Buyer beware: Lush gift sets will cost you extra

’Tis the season for fun holiday gift sets that let you try a little bit of everything for a great price, right? Wrong — if you’re talking about Lush gift sets, that is.

It pains me to say this, because I really do adore Lush — great products, great philosophy — but at least some of their packaged gifts are not worth the price you pay. Literally. Let’s do the math:

The Chillin’ With My Gnomies gift set includes a 3.3 oz. Whoosh Shower Jelly and a 3.5 oz. Snow Globe Soap and costs $14.95. But if you bought the items separately, you’d only pay $11.90, and you’d actually get 0.2 oz. more shower jelly.

You could pay $28.95 for the Gingerbread House Tin, which comes with a 3.5 oz. Gingerbread House Bubble Bar, a 3.5 oz. Candy Cane Bubble Bar, a 3.1 oz. Cinders Bath Bomb, and a 3.1 oz. L’il Lush Pud Bath Bomb — or you could pay $6.25 and $5.95 for the bubble bar and $3.95 each for the bath bombs, for a total of $20.10, and use the $8.85 you saved to buy a cuter container. Or two more bath bombs.

What got me started adding up the Lush gift sets? My own folly. On my swing through Lush in Las Vegas last week, I picked up a couple of the cute boxed gifts thinking they would be a good way to try some new scents. I did the math in my head quickly and figured out I was paying about $5 per product in one set and a little less than $6 per product in the other, which seemed more or less right — until I got home, started poking around the website, and found out most of the products I’d bought in those gift sets actually retail for $3.95. I’d paid $1.60 per ounce for products that would have averaged $1.22 per ounce if I’d bought them individually. I was particularly offended when I realized that, in buying the Christmas Star gift set, I’d overpaid for my products by about $10, in return for which I got a cute but cheap star-shaped cardboard box and a frustrated headache.

There is a 25% off coupon inside each of the boxes I purchased, and I imagine some people would say that makes them worth the extra money. But I have a couple of responses to that:

  • The discount coupons are extremely limited. This isn’t a blanket 25% off your next purchase. You only get to use them on three products, and they must be skincare products (“cleansers, hand and body lotions, toners, shaving cream, serums, color supplements, fresh face masks and moisturizers”). Having overpaid by $10 for the Christmas Star gift set, my total for those three skincare products would have to be $40 before my 25% discount would start to pay for itself.  I shop at Lush for hair care and bath products, so these two coupons likely won’t get used.
  • Is it really a discount if you have to pay for it? If the discount is part of what you’re paying for, isn’t Lush just charging you now to give them more money later? That’s not a discount — it’s a down payment.

I sent an e-mail off to Lush asking for an explanation of the gift set overpricing. I don’t need to save gazillions of dollars on gift sets, and they’re certainly not billing them as value sets or special bargains — but I’m offended that I paid so much extra for no apparent reason. If I get an answer, I’ll post it. In the meantime, my recommendation is to do your homework before you buy a Lush gift set — you could save yourself some real money by buying individual products and wrapping them up yourself.

2 thoughts

  1. I know, right? Lush has long been on my “crazy expensive but worth it from time to time” list. Now I'm going to have to start a “crazy expensive and possibly swindling you” list. I really need to learn how to make my own bath bombs.

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