How to Lighten Dark Underarms: Popular Remedies

black woman with curly hair putting on dress

It’s a question we wish we never ask, but we have no option when our armpits darken more than the rest of our bodies. 

So, what causes your skin to darken? 

What Causes Dark Armpits?

Acanthosis nigricans

It’s one of the medical causes of dark underarms. If you have this condition, the skin appears thick with a velvety surface. It might come from type 2 diabetes or a health problem that changes your hormonal level, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).


Maybe you’re irritating your skin when you shave, and it’s reacting with hyperpigmentation. Harsh ingredients in deodorant can be irritants too. These include dyes and fragrances. You could even be irritating your skin with shaving cream.


Yes, we get the good stuff, such as thick, lovely hair, and the worst, such as dark underarms. Guess you’ll start checking your family’s underarms to see if it runs in the family. Good luck!

Other possible causes are excessive sweating, contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and friction. Which one do you think is causing your armpits to darken? You can rule out some of these causes fast. For instance, stop shaving to see if your armpits lighten. If they don’t, then something else is darkening them.

You won’t feel anxious if it’s a small dark patch. But once it expands and darkens more than your body’s skin tone, you’ll be eager to lighten it. The problem is there are many solutions, some of which sound like they’ll bleach and burn your armpits. So, what options can you consider?

Popular Treatment Ideas on How to Lighten Dark Underarms

There are dozens of ideas on the Web, but these can cause you more damage. You have to be careful, as underarm treatments can irritate. It’s best to ask a dermatologist to prescribe something suitable for your situation. Here are some of the hyped ones.

Potato Juice

Ah! You’re thinking, grate a potato and extract its juice? Well, yes. The suggestion online is you apply potato juice, wait 10 minutes, then rinse it off.

Lemon Juice

It’s the same process as with potato juice. But instead of extracting the juice, you slice a lemon and rub it on your underarms. Wait for 10 minutes, rinse, and moisturize.

It’s not something you try when you have broken skin there.

Tumeric + Lemon

So, you squeeze about two tablespoons of lemon juice into a bowl and mix it with turmeric. It should have a paste consistency. Then, apply the paste, and wait for 30 minutes before you rinse it off.

Glycolic Acid 

It’s the only one I’ve dared to try, and six months in, my armpits are still dark. No, wait, let me explain. I wouldn’t want to burn my skin with a 10% glycolic acid formulation. Therefore, I use it twice a week only. My underarms weren’t very dark when I started, anyway.

It speeds up cell turnover by breaking cell bonds. Hence, your skin eliminates dead skin cells faster. Plus, this acid hastens collagen production.

Chemical Peel

It should be the last option on your mind. Try other ideas first unless you have severely dark armpits that are impossible to lighten with other treatments.

Underarm Lightening Creams and Lotions

They contain brightening ingredients like azelaic acid, tretinoin, kojic acid, and hydroquinone.

Remember, if it promises to get rid of dark armpits in minutes or overnight, it’s either a lie or contains an ingredient that might be too harsh on your skin.

You know, dark armpits could mean you have another serious condition. For example, it could be a symptom of diabetes or PCOS. If you’ve tried most of the remedies from your dermatologist, you might want to visit a medical doctor.

Which one have you tried? We’d love to hear about your experience.