Here's to #kilikiligoals: What causes underarm darkening and how to whiten them

Admit it: we all want armpits as bright as our future. 

Growing up, I was told by my mama to put tawas and calamansi on my pits to whiten them. She also advised me to not put on deodorant or anti-antiperspirant because it supposedly causes darkening. As the sun and El Niño join forces to kill us with heat this summer, I'm left wondering if I should reconsider my deodorant ban. So I decided to do some research on what causes dark underarms and the best ways to lighten them!

The causes for dark underarms

One usually thinks that being unhygienic is the main culprit of dark underarms but that isn’t necessarily true. You can take as much as three showers a day but still have shadowy pits because:

1) You do not exfoliate.

Showering washes off sweat and the germs that cause body odor, but only exfoliation can help prevent accumulation of dead skin cells. Just as you need to exfoliate your face regularly to keep your complexion bright, the same principle also applies to your underarms. If you perform hair removal, exfoliation can also prevent ingrowns, which can make your pits look bumpy, dark and red!

2) You shave.

Speaking of hair removal, how you do it can have an effect on the color of your armpits. Shaving simply cuts the hair above the surface of the skin and because hair tapers off, the follicle at the base creates a grayish shadow on the skin. If you're not careful, cuts and nicks from the razor can also turn into darkened scars.

3) You use deodorant or anti-perspirant.

Welp, so Mom really does know best! These products can darken underarms because of certain ingredients like fragrance or alcohol which irritate the skin.

 We received these "Under-Arm Perfume Peeling Pads" earlier these year. Haven't gotten around to trying them yet but they're dubbed as Editor's Picks on Althea!

We received these "Under-Arm Perfume Peeling Pads" earlier these year. Haven't gotten around to trying them yet but they're dubbed as Editor's Picks on Althea!

What you can do instead

If you're conscious about darkened underarms, the good news is that you do not have to hide in sleeved tops for the rest of your life! Switching to good skin care habits and using the right products can undo the damage as you give your skin the chance to repair itself.

1) Laser it away!

We're big fans of laser hair removal as we'll never have to worry about hair growth again! The LaserLight service at Facial Care Centre is virtually pain-free, and uses a machine that works for all types of skin. You can also try their Revlite treatment as it is a laser that specifically reverses hyper pigmentation.

If you're on a budget though, you can skip the wax parlor and try DIY sugar waxing with just three ingredients that are already in your kitchen! Just make sure to follow our post-hair removal care tips to keep your pits smooth and rash-free.

2) Switch to a different deodorant formula.

Giving up the stick may be a difficult and even gross idea for some, and we definitely feel your need to find ways to feel (and smell) fresh in spite of the heat. Thankfully, there are options for keeping your pits odor-free without skin-damaging chemicals! These deodorants from Human Nature are alcohol-, paraben- and aluminum-free while Deonat is essentially tawas in an easy-to-apply stick form.

Do take note that deodorants are different from antiperspirants. They function to keep BO away, but won't necessarily keep you from getting sweaty.

3) Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!

Okay, so hold up, you don’t need to exfoliate your pits every day! Overdoing it can actually result in the opposite of your desired effect. We recommend exfoliating every other day and doing so very gently. Let the exfoliant do the work instead of rubbing it hard against your skin.

You can use store-bought scrubs like the A Bonne Spa Milk Salt or go the DIY route with our recipe for a green tea scrub.

4) Use skin lightening soaps.

Liz has been raving about the Kojie San soaps so I gave it a try and now understand the hype! This popular skin lightening soap doesn’t only lighten your skin, but it also exfoliates really well. If your pits are too sensitive for the rough texture of scrubs, you can give this a go instead.

Have you achieved your kili-kili goals? What are your favorite tips for whitening them? Also, who's your peg for "best armpits ever"?