LUSH Breath of God, etc.

By March

I walked up behind my girls at the mall and said, “Okay, sniff me and tell me what store I’ve been in.”  And they promptly chirped, “LUSH.”  They deduced that from sniffing my clothes after I’d been in the store for 10 – 15 minutes, not anything I’d sprayed on.

But I had to (wo)man up and go in there, because it was time to sniff those Gorilla scents, at least the ones available locally.  I skipped a few.  Here are my thoughts on the ones I sampled, from least to most favorite:

Lust – “unashamedly carnal jasmine,” notes are jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, vanilla, sandalwood.  Okay, it’s mighty indolic, and I’m not complaining about that – I like a dirty jasmine.  But the first half-hour’s marred by that artificial-banana-candy smell I get sometimes from jasmine scents, and after that there’s still a plasticky note, and then the mothball note.  Ugh.  Maybe it’s better on you.  Fun fact: I could smell this half a block away; my daughter is almost entirely anosmic to it.

The Smell of Freedom – notes are lemongrass, lemon myrtle, neroli, jasmine, ginger, fire tree, clove, black pepper, sandalwood, oudh, orris.  I was sure this was going to be my favorite, and it’s not that it’s bad.   But it smells like a pick-me-up tonic-scent from Body Shop or Origins, something they’d also have available in a soap and body wash.  I was hugely disappointed, since based on those notes I was sure I’d love it.  The girls said it smells like furniture polish.

Vanillary – Vanilla, jasmine, tonka.  It’s got a buttery note I like, and would make a nice generic vanilla scent.  My more critical daughters say it smells like something they could get at BBW.  I think it’s better than that, but probably wouldn’t pay retail for it.

Breath of God – Neroli, lemon, melon, jasmine, rose, vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, musk.  You remember this one, right?  The one they went nuts over in Perfumes: The Guide, five stars, and at least half of you thought they were insane?   Okay, so – I cried.  I mean, I did that thing I do where my eyes well up and it’s a little embarrassing in Forever 21, because, yes, it moved me that much.  It’s a place-smell, like the inside of the temple of the reclining Buddha we visited in Bangkok — not just incense, but humanity — damp earth, smoky air, strange fabrics… that glorious, foreign smell, of other-ness.  It’s essentially a murky, smoked-incense that (if it goes all wrong on you) should be sprayed on your clothes, try that.   It was oddly short-lived on my skin; and the drydown was a hair too sweet, focusing on the fruity floral bits.  Again, on fabric, it’s perfect.  If murky, earthy incense sounds horrible to you, skip it.  If you are like me and believe there is no such thing as too many incense scents, well, you may want to brave LUSH and try it sometime.

Karma – “inspired by hippies and head shops,” orange, patchouli, pine, lavandin, lemongrass, elemi, cassie.  That description is so unfair, because this smells nothing like, say, a cheesy, medicinal patchouli or one of those “lotus rain” essential oils.  It’s lovely, an inky-green scent somewhere between vetiver and pine, with a pale-straw-citrus note of lemongrass and a resiny base.   I want a bottle.  Okay, okay, and I want a bottle of Breath of God too.

Hot tip –  according to the LUSH website, Breath of God is composed of 50% Inhale and 50% Exhale (their original scents, not available here.)   If you find BOG too sweet in the drydown, throw some Karma on top, or spray them side by side on your sleeve.  The combination is fantastic.

image: from LUSH site for Breath of God



  • Joan says:

    I had been yearning to try Lush’s scents for the longest time after reading the almost unanimously positive reviews in Perfumes: The Guide.

    After sampling the solids, I bought Lust. It’s a straight jasmine, and I find it to be as projectile as you say. It’s no masterpiece, but fun to wear.

    I was really disappointed in Breath of God after Tania Sanchez’s effusive review, and tried to imagine that it didn’t smell like cat pee, but alas, heaven wasn’t on my side.

  • Victoria says:

    What a fun review, March! I now want Karma too. I remember hating it the first time I smelled it, but I nevertheless was tempted to revisit it again and again. It really grew on me eventually, and I love the combination of musty, earthy patchouli and juicy oranges.

