Why you should care

We shed some light on dark underarms.

If your underarm discolouration is preventing you from partaking in fun, everyday activities like wearing tank tops or raising your arm in class when wearing tank tops, read on.

We’re not here for unrealistic beauty standards – dangerous bleaching and whitening treatments are not the answer. Instead, we look at causes, prevention, and safe ways to remedy underarm discolouration.

What Causes Underarm Discolouration?

Surprise! There are a bunch of reasons.


Shaving removes hair above your skin. If your hair is significantly darker than your skin, this might simply be sub-surface hair peeking through your thin skin.

shaving armpitsDead Skin Cells

Discolouration can also be caused by a build-up of dead skin cells in the folds of your skin. Basically, you have blackheads in your pits.

Skin Irritation

A study done in Southeast Asia found that hair plucking creates a chain reaction: irritated skin stimulates the production of melanin, the pigment that gives your skin colour. There is some evidence that the chemicals in antiperspirants and deodorants can aggravate your skin in the same way.

Friction from wearing overly tight clothes or synthetic fabrics can make your underarms angry too. It can also occur if you have saggy or wrinkly skin in your armpits that constantly rubs together.

Dark Marks

Some hyperpigmentation can occur due to a condition called Acanthosis nigricans. You may also find these light brown to black markings in other areas with body folds like your groin, neck, and joints. These can be caused by a number of things: genetics, hormone imbalance, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and other endocrine-related diseases. They also often occur naturally in dark-skinned people. Check with your physician if you’ve ruled out other causes.

Stop It at the Root

Here are some things you can do!

Hair Removal Alternatives

Opt for long term laser removal so that you’re not irritating your sensitive skin every few days. If you want to keep shaving or tweezing, exfoliate before you begin to expose your hair follicles for a closer removal. Remember to end your session with a balm to soothe your skin.

IPL hair removal underarmAvoid depilatory creams and electrolysis – these can cause permanent damage and discolouration.


Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate! Use a loofah or granular scrub to rub those dead skin cells out. We also recommend gentle peeling treatments like lactic acid peels; dermatologist recommend exfoliating at most once or twice a week to avoid irritating your skin.

Deodorant and Antiperspirant Alternatives

Look for gentler deodorants that contain less chemicals. We’ve weighed the pros and cons of deodorants and antiperspirants here.

Loose clothing

We’re seeing lots of bell sleeves, unstructured tops, and trapeze dresses this season, so ditch your tight tops and play catch up! Buy clothes made out of cotton and other natural fabrics – your skin will thank you.

bell sleeve top

SOURCE: catwalkofwords.com.au


Moisturise often to keep your underarms soft and smooth and happy.

See a Doctor

If your discolouration has happened suddenly or is accompanied by other symptoms, see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical causes.

Safe Remedies

Prevention is better than cure, but sometimes you need that cure anyway. Make a pit-stop with these treatments!

Home Remedies

People seem to swear by lemons and potatoes, so give these a go! Simply rub a wedge or slice in your pits a few times a week.

lemonNo surprise, coconut oil (what can’t coconut oil do) can also reduce hyperpigmentation over time. You can also use apples, yogurt, and honey to exfoliate and kill bacteria and germs. For more foods that treat darkened underarms, read this.

Q-Switch Laser Therapy

The laser used during this 10 to 15-minute session breaks down melanin into tiny particles that are eliminated by your body naturally. Sessions are relatively painless – okay, you’ll feel a slight sting – and you can go about your day right after.

Q-switch therapies have a very strong safety record. The best part: they’re performed by qualified dermatologists.

Some laser therapies may not be suitable for very dark skin, so consult your physician before treatment.


Think of this as really intensive exfoliation that acts on your skin’s topmost layer to reveal younger skin underneath. Microdermabrasion is a non-chemical and non-surgical treatment that’s less aggressive than most laser therapies, chemical peels or dermabrasion.

Why you should care

We shed some light on dark underarms.

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