underarm brightening deodorant cream for dark stained underarms

What’s The Deal With Stained Armpit Skin?

Have you ever caught a glimpse of your underarms, only to notice dark patches, hyperpigmentation, or stained armpit skin? Whether your underarms have a gray, brown or even orange tint, this common complaint can affect your confidence and may even put you off from rocking those sleeveless summer looks.

But when it comes to dark underarms, is it actually staining? We’ve taken a look at the causes of armpit discoloration to help you identify what could be causing it, how you can prevent it, and ways to get your ‘pits looking bright and fresh again.

What is stained armpit skin?

When you notice that your underarms are looking darker than the surrounding skin, your first instinct may be to go in with your soap and sponge and give them a good scrub. While staining is possible (after using an underarm mask containing turmeric, for example), dark armpits are usually caused by hyperpigmentation of the skin itself.

Okay, but what causes this hyperpigmentation? As it turns out, there are many factors that can lead to dark underarms, ranging from the products you use to your genetics.

Why do armpits look stained?

In most cases, underarm discoloration can be attributed to inflammation. When the skin gets irritated, such as with friction or a reaction to certain chemicals, the skin can dry out, causing a thickening of the dermis that looks darker. This reaction is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and is more common in those with darker skin tones.

Taking PIH into consideration, here are some of the common causes of stained armpit skin:

Product sensitivity

Your underarms, with all their pores and sweat glands, can be a very sensitive part of the body. The ingredients in your products such as deodorants, antiperspirants, body washes or lotions could be causing irritation that leads to staining or darkening of the underarms.

Some common culprit ingredients are pore-clogging aluminum found in antiperspirant deodorants, perfumes or essential oils that can inflame sensitive skin, and baking soda found in some natural deodorants. While a rash or dark spots may not appear overnight, even low levels of inflammation can build up over time.

Hair removal

If you shave or wax your underarms, you’ll know that it’s not always smooth sailing. From razor burn to ingrowns, hair removal is a common cause of irritation that can lead to dark underarms.

Buildup of dead skin cells

While intense scrubbing of stained armpit skin is not advisable, it’s worth noting that buildup of product or dead skin cells can cause the underarms to look dull or uneven. Just as you would on your face, it’s important to gently exfoliate in a way that doesn’t cause further irritation.  

Acanthosis nigricans

If the dark patches under your arms feel dry and velvety, they could be caused by a condition called acanthosis nigricans. Often affecting the skin folds at the groin and neck, too, this condition can be caused by obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain hormonal conditions, or other underlying health factors. If you suspect acanthosis nigricans, it’s worth getting your skin checked out by a doctor to rule out anything more serious.


Lastly, hyperpigmentation of the underarms can be affected by hormonal fluctuations. Often particularly noticeable during pregnancy, hormones can also cause hyperpigmentation of the inner thighs, areolas, and face.

How to improve stained armpit skin

If you are dealing with dark underarms that look like stained armpit skin, then there’s good news. With the proper care and products you can boost brightness, prevent further hyperpigmentation, and feel confident in your skin.

Avoid friction

Because dark patches can be caused by irritation, it’s important to avoid anything that could cause friction on your underarms. Steer clear of tight clothing, dull razors or harsh scrubs that could cause micro-tears to your sensitive skin.

Use a gentle exfoliant

While intense scrubs and loofahs should be avoided, clearing away dead skin cells and product buildup is important for bright, clear underarms. Opt for a gentle exfoliant that is specifically formulated for delicate armpit skin, like our Get It Bright Exfoliating Body Scrub.

Made with natural ingredients, this in-shower scrub contains glycolic acid, pumice and willow bark extract to gently slough away dull skin and reveal soft, fresh skin underneath. Use up to twice a week to safely exfoliate your stained armpit skin. 

Choose the right deodorant

For many people, deodorant containing aluminum, essential oils or baking soda is the biggest culprit for causing dark underarms. While you may not notice irritation overnight, product buildup and sensitivity can happen in time and cause dull, dark, uneven ‘pits.

Instead, go for a deodorant that is specifically formulated to brighten and smooth stained armpit skin. The Original Underarm Brightening Deodorant Cream is made with sensitivity in mind, and will help you combat razor burn, BO and ingrowns, all while naturally brightening dark spots. With a harsh chemical free lineup of ingredients to soothe, smooth and brighten, your underarms will only look better with time!

Tackle stained armpit skin with Forgotten Skincare

Dark or stained underarms are an incredibly common complaint, and it’s clear that the solution isn’t to go in with harsh scrubs or peels. Instead, Forgotten Skincare has created an entire line dedicated to the proper care of your most sensitive areas, helping you to achieve your smoothest, happiest, brightest underarms yet.

In fact, our Free to Frolic Underarm Kit is designed to do exactly that! Containing both The OG deodorant cream and the Get It Bright scrub, this all-natural, gentle combo will relieve your underarms from irritation and help you feel your most confident in your skin. 

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