Armpit Pigmentation – Do You Worry About It?

Anushka Sharma is a leading Bollywood actress.  Although Bollywood films are getting very popular around the world I think it is a safe bet that she has been hired by Nivea to promote their brand on the Indian subcontinent.

And what a product!  It is an antiperspirant that also contains, or claims to contain, a skin lightening agent.  This is to solve the problem of excessive armpit pigmentation. Now I don’t know about you, but armpit pigmentation has never been a problem that has troubled me much.  Obviously I am not an Indian woman, so maybe it is a problem for some of them.  Much as I would love to go, I have never been to India.  But there are lots of people of Indian extraction living here in the UK.   They don’t seem to be particularly different to native English people anatomically.  So, unless someone tells me otherwise, I am going to assume that it isn’t a problem for them either.

Which brings me to my conclusion.  This appears to be an attempt by a big multinational to stimulate people to worry about something that was never a problem in the first place.  Well that is what big companies do.  There isn’t much you can do about it, but I suggest you worry about things that really matter to you not what the ad man wants you to worry about.

But the final irony is that I don’t think it will even do much for this non-existent problem.  The active ingredient is liquorice, which has only the mildest of skin lightening effects.  I doubt you’ll notice it.  Certainly the people who reviewed it on MakeUpAlley didn’t.

Ignore the advert.  Don’t buy the product.  Your armpits are fine.

MakeUpAlley Reviews of Nivea Whitening Deodorant

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Postscript

Emma and Shari in the comments and @N4Nicole on Twitter have all made the point that for people with darker skin this is indeed a genuine problem.  I withdraw the scathing tone of what I wrote earlier.  But I still think that this particular advert plays on people’s insecurities and that the product itself is unlikely to do much to solve to the issue anyway.  Thanks for the feedback, it is a real education writing this blog.

13 thoughts on “Armpit Pigmentation – Do You Worry About It?

  1. Ali

    Liking the new look of the blog sir! Re the underarm thing; mine have darkened as I’m getting older. I didn’t know if it was something to be concerned about on a medical level (it isn’t), but I wasn’t fretting about it as a vanity issue.

    By the way, the skin of the perineum also gets darker as we get older. This applies to men and women. And yes, there are bleaches out there to lighten it all up. The comments on the sites that sell the stuff are hilarious. So I guess it goes to show there is no part of the human anatomy that can’t be pimped out for profit.

    Ali

  2. Emma

    I live in India at the moment and Indians, regardless of class, are obsessed with being white. Nearly all the beauty products you can buy here have some sort of bleaching product in it. Even suncream!

  3. Colin Post author

    Thanks for that Emmma, I hadn’t realised that. That does put it in a bit of a different light.

  4. Shari

    Before we attack Beiersdorf for a marketing claim, people do have their underarms darken. I haven’t done any research but I believe it is by excessive shaving or the use of depilatory creams. So for people in warmer climates, their underarms are more on show so they will shave more which is why they noticed their underarms getting darker. I’m not Asian but I’m Black and I am concerned as well about my underarms getting dark as well. Prior to this ad I used to watch videos on YouTube about how some females lighten their underarms. I know one girl used potatoes for this – and the majority were Caucasian. But as you said the active they have chosen is mild, that may result in people not noticing a difference. But whether the product works or not people do have their underarms darken.

  5. Colin Post author

    @Ali – yes I am aware of anal bleaching creams. I think we all know what you can do with them!

  6. Anonymous

    I’m of Chinese ethnicity and lived in South-East Asia for 15 years, and I am aware that even some of us lighter-skinned Asians (i.e. those of Chinese ethnicity, as opposed to those of Indian ethnicity) have slight problems with underarm hyperpigmentation. I suspect it may be a genetic thing to do with ethnicity, hence why you as a Caucasian may not have noticed it.

    The thing that Emma mentioned about Asians being obsessed with fairness is also true. But I think that in the case of underarm hyperpigmentation, it is seen as unslightly as the underarm skin tone tends to be significantly darker than that of the surrounding skin on the upper arm and shoulders, and at a glance one might suspect that the dark skin is actually 5 o’clock shadow. And I believe that even in Europe, most women view hairy armpits as being undesirable.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s not just a issue for people with darker skin tones. I’ve seen some of my very caucasian friends with hyperpigmented armpits and am paranoid about developing them myself.

  8. Michael

    Its weird… We are trying to get brown, and they are trying to get white lol! I think if we could only learn the simple lesson of being happy with what we have, we would all be allot better off, and considerably happier.
    Although they say the happiest people on the planet are the very young, and the very old. Its the rest of us who are miserable !

  9. Orange Blossom

    First of all, love your blog!!

    About the armpit problem I have to say that during pregnancy my armpits have darkended a bit, which seems to be normal due to the hormonal changes, and it bothered me!
    I live in southern Europe in a warm cliamte and wear a lot of sleeveless clothes. Now they have whitened again, but still are not as fair as the surrouding skin.

    of course, it’s not a major problem to worry about, but cellulitis isn’t either and people are more than worried about it!

  10. Twyla

    Hyperpigmentation of the underarms is a pretty common thing, especially for people who tan easily and scar darker than their normal skin tone. It is usually aggravated by trauma to the skin, such as with shaving, using soft wax on sensitive skin, or excessively aggressive scrubbing. To minimize this, I use hard wax to remove underarm hair and then apply post-extraction solution, which is normally used after pimple extractions. This reduces irritation, kills bacteria, and promotes healing. I also highly recommend doing a brightening “facial” on the underarms every week or so using a skincare line for the face that inhibits melanin production and promotes even texture/tone, and applying something like dermalogica’s c-12 concentrate daily as a spot-treatment.

    This is definitely one of those concerns that quite a few people worry about but don’t openly discuss because it’s embarrassing and awkward, like upper lip hair on women. But it is totally a valid concern.

  11. Claire

    I’m caucasian with and I’ve always had slightly darker armpits (at least since I was 15) than the surrounding skin it’s something I am a bit self conscious about, I’ll still wear sleeveless tops but I’m more comfortable with sleeves and if I am in a sleeveless top I’ll probably keep my arms down by my sides. If I thought that there was a product out there that would make them the same colour as the rest of me without the scary side effects of skin bleaching I would probably buy it.

  12. kayennat

    Being of Indian ethnicity I can agree that (while South Asians are obsessed with fairness generally) armpit pigmentation is a real issue. For some reason people of Indian origins have darker armpits (much darker than the rest of the actual skin). So if you are flashing you’re armpits it actually looks like there’s hair there (even though it has been removed). It’s a genetic thing I presume and kudos if this product actually works! I know Dove has similar products in the USA (I think it’s called Dove Cleartone).
    Just came across your blog today and I think it’s very informative and impartial. Well done 🙂

  13. CK

    I’ve read somewhere that people with darker skin tone are more prone to hyperpigmentation, esp. when that area of the skin gets inflamed/irritated (e.g. the underarm are constantly exposed to shaving.)

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