Dark Underarms - Causes & Solutions

The recent spate of deodorant ads emphasizing on the even toned, fair underarms has got a lot of girls concerned about their own. A lot of girls avoid wearing sleeveless clothes because they are embarrassed about this condition. 

Below are some causes and solutions for this condition:

Cause #1: Shaving or Hair Removal Creams.
When you shave you cut the hairs off at the surface of the skin. Hair removal creams just dissolve the visible hair till the surface. If your hair is slightly darker than your skin color or thick and coarse, they can give the appearance that your skin has a dark color when it`s really just hair peeping through.

Solution: Stop shaving and try waxing instead so you get rid of the hair below the skin surface, from the root. Since the hairs aren’t present so close to the top of your skin, they won’t be as visible.

Cause #2: Buildup of dead skin cells.
Sometimes dark spots under your arms are the result of dry, dead skin cells that are trapped in the folds of your skin. This is also known as one of the reasons for dark elbows, knees & feet. 

Solution: Exfoliation – but not mechanical. The underarm skin is very delicate and using scrubs may cause inflammation. Exfoliate using mild chemicals such as lactic acid. You could use plain milk or curd which is rich in lactic acid. Or diluted papaya juice. 

Cause #3: Antiperspirant usage.
Ingredients in some antiperspirants could be reacting with the skin to cause discoloration. Many people claim that when they stop using antiperspirants, the darkness goes away.

Solution: Try switching brands to milder ones like Dove  or using a body mist or gel cologne instead of an antiperspirant

Cause #4: Medical condition called Acanthosis Nigricans.
This condition causes light-brown-to-black discoloration on the neck nape, under the arms, or in the groin. It can be related to excess insulin production, PCOD (poly cystic ovarian disease – known to also result in missed periods) or to glandular disorder and it typically occurs in people who are overweight.

Solution: Watch your diet to control insulin production, visit a gynec if you suspect you have PCOD. If you suspect you might have Acanthosis Nigricans, please refer to a dermatologist who can guide you on the correct mode of treatment as per your condition.

Personally I would not advise usage of fairness creams on this area. This is a very delicate part of the skin and plays a crucial role in maintaining body temperature. Some creams contain strong chemicals that may adversely affect the sweat glands resulting in health problems. 

Also please don’t go by images you see in media, most of the them are photo-shopped or body foundation has been used to camouflage the arm pit area. The arm pit area skin does have a texture different from skin on the rest of the arm due to it’s functional adaption of temperature maintainance. This may cause it to appear a degree darker or a little different.



  1. Hey that was a nice one. Ive seen bleach in parlours for under arms and couple of my friends do that too. Is that good and helpful in any way??

  2. Hey Tanveer....very nice post....I heard too that deos cause the skin to darken since then have stopped using deos....


  3. very nice post, i have heard that waxing is better beacuse it cleans the skin instead of creams and shaving which usually leads to skin darkening

  4. Hey Tanveer!!!

    This is really help full..I have been waxing my underarms since 15-16 yr of age and it has slower down the hair growth and has made them quite soft too.:)

  5. Yeah, hair removal creams are too much for the delicate skin of the underarms :/

    thoughtful post tanveer :)

    btw, does lakme still make its rose powder? would you suggest it for a wheatish skintone??

  6. Nice post- very relevant for a lot of girls out there!!
    I do think that the anti perspiration deos aren't that good..how can they be if they are interfering with normal body functions??

  7. Good one tanveer..This is one area which creates lot of problems in wearing sleeveless.
    Stop by the blog sometime:)

  8. Informative post Tanveer :) got to know things which I was not aware of. Thanks for sharing

  9. I used to shave my underarms during my hostel days and it made my underarms dark. But then the parlour lady asked me to switch to waxing. It's been 4-5 years now that I have been getting my underarms waxed. Regular waxing has not only reduced my hair growth but has also lightened my underarm area. :)

    Very nice post, Tanveer. :)

  10. @Aarthi: Thks :).. Frankly Aarthi I don't like the concept of bleaching any part of the face or body. It just seems too harsh a chemical process, I have never bleached my underarms so I really don't know if it is ok. Maybe you could ask your friends about their experience.

