – I don't know why it's red. It's somewhat thin in consistency, would make a good stage blood. The scent, on the other hand, is nothing so ghastly. The first ingredient is tea and it shows. The inclusion of allspice and ginger round off a convincing chai aroma – considering that it's a soap, it smells as much like chai as I'd reasonably expect. Excellent cleansing action, lathers relatively well but not excessively and has a calming, reassuring quality despite the citrus notes. It won't wake you up or put you to sleep but it's a stable and reassuring experience. Lush recommend it for chilly days and I'd agree, it's well suited for the dark winter months when this kind of reassurance is most necessary. 9/10

(The) Comforter – this is the same scent as the bubble bar but in a shower gel, which would be perfect for people without baths if this hadn't been a forum-only special. Hard to find and EXPENSIVE, it's nevertheless worth hunting for if you adore blackcurrants. The cassis is really rich, a deep and expansive scent which you can almost taste. The beautiful burgundy gel itself is clear, reasonably thick and creates a soft but heavy lather which leaves the slightest hint of fruit behind on the skin. Deeply indulgent, The Comforter gel is, I think, slightly nicer than its bubble bar equivalent, which is also great but can be too much at times. I wish with a passion that Lush would make a full Comforter range, like Karma, Vanillary, the somewhat defunct Prince or the mostly-seasonal Snow Fairy; that wouldn't be completely unlikely as there also used to be a solid Comforter perfume. I can't see it happening, but it's a nice dream. 9.5/10.

[personal profile] alextiefling – this smells like Ribena, which is a chemical scent with good associations for me. Not nearly as sickly as something like Snow Fairy, though it is sweet; as with FF, the clarity of the scent means this isn't a bad thing. Almond oil takes the edge off that sweetness a little and the final effect is very uplifting. This is a better pick-me-up than Happy 4 Sad. There should be more of this. 9/10

Flying Fox – honey makes this sweet, but not too sugary. To me, it also smells strongly of honeysuckle, but that is in fact the jasmine; there's no actual honeysuckle in it as far as I can see from the ingredients (hey Lush, here's a gap in the product range!). Flying Fox has been around for quite some time and has appeared in other forms too (notably, the now-defunct temple balms). It seems to be quite a polarising sort of product, with people who love the scent being very keen indeed, and people who don't being repulsed. Marketed as a sensual experience, FF is intended to be energising rather than soothing, and is typically described as 'sexy', although it's also described as a calming mood balancer now. I say draw your own conclusions. It's one of the thinnest gels, but the smell is quite powerful and will last reasonably well. Matches up nicely with the similar Godiva shampoo & conditioner bar, although that is entirely vegan and honey-free; they both have a strong jasmine smell, so if you like that, they're a good product combination. I like it, but not quite as much as many people seem to. 7.5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – you can actually feel the honey in FF. It makes a noticeable difference to the texture of the liquid, and feels almost like dipping your hand in runny honey, which makes sense as it contains no fewer than 4 different honey varieties. The honey gives most of the scent too, but the jasmine and angelica offer strong notes as well, with jasmine absolute used to boost the impact. Has a toning effect on my skin; where other gels leave the skin feeling clean but a little dehydrated, FF seems to have a slightly moisturising quality. Possibly a bit cloying for some, but I really enjoy it. 8/10

Ghost – a limited edition return at Hallowe'en 2010, Ghost is a perennial favourite. A thick, creamy shower gel, this smells wonderfully of lilies and leaves the skin soft and very slightly scented. It's described as 'shimmery', but fear not, that doesn't mean it's full of glitter! It's a relaxing choice which isn't overpowering and manages not to be sickly (often a problem with lily). Ghost is not a flashy piece, and perhaps doesn't last quite as long as thinner shower gels, but it's very calming and exactly the thing if you want neither very sweet nor very sharp products in your routine. Lush doesn't do that many lily-scented products, but for those who like them, Lily Savon soap is returning to Retro very soon. 8/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – Ghost is a sticky white viscous fluid, which is about as unfortunate as it sounds. Possibly meant to be like ectoplasm, but that wasn't what it reminded me of. The scent is pleasant, although a bit more like a mainstream liquid soap than Lush's usual range. Orchids & roses are nevertheless a good combination. It also contains something called Snowflake Lustre Colour, which I presume is responsible for its very slight iridescent quality. The cleaning effect is good but not great, it takes a couple of rinses before it feels as if it's stopped clinging to my skin. I'm really not convinced by the branding decision to call this 'Ghost'; the slogan “Don't get into the shower alone!”, which in another context would be sexy, is creepy when combined with the name and “the haunting smell of lilies”. A peculiar product, usable but not nearly as interesting as its designer thought it was. 6/10

