4 Reasons Your Underarms Look Dark
When you think about common skin concerns, acne, dullness and signs of aging rank high on the list — but so does discoloration. Beyond dark spots and discolored marks on your face, discoloration can appear in less obvious places, like under your armpits. If you’re dealing with dark underarms, especially if they appeared seemingly overnight, chances are you’re curious what may have caused them to get that way in the first place. We asked board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Joshua Zeichner to share common causes of dark underarms. Here’s what you need to know.
Cause #1: Shaving
If you have dark underarm hair, it’s rightful to assume that shaving thick, coarse hair could help make your underarms appear less dark. But if you’re shaving too frequently or improperly, it could be causing the skin under your armpits to look darker. “You may have more pigment under the arms than in other areas because of chronic, low-grade inflammation caused by rubbing or shaving,” says Dr. Zeichner. What’s more, because shaving doesn’t remove the entire hair follicle, it could leave behind what appears to be a darker cast on the skin due to the hair sitting right below the surface. So, what can you do? If you shave often, consider another means for hair removal. If you absolutely must shave, be sure to add water to your armpits before gliding your blade across your skin. Utilizing shaving cream like the Kiehl’s Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream may also help reduce abrasions.
Cause #2: Excessive Rubbing or Friction
Shaving can cause excessive friction to your underarms but so too can your clothing and lifestyle habits. This friction and irritation can cause your skin to become discolored over time.
The skin under the arms is extremely sensitive,” Dr. Zeichner says. While it’s difficult to avoid the friction that results from day-to-day tasks, you can help to minimize it. Avoid clothing that feels rough or uncomfortable. Where possible, opt for looser-fitting clothing that won’t stick to your armpits.
Cause #3: Dead Skin Buildup
You exfoliate your face and body skin often, but are you extending that attention to the skin under your arms as well? If the answer is no, it could be leading to the discoloration you’re seeing. “Moisturizers that contain ingredients like lactic acid can both hydrate and help exfoliate the surface skin cells that give a dark appearance,” Dr. Zeichner advises. If you prefer mechanical exfoliation, reach for a gentle body scrub and apply it to your underarms in gentle circular motions.
Cause #4: Certain Deodorants or Antiperspirants
The underarms are prone to sweat, which can leave behind a bad odor. As a result, we rely on deodorants and antiperspirants for help. And while these products can do a great job of keeping sweat odors in check, some may be formulated with ingredients that could be irritating to your skin. If any of the ingredients in your deodorant or antiperspirant are responsible for such irritation, discoloration could often result as well. Talk to your dermatologist about the current product you’re using and follow their recommendation on which ingredients to avoid.