How do I Whiten Underarms?

Constance Simmons

There are a couple of different ways to whiten or lighten the skin in your underarm region, but success often depends on things like your skin tone, the extent of the problem, and what’s causing the discoloration in the first place. Dark skin under the arms is a fairly common occurrence; it’s usually unwanted and unwelcome, but is often a normal part of aging. The whitening process is a difficult one in part because there are many factors that contribute to dark underarms. There are also a number of potential causes, including harsh deodorants, excessive shaving, hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, and friction. One of the first things most people try is topical applications, including specialized skin whitening creams and oils. If you are shaving or removing the hair in the underarm region, you might want to re-think your methods; many people find that trying a root removal method rather than a simple trim or shave can make a difference when it comes to tone and darkness. Making sure to regularly exfoliate your skin can help, too. Whatever method you choose, it’s important to keep it up. Most of the time, underarm darkness is more or less permanent, and it will return as soon as your treatment and care regimen stops.

Using water and shaving cream while shaving underarms is important for reducing skin damage.
Using water and shaving cream while shaving underarms is important for reducing skin damage.

Topical Oils and Creams

One of the most common methods to lighten or bleach underarm skin is to apply some sort of whitening cream or oil. Natural whitening ingredients include vitamin C, kjoic acid, and papaya extract. Sometimes you can apply these things in their pure form, but you can also look for other products, like deodorants and scrubs, that have these as primary ingredients.

Whitening products can be used to even the color of a woman's underarms.
Whitening products can be used to even the color of a woman's underarms.

Reevaluate Hair Removal Methods

Dark armpits are often caused by damage done to the skin during shaving. Shaving does not remove hair from the root but rather trims it very close to the surface of the skin, and shaving the underarms is often particularly challenging because of how curved the skin is in that part of the body. Underarm skin is also more susceptible to damage from shaving because it is some of the thinnest. With every shave, tiny abrasions are created on underarm skin and these, in addition to dark stubble left beneath the skin, can contribute to skin darkening.

Papaya extract may be used to whiten underarms.
Papaya extract may be used to whiten underarms.

Waxing the area might eliminate some of this darkness because it removes hair by the root. Another alternative to shaving that can whiten underarms is a medical process known as laser hair removal. The procedure is often quite expensive, but it is permanent and typically does not damage skin, so it can maintain whiter underarms in the long term.

Consider Exfoliation

Regularly exfoliating the skin can also help to whiten underarms because it removes the surface layer of skin cells that may be contributing to the dark appearance. There are a couple of methods that can be used to exfoliate underarms, including scrubs and peels. Scrubs typically use a mechanical exfoliate, like sugar, coarse salt, or apricot kernels, along with a moisturizing cleanser to remove dead skin cells. Peeling, on the other hand, is a process by which a chemical is used to remove, or peel off, the dark, surface skin cells, and is often followed up with another chemical process known as bleaching. Peels are usually offered by dermatologists or skin professionals, but are also available for home use. They are some of the harshest solutions to dark skin, but results also tend to last the longest.


Once underarms are whitened, proper care is essential or the condition may return. Using water and shaving cream or lotion while shaving armpits is important to help reduce skin damage. Weekly exfoliation is also key to continue to remove dead skin cells. Since any dead cells can also contribute to dry skin, moisturizing is also an important, and often neglected, part of maintaining under arm skin. In most cases, maintaining proper skin moisture keeps skin healthy, and can help keep it looking bright and properly pigmented, too.

A whitening deodorant may help lighten the skin under the arms.
A whitening deodorant may help lighten the skin under the arms.

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Discussion Comments


Before turning to underarm whitening, it is a good idea to find out if your underarms are darkened by sensitivity to to specific deodorants or shaving creams.

If you have sensitive skin or allergies to these products result in rashes, bleaches and other whitening methods could make the problem worse or even result in skin infections.

A doctor or pharmacist should be able to recommend medicated skin care products that should help if sensitive skin or allergies are the culprit.

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