Science Backed Tricks That Can Help Lighten Dark Underarms

No one believes that black is beautiful more strongly than we do, but let’s face it – although we may love zebras, we’d rather not look like them. We’d all like our skin to be of a uniform shade of black, white, or brown, rather than white with dark patches or vice versa. Unfortunately, underarms and inner thighs tend to take on a darker shade no matter what we do. As frustrating as this may be there’s a reason for it and there’s also a lot that you can do to remedy it. So, let’s understand the causes before we dive into the natural treatment options for dark underarms.

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Causes For Dark Underarms


This is one of the most common causes of skin darkening, as shaving only removes hair at the skin surface, leaving the roots and stubble behind to create a dark appearance. Waxing, tweezing, or laser hair removal can counter this problem.

Bacterial Infection

A bacterial infection of erythrasma is also fairly common and causes darkening of the underarms. Diabetics are again more vulnerable to this condition. This infection is usually treated with oral or topical antibiotics.

Acanthosis Nigricans

This is a condition that is common in people with insulin disorders or hypothyroidism, but it also affects individuals on oral contraceptives, hormonal therapy, and certain cholesterol medications. This will be different from usual skin darkening however, as the skin takes on a gray or brown hue.

Antiperspirants and Deodorants

These products often contain aluminum and other harsh chemicals that cause darkening of the skin. Switching brands or trying out natural products can help to counter the problem.


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Dead Skin Cells

The buildup of dead skin cells can affect any area of skin, including your armpits. This results in dull and dark skin, but it can be easily resolved through regular exfoliation.

Home Treatment For Underarm Whitening

Natural remedies for dark underarms and thighs don’t always yield the desired results, but we’ve found some that actually work.

1. Aloe Vera For Dark Underarms

Yes, it’s often touted as cure for every problem, but in the case of dark underarms and thighs it really does work. Several studies have shown that the active ingredient aloin causes melanin (skin pigment) aggregation, leading to skin lightening.

Applying aloe gel to your skin restricts the activity of an enzyme that causes pigmentation or darkening of skin. Moreover, aloe contains antibacterial properties and soothes inflamed skin. While some naturalists recommend using fresh aloe gel, we’d advise you to use an organic aloe gel without added fragrances, as some parts of the plant can cause severe skin irritation.


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2. Pears For Dark Underarms

Some studies on botanical extracts suggest that Arbutin, an organic compound found in pears may have a skin lightening effect through the suppression of tyrosinase an enzyme involved in pigmentation. This compound is concentrated in the skin and leaves of the fruit and tree respectively, so you could try making a topical application by crushing the fruit and the dried leaf, if possible, to apply over your darkened skin.

3. Mulberry (Shahtoot) For Dark Underarms

Better known in India as Shahtoot, mulberries aren’t just a delightful snack, but they also possess powerful medicinal properties, which is why they’ve long been used in traditional medicine like Unani and Ayurveda. Mulberries contain an active compound called Mulberroside F, which actually inhibits melanin formation, thereby reducing hyperpigmentation or darkening of skin.

You can crush the fruit extract and dried leaves of the tree to make a home treatment for dark underarms and thighs.

4. Orange Or Lemon For Dark Underarms

Citrus fruits like lemon and orange can help to promote skin lightening of the underarms and thighs when their extracts are applied topically, as the peels and membranes of these fruits contain a bioflavonoid called hesperidin. Studies have shown that this compound has an inhibitory effect on melanin synthesis and it also improves overall skin tone.

The next time you eat an orange or use a lemon, don’t discard the peels; instead use them like a scrub for your dark skin patches.


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5. Potato Peels For Dark Underarms

Potatoes don’t just taste great, but are also highly nutritious and can help with skin lightening. They are packed with essential nutrients like B-Complex vitamins, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and more, but their most notable property for skin lightening is the presence of niacinamide, a B complex derivative.

Studies have shown that niacinamide can work as an effective skin lightening agent, making potato peels an effective remedy for dark underarms and thighs. You can either cut potato slices or just use the peels, rubbing them against affected skin in circular motions. Do this for a few minutes until the slices or peels turn dry.

While there is ample scientific evidence to support the use of these natural remedies for dark skin or hyperpigmentation problems, the results are never instantaneous. Be patient and consistent in your practice and try different remedies to find one that works best for your skin type.

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Lee SH, Choi SY, Kim H, Hwang JS, Lee BG, Gao JJ, Kim SY. Mulberroside F isolated from the leaves of Morus alba inhibits melanin biosynthesis. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Aug;25(8):1045-8. PubMed PMID: 12186407.

Kim, Bora et al. “Hesperidin Suppresses Melanosome Transport by Blocking the Interaction of Rab27A-Melanophilin.” Biomolecules & Therapeutics 21.5 (2013): 343–348. PMC. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Sarkar, Rashmi, Pooja Arora, and K Vijay Garg. “Cosmeceuticals for Hyperpigmentation: What Is Available?” Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery 6.1 (2013): 4–11. PMC. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Ali SA, Galgut JM, Choudhary RK. On the novel action of melanolysis by a leaf extract of Aloe vera and its active ingredient aloin, potent skin depigmenting agents. Planta Med. 2012 May;78(8):767-71. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1298406. PubMed PMID: 22495441.

Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31. PubMed PMID: 12100180.



February 12, 2018

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