    • March says:

      Back over here catching up on comments — Karma seems to have grown on me too. I know they have cheap, teeny roll-ons, maybe I’ll brave the LUSH store and get one!

  • Civava says:

    First it smelled like God went for a drink (shot of a pure juniper schnaps). But then in an hour or so things get really nice it has the most remarkable twist I’ve ever experienced in a scent.

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s so interesting! See, I liked the “God went out for schnapps” part, and then the drydown less so, although it was still great. It sure did do a twist, though.

  • minette says:

    the lush girl at macy’s sprayed something of theirs on a piece of paper from them – and i had to throw it out almost as quickly as she handed it to me – it was truly awful. orange and patchouli? that rings a bell.

    so, even though i respect your reactions (which more often than not match mine), i will approach these very, very carefully. but you do make BOG sound wonderful, so i will have to do that in the near future!

    • March says:

      Just stay away from that Freedom one, it gave me a rash! 😉

      They have …. three (four?) others? Here in the states. I had a vague plan of making wee samples of all of them, but to be honest I grabbed the ones that sounded most interesting and got the hell out of there, did NOT try Imogen Rose, Tuca Tuca and one or two other things.

  • Darryl says:

    I didn’t even know BoG got five stars in The Guide, but your description makes me lemming it something fierce, and I generally can’t handle LUSH. I fully expected to love Karma based on its description and the SA’s effusive praise, but I found it screechy. Lust…well, the less said, the better. Started off intriguingly fruity and woody, turned into a chemical spill on my arm, and refused – REFUSED, I’m talking Secretions Magnifiques levels – to be scrubbed off. The only thing I’ve purchased from the place was a small bottle of their Grass shower gel, which I loved but didn’t feel the need to restock after it ran out.

  • Kym says:

    Now I really want to try Breath of God, but it’s no even on their website! Booo

  • Louise says:

    I tried BOG and the jasmine-bomb a few months ago-and considered buying one or the other. Until the shop smell triggered the first full-on asthma attack I’ve had in months. I actually liked the smell-but the attack had me running.

    I’d love to re-try a number of the scents-but I’d have to run in with my tiny samp vials, and run home. Perhaps I will do just that!

    Hugs, Marchele.

    • March says:

      Hugs to you, hope you are having happy hiking. 😡 Yeah, just go steal some. Gal didn’t bat an eye when I made my samps, but I’m pretty quick and stealthy. Will note (I should have put this in the review!) Smell of Freedom appeared to give me an arm rash where I put it on.

      • Musette says:

        See. that’s what I’m talkin’ bout! Whenever I get near Lush I start to get itchy – I suspect it’s all that soap and bathpowder stuff they have flying around – I can smell it 100′ away – and my nose isn’t all that! Twenty feet? I’m thinking HIVES!!!. Your arm rash has put paid to any attempts to try their stuff – I’ll just take your word for it.

        Carry on :)>-

        xo >-)

  • DinaC says:

    Breath of God and Karma both sounds really good. Now I want to sniff them! My DS and I are suffering through tree pollen hell right now, cloistered away in the air-conditioned house, in spite of the fact that the weather is beautiful.

    My next door neighbor’s iris is blooming, but I can’t smell it when I walk by. Maybe I’m not close enough, or maybe this variety is not scented? Or maybe my allergic nose is too overwhelmed too sniff. :-)

    • March says:

      The smell of irises definitely vary (like roses) and some have no smell at all. I know, I know, the pollen here is terrible. Everything outdoors is covered in yellow powder, our house is shut up tight too, even though it gets too warm upstairs in the afternoon.

  • mariekel says:

    I so wanted to like at least one Lush scent, perhaps to prove I am not a snob who wants to firebomb Lush stores the minute I smell one coming towards me. But I think I may have to retire early from this endeavour, given the violence of my reactions to the two I have tried. I just couldn’t get anything favourable from BOG — in fact, the acronym suited what I did find: murky, garbage-y yuckiness. I even tried to keep it on for half an hour (failed) to see if it mutated into something intriguing. But I am afraid all I got was bilge.

