Creating body odor might be simple.
Step one: run.
Step two: repeat step one until sweaty.
But the chemical process that causes bodily aromas is complex — an interaction between molecules released by sweat glands and bacteria on skin that gobble them up.
And a doctor from Chaska believes targeting that process has resulted in a better deodorant. After years of sweat equity, Dr. Shannon Klingman created Lume, a bacteria-disrupting cream that will compete with well-known brands in a $4 billion deodorant market.
Sales start online Sunday night.
“We’re a remedy for every odor that occurs on our skin, from head to toe,” she said.
Eccrine glands, which produce sweat, are all over the body, but apocrine glands reside in areas of the body that grow hair, such as the armpits and groin. Stress or exertion prompt these glands to release protein and fat molecules, which are odorless until skin bacteria consume them.
Most deodorants contain antiperspirants that close the eccrine glands, reducing moisture, and perfumes that cover up body odor. Klingman said her product works differently — disabling an enzyme that bacteria need to consume molecules and release odor. She likened it to a Pac-Man that can’t open its mouth.
“We technically are not even a deodorant,” she said, “because we are not neutralizing odor, we’re not covering up odor. We’re eliminating that chemical reaction on the skin.”
Klingman’s interest started in gynecology residency, when she suspected that doctors were misdiagnosing vaginal infections as the cause of body odor in female patients and overprescribing antibiotics.
After leaving practice to raise her children, Klingman tinkered in her kitchen. Finding a chemical composition that disrupted the bacterial process of odor was only the first step. She had to make sure it wouldn’t harm the skin.
Klingman and her husband exhausted their retirement accounts to fund their research, patents, testing, dermatologist review, and production of 50,000 initial units.
Testing by Princeton Consumer Research found that Lume outperformed other deodorants and even lasted 48 hours, she said.
For those on the run, she said, “It’s the perfect skip-a-shower deodorant.”