Smiling woman stretching outdoors.

Underarm bleaching is not a new , but an ever-present practice that’s evolved – ingredients- and method-wise – with the times. Although a sign of the deeper issue of colorism and the general obsession with having , the quick, lunchtime procedure continues to grow in popularity.

While women embracing their natural skin color (FYI, ) is ideal, it’s hard to stop a determined lady from getting what she wants. If you’re considering a treatment for dark underarms, understanding the process and possible side effects can help you make a sound decision.

How Underarm Bleaching Works

Although underarm bleaching sounds extreme, it has been around for decades. It covers all treatments that attempt to lighten the armpits, from formulated gels to laser treatments. The general process is the same as any skin lightening procedure, which involves inhibiting the production of skin pigment.

Lasers are usually recommended for , while peeling, injections, and topical creams are suitable for those with a higher tolerance. A dermatologist will check your skin's sensitivity, which is one of the advantages of going to a clinic instead of an aesthetic center. 

Alternatively, some individuals prefer using at-home exfoliants to eliminate dead skin cells and promote the turnover of skin cells. Lemon, apple cider vinegar, and are popular natural ingredients for this purpose, as they can help and slough off dead cells from the skin's surface. However, be warned that DIY treatments may come with side effects like irritation.

The Dark Side of Underarm Whitening Products

When performed by an expert, underarm bleaching is usually safe with minor side effects like redness. However, using over-the-counter products marketed to lighten underarms can have serious consequences. Most of these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which may contain harmful ingredients in high concentrations.

Based on the  findings, many skin lightening products have mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can trigger skin rashes, scarring, acne, skin thinning, and ulcers. In several cases, mercury poisoning also causes loss of vision.

What about the hack from TikTok? While exfoliating toners are usually well-tolerated on the face, they irritate underarm skin, which is more delicate. Aside from being thinner, its warm environment also invites bacteria that can make it more prone to severe reactions. So, before you jump into the hype train, doing a is crucial!

Tips to Address Dark Underarms Naturally

Sometimes the “less is more” approach delivers better results. Instead of scrubbing your skin or applying topical creams with dubious ingredients, go for these underarm care methods to brighten your skin.

1. Take the time to cleanse your pits.

Most people don't dedicate enough time to washing their underarms. Take 30 seconds to clean each armpit. Not only will this help combat , but it can also help fade dark marks.

Try a body wash that contains low concentrations of glycolic acid (much gentler than a toner!). Gently rub the soap with your hands or loofah to avoid microtears. Doing this once a week will help remove and draw out impurities.

2. Switch to a deo that’s kinder on your skin.

Some ingredients in deodorants and antiperspirants, like aluminum, can irritate sensitive underarms. If you've noticed any itchiness from using deodorant, switch to Dove 0% Aluminum Deodorant Spray. This alcohol-free and aluminum-free deo spray gives you 24-hour odor protection. It also has Dove's signature ¼ moisturizing cream, so your underarms feel naturally smooth with regular use.

3. Optimize your hair removal method.

Whether it's shaving, , or laser, following proper procedure is crucial to prevent discoloration on your underarms. Don't skimp on shaving cream and replace your razor blades frequently. Sprinkle some talc-free baby powder before waxing to absorb excess moisture and . If you're doing laser hair removal or IPL, hit pause on strenuous exercises a few days after the treatment.

Aftercare is also crucial. Always moisturize after hair removal to soothe inflammation and help the skin retain its elasticity. You can use Dove Radiant + Care 3% Niacinamide + 10x Omega 6 for radiant and smooth underarms. Formulated with 10x boosters and Omega 6, it is clinically proven to smoothen underarm pores.

Before undergoing any type of underarm bleaching treatment, do your research. Read the ingredients list before buying a beauty product and consult your doctor about possible side effects or alternatives. Remember that Filipino skin is different from Caucasian skin and will never be as light. Instead of bleaching, caring for your underarms is the more practical and self-loving way to go.