The Ultimate Guide to Chemical Peels for Underarms

chemical peel for underarms guide

Chemical peels are great for improving skin tone, making your skin smoother, tackling acne, and much more. Though they are primarily used on the face, they also benefit other body parts like the neck, back, and hands. But what about underarms? Can you use a chemical peel on underarms, considering how sensitive that area is? Most skin experts think it’s a good idea.

Just like they do for other areas of the body, chemical peels can brighten dark spots and even out skin texture under the arms. However, because underarm skin is particularly sensitive, chemical peeling should be approached with care.

Here, you will learn everything you need to know about chemical peels for underarms, so you know what to expect. From picking the right type of peel for this delicate area to understanding potential side effects, we’ve got you covered.

What Are Chemical Peels Actually?

Chemical peels are beauty treatments that peel away the top layer of your skin, unveiling a smoother, more even layer underneath. While we often think of them for facial use, they’re also fantastic for your underarms, particularly for tackling those annoying dark spots and evening out skin tone.

By shedding the outer skin layers, these peels cut down on hyperpigmentation and make your skin’s texture smoother. So, if you’re looking for a way to lighten your underarms and give them a fresh, rejuvenated look, chemical peels might just be your answer.

Types of Chemical Peels

Chemical peels come in three strengths: superficial, medium, and deep.

  • Superficial peels are the gentlest, barely scratching the surface and therefore perfect for the sensitive underarm area. They mainly tackle the very top skin layer, keeping irritation at bay.
  • Medium peels dig a little deeper, making them better suited for noticeable dark spots but also upping the downtime and risk of side effects.
  • Deep peels are the most aggressive and are generally a no-go for underarms because they’re too harsh for the delicate skin there.

The Benefits of Using Chemical Peels on Underarms

For those looking to treat their underarms, sticking with superficial peels is wise. Options like glycolic acid or TCA peels, in lower doses, can significantly improve discoloration and texture gently and effectively. But the advantages don’t stop there. Here’s a closer look at how chemical peels can benefit your underarm area:

  • Brighter Skin: Chemical peels can reduce the appearance of dark patches, leading to brighter, more uniform skin color under the arms. This is especially helpful for anyone self-conscious about dark underarm skin.
  • Smoother Texture: Regular use of chemical peels can smooth out the skin’s texture, making it softer to the touch. This means less irritation from shaving and a more pleasant overall feel.
  • Reduced Ingrown Hairs: By removing dead skin cells, chemical peels can help prevent ingrown hairs, a common issue in the underarm area, especially for those who shave or wax.
  • Improved Product Efficacy: With the top layer of dead skin removed, your skincare products can penetrate deeper, making them more effective. This means your serums and moisturizers will work better than before.
  • Treatment of Skin Conditions: Chemical peels can also help manage and improve the appearance of medical conditions such as acanthosis nigricans, which involves darkening and thickening of the skin.

Choosing the Best Chemical Peel for Underarm Treatment

Choosing the right peel for better-looking underarms is key. While it might be tempting to try one of these peels at home if you’re just starting out, it’s smarter to get some advice from a skin care expert. They can help you pick the peel that’s just right for your skin, making sure you get the best results safely and effectively.

Superficial Peels for Sensitive Underarm Skin

For the soft skin under your arms, going with a superficial peel is your best bet. These peels are kind but get the job done, tackling dark spots and making your skin feel smooth without causing irritation. Here’s the lowdown on a few favorites:

  • Glycolic Acid Peels: A top pick for their ability to slough off dead skin, these peels brighten and smooth, making them a go-to for refreshing your underarms.
  • TCA Peels (Trichloroacetic Acid) in Low Doses: Even though TCA peels are strong, using them in lower strengths can gently improve the look and feel of your underarms without too much fuss.
  • Lactic Acid Peels: A newer player in the peel game, lactic acid, especially in lower concentrations, is another great option. It’s known for its gentle touch, making it ideal for sensitive areas like the underarms. It can help moisturize while it exfoliates, offering a one-two punch of hydration and rejuvenation.

Remember, while these peels work, you may need more than one session to tackle your particular concerns.

Exploring Medium-Depth Peels: The Perfect Peel and VI Peel

When you’re ready to take your underarm care a step further, medium-depth peels like the Perfect Peel and VI Peel come into play. These peels go deeper to address more stubborn issues, equipped with a potent mix of ingredients. Here’s what you need to know:

The Perfect Peel blends a variety of acids and lightening agents, including glycolic, kojic, and salicylic acids, with the antioxidant glutathione. This mix targets everything from hyperpigmentation to aging signs, making your underarms look brighter and more even-toned. It’s a comprehensive option for those looking for noticeable improvement in skin health and appearance.

VI Peel includes TCA, phenol, retinoic acid, and vitamins to rejuvenate and treat the underarm skin. It’s especially good for reducing dark spots and improving the overall texture of the skin. With components that focus on renewing the skin at a deeper level, the VI Peel can help achieve a smoother, more consistent look.

