What the Hell Is “Healthy” Deodorant, and Does It Actually Work?
Deodorant isn’t something you worry about often unless it’s a problem for you. In most cases—except for the men who attend my gym, apparently—you wake up, roll on a layer or two under your arms, and go about your day. If this sounds ridiculous to you, you’re probably like me—a certified Very Sweaty Person (VSP). Cursed by genetics and a reasonably active lifestyle, I am rolling Arm & Hammer’s industrial-grade antiperspirant under my arms multiple times a day. Sweating is a fact of my life I’ve grown accustomed to, but not exactly happy with, over time. So when I stumbled into Lume deodorant’s 72-hour odor control promise I was skeptical, yet intrigued.
Instead of calling it a lie outright, I bought a couple of sticks and put them through the paces. Here’s what’s up.
What Is Lume Deodorant?
Lume was invented by OBGYN Dr. Shannon Klingman. If you’ve heard of it, you know it was originally aimed at solving women’s odor concerns, but its aim—to block bacteria from absorbing bodily fluids on the skin—translates across sexes without issue.
According to the brand, this is one of the key differences between it and your standard fare pharmacy deodorants—it’s designed for your whole body, and to work long hours. It’s also free of many substances and ingredients that give shoppers pause—baking soda, aluminum, parabens, phthalates, SLS, etc—though the brand does stop short of explaining why these substances may or may not be harmful to you. Generally, think of Lume as a health-conscious deodorant that makes big claims around its effective use duration. Sticks of Lume deodorant usually run about $15 to $18, depending on where you buy them.
Be a Better Gym Bro
What’s Good About Lume Deodorant?
Great for the most health-conscious shoppers
Not everyone is stressing aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and other spooky substances coming in contact with their bodies, which is totally fine. But those that are can feel secure with Lume deodorant. It was designed without all that stuff in the first place, so it’s not a matter of the brand creating a “healthy” version of what they already sell—this is their core product and vision. I also appreciate that the product is totally vegan and its packaging is made from post-consumer plastics.
Useful for whole-body sweats
My usual deodorant rolls on thick and heavy. Most other deodorants or antiperspirants I’ve used—cream-based, gel-based, powder-based, etc.—are really only suited to the one places they’re meant for, which is the armpit. Lume is a little different. It rolls on lighter, less sticky, and blends better with the skin. This means you can roll it on more parts of your body should you so choose. I tried it out when I had to wear a wool suit at a warm wedding venue in the South in a bid to save myself from sweating through the back of my shirt. Much to my delight, it worked.
Comes in a huge variety of scents
One of the pros of wearing deodorant originally designed for women is the breadth of scent options. Dude scents are usually limited to various wood smells, leather, and maybe some kind of tobacco smell. Lume comes in several scents, from alpine to sage to an unscented option.
What’s Not Good About Lume Deodorant?
Scent is bizarre
This has been noted by several customer reviews as well, and apparently is (or was?) such a problem that the company may have reformulated the deodorant to smell better. Ultimately, I have no way of knowing whether the sticks I bought for review are a new formulation or the old one, but they definitely have an odd scent regardless.
I tried the Silver Spruce and unscented variants. The Silver Spruce was so evergreen-y I turned the gym locker room into a Bath & Bodyworks. Mercifully, the smell does mellow with time, but I found my nose so torched by the scent I applied less than I might have otherwise, and made sure to apply it at least a half hour or more before leaving the house. I’m not about to make the grocery store aisle I’m browsing smell like Christmas. The unscented version has a kind of savory smell upon application that is, well, off-putting. Again, it does diminish, but it was startling at first blush.
Was not effective for 72 hours
What’s most frustrating about Lume’s 72-hour odor protection claim isn’t just that it wasn’t true for me, it’s that it seems like a needless bit of marketing in the first place.
I found Lume effective for maybe half its advertised effective use period, so 36 hours or so. That number goes down somewhat significantly if I did some cardio that day, but held steady even through heavy weightlifting days. Folks, 36 hours is a lot of time! It’s longer than my daily Arm & Hammer deodorant can handle, and as long as some prescription options I tried in the past. I had my partner who isn’t as sweaty as I am try it and he had roughly the same results—minimal BO for 36 hours and change.
This is worth boasting about, which makes it all the more frustrating that the stick has “72-HOUR ODOR CONTROL” printed on its label. It’s not that it’s not effective—it’s that it’s not that effective. Chalk this one down as a pro for performance but a larger con for over-marketing.
Not a great value buy
This’ll be brief. A standard stick of deodorant is 3.4 ounce oz. They last, I don’t know, roughly two months a pop. That’s a fairly reasonable figure. Lume sticks are 2.6 oz, though, and as such last about 2-3 weeks less. Combined with Lume’s roughly $15 price-per-stick cost and Lume quickly looks like the antithesis of a budget buy.
The Bottom Line
Lume’s 72-hour odor control deodorant didn’t work for three days for me, but it still worked better than the deodorant I’m used to. Plus, it’s free of a number of potentially harmful ingredients. But, at $15 or so a stick, it may come at too steep a price for some.