Lush wipes themselves clean off social media

The company left all social media platforms, citing the mental health of their consumers

Holiday shoppers check on discounts at Lush, a cosmetics store at Cherry Creek Shopping Center in Denver, Colo. on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. The store says it does not have Black Friday sales, yet customers still shop there each year loyally. The store's products are all handmade and fight animal testing.

On Black Friday, Lush made the major decision to exit social media in an effort to stay true to their doctrine of fostering a safe environment, on and offline. There has been an influx of brands moving towards conscious marketing tactics but few permanently leave lucrative social media platforms, let alone on the biggest shopping day of the year.

The CEO of Lush, Mark Constantine, said that the decision was made to protect the mental health of their consumers, namely teens, who he said are increasingly susceptible to the harmful effects of social media usage.

It has been forecasted that Lush will  not only lose ten million followers across their social media platforms, but sales as well. Constantine said that the loss of not participating in common social media practices is well worth protecting the mental health of their consumers.

According to The Guardian, Constantine said that he is, “Happy to lose $10 million by quitting Facebook.”

The brand has gone beyond Facebook,  removing their public profiles off of Instagram, Tik Tok, and Snapchat where they peaked at 10.6 million followers collectively. Lush’s Instagram alone boasted a following of four million. This sudden move is huge in light of the upcoming holiday season where most brands mobilize their social media presence to garner more sales.

The environmentally friendly beauty brand said they want to make sure that they avoid toxicity in their products as well as on the internet. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans use some form of social media today which is up from 5% in 2005.

The use of social media has come into question as it pertains to the mental health of users. It has been found that social media usage can cause depression, anxiety, poor body image and physical illness.

In an Instagram post, Lush said that their followers should, “Be Somewhere Else.” The brand said that they are, “... encouraging our customers to stop scrolling and be somewhere else instead. We want to engage with you in places that look after you and your mental wellbeing.”

Lush is a brand known for being strong in its convictions, as they actively avoid animal testing, and only use vegetarian, free-trade ingredients to align with their values. While Lush’s move to transition off of social media is being applauded by some, others believe their departure is performative and potentially detrimental to the brand and its employees.

“I ran my old store’s social media pretty much throughout the pandemic and let me tell you, social media saved this company. How do they expect to keep running if they eliminate one of their most powerful tools,” said former Lush employee Jack Webster.

Sociology professor at the University of South Carolina and avid researcher of the harmful effects of social media, Professor Mathieu Deflem, believes that Lush is a little late to the soapbox about the harmful effects of social media.

“Social media is a part of social life. We are now far beyond the point of talking about the rise of the internet,” Deflem said.”The central concern now for us as citizens is to realize that social media are here to stay and to find ways of how to best use them and how to deal with any problems specific to the use and abuse of such media.”

Lush’s self-removal from social media was marketed as a way to encourage better social media practices by brands who prey on the insecurities of their consumers. However, like Webster, Deflem thinks this move is more of a stunt than a genuine move towards change.

“It smells like a stunt to me. It’s getting them attention — on social media, of all places! As it stands, Lush quitting social media is like throwing a hissy fit,” said Deflem. “I expect them to calm down and return to normality soon, which may very well have been their plan all along.”