AUGUST 2021 | 5 MINUTE READ
As a product developer for natural deodorants, I receive a great deal of emails from women who have dark underarms wanting to know how to lighten them. While researching, I realized many YouTubers were suggesting certain dark spot remedies and ingredients that could actually make the pigmentation worse! So read on, as I am your DIY dark spot remedy fact checker, sharing what not to use to lighten your underarms and why.
Most dermatologists will tell you to be careful using any type of fruit acid on the skin, as they can burn, causing further hyperpigmentation. The skin on your armpits is extremely delicate and is equivalent to the skin on your eyelids, including skin folds. Thus, it is a very sensitive area and if you’re using harsh ingredients, it will irritate the skin and cause further inflammation.
Many YouTube videos seem to suggest using baking soda as a way to lighten armpits. However, there is no scientific proof to back up the claim that baking soda would be helpful to lighten underarm pigmentation. When developing our natural deodorants, I used charcoal in my formulations instead of irritating baking soda due to its alkalinity which can alter the pH levels of your armpit, causing a rash. Depending on your skin’s pH, your reactions to baking soda will differ – some will have mild reactions, while others can have a more serious reaction. However, regardless of where you fall in the dark armpits spectrum, using baking soda to treat hyperpigmentation issues is not a good idea, especially because the skin folds into itself, resulting in rapid product absorption and even more irritation.
Glycolic Acid is a common ingredient used in skincare products and is used to help minimize fine lines, boosts hydration, and lighten hyperpigmentation on the face. However, depending on how sensitive your skin is, it can irritate the face. So if it irritates the face then it can potentially irritate your armpits, especially since your underarms are incredibly delicate.
Your armpits consist of a moist area in which a lot of rubbing and friction occur naturally. Moreover, glycolic acid can further irritate the underarms putting you at risk of making the pigmentation worse. Most dermatologists will tell you that if you overuse glycolic acid or use it in high concentrations, it can make the pigmentation worse.
There are many more kitchen ingredients and DIY dark spot remedies that are recommended to help lighten dark armpits. For example, making DIY armpit masks using organic yogurt and honey or applying papaya puree onto your armpits. Using these dark spot remedies may help lighten your armpits but they are not as effective as using dark spot products because it’s time consuming and difficult to be consistent when getting the correct percentages. These methods need to be applied twice a day in order to get the most effective brightening results. Additionally, not all these DIY methods inhibit the enzyme (tyrosine) that causes dark spots from forming. These methods are inconvenient and won’t even out the skin to your liking if you’re not consistently applying these ingredients.
These DIY methods are not for everyone. Homemade remedies allow room for error as they aren’t formulated with the same ratios products are. As someone who has made two clean beauty products that are meant to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I know what the best method for lightening armpits is. I created my products as I could see a need in the market and I realized that there was no convenient professional solutions to minimize dark spot pigmentation on the body, especially in the underarm region.
With the support of a cosmetic chemist and much more consumer and dermatologist testing, I believe that we have the best natural skin-brightening ingredients out there for this problem with complete ease of use. When researching ingredients to use in these products, I found that using a combination of kojic acid, licorice root extract, niacinamide, and alpha arbutin, were the most safe and effective at minimizing discoloration.
However, I was told it was not a good idea to put all these ingredients in one product. That is why I created a two-step system, the kojic acid body bar, a wash-off formula and the niacinamide brightening deodorant and body balm, a leave-on product. Using these two products together increases the speed of the brightening process and seals in the actives from the body bar. You already use deodorant everyday and you can use the body bar when you’re in the shower, so it won’t add more time in your routine.
For those who love taking part in DIY culture, one ingredient that is safe to use on the armpits is aloe vera. To reap the benefits of aloe vera, it’s always better to use aloe vera gel straight from the aloe leaf itself rather than buying an aloe vera gel product. You can apply the aloe vera to your armpits 15-20 minutes a day and do this as many times a week as you can.
Not only does aloe vera help with inflammation but it also blocks the enzyme that helps produce melanin. It’s great to use for underarm pigmentation issues because it’s antibacterial and will not traumatize the skin. The only downside is that it’s not convenient to sit with aloe vera on the underarms for 15-20 minutes each day. Nonetheless, it is an excellent home remedy.
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.
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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 advice on modern hygiene etiquette for grooming, hosting, home and travel on Instagram, TikTok and her popular blog called The House of Hygiene.