    Then there was Imogen Rose from the new line, possibly the most noxious version of that flower I have ever encountered. It does not smell so much like rose to me as an olfactory depiction of thorns: there is an unpleasant spiky quality to it.

    Are any of the above worth one more foray?

    • March says:



      You hated BOG, the stores make you gag… give up and move on, ya know?

      I steered clear of the rose just from the name, since I generally hate roses anyway.

  • Fiordiligi says:

    I’m afraid I’m one of those people who hold their breath and run past any Lush store. I couldn’t even begin to think about entering their portals, sorry. Are they as trashy-looking in the US as they are in the UK? I had the running-past experience this morning in South Molton Street – yuck.

    • Musette says:

      I never thought to call it ‘trashy’ but :-?…it’s such a sensory overload that I can’t imagine taking anything in there seriously, which is a shame if March’s like-fest is anything to go by. I do see a TON of pre-teen girls clustered around the boutique every time I, too, rush past. That’s another reason I’ve tended to dismiss it.

      I think I have a sample or two here – I need to investigate, away from the pervasiveness of the store itself.

      xo >-)

    • March says:

      Not …. trashy. I thought they were cute, at first, when they showed up a few years ago. Whimsical. But their bath bombs are poison, the glitter ones? I banned them in the house (they were a popular gift item for the tween girls.) I said, YOU clean all that crap out of the tub, then! [-(

      But I did test the frags away from the store. Had to.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    I too love Karma but I think they have tweaked it slightly because I have an older bottle which smells richer and more resiny and a newer which is more citrus-piney. I will have to try BOG in my local shop which is located right by the exit from the shopping centre- is a good thing because fresh air is available immediately upon departing! The Smell if Weather Turning is tempting because I love the smell if the real thing.

    Thanks for the encouragement, March!

    • March says:

      Thanks for the update, since I never smelled the original I can’t do a comparison. I too want to smell the Weather one, but it’s not here!

  • Musette says:

    I wish I could chime in here with some intelligent remark but I don’t remember much about BOG (will retry – sinus infection making that difficult right now)…….and I can’t get within 40′ of a LUSH store without sinuses going kablooey (the only one on my radar is inside Marshall Field’s/Macy’s in Water Tower (Chicago)…I will have to brave the area sometime and see if I can grab a sample of Karma – I could spray it in the LUSH area…but I’m afraid my head my explode!

    xo >-)

    • March says:

      Oh! Should I have mentioned that The Smell of Freedom gave me a RASH? Which happens…. pretty much never.

      Feel better soon, hon.

  • Nava says:

    OK, I’ll take the position of Lush defender because I’ve always LOVED the way their stores smell. If you want to send me screaming in the opposite direction, make me walk past Yankee Candle.

    I wore Karma briefly years ago, but it was too overwhelming for my then office mates. Now I’m dying to smell BOG. Thanks, March.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Great reviews, March. While you got “inside of a temple” with Breath of God, I got “inside of a garage with a still warm lawn mower in it”. But you make me want to dig out my sample and re-try. You’re good at that… ;-)

    • March says:

      Hey, my temple is your garage… I think when Tom did a brief write up of a couple of the LUSH scents, many moons ago, lots of people commented that they were either baffled or put off by BOG. Although, Garage with Warm Mower sounds like a great smell to me! :d

      • Rappleyea says:

        Garage wasn’t bad…. a little dusty, a little gas/oil/machine smell, a little wet grass smell… I seem to remember that I also got a little sweat of the kid who mowed the lawn too!

  • mals86 says:

    I am a Lush virgin, there being nary a store within 200 miles of me.

    I am not sure I’m missing much. None of these five have ever appealed to me, and they still don’t after reading these terrific mini-reviews. (No, no, this is good. I keep trying to drown those lemmings.) “Murky, earthy incense” and Karma sound like my personal idea of nightmares.

    The one I’d like to try is The Smell of Weather Turning, but only because I love the smell of the real thing. I don’t know that I’d wear it.

