Salicylic Acid For Dark Underarms: What You Need to Know

Salicylic Acid For Dark Underarms: What You Need to Know
Salicylic Acid For Dark Underarms: What You Need to Know

Salicylic Acid is commonly used in skincare. It is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is lipid-soluble. This means that it can penetrate the skin’s lipid layer and get deeper into the skin layers to clear pores and debris.

This penetrating property makes salicylic acid a stronger exfoliating agent than other acids like glycolic acid, malic acid, etc. Meaning it usually works faster and better.

But also this means that it can be very harsh in the wrong concentration. So it needs to be used correctly.

Can You Use Salicylic Acid on Underarms

Yes, you can safely use salicylic acid on your armpits but it needs to be of a safe concentration.

So in this article, we will walk you through the benefits of using salicylic acid on our underarms and how to safely use it.

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Benefits Of Salicylic Acid For Underarms

Salicylic Acid:

  • Effectively exfoliates the skin
  • Improves skin tone over time
  • Unclog Armpit Pores
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Helps to regulate skin oil production
  • Improves acne
  • Improves underarm odor over time by keeping the skin clean

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How Salicylic Acid Lightens Dark Armpits

Salicylic acid’s exfoliative effect gradually evens out the tone of the underarm’s skin, making dark patches lighter. 

However, keep in mind that Salicylic Acid is not a whitening agent. It does not have bleaching properties. Instead, Salicylic Acid works by softening the top layer of keratin-filled layer of skin, helping it to easily slough off.

It also works by dissolving the internal bonds that hold skin cells together. Fewer bonds make it easy for dead cells and other debris to be removed from the deeper layers of the skin. 

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How Salicylic Acid Helps With Underarm Odor

The exfoliating property of salicylic acid helps to prevent the build-up of bacteria, oil, residue, and debris that contribute to underarm odor. 

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How To Use Salicylic Acid For Underarms

The best ways to use salicylic acid for underarms is as a chemical peel or in a cleanser/scrub/toner. 

It is best to use salicylic acid in a form that can be rinsed off from the skin to avoid excessive exfoliation and irritation. 

The skin of the underarms is much thinner and more sensitive than the skin on your face or other areas of the body. Therefore, it is best to use gentle ingredients in this area. 

A common alternative to scrubs and cleansers is a salicylic acid chemical peel for the underarms.

However, this can only be done once every 4-6 weeks and may depend on how your skin tolerates the treatment. And, you should not do this at home without some professional advice, especially if you are a newbie.

You can click here to learn more about Chemical Peels for Dark Underarms.

What concentration of Salicylic Acid is best for underarms?

The safest concentration of salicylic acid to use daily on your underarms is 0.5 – 5%. 

You will be able to find low concentrations of salicylic acid in over-the-counter washes, cleansers, soaps, and toners.

However, even though these are considered generally safe to use every day, doctors suggest that you start using them gradually. 

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Formula% of Salicylic AcidHow Often To Use
Gels and/or Washes0.5 – 5These can be used once every day as long as they are rinsed off of the skin.
Toners0.5 – 2These can be used at least once every day. They remain on the skin, so they are less concentrated to avoid irritation and over-exfoliation. 
Serums3 – 6These can be used at least once every day, but they need to be used with other hydrating ingredients to prevent it from over-drying and irritating the skin. 
PeelsFrom 10% These chemical peels need to be done by a professional at least 4-6 weeks apart. 
The best way to use different SA formulations

How long does Salicylic Acid take to lighten dark underarms?

Salicylic acid will take about 6-8 weeks to produce visible results. 

Remember that it does not bleach, but rather exfoliates, which is a gradual process. It will take time for the skin to shed and regenerate evenly. 

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How often can Salicylic Acid be used for underarms?

Salicylic acid is safe to use regularly (at least daily) depending on the formulation and your skin. It is best to use it gradually and as directed. 

It is recommended that you start using salicylic acid gradually. For example, you may start by using it once per day, for three days every week. 

Eventually, you can increase how often you use it based on how your skin tolerates and reacts to it. 

Spot treatments, cleansers, washes, and toners can be used daily. But chemical peels can be done professionally every 4-6 weeks. 

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When is the best time to use Salicylic Acid for underarms?

Salicylic acid is best used during your skincare routine, which for many people, is at night.

However, it can also be used in the morning as well. 

Recommended Products with Salicylic Acid For Underarms

1- CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser

This is a gentle formula that contains salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. It effectively resurfaces the skin while keeping hydration and the skin’s lipid barrier intact. 

You can click here to see the current price for CeraVe SA Renewing Cleanser on Amazon.

2- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant Toner

This leave-on formula contains 2% salicylic acid and is gentle enough to be used on the underarms. It can be applied daily as long as your skin can tolerate it well enough.

It is should unclog pores, deeply exfoliate, tighten the skin, and even out skin tone over time. 

Click here to see the Paula’s Choice Skin Exfoliant Toner on Amazon. 

