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I recently received a DM on Instagram from a customer who was frustrated with darkness and dryness on her elbows, expressing that it doesn’t improve no matter what she does. I asked her how she was treating the condition, and she shared that she was exfoliating her elbows with a loofah daily, thinking this would help brighten them and make them softer. Unbeknownst to her, this contributed to her problem, likely causing further pigmentation and dry skin conditions. 

The skin on the elbows and knees is different from the rest of our body, and due to this, it’s common for it to be darker in appearance. Although it’s normal, this uneven skin tone can be a source of embarrassment or insecurity, preventing many from wearing clothing that reveals these areas or from feeling comfortable in their own skin.  

Elbows and knees can be easily overlooked in our daily body care routine, but there is a simple and natural way to lighten dark elbows and knees if this is a concern for you. 

Dark elbows

What Causes Dark Elbows and Knees?

There are several reasons why your elbows and knees may become darker. As I mentioned, the skin in this area is different from the rest of the body. This skin tends to be thicker and produce fewer oils (due to fewer sebaceous glands), so it is prone to dryness. This skin is also made to stretch more since it covers our mobile joints. Elbows and knees can appear darker due to an accumulation of dead skin cells in the region. Combined with the fact that these areas are less cared for within a body routine, this can be the reason for dark elbows and knees. 

Hyperpigmentation from sun exposure can also play a factor, causing dark elbows and knees. The area can also be hyperpigmented from marks left behind from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, or injury. 

Additionally, those with naturally darker skin tones or more melanin-rich skin are more prone to darkness in these areas.  

How to Prevent Dark Elbows and Knees

The key to preventing this condition is to treat the skin in the elbows and knees with extra care. This includes using sunscreen regularly to prevent sun-related hyperpigmentation.  

Similar to the advice I gave the customer who DM’d me – more exfoliation is not always better. I always recommend avoiding the use of harsh scrubs, loofahs or body products, as this can cause further hyperpigmentation and irritation due to repeated skin trauma. You can still exfoliate to help remove the dead skin buildup but only do so 1 to 2 times a week, using a very gentle exfoliator or a mild soap with a washcloth. 

Following your shower, take extra care to moisturize the area with nourishing cream, and you can apply a light oil (such as almond oil, jojoba or grapeseed oil) over top of your cream to help lock in the hydration. Avoid using balm-type products containing waxes as a more “pure” cream or lotion will hydrate better since it will penetrate more into the skin. 

How to Lighten Dark Elbows and Knees – Naturally

Prevention is key, but what should you do if your elbows and knees are already hyperpigmented? I created an all-natural kojic acid-based soap that can be used to treat your dark elbows and knees. With regular use, it will significantly lighten these areas.


Kojic acid is a natural chemical produced from different types of fungi and is also a derivative of fermented soy sauce and rice wine.

It helps prevent dark spot formation
because it blocks tyrosine, the amino acid responsible for developing melanin. It also has
properties and acts as an antioxidant.

How to use the kaia naturals kojic acid body bar

You can use the kojic acid body bar to minimize dark spot pigmentation on your body while you’re in the shower.  

  1. Moisten the bar and apply the lather to dark elbows and knees with a soft and gentle cloth or silicone exfoliating brush (fingers can be used if you have exfoliated 1-2 times in a week)
  2. Massage the lather into the skins for 30 seconds before rinsing off and patting dry 

The bar can also be used on dark spot pigmentation on underarms, inner thighs, acne scarring on the chest, back or buttocks, age spots, and sun damage, or age spots and sun damage. 

Most dermatologists will recommend kojic acid as it has shown excellent results as a skin brightener. When used at a safe level, it is highly effective and is non-irritating. Since the bar is formulated with low levels of kojic acid, expect to start seeing results in six weeks as it is designed to avoid burning or irritation. Of course, the bar has been dermatologist tested and is a safe and effective use of kojic acid in helping to minimize pigmentation. 

As with all good things, patience and consistency are key. By following the preventative tips, I outlined, combined with the kojic acid bar, you will soon see your dark knees and elbows getting brighter. 


side profile of founder Mary Futher with short hair and round glasses

Written by Madame Sweat

Clean beauty industry maven and product developer Madame Sweat (Mary Futher) founded kaia naturals after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. She now shares weekly modern hygiene etiquette advice and solutions for “unsexy” body taboos, with her social media followers and readers.

All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. 


Clean beauty industry maven and product developer Madame Sweat (Mary Futher) founded kaia naturals after spending 20 yearsworking for global beauty companies. She now shares advice on modern hygiene etiquette for grooming, hosting, home and travel on Instagram, TikTok and her popular blog called The House of Hygiene.

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