Glögg – one of the best new creations for 2010, in my humble opinion, Glögg is a clear shower gel based around mulled red wine. Warming and spicy, it lathers up well (a little goes a long way) and it makes an excellent bubble bath too. It has a strong and distinctive scent, but it's not quite as overwhelmingly present as something like Chai. In my very small sample range, everyone I've introduced it to has been greatly impressed, and has often run straight out to buy their own! I hope this comes back again. It's probably a bit too seasonal to be a standard product, but it could at least be a regular Christmas visitor, like Snow Fairy. 9/10

[Bad username or unknown identity: ”numberland”] - I love Glögg shower gel, mulled wine shower gel, just wonderful, lots of smell and cleaning and feeling really soft afterwards. I may have got rather a lot of bottles. I can't think of much wrong with this. 9.5/10.

[personal profile] alextiefling – 2010 was quite international in Lush's themes for their specials and Glogg, another gel like Chai that strongly evokes the thing it's named after, immediately reminds me of Scandinavian spiced wine. Which makes sense because that's what's in it, along with orange juice and a large number of fruit leaf oils. Definitely one for the dark winter months, it's got a warming, cheering quality helped on by cinnamon as a leading component and a nice, reassuring red-brown colour. Cleans well with a moderate lather and isn't too clinging. Feels good to use and rinses off readily. I may not be able to drink real glogg, thanks to an allergy, but this is a fine, non-intoxicating alternative. 9/10.

Grass – very refreshing, Grass smells of plants and herbs and general greenness; the wheatgrass juice is nicely set off by the little hints of sandalwood and bergamot. It's clear but on the thick side and it lathers up quite well to give a very squeaky-clean feel. It's not as one-note a scent as its name might suggest, and it's very good for people who don't want anything overly sweet, floral or fruity in their washing schedule. It would combine well with Retro shampoo Washday Greens and Retro conditioner Okra, for anyone wanting the channel the Green Man via their shower! Like The Olive Branch, Grass is a more restrained product whose lack of bells & whistles may make it seem dull, but it isn't; it's a deep, complex and inviting scent which gets more and more interesting as you keep using it. Great for people who don't like more traditional 'cosmetic' scents. 7.5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – overwhelmingly wheatgrass, but you can make out the citrus smells as well, and obviously it smells primarily of newly-cut grass. Brisk and cleansing, very good for a quick shower in the morning as it really leaves you feeling like you've been firmly cleaned, dammit! 8/10

Happy Hippy – a real Lush staple, this grapefruit shower gel is enduringly and, to me, inexplicably popular. Don't get me wrong, it really does smell of grapefruits and it's a cheery colour and it's good to wake up to in the mornings, but Lush do a lot of citruses and a fair amount of wake-you-up shower treats, so I don't quite get why this one stands out so much. Maybe because it's simple, straightforward, uncomplicated. Of moderate thickness, this lathers quite well and gives a sharply clean feeling to the skin. Perfectly good for what it is, doesn't especially excite me – I'd take Slammer any day, but then, I love lime and don't care much about grapefruit. I'm happy to use it, I just wouldn't go far to get it for myself. 5.5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – like Slammer, Happy Hippy is made almost entirely of one kind of citrus, in this case grapefruit. It has a pungent, bitter quality and a strong cleansing effect. I don't actually like grapefruits, so the scent isn't my favourite, but it smells very real and not at all chemical. If you like this smell, I'd really recommend it, it's bracing and cheering, although the small amount of frankincense it contains is sadly not detectable. Although not to my taste, the quality is very good. 7/10.

