How to Brighten Your Dark Pits
Summer might be over but your skin might still be suffering the effects of all those sunbathing sessions by the pool. Sun exposure is a common culprit behind dark pits. Spending too much time in the sun without a decent few dollops of SPF can leave skin vulnerable to sun damage, and ultimately fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.
Luckily, you may not have to bring your summer skincare woes into fall. Not with this underarm brightening routine, anyway...
What Causes Dark Underarms?
According to dermatologists, hyperpigmentation is the most common cause of dark armpits — a skin concern brought on my unprotected UV exposure and hormonal changes. Hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition which causes skin to produce extra melanin, creating the appearance of brown or black spots on the body.
Even shaving can contribute to hyperpigmentation. Especially if you’re not doing it right, and you’re often left with razor burn, nicks, and ingrown hairs.
"Any injury or trauma to the skin from a rash or ingrown hair is going to produce more melanin leading to hyperpigmentation," explains Tiffany Clay, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist.
Other potential (though less common) causes include allergic reactions, infections, and acanthosis nigricans.
How to Treat Dark Armpits
Seeing dark spots and patches on your underarm skin? Here are a few armpit lightening treatments to brighten up your pits.
Exfoliate Your Underarms
Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells for fresher, brighter skin — that absorbs skincare products better. Besides giving skin a quick glow boost, exfoliation also breaks up the pigmented cells, enabling them to fade. Paired with a skin lightening ingredient like vitamin C, exfoliation will get your underarm area looking clearer and brighter in no time.
Look for body scrubs that use gentle exfoliating particles like sugar or salt. Just make sure you don’t overdo it with the skin buffing, as this can actually trigger more melanin.
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Apply a Retinol Treatment
Retinol might be known as a powerhouse anti-aging ingredient, but it can also do a slew of other things for your skin — like fighting discoloration. It does this by promoting cell turnover, encouraging the formation of more evenly pigmented cells.
By using a topical retinol treatment in your daily skincare routine, you can look forward to improved skin tone and texture. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to limit use to 2-3 times a week to avoid side effects such as dryness, redness, and irritation. Dry skin types may also want to use with caution to avoid aggravating dryness.
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Hydroquinone is a chemical compound commonly used in products that treat hyperpigmentation. By interacting with the skin’s melanin-producing cells in the skin, it can help to decrease the production of pigment, leaving skin more even. Avoid using bleaching agents and whitening products, which are typically way too harsh for skin.
Consider (Some) Home Remedies
Home remedies can sometimes be a blessing — and a curse — for your skin. Be careful what you put on your skin as some natural ingredients can be extremely irritating to the skin, especially lightening agents like lemon juice and baking soda. While these can be effective, they’re typically too harsh for the skin and should be avoided.
Some better, gentler options include aloe vera gel, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, coconut oil, olive oil, and milk. You can turn these ingredients into DIY discoloration formulas for brighter, lighter pits.
Try an In-Office Treatment
Some experts say in-office procedures like laser therapy and chemical peels can be effective for treating underarm discoloration. If you’re looking for a quick way to looking brighter and clearer in your sleeveless shirts and dresses, speak to your derm about the best procedures.
How to Prevent Underarm Discoloration
There are so many ways you can prevent dark pits from becoming an issue in the first place. Here are some preventative steps to take to keep your pitties bright and even.
Since UV rays are one of the biggest causes of pigmentations, wearing an SPF 30 or higher will greatly reduce the chance of seeing armpit discoloration. Even in autumn and winter, you should be wearing sunscreen every day to prevent excessive melanin activity. Remember to reapply your sunscreen multiple times a day.
Poor shaving techniques and using the wrong products can be behind those annoying post-shave bumps or burns. Invest in some quality shaving products and sharpen your technique to avoid shave-related hyperpigmentation.
For starters, always begin your shave in the shower and let the lukewarm water soften your follicles. You’ll also need a hydrating shaving cream or butter to soften skin and hair for an easier razor glide. Anther essential factor: shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid ingrowns and irritation. What’s more, don’t forget to slather on a couple of aftercare products like a soothing aftershave serum and nourishing moisturizer.
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Instead of an antiperspirant, switch to an aluminum-free deodorant. Many deodorants and antiperspirants contain fragrances, which irritate the skin and can often lead to discoloration. Alternatively, choose a deodorant that actively tackles underarm hyperpigmentation. Ideally, you want a product that’s gentle on the skin so that it won’t irritate and ultimately, lead to dark spots and discoloration.
Waxing might leave you silky smooth but it can also contribute to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Between the warmth of the wax and the process of ripping out hairs, waxing causes irritation and as a result, discoloration. Consider laser hair removal if you’re looking for a more permanent hair removal method.
Just because it’s fall now doesn’t give you an excuse to abandon the rest of your body. If your pits are paying the price of all those days in the sun, try this pit brightening routine to get them looking clear and glowy again. It’s also worth paying attention to other symptoms aside from hyperpigmentation. If you’re experiencing other symptoms, see your derm, as it may signal an underlying medical condition.