    • March says:

      Weather Turning sounds cool, doesn’t it? But I’m guessing it’d be ozonic? Mebbe not. In any case I *think* that’s not in the US, although maybe the UK store ships. I researched all this before and can’t remember the details… :-w

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    Breath of God is indeed amazing. I must say, it is stranger than anything Mugler ever put out, but also beautiful. Whereas EL Secretions Magnifique smelled to me like an Alien with bad hygiene, this one smells like the beautiful blue fruit of a lush (no pun intended) alien planet. I had to have it, and promptly bought a roll on, which is a good choice for those who find it overwhelming.

    • March says:

      Oh, I should have mentioned that! You liked the roll-on? Because I noticed they have solids and roll ons which cost a lot less than the sprays, but I didn’t try them. I wonder if they’re as good?

      I’m glad I finally got around to trying BOG.

  • Robin says:

    Breath of God, Inhale & Exhale are the only Lush scents I haven’t tried. Figures! I keep meaning to go buy a small travel spray of B Scent though.

    • March says:

      I hadn’t tried any, I don’t think… these are available at Montgomery Mall if you can hold your breath long enough to go in there. They had two or three others as well. I picked these to test and you would have laughed at me, with my wee sample vials, discreetly making myself take-aways over in the corner… :”>

      I have not tried B-Scent.

      • Erin T says:

        Blasted B Scent. I love that one – and Cocktail and Smell of Weather Turning, too – and wouldn’t you know, but those are the three you have to buy from the UK site. And then the site jeopardizes your credit card information (happened over the holidays). *sigh* And I just broke my B Scent atomizer on Friday. The matte black kind of disguises the fact that they are just plain ol’ glass. My kitchen floor smelled beautifully, like lemon and fennel, for two days.

  • Melissa says:

    I’m not anti-Lush, although the smell of the store can be a bit overwhelming. I like a few of their lotions and I used one of their facial masks a few years ago. IIRC, it had a nice effect and it was very refreshing.

    Karma didn’t do much for me when I tried it-maybe it was the pine, which is a note that gives me some trouble. But Breath of God sounds like a must-try. For some reason, I thought that you didn’t like “murky”, but maybe that was only in relation to early Duchaufour scents? Or am I coming up with the wrong word?

    • March says:

      No, I don’t like murky, and I laughed when I put it in there! But it’s not BD-murky, which always feels … wet? Sour. That old-vase-water cliche of mine. BOG is murky in a “complex set of smells in a very old public edifice” way…

  • Marla says:

    Breath of God still sounds scary to me, but because of you, March, I will try it…someday! Karma, on the other hand, sounds exactly like my kinda ‘fume, I must try that one asap. Your girls must have great noses, my teenager is like that, we can be drinking a bottle of wine with friends, he’ll sniff the glass and say, “Ah, toasted almonds!”, or “A hint of bacon and tobacco, how rustic!” Showoff….

    • March says:

      The teens are fun because over time they’ve gone from “it smells pretty/bad/like an old lady” to trying to describe the scent (even if the description is “like dirty hair”). 🙂

      Karma I was surprised by, I didn’t really expect anything one way or another, and it’s great stuff.

  • Meg says:

    I’m torn about Breath of God! It reminds me of Vick’s vapo rub (in a good way), and sometimes I love the cooling/ tingly aspect of it, other times it seems too skewed towards a masculine-type ‘fresh’ scent.

    • March says:

      REally, vap-o-rub? I don’t get anything particularly menthol-ish, but it’s different from day to day. I wouldn’t say “masculine” on me so much as weird. :)>-

  • Francesca says:

    I like the way the Lush store around the corner from me smells, probably because it reminds me of the headshops of my child—well, teen-hood. And I like their products a lot. You just have to be careful with the smell of some of them. I smelled all the gorillas and most of them made me gag, but I, too liked Karma (which I guess is sort of the ambient smell of the place) and Breath of God. Really annoyed they discontinued the Happy Pill Bath Bombs.

    • March says:

      Yeah, but you’re smelling it outdoors, yes? A freestanding store? Maybe it’s easier to handle that way. In the mall, it kills, and not in a good way. 😉 Hm, so you liked Karma and BOG too?