Happy 4 SAD – recently discontinued from Retro, this is now rather hard to get hold of, though it's still available in the US & Canada. It aims to be a cheering wake-up call to help out folks with winter blues, and to that end contains a good citrus bite. It's worth noting, though, that the scent is quite laid-back, the citruses being a mix of grapefruit, neroli and mandarin (no lemon or lime) and there's a darker, slightly bitter note to it which adds a hint of sophistication. The gel itself is very thin and only lathers a little, though it seems to clean just fine. Doesn't leave too much scent behind. This is quite an ephemeral product from my perspective, and not something I'd go far out of my way to get, but the scent really does work strongly on some people – I offered a sniff to a mopey person and their immediate reaction was “wow, that smells wonderful!”. The Lush Wiki states that the gel used to change colour in sunlight; I have no idea whether that only applies to the older versions (which were a more brilliant purple) or whether it still works now, as I've been too lazy to experiment. You could always test it if you wanted, though. 6/10 for me, 7.5/10 for others.

[personal profile] alextiefling - smells of flowers of the forest, quite dusky, reminiscent of autumn evenings. The neroli comes through quite strongly and provides a hint of bitterness in what's otherwise a fairly sweet smells. Although not obvious in the scent, the florals turn out to be orchids (Dendrobium), and the gel itself contains a fair bit of aloe vera. H4S is an instantly reassuring fragrance and also has a brisk cleansing effect, leaving the skin smooth & supple. As a mood enhancer, it's pretty good and lives up to its name; the mixture of sweet & bitter makes for an invigorating & uplifting pick-me-up. I wouldn't go as far as the label's description of it as “euphoria-inducing” but it's pretty effective. 8.5/10

It's Raining Men shower gel – OK, I'm impressed. I enjoyed this far more than I expected. IRM is described as having the Honey I Washed The Kids fragrance, but honestly, quite a few Lush products have said that, and they're all subtly different. The medium matters (on which point I should say the gel itself is moderately thick and opaque while lathering well). This does indeed have the honey-toffee quality, but again, like all this season's products, it's light, and it's also got a really juicy balance of florals and citrus which makes the overall smell positively edible. The lotus and tiger lily elements give prominence to the flower-honey base, while the sweet orange is really noticeable; it might be that or it might be the bergamot, but something pushes the scent into overdrive. Positively wakeful without being sharp. I'm so going to be stocking up on this one. 9/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – I can't look at the label without hearing the song! The aroma is amazing. Like FF, it's strong on the honey, but this doesn't have the same sticky consistency and the honey scent is balanced out by a strong fruity note which I think must be the rosehips. This lathers readily, producing big stretchy bubbles, it's a pleasure to use and I hope it's continued. I'd recommend this to anyone who doesn't avoid honey. Even straight men. 9/10.

Karma – sadly, and oddly, discontinued, this was simply Karma-scented shower gel. Absolutely lovely, IMHO, but I really like Karma. I do wonder if this'll come back at some point, since Karma remains Lush's signature smell, but maybe somebody decided they just had too many Karma products about for them to be truly appreciated. ?/10, depending on how much you like the scent of Karma.

The Olive Branch – a delicate yet robust mandarin scent makes this thin, clear, olive oil-based gel a more rounded experience. Its oil base means it's inclined to separate, but don't let that worry you, just give it a quick shake before use. It's a lovely, balanced sort of fragrance (in fact, there was briefly a forum-only liquid perfume, as well as a solid perfume, capturing TOB's unique and refreshing aroma). Cleans well and leaves the skin feeling very smooth, sadly the gentle smell doesn't last long once dry. Not an intense hit, more an enlivening spritz, this is a soothing refresher which really helps when you're feeling frazzled. 8/10.

