As a grooming writer, I'm the go-to for any self-care-curious friends. They often inquire about brands they encounter and want to know if a company lives up to the hype (or if all those ads they're seeing are worth clicking). Lumin is one of the brands I get asked about most, given the company's robust online marketing campaign that seems to have brought it from zero to 100 in a few short years.
I think part of Lumin's success is how straightforward, accessible, and regimented it is: The brand's skincare and hair products are built around universal function, starting with baseline steps (shampoo, conditioner, exfoliation, moisturizer with SPF) and leaning ever so intentionally into the next tier (beard oil, toner, night oil). One of the brand's tag lines puts it best: "Effective, simple, affordable skincare." It's proof that you don't need a noisy gimmick to stand out from the pack—maybe just a good social media budget to match the quality ingredients and clean packaging. Accessible price points never hurt, either—nor does a self-replenishing subscription model.
Lumin feels like one of those brands that doesn't in turn brand you, addressing an issue that has stopped many people from trying certain skincare brands (I'll readily speak on behalf of men and say, yes, many don't care for an overly branded product—instead, let's keep it simple). Score one for Lumin in that regard. But to get back to my friends' query: What's my opinion on Lumin, in terms of their products' efficacy? Rather good, in fact—read on, self-care-curious reader.
Founded: By Darwish Gani and Richard Hong, in 2018.
Based in: Los Angeles
Pricing: Most products are $12 to $32
Best known for: A start-to-finish, no-nonsense regimen for healthy skin and hair (and beautiful, clean branding that's attracted many through social media).
Most popular product: Moisturizing Balm
Fun fact: Co-founders Gani and Hong followed the successful launch of Lumin with a companion "below the waist" brand, Meridian Grooming, to help keep nether regions trimmed and fresh.
The idea for Lumin was built around the notion that men are often reticent to ask for help when it comes to skincare. Lumin sees itself as the place to get effective solutions—especially since more and more, men's piece of the beauty-industry pie is increasing. "Our unique sales model offers skincare products to men and educates them about those products while removing intimidation from the customer experience," says co-founder Gani. "The process is simple: customers fill out a short skin and lifestyle questionnaire and get a personalized skincare regimen, either on a one-time or subscription basis."
Gani and Hong didn't want to brand Lumin as anything overly specific, like "skincare for alpha males" or "self care for bros." "The Lumin brand is a reflection of a redefined and refined view of masculinity," Gani says. "Lumin guys care about living better lives in every way. They are ambitious about life – they work hard, exercise, eat healthily, are always learning, and live conscious lives. They are everyday guys who have just chosen to live better in all facets, and skincare has become an extension of that."
I had to ask Gani about Lumin's social media campaigns too, which is really how the brand earned its momentum (and why so many friends ask me about them). Why did the brand put so much value in this approach? "We tried a lot of different types of messaging and quickly realized people just want to feel knowledgeable and empowered," he said. "By evoking [these] emotions through social media platforms, you can build a following and word-of-mouth ecosystem that surpasses any marketing strategy."
And so here we are today, thanks to all of that word of mouth. Ahead, see my favorite Lumin skincare and hair products and why each is outstanding.
Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizing Balm
I find this moisturizer to be the brand's best multitasker. On the one hand, it's a dense cream (that's what makes it a balm), so I use it mostly overnight. However, it's terrific in colder months for daytime wear, or as a spot-check for dry skin. (My combo skin appreciates it on my dry cheeks year round, whereas my oily forehead doesn't demand it in warmer months.) That being said, it doesn't aggravate oil production, either, perhaps thanks to meadowfoam seed oil (yes, it uses an oil to balance oil production).
Meadowfoam (aka Limnanthes alba) seed oil is derived from meadowfoam seeds and is composed of mostly fatty acids and antioxidants. The emollient helps lock in moisture and soften skin.
No-Nonsense Charcoal Cleanser
When it comes to effective cleansing, charcoal is one of the most absorbent and detoxifying ingredients you can deploy. And in this whip-like cleanser, it doubles down on excess oil while soaking up grime and buildup from deep within each pore. (I like to leave it on my skin for a minute or two to work like a makeshift mask.) The Lumin face wash also uses rose flower oil, which calms and balances skin, since it's antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and a natural astringent. Read Byrdie's full review.
