More people than you might expect will experience darkened underarms at some point–but each person who experiences it can often feel extremely self-conscious as if she were the only person with this problem. When your underarms become noticeably darker than your body’s skin tone, it can be embarrassing to wear bathing suits or sleeveless tops. Luckily, there are several common, easy-to-treat causes for this problem–and plenty of natural remedies.
What causes dark armpits?
The usual cause of dark underarms is very simple: Both shaving and deodorant/antiperspirant use can irritate the delicate skin underneath the arms. However, this darkening can also be caused by a buildup of dead skin cells, or it may simply be genetic.
Whether you’re experiencing dark underarm skin due to irritation, or you’re just genetically prone to it, there are some measures you can take to lighten the skin up again so that it matches the skin tone of the surrounding skin.
How to whiten armpits:
In addition to trying out other lightening methods, we recommend that you take measures to prevent it from happening in the first place. These measures include changing your razor blade, switching to a natural deodorant, and exfoliating your underarms with a gentle scrub or an exfoliating body mit. You should also make sure to wash the area daily; and finally, you can try waxing your underarms instead of shaving.
Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel has potent, anti-inflammatory properties to soothe and hydrate the skin. If you suspect that your underarms have darkened due to irritation from shaving and/or deodorant, consider applying aloe vera gel to the area before bed to ease up the irritation. We also recommend that you buy an organic aloe vera gel with as few added ingredients as possible; aside from being healthier, the absence of irritating preservatives will eliminate the risk of further drying your skin.
You might already be aware that lemon juice can be used to bring out light notes in your hair. The ascorbic acid in lemon juice is a scientifically-proven, natural bleaching agent that can be used to lighten skin as well as hair. To use lemon juice as a skin lightener for armpits, just dab 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice onto your skin, wait 10 minutes, and then wash it away–and make sure to follow up with some soothing aloe vera gel to counter lemon’s drying properties. You probably won’t see immediate results and will need to repeat the process once per day.
With baking soda, you can exfoliate your skin, kill odor-causing bacteria, and lighten the skin in one go. Try mixing it with lemon juice to form a spreadable paste. Gently rub it into your skin for 5-10 seconds per armpit, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Again, we recommend following up with aloe vera gel to prevent drying.
Lightening products with kojic acid
Generally speaking, it’s probably wisest to be skeptical about any product that claims it will lighten your skin. If you’re dead set on purchasing a lightening product, however, we recommend choosing one that contains kojic acid–one of the few ingredients that has been scientifically shown to lighten the skin. We recommend Specific Beauty’s Advanced Dark Spot Corrector Pads ($57) for maximum effect.
While many blogs will claim that potatoes can be used to lighten the skin, the scientific basis for this claim has been refuted. We recommend keeping the potatoes on your plate and opting for one of the solutions above when it comes to your skin.
If the first remedy that you try doesn’t work for you, we recommend trying out a different solution; since it can be difficult to tell exactly what’s causing the problem, you might need to try a few different remedies until you find the one that will actually make a perceptible difference. If you’re fighting an uphill battle and nothing seems to work, you should visit a dermatologist and get her professional opinion: There may be a more serious issue at hand, such as an infection.
Camille Bond is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has interned in the film industry and the publishing industry, as well as for a political campaign. When it comes to the world of beauty and wellness, she loves researching natural skincare brands, concocting DIY recipes, and discovering new mediation techniques!