[personal profile] alextiefling - despite its name, TOB relies primarily on vine leaves for its composition, although the olive oil is notable in both scent and taste. Not strongly scented, even though it's like a catalogue of the citrus families; they simply perk up the oils to prevent it getting sickly. Reminiscent of the inside of a Mediterranean deli. It's good stuff, and I can tell how other people would really like it, but it's just not to my personal taste despite being a good product, so I wouldn't make any effort to use it. 6/10

Rub Rub Rub – described as a shower gel, RRR's a bit of a sui generis product which is probably closer to a body scrub than a soap, but not exactly like either. It's staying in with shower gels for ease of use, though, as that's what Lush used to call it. A blue squishy salt scrub that you rub all over your skin for cleansing and exfoliation, it's very stimulating. Should not be used on delicate, damaged or overly dry skin because ow, salt, but it's very pleasing on the rougher bits and works well on feet too. It claims to be fine for use on hair as well, and now it's in the Big-like tub I can sort of see how that'd work, although I haven't tried it yet. If anyone has, I'd be interested to know your thoughts; I do wonder whether it isn't rather drying. The orangey mimosa scent is uplifting, cheery but not too zingy; just right really. It doesn't assault the nose like a strong citrus would. While it's not one of the Lush scents which really excites me, I do find it likeable and don't think it's unusual enough to put most people off; it'd almost certainly work for people who don't like Lush's stronger/more overpowering odours. Old-style RRR was really annoying to use in a bottle because the liquid would pour out and the bits of salt would get stuck in the bottom! The move to a tub has made it much more functional. I find this to be a good choice of product for people who want a scrub but find the solid sugar scrubs too harsh. Quietly effective. 7.5/10

Slammer – this is my preferred citrus hit to get going. A fierce orange-red, this thinner gel has a strong punch of lime undercut with lemon & honey for sweetness. It also contains a signature hit of litsea cubeba oil, a lemongrass-like citral extraction which gives a really distinctive tang to Slammer and ensures its citrus notes don't just scream sharpness; it used to have rock salt as well, to resemble a Tequila Slammer, but the current version seems to have left that out, which works. Still leaves me feeling very clean but sadly without much lingering scent – if Lush bottled this as a perfume, I'd get right in there. Apparently it used to be available in ballistic form; I'm gutted it's not anymore. When I'm feeling indulgent, I'll have to use it for a bubble bath. In the meantime, this is my wash & go. Avoid if you hate citrus, otherwise this is one of my top suggestions. 9/10.

[personal profile] alextiefling – no surprise that Slammer, made almost entirely of limes, is a reference to the tequila slammer and has been marketed as a hangover cure! It says it'll slap you awake and in terms of simple pick-me-up power, it's superior to Happy 4 SAD. It has quite a deep cleaning effect and I can well believe Lush's suggestion that it's good for washing hair, although I'm not going to try. The smell is extremely pungent. If you don't rinse thoroughly afterwards, the hangover recovery effect may be spoiled when you turn up at work smelling like a brace of sours! Good stuff. 7.5/10.

Snow Fairy – sweet, sweet, sweet. A regular Christmas special item, Snow Fairy is pink in a bottle. Like Karma, it has its fanatical devotees, and has appeared in other guises such as the lip tint (raspberry flavoured, with icing sugar) and a solid perfume. The Godmother soap, available all year round, captures its scent for daily use. As a shower gel, Snow Fairy is an opaque and creamy one. It keeps well, but will tend to separate, although this is not much of a problem and really only needs a bit of shaking to restore. It's not the most aggressively cleansing of shower gels but does leave a strong scent on the skin for most people, which is probably the point. 7/10, but really not for everyone.

[personal profile] alextiefling – a couple of years ago, SF had a legendary reputation as a Lush winter product, but I just don't get it. It's lurid pink in colour (although the 2010 lot is slightly darker, and now labelled as vegan), which evokes a very gendered idea of fairies and has nothing to do with snow. It smells very strongly like raspberry milkshake. I notice that the anonymous 'perfume' is the first scent listed, overwhelming even the synthetic musk (something else I don't like). It also contains glitter made from pthalates! It's impossibly sickly, although ironically, the smell is reminiscent of Joyride's Anti-Nausea Tablets, which may be a source of my bias against it. In any case, the scent is too much for me. I'm really surprised as this as a choice for a winter product as it has an early summer quality IMO. Decent cleansing effect but nothing special, lathers well, but despite that it's a pointless novelty. 2/10, would rather buy mass-market product than this.

