Underarm darkness is more embarrassing than harmful, according to the scientists at The Beauty Brains website. In fact, though dark underarms are sometimes symptomatic of acanthosis nigricans--a condition related to glandular disorders--the causes of armpit discoloration are typically more run-of-the-mill. For example, The Beauty Brains lists shaving and dead skin cell buildup as two of the most common culprits. According to the site, shaving only removes the top portion of hair, leaving the remaining part to create dark shadows beneath the surface of the skin. Switching to a method of hair removal that removes the hair at the root--such as sugaring--may improve underarm darkness. Sugaring also helps exfoliate the skin, which prevents dead cells from building up and forming dark spots. Products containing lactic acid, a non-abrasive exfoliant, may also lighten dark underarms.
Underarm Hair Removal
Choose an all-natural sugaring kit, which are available in stores and online. Good sugaring products typically contain sugar, water, lemon juice and a natural gum, according to the book “Milady’s Hair Removal Techniques." Avoid products with added fragrances and resins, as these can irritate the skin.
Prep the treatment area by thoroughly washing and drying your armpits. Dust on a fragrance-free, chemical-free baby powder to absorb any extra moisture.
Manipulate a scoop of sugar paste into a ball. Be careful not to over-handle the paste, as this can cause it to heat up and lose its effectiveness.
Position the ball over the unwanted hair. Flatten the paste with your fingers, working against the hair growth.
Pinch one edge of the flattened paste between your thumb and forefinger, then pull quickly, keeping your hand parallel to your skin. Remove the paste in the same direction as the hair growth.
Continue sugaring until your underarms are hair-free. Use a damp washcloth to clear your armpits of any sugar paste residue.
Exfoliate Dark Underarms
Select a cream containing lactic acid. Read the included instructions to learn about proper dosing and use.
Wash your armpits with a mild cleanser and dry thoroughly.
Apply the lactic acid cream to your underarms. Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid derived from milk. It helps lighten dark spots by sloughing off dead skin cells, revealing the newer skin beneath.
Use the sugar paste on hair that is at least one-fourth inch long.
Lactic acid can irritate the sensitive skin of the underarms, according to Dr. Jessica Wu of the website Everyday Health. If irritation occurs, stop using the product.
Julia Estrela has been working as a freelance writer since 2008. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Estrela holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing from Connecticut College.