women with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on their armpits, how to lighten dark armpits

How to Lighten Dark Armpits Quickly

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

Being a product developer for a deodorant company I get a lot of questions about underarms, especially after I started blogging about all things armpits.  I was getting numerous emails from customers asking me for advice on how to lighten their underarms. They wanted to find a natural but effective way to even out the skin tone in the area.  This inspired me to create products that would help even the skin tone of dark underarms without without any irritating or toxic ingredients. After researching I learned that darks underarms can be a result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) and that sometimes we’re responsible for making the discolouration worse. That is why I’m sharing all about the silent irritators that could be making your dark spot pigmentation worse and how to treat it. 

What Causes Dark Armpits?

Those who have melanin-rich skin are most likely to have darker armpits because of their skin type. However, there are many things that can trigger an overproduction of melanin and lead to discoloration on the skin.  Sometimes PIH can be caused by hormones, fungal and bacterial infections and medications. However, there are some silent irritators that you may not know that are making the pigmentation worse.  

1) Inflammation Caused by Hair Removal Methods  

Hair removal methods like waxing and shaving can cause inflammation and even rashes. The skin in the underarm region is incredibly delicate. It’s equivalent to the skin on your eye lid. So even though your skin may feel fine after shaving, shaving can cause micro-cuts and nicks in the underarm region. That is why I recommend shaving at night because if you shave in the morning and apply deodorant afterwards, you are applying product to broken skin. Shaving at night gives your underarms time to heal and calm down, before applying product to the area.  

2) Friction from Tight Clothing   

The friction and chafing from clothing can also irritate the underarms and cause PIH. Wear light and breathable fabrics (such as cotton, linen, bamboo) or loose-fitting items. 


woman shaving armpit without post-inflammatory hyperigmentation
baking soda
3) Natural Deodorants with Irritating Ingredients:   

Baking Soda: 

A common ingredient in natural deodorants is baking soda.  Baking soda is an alkaline substance, and if it mixes with an acid, it can alter the pH levels of your skin. Depending on your skin’s pH, your reaction to baking soda will differ – some will have mild reactions, while others will have more serious and extreme reactions. However, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, baking soda is probably not wise when it comes to hyperpigmentation issues. The underarm skin folds into itself, resulting in rapid product absorption and possible irritation. 

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High Levels Of Fragrance 

I like having a deodorant that has a light and pleasant smell. However, if you have sensitive skin using a deodorant with high levels of fragrance is not a good idea. It’s okay to have fragrance in your deodorant, BUT it must be in the product at very low levels. If fragrance is included on the ingredients list on your deodorant and it is not in the last two lines of the list, you can assume it’s included at high levels. 

You can also simply do a sniff test to see how much fragrance is in your deodorant. If you open the lid and the scent is overpowering (sometimes you can already smell the deodorant with the lid on), you can assume the fragrance levels are far too high. 


Some alcohols – found in antiperspirants, deodorants AND even natural deodorants – can be the culprit for irritation. So, even if you’re using natural deodorant, or are thinking of switching to natural deodorant, always check the ingredients to make sure it does not include traces of certain alcohols. 

woman smelling flowers

How to Minimize The Dark Spot Pigmentation Faster

If you’re constantly irritating your underarms, the pigmentation issues will get worse. In order to minimize the discoloration you must first stop using anything or doing anything that irritates your underarms. Once you address the irritation and the inflammation you can start using a topical depigmenting agent to help lighten the discoloration.  

For those who have melanin-rich skin and have this issue, I created the first underarm skincare system called the double dose that will help even out the dark spot pigmentation faster. It’s a simple two-step system which includes a kojic acid body bar and a niacinamide deodorant.

woman using the kojic acid body bar to lighten dark armpits
woman apply niacinamide deodorant and body balm to help lighten dark armpits

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 the discoloration. However, I was told it was not a good idea to put all those ingredients in one product. That is why I created a wash-off formula and a leave-on product that not only doubles the speed iof the brightening process but seals in the actives from the body bar. 

First, use the takesumi kojic acid body bar daily in the shower. Lather it for 30 seconds in order to allow the actives to penetrate the skin and rinse off.  Then follow-up with the takesumi bright niacinamide deodorant.  

It’s a simple yet convenient underarm skincare system because most people shower and use a deodorant on a daily basis. 

It’s important to remember that how fast these products work depend on how dark your pigmentation is, how long you’ve had it and whether you are addressing what is causing the inflammation on your underarms. With some patience and with steady and consistent treatment your underarms will get lighter before you know it. 

Each week on my blog The Little Book of Human Discomforts I share clever solutions for seemingly embarrassing skin, body, and hair issues. Consider subscribing below to be the first to know when new content is live!    

I also share lots of body and skincare tips on Instagram @kaianaturals and on my TikTok page @madamesweat.

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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. 

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