Sonic Death Monkey – back in Retro by popular demand, this is one of Lush's truly distinctive hits. The combination of fragrances initially seems very weird – chocolate and dark coffee and lime? Could be a disaster. But it really, really works; the chocolate is not a sweet note but a sophisticated one, think of a mole sauce or other savoury chocolate dish. The coffee doesn't swamp the scent or make it too bitter. Lime enhances without being aggressively sharp. The overall effect is quite adult, an indulgent meal which is nevertheless enlivening rather than soporific. The gel is also moderately thick, which adds to the feeling of luxury it induces. I'm not one of SDM's most vocal fans, but it is a thing of beauty. Sadly, like many beautiful things, it's pretty expensive, so I have to give it no more than 8.5/10.

Tramp – a hugely popular gel whose 2010 discontinuance caused minor ructions, Tramp is coming back very soon for Retro, to nobody's great surprise. Although Tramp's in the general ballpark of other “green” smells like Grass, it's very distinctive, mostly patchouli with other herbs (in fact, apparently, horehound & balm). Patchouli's one of those polarising scents, so if you don't like it then Tramp is definitely not for you. Good news if you do though! Tramp is one of the thicker gels which isn't actually creamy, and it also makes for a very good bubble bath, not a million miles away from Smaragadine but slightly less foamy. I've also heard good reports about it as a shampoo, although I've never tried. Very 'clean' feeling skin after use, nice lingering of the scent, lovely. 8/10

Uluru – forum-only special with the scent of the Uluru bath ballistic and quite hard to get hold of. This is a fairly thick, somewhat creamy gel in a light shade of orange. The smell's difficult to describe as it's lighter than I would have expected – bit of citrus (orange & lemon), bit of sandalwood – and in all honesty I found it a little disappointing. It's pleasant but undistinguished. To be fair, it's quite a delicate scent and may not keep well, but it's never going to make a bold statement. One for people who like their scents unobtrusive, I doubt this'll come back so it's probably not that worth hunting out unless you really love the ballistic, of which this is something of a poor cousin. 4.5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling – this smells strongly of table oranges rather than Lush's more usual bitter oranges or orange blossoms. The colour, bright orange, certainly suggests the sunset over the Australian desert, even if the scent doesn't. The gel produces a good, fine lather with a nice soft texture, which rinses off easily and leaves the skin feeling clean & fresh. I wouldn't go out of my way to get this – which is just as well given its scarcity – but it's not bad. 6.5/10

Yummy Yummy Yummy – a, incredibly thick, creamy strawberry shower gel, this looks like a paler Snow Fairy but smells temptingly edible, like one of those evil deceptive glittery erasers you had at school. Prone to separation and to sickly overtones, YYY is nevertheless the epitome of the sweet strawberry scents we all remember from childhood. A good companion for Strawberry Feels Forever massage bar and Mrs Whippy ballistic (though not quite as nice as either), it's an overtly “girly” scent. I sort of like it in its own way, but I wish Lush would start doing fresh strawberry scents, because those would be awesome. Discontinued now, no immediate plans for its revival. 5/10

[personal profile] alextiefling - while not as terrible as Snow Fairy, YYY is in a similar vein of slightly fruity pink goo. It's not as pungent or as blatantly synthetic, and in fact it smells like strawberry yoghurt, which is a nice enough scent but not one I want to carry around with me all day. It also has a strange clumpy consistency, not unlike Ghost only more so (Uluru has this too). I wouldn't recommend this as it's too sweet and sickly. The lather is OK but no better than any of more than a dozen nicer products. 4/10.

It should be noted that almost all the shower gels can be used as bubble baths if poured under running water and fluffed up. They're reasonably effective, some more than others (thinner, clearer gels appear to work a little better than thick or creamy ones), but it's another way to try them out if you're bored with what you've got. Please check previous post by [personal profile] numberland here for more. Perhaps a discussion post about gels as bubble bath is merited?

Have you used these or any other shower gels? Please let us know and we'll happily add you reviews to ours.
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