      I accidentally got Lust on my sweater and had to wash it.

      • Francesca says:

        Yeah, Lust was disgusting. Yes, it’s an outside store, between Grom (gelato) and Beard Papa (creampuffs). But it could also be the old-hippie nostalgia thing.

        • Elisa says:

          You know, I sort of agree that Lust is disgusting but I also quite like it. EauMG had a funny post this week about how loud and “raunchy” it is. I think it smells like metallic honey. It’s all wrong, it’s like the scent equivalent of tinnitus, but there’s something compelling about it. Very hard to wear but it still gets my thumbs up in the end.

          • March says:

            I dunno, maybe because I’ve got the actual tinnitus… it wasn’t even the raunchy top that wore me out, it was the thing still going strong 48 hours later on the sweater sleeve, which at that point smelled like — what’s that sweet syrup popcorn you get at state fairs? Like that.

      • Tom says:

        I have to say that the one on Beverly Drive outgasses worse than the old Giorgio on Rodeo did.

        Which is a bit of too bad since I do like some of their body products.

        • March says:

          Didn’t Giorgio actually pump that stuff out in the air, like Hollister does?

          Also, teenage girl caught me staring at the latest blowups at the front of Abercrombie. So embarrassing. :”>

  • nancy says:

    If you can push your nose past the wall of scent at the front door of Lush, there are many delightful items inside. Like Erin, I’ve had people stop me when I wear Karma, and when I catch a whiff of it on my clothing, I’m pleasantly surprised at how nice it is. I think the Lush body lotions are delectable. The composition of the lotion is not heavy, and some of the scents (I don’t have the names handy) are luscious, but not overwhelming. I am a shampoo klutz and always end up spilling shampoo in my gym bag. I started using Lush solid shampoo–a beautiful Jasmine scented one, and gave one to my son who is backpacking–you can buy little tins to hold the shampoo. I chose Lush products to use when rafting in a world heritage listed national park that had minimal environmental impact. One of the sales girls helped me pick them out. As you can see I’m a big fan of Lush. It’s a pity the store has such an overwhelming smell, it puts people off and they miss the great products within.

    • March says:

      As I just said upstairs, I really, really hate that store smell — I can smell it on a separate floor of our mall, and I can’t help but feel that anything that strongly scented is (in its way) as offensive as Yankee Candle or BBW, the two other big mall offenders — oh, sorry, along with Hollister or whatever it is called.

      BTW I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I tested these by making up my own wee sample vials (without asking permission) so I could retest them elsewhere. :”>

      • Musette says:

        I never ask. Well, okay – sometimes I ask. But usually I only go to stores where I’ve already spent a bazillion dollars.

        okay, fine. I never ask. Well sometimes.


        xo >-)

        • March says:

          I ask if I know the SAs and have done bizness (figuring they won’t have the stones to tell me no) and everywhere else I just go for it. I mean, I’m taking a drop, not filling a vial.

  • Erin T says:

    Okay I feel a little better. At our T.O. scent meet-up they were teasing me about liking Breath of God so much, perhaps implying I am too influenced by LT’s five star reviews — which may be true. (Except that Secretion Magnifique almost makes me barf.) And I’ve always liked Karma, used testers a few times and occasionally snitch spritzes from my mom’s bottle. Interestingly enough, the 5-10 times I’ve warn it, I’ve been complimented EVERY time. As in, people have stopped me in the street and asked me the name of the perfume I’m wearing. (I was wearing only Karma each time and this was at least a half-hour after application, so I was not just exuding a forcefield of Eau de LUSH.) My mom has not had the same experience, oddly. I don’t know if it just suits me (and what that says about me?!) or whether it’s a skin chemistry issue.

    • March says:

      See, I hate the way the LUSH stores smell, I’ve ragged that before, and I couldn’t bear to go in there. And I was (tbh) all set to roll my eyes at these. But I couldn’t.

      The only one that really was a scrubber was Lust – that buttered popcorn thing sticks around for days at the end.

      Hmmm…. Karma’s getting some love on here.