The Top 5 Causes of Darkened Underarms

This week’s blog is courtesy of the book every beauty junkie should read called, “Can you get hooked on lip balm?” (The answer is yes). We’re going to talk about the top 5 causes of darkened armpits and how to both prevent and treat the discolouration if you have it.

1. Shaving. When you shave, you cut the hairs off at, or below, the surface of the skin. If your hairs are slightly darker than your skin colour, it can appear as though your skin has a dark stain when it’s really just subsurface hair.

What to do about it: stop shaving and try waxing or plucking instead, so you get rid of the hair below the skin surface. Since the hairs aren’t lurking so close to the top of your skin, they won’t be as visible.

Action step: book your wax appointment at Buff Wax Spot because shaving is truly the pits.

2. Buildup of dead skin cells. According to at least one dermatologist, dark spots under your arms are the result of dead skin cells that are trapped in microscopic “hills and valleys” on your skin.

What to do about it: exfoliate, preferably with a product containing lactic acid.

Action step: book your appointment at Buff Wax Spot because waxing also exfoliates the skin.

3. Antiperspirant and deodorant usage. In theory, some ingredients in these products (perhaps the fragrance) could be reacting with the skin to cause discolouration. Practically speaking, this seems unlikely but many people do claim that when they stop using these products, the darkness goes away.

What to do about it: try switching brands or using a deodorant instead of an antiperspirant.

4. A medical condition called acanthosis nigricans. This condition causes light-brown-to-black markings on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. It can be related to insulin production or to a glandular disorder, and it typically occurs in people who are overweight.

What to do about it: watch your diet in order to control insulin production and see your doctor about using Retin-A, 20% urea, alpha hydroxy acids or salicylic acid prescriptions to lighten your armpits.

5. Hyperpigmentation. This condition causes your skin to produce excess melanin pigment. It doesn’t usually affect armpits, so it’s a less likely cause.

What to do about it: use a skin bleaching cream to destroy the excess melanin. We don’t recommend this unless you consult a dermatologist first. You can also try laser treatment to destroy the pigment.

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