Dark Circle Defense
I think this Lumin skin product's name does it a bit of a disservice, since it works on the eye area in more ways than one. It does help prevent dark under-eye circles by stimulating circulation with caffeine, fortifying with niacinamide, and evening tone with lemon extract. But the caffeine and niacinamide also check any baggage that you're carrying from a poor night's rest or long day's work, and the latter helps keep skin firm in the long run, to prevent fine lines, sagging, and drooping fat deposits. Use this one twice daily (morning and night), alongside your moisturizer on freshly cleansed skin.
UV-Defense Moisturizing Balm
Every skincare brand needs a good SPF-infused moisturizer, as it's a sign of a company that wants to truly take skincare seriously. Here is Lumin's due diligence, with a one-up over much of the competition: Its SPF 30 hydrator is mineral-based (20% non-nano zinc oxide), with no chemical sun shields that soak into your body. It saves me from having to apply sunscreen over my moisturizer, and it doesn't chalk up my face with a white cast.
Soothing Beard Oil
Lumin gets it right with this formula, which uses actual oils to nourish beard and skin, as opposed to a lab-calculated recipe that merely emulates the effect. This product combines 13 different types of oils, ranging from antifungal/antimicrobial tea tree oil to ultra nourishing argan oil to antioxidant-rich sunflower seed oil. A little goes a long way—just a couple drops per application in most beards—and I even suggest adding a drop to your matte hair styler for a healthy touch of shine up top.
Reload Exfoliating Rub
Another charcoal-based product, this exfoliator is a terrific twice-weekly addition to your evening regimen. I would suggest substituting it for your cleanser on those nights, since it carries cleansing powers itself, but many will add it as a second step after cleansing, so be careful and go with what your skin likes best. This powerful Lumin skincare product uses charcoal powder to slough away dead skin while soaking up buildup and excess oil, as well as green tea extract to soothe skin as it buffs, which also helps to make it one of my favorite exfoliators.
After Hours Recovery Oil
This product is less obvious than the rest, but deserves just as much praise. Think of all the times your skin gets dull, dehydrated, or just plain exhausted—like after a long flight, a day in the sun, or at the height of winter—and how desperately it needs a miracle, overnight solution. A roll-on applicator targets your exact areas of concern (like my dry cheeks, given my combination skin). This way, you also don't have to apply any excess product to more hydrated spots. I even like this as a cuticle booster, as all the hand sanitizing of late takes a toll on my fingertips and knuckles.
I'm so happy Lumin added a toner to its lineup, given that more people should be incorporating it into their regimen—especially those who use lots of products or are naturally oily. This alcohol-free reset balances your pH levels with witch hazel leaf extract and helps keep pores clear with licorice root extract. It calms with anti-inflammatory powers from green tea extract and the ultimate soother, aloe vera. It's a great, gentle way to harmonize your skin after a cleanse and before applying more products.
Keratin Recovery Shampoo
Two "recovery" products in a row, neither less helpful than the other—Lumin's shampoo is one of its best products, as it invigorates the scalp with peppermint oil (boosting circulation and nutrient delivery to follicles while cooling on contact) as well as green tea extract (to tone oily scalps and prevent flaking). Together, these keep follicles fortified and aid in producing stronger, fuller hair. This is a terrific shampoo to incorporate into a full-court press against hair loss, since it focuses so intently on a balanced, nourished scalp. Plus, I'm the moth to that peppermint tingle's flame—I love a shampoo that loves me back like this.
Keratin Strengthening Conditioner
Enriched with keratin, this conditioner not-so shockingly helps improve your hair's own keratin (protein) levels, bringing depleted and damaged strands back to life. It also soothes the scalp and reduces inflammation with green tea extract while nourishing and conditioning with jojoba oil. Let it soak for one to two minutes, and you'll soon navigate the day with more buoyant, resilient strands.