From "Curdled Baby Formula" to "Dry Dog Food"— Why Lume Deodorant Smells Like That

This one's personal. Lume deodorant just doesn't smell right.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jun. 7 2024, Published 1:09 p.m. ET

A collage featuring Lume products on the left and a smiling woman holding Lume products on the right.
Source: lumedeodorant/Instagram

I'm the kind of person who prefers strong, dependable deodorant to combat everything from nervous sweats to hot weather.

So one day, when my fiancée noticed a sickeningly saccharine smell of popcorn on me, I decided: that's the last time I turn to Lume deodorant.

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As it turns out, I'm not the only one to notice the awkward, unpleasant, or otherwise offensive aroma of this trendy deodorant. Keep reading to learn more about Lume deodorant, and why people don't like the way it smells.

A man sits on the couch and makes an unpleasant facial expression while sniffing his underarms from his wet button-up shirt.
Source: iStock
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Why does Lume smell so bad?

It may simply be that Lume's hodgepodge of ingredients — including the cryptic "fragrance" ingredient — coalesce in an unholy way to smell nothing like their intended scent.

Lume's unique whole body deodorant may be used on "armpits, underboobs, belly buttons, butt cracks, vulvas, balls, feet, and more," per the brand — meaning that scent can really overpower your body.

According to the clean beauty and clean living blog Gurl Gone Green, countless others have noticed the questionable ingredients and offensive odors of the popular full-body deodorant.

"I didn’t love the scented one I got (Minted Cucumber) ... it was so strong to me and smelled synthetic," Gurl Gone Green founder Suzi wrote. "I felt like I could just smell my underarms all day because I could smell the scent. It was like I was wearing perfume!"

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As one commenter attested, "I hate the smell of their deodorants, to me the sticks smell like I am rubbing B.O. onto my armpits."

A Lume deodorant product was reviewed by Self Magnitude author Maggie Greene — a self-described "plus size woman with anxiety" — unfavorably due to its odor. She wrote: "When I opened the deodorant, it smelled overly sour, more than I would expect from a lime scent. But the sour soon gave way to a more familiar smell, a sour milk smell."

She continued: "I went to pee and immediately noticed something wasn’t right. There it was again — that cheese smell from the wine bar. Sour milk. Curdled baby formula. Someone ELSE’S parts!"

Greene's partner was even less filtered in their review of the smell: “It’s really sour… it smells like sweaty ass… isn’t this the smell it’s trying to prevent?”

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Greene sampled the lowest-rated reviews of the deodorant in her post, with users likening the smell to sour baby formula, mold, feet and mildew, a rotten Italian sub sandwich, dry dog food, feet and plastic, and white cheddar cheese puffs.

A dermatologist inspects red, inflamed skin on a patient's arm.
Source: iStock
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What are the downsides of Lume deodorant?

If I've learned anything from my dermatologist, the intense skin irritation around my underarms may be due to the poor quality of the ingredients in Lume's deodorants.

"I tried Lume and loved it for a month. And then my husband, son and I noticed it started burning our underarms. Sadly had to give it up," one person commented on the Gurl Gone Green post. Another added: "I liked the product; however, the cost was too much. Now that I see there are potentially toxic ingredients, I’m out."

There are some ingredients throughout Lume's product line that consumers like me find questionable. Per Healthline, one such ingredient, sodium benzoate, is a preservative that can convert to benzene, a carcinogen. Additional concerns around sodium benzoate include this chemical's potential to cause an allergic reaction (like swelling or itching).

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