    @HD: Thks :).. Has stopping deo usage helped? :)

  11. @Sarah: Same here.. But some people find it very painful :)

    @Anamika: yea, I guess if hair removal continues for quite long, it does slow down ;)

    @Ki: Thks :).. Yea, Lakme still makes the rose powder - & they have 2 shades: soft pink for lighter skin and another one for slightly tanned skin. Frankly I am not sure, coz this is a pink colored powder, so if you have a lot of yellow tones in your skin it may look weird. Some stores have testers, so you could check it out there first :)

  12. @Simran: I agree too.. The pursuit of beauty needs to be moderated when you are talking about health.

    @Sovina: Thks :).. I will stop by your blog :)

    @Vidhya: yr welcome, glad u enjoyed it :)

    @Rati: Thks :)... Lots of girls have the same experience as you - even Anamika has mentioned just that - how waxing over time has really helped. It is painful, but i guess over the long run it is safer & better.

  13. Hey :)

    Picked it up and didn't have a good experience with it :-/

    btw, i'll be in mumbai in october... a long way off, I know but i'm planning to get some nyx and jordana stuff. are those brands that are likely to be out of stivk often? I don't wanna go back disappointed :'(

  14. Hi there Tanveer! I am so glad to have found your blog!! I have been on such a hunt for a Desi woman's perspective on makeup and your blog is perfect! After reading yours you have inspired me to write my own blog, check it out sometime if you are free (just started it yesterday!). Thanks for the tips on dark underarms, I always thought it was a curse that I had to bear, will try some of your tips! Though I have tried waxing once, shaving is much more common in the US, it also unfortunately makes the hairs soo hard :(

  15. @Ki: Awww.. so sad u didn't like it.

    Hey, tht's gr8 yr coming to Mumbai.. Frankly both NYX & Jordana are imported here by the store as they haven't been launched officially. so it does happen that some stuff is out of stock.

    Basically it will depend on your luck. If the new stock arrives just before you come, u'll be able to find most things. But there is no saying for sure. Good Luck!

  16. @Mani: Hey! So glad that u liked the blog :).. So cool that you started your blog, i will def be visiting it :D

    I hope the tips help :)

  17. I hope I do! will take a list of stores from you later, thanks :)

  18. I needed to read a post on this topic T. I seriously need to switch to waxing! But sometimes I can't stand even tiny hair peeking out so I shave...I can't wait for them to grow to a certain length to be able to wax them.


  19. @Ki: Sure :D

    @CZ: I know lots of girls like you who shave for the very same reason. Plus it's so much easier to quickly shave at home rather than wax, IMO. :D

  20. Hey Tanveer....sorry for replying back after such a long time...

    I didnt face any blackening of the underarm area due to deos so cant really comment if stoping to use thm helpd or no...but I used to shave my underarms like a lot of girls here and have started waxing since like 2 years now and i regret not doing this earlier....my growth has reduced so much that I think over a period of time I may not need to get my underarms waxed!!


  21. hi tanveer
    new to ur blog.. rly loved ur post..gotto try..do follow me k...

  22. Hey tanveer..nice blog..absolutely enjoy reading it.
    Even i have this problem..i used to shave my underarms in the beginning, but at my parlor i was told that shaving makes them dark.so even i switched to waxing.and also i bleach it everytime i wax. i did see improvement.dont know if its safe to bleach though.also i used to use cinthol talc for my underarms for avoiding sweat.it did its work, but i felt it was also a reason for the darkening.so i stopped using talc and switched to dove deo.i do see improvement.but after reading ur article im suspecting the darkening could be due to PCOD or Acanthosis Nigricans because i hav the problem on my neck and also inner thighs.thanks for the useful info.really helps.


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