Both of these treatments are more intense so it’s really important to have these peels applied by a professional. A skincare expert can provide the right advice on which peel suits your skin and how to care for your skin afterward to get the best results.

Prepping for Your Peel: Do’s and Don’ts

Before diving into a chemical peel treatment for your underarms, there’s a bit of groundwork to do. Proper preparation can help enhance the peel’s effectiveness while reducing risks. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Avoid Certain Activities: It’s crucial to steer clear of shaving, waxing, or using depilatory creams on your underarms for at least a week before your peel. These activities can irritate the skin, making it more susceptible to adverse reactions from the peel.
  • Skip Other Skin Treatments: Hold off on any other underarm treatments, like laser hair removal or using strong antiperspirants, a week before your appointment. You want your skin to be as calm and unirritated as possible.
  • Cleanse Gently: On the day of your peel, gently wash your underarms with soap and water to remove any dirt, sweat, and oils. Avoid applying any lotions or creams that could interfere with the peel’s action.

Who Should Avoid Peels

Not everyone is a good candidate for a chemical peel. If you have open wounds, cuts, or active skin infections in your underarms, it’s best to wait until these issues are fully resolved.

Additionally, individuals with certain skin conditions or those who are pregnant may need to avoid or choose specific types of peels, underlining the importance of a pre-treatment consultation with a skincare professional.

By following these preparation tips and understanding who should steer clear of chemical peels, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful treatment with minimal complications. Always remember, when in doubt, ask your dermatologist or skincare specialist for advice tailored to your specific situation.

Potential Side Effects and How to Manage Them

Chemical peels, even when used on the underarms, can bring about a range of side effects. Knowing what these are and how to handle them can make your recovery smoother and more comfortable.

Common Side Effects:

  • Redness and Sensitivity: It’s normal for the treated area to appear red and feel sensitive post-peel. This usually subsides within a few days.
  • Peeling and Flaking: As your skin rejuvenates, peeling or flaking may occur. This is a sign the treatment is working, shedding old skin to reveal new, healthier layers. Do not pick, scratch or exfoliate at this stage. Let the peeling happen naturally without interventions.
  • Itching: You might experience itching as the skin heals. It’s important not to scratch the area to avoid scarring.
  • Dryness: The treated area may feel unusually dry as it heals, requiring extra moisturization.

Managing Side Effects:

  • Cool Compresses: Applying cool compresses can soothe redness and sensitivity.
  • Gentle Moisturization: Use a fragrance-free, gentle moisturizer to alleviate dryness and peeling. Avoid heavy creams that could clog pores.
  • Resist Scratching: To combat itching, pat the area gently instead of scratching. A soothing lotion recommended by your dermatologist can also help.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps your skin heal and rejuvenate more effectively.
  • Avoid Sun Exposure: Keep the treated area out of the sun. If exposure is unavoidable, use a high-SPF sunscreen to protect the skin.

When to Contact a Professional:

If you experience excessive swelling, signs of infection (like pus), or severe pain you need to get in touch with your skincare provider urgently. These symptoms are rare but require immediate attention to prevent complications.

Remember, your skin’s response to a peel can vary based on the type of peel used, your skin type, and how you care for your skin afterward. Following your skincare professional’s advice closely will help you achieve the best possible outcome with minimal discomfort.

Aftercare and Maintenance: Ensuring Lasting Results

After undergoing a chemical peel for your underarms, the way you care for the area can significantly impact your healing process and the longevity of your results. Here are some key aftercare tips:

  • Soothe and Moisturize: Use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer to soothe the skin and help manage peeling or dryness without clogging pores.
  • Sun Protection: Keep the treated area covered or apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to protect the new, sensitive skin from sun damage.
  • Avoid Irritation: Skip any harsh treatments or products, including deodorants with alcohol or fragrance, until your skin has fully healed.
  • Follow Specific Instructions: Your skincare professional may provide specific aftercare instructions, including when it’s safe to resume your regular skincare routine. Following these directions is crucial for your skin’s recovery.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Regular Moisturizing: Keeping your underarms moisturized can help maintain smooth, soft skin and prevent irritation from everyday activities like shaving.
  • Gentle Exfoliation: Once healed, regular exfoliation can help maintain the peel’s benefits by preventing dead skin buildup, but always use a gentle product.
  • Routine Peels: Depending on your skin’s needs and your initial results, periodic maintenance peels may be recommended to keep your underarms looking their best.

This aftercare and maintenance advice ensures that the benefits of your underarm chemical peel extend well beyond the initial healing period, keeping your underarms looking bright, smooth, and even-toned. Always remember, consistent care is key to long-lasting results.


Chemical peels really can change the game for underarm skin, helping it look brighter and smoother. This not only makes your skin look great but can also make you feel more confident. Just remember, it’s all about doing it safely. Choose the right peel, get ready the right way, and take care of your skin afterwards. Enjoy the journey to glowing underarms and the confidence boost that comes with it!


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