3- The Ordinary AHA & BHA Exfoliating Peeling Solution

This peel contains salicylic acid as well as other AHAs that help to clean out pores, resurface the skin, and fade dark patches.

However, If you have sensitive skin, consult a professional before using this at home, unsupervised. It is also best combined with a moisturizer afterward like hyaluronic acid. 

Click here to check out The Ordinary Exfoliating Peeling Solution on Amazon. 

Tips To Follow When Using Salicylic Acid For Underarms

1- Choose the right concentration

Salicylic acid can be very beneficial when used in a concentration that is right for your skin. Using an acid that is too strong for your skin can cause irritation and damage. 

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2- Start gradually

Since your underarm skin is so sensitive, it is best to introduce acids into your routine gradually. Start by using a low concentration just a few times a week and then slowly increase the frequency. If you feel like you need a stronger concentration, consult a skincare professional for advice. 

3- Patch test

Always do a patch test on your skin before applying the treatment to the whole underarm area. This will make sure you do not suffer any widespread allergic reactions or irritation. 

4- Consult a professional

Since salicylic acid is an exfoliating acid, it is best to consult a professional for advice before adding it to your underarm care routine. Based on your skin type, they will be able to advise you on what formulation, what concentration, and how often it would be best for you to use it. 

You should always consult a professional before using a salicylic acid peel for your underarms. 

5- Use SPF

Always use an SPF to protect your skin from sun exposure. Exfoliation makes your skin more exposed and prone to UV damage. Even though you might wear clothes that covers your underarms, an extra SPF layer of protection would not hurt. 

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Potential Side Effects Of Using Salicylic Acid For Underarms

When salicylic acid is used too often, or in concentrations that are too strong for your skin, it may cause:

  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters
  • Unexpected and/or unwarranted scaling and peeling
  • Hives
  • Allergic Reaction

However, if you find that you have difficulty breathing, feel lightheaded, feel dizzy, or if you lose consciousness, you or someone close by should help you seek medical attention right away.

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Common Questions About Salicylic Acid For Underarms

Can Salicylic Acid be used as deodorant?

Salicylic acid can help to improve underarm odor, but it cannot replace your deodorant. 

Salicyclic acid will exfoliate your skin and clean it, preventing bacteria and debris from building up to cause odor. However, it will not stop your skin from sweating. 

Therefore, it will help to lessen odor, but you should still be using a deodorant. If traditional deodorants are no longer your thing, there are quite a few great natural deodorants you can use. 

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Can Salicylic Acid be used with Hyaluronic Acid?

Yes, salicylic acid can be used with hyaluronic acid. 

Hyaluronic acid is a great moisturizer for the skin and will help to prevent over-drying and irritation.

Related Article: Dry Armpits: How to Correctly Moisturize & What to Use

Can Salicylic Acid be used with Vitamin C

Yes, salicylic acid can be used with vitamin c, but they need to be used at different times in the day. 

For example, if you use salicylic acid in the night, use your vitamin c in the morning, or vice versa. 

Related Article: Vitamin C For Underarms – Everything You Need To Know

Can Salicylic Acid be used with Retinol?

Yes, retinol and salicylic acid can be used on the skin in the same routine, but they must be used at different times. 

The best way to use the two, as recommended by dermatologists, is to use salicylic acid in the morning and retinol at night. 

If used together, the combined effect of the two can be too harsh on the skin and may cause redness, flaking, dryness, and irritation. 

However, on the plus side, using salicylic acid first exfoliates the skin so that later, when you use retinol, it is better able to penetrate the layers.

Related Article: Retinol For Dark Underarms: How to Use, Benefits & Effects

Can Salicylic Acid be used with Niacinamide?

Yes. Salicylic acid and niacinamide work very well together. 

They both have similar but distinct effects on oiliness, which is the main cause of their complementing actions.

Salicylic acid reduces oil production and controls oil from within your pores, whereas niacinamide acts on the skin’s surface to minimize oil. Niacinamide specifically lowers the glyceride and fatty acid levels of surface oil, indicating that it is unlikely to be drying.

Because of niacinamide’s ability to improve the body’s barrier, it also means there is less likelihood of skin irritation from chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid. 

Related Article: Niacinamide for Dark Underarms: How to Use for Best Results

Related Articles:

Skin Purging from Salicylic Acid: How to Spot & Treat

Salicylic Acid For Oily Skin – What You Need To Know

7 Reasons Salicylic Acid can make Acne Worse & What to Do

Aloe Vera for Underarms: Benefits & How to Use Effectively

Sources:

What Is Salicylic Acid and How Does It Benefit Skin? | Allure 

Salicylic Acid Peel: Benefits & Side Effects 

What Strength of Salicylic Acid to Use? – Procoal 

4 Tips for Using Salicylic Acid in Your Skincare Routine – 2022 – MasterClass 

Can You Use Salicylic Acid with Retinol? | Kate Somerville 

Niacinamide And Salicylic Acid Together | Benefits + How To Layer. | Science Becomes Her 

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