If someone were to ask me what the least favorite part of my body is, I would say aside from my feet it would be my armpits. Why? My armpits are dark and discolored from the rest of my body. Even when there isn’t any hair under them, it still looks like I have globs of hair because of the discoloration. It’s so embarrassing. Although I don’t avoid wearing tank tops, you will hardly ever see me wear one without a denim jacket, blazer or cardigan over it. I seriously really do HATE my armpits. I have even thought about using bleaching cream or foundation to cover up the discoloration. Yikes!
Through my research for a cure of dark underarm skin, I have learned that it is caused by hyperpigmentation due to trauma to the area. Hyperpigmentation is a pigmentation disorder. Pigmentation disorders occur when skin cells become damaged or unhealthy. This affects their melanin production and, ultimately, the color of the skin.
While there are many reasons why hyperpigmentation can occur in the armpits, in my case it was due to excessive shaving. I have since learned that it irritated my skin and caused the dark discoloration. Some of the other causes that can lead to dark underarms are the following…
- Dead skin buildup or improper washing
- Hair removing creams (Nair, Veet..etc.)
- Anti-Perspirants or Deodorant
- A medical condition called acanthosis nigricans.
Once you identify the root of the problem, there are several remedies to control it. Hair removing creams contain harsh chemicals that can cause an adverse skin reaction in many people. When used over long periods of time, these products can cause permanent damage to the sensitive skin of the underarms. In my case it was the excessive shaving. While shaving is said to cause tiny skin abrasions that can darken the skin as they heal. Another problem with shaving is that it removes the hair from just below the surface of the skin. The remaining part of the hair beneath the skin makes the skin look slightly darker, especially in people with dark hair. So I now wax my armpits. In the short time I have been doing it, I have already seen improvement. My underarm skin has lightened quite a bit. And the ingrown hairs and razor bumps are healing. Instead of waxing, you can also opt for laser hair removal. Do note that permanent hair removal is expensive and doesn’t always work with women of color. Do your research!
If it is the deodorant causing your armpits to darken, you may choose another brand or avoid using it altogether. There are some wonderful natural deodorants on the market that won’t have you stinking either.
If skin friction is the reason for the hyperpigmentation, you can wear loose-fitting clothes.
I have pulled together some additional dark armpit solutions below. They are all natural options and may even aid in lightening the skin.
Ex-foliate – Scrub your underarms with a loofah when bathing to gently but persistently rub away all the sweat, impurities and deodorant leftovers. Also, use a pumice stone twice a week to help whiten underarms by removing the built up dead cells.
Baking Soda – Some people use baking soda instead of deodorants since they can cause dark armpits. Baking soda aids in curing the darkness of the underarms and also provides relief from body odor. (Double win!) To make natural skin scrub at home, take some baking soda and add some water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to clean armpits. Rinse after ten minutes. This will help to remove any dead skin cells accumulated in the underarm which is one of the main reasons for dark underarms. It will also help to unclog the skin pores.
Coconut Oil or Vitamin E Oil – Coconut oil or Vitamin E Oil is another good option to get rid of dark underarms. Before showering, massage dark underarms with coconut oil for ten to fifteen minutes. Then rinse the area properly with mild soap and lukewarm water. This needs to be done daily to reduce the darkening of underarms.
Potato – Potato is another great bleaching agent because of the mild acidic property it contains. There are two ways to use potato. First, take a thin slice of potato and use it to rub the armpit skin. Or grate the potato and apply the juice to the affected area, allow it to dry for ten minutes and then wash it with lukewarm water. Repeat this process daily for better and faster result. One good part about this remedy is that potato will never cause skin irritation.
Lemon – Lemon juice is among the most effective remedies for dark armpits. The natural bleaching agent of the lemon will lighten the skin color of armpits while its citric acid will help kill the bacteria. All you have to do is to make a paste of honey, lemon juice and sugar. Heat the mixture lightly and apply it on the armpits. Rinse it off, after twenty minutes. Repeat this every three to four days, for best results. You can also apply a mixture of lemon juice and glycerin on the dark area of underarms. Leave it for 6 hours (overnight would be the best time) and then wash with water and soap. Or mix the juice of half a lemon with a table spoon of cucumber juice. Apply the mixture on the affected area and leave for 20 minutes. Use this concoction every alternate day to see results. Keep in mind that the above processes take time.
Vinegar – Vinegar is good for dark underarms. Mix rice flour and vinegar to form a thick paste. Apply this paste on dark armpits after taking a hot shower. Allow the paste to dry for ten to fifteen minutes and then rinse off with warm water. This process will lighten the skin tone and kill all the germs and bacteria which feed on the dead skin cells causing underarm odor.
Be realistic! Although the above preventive measures and dark armpit solutions can be very effective in tackling the condition, it will take time. You will not see results in a few days. You have to be patient and consistent. It’s also important to rinse and moisturize the skin after each application. Please note that it’s always better to consult a doctor rather than trying home remedies but in most cases dark armpits are more cosmetic than medical problems.