How to give yourself (fake) freckles

How to Get Freckles

I think we can all agree that there is nothing cuter (or more trendy) than freckles right now. I’m seeing them everywhere, from Pinterest to parties!

It’s probably something to do with how they magically make you look healthier, younger, and more natural.

What’s that – you want a slice of the freckle pie? But aren’t naturally blessed with these tiny sun kisses?

Never fear: here’s how to get freckles yourself (with a little help) – from the point of view of someone who cares about your skin’s health!

How real freckles are made – spending more time in the sun

Our little melanocyte cells work hard to keep us safe. Their job is to produce melanin in response to invisible UVA light (that’s out all day, every day, regardless of the weather!). Melanin gives our skin pigment/darkness/tan. This newly produced pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, absorbing and neutralising the light before it can irradiate the deeper skin layers and cause damage.

Depending on your ethnic background you will have differing abilities to create melanin. Some people physically cannot produce melanin (such as in albinism or in cases of vitiligo). Some people may be fair and barely tan or freckle at all, and some may tan easily and vividly. Some people naturally have very high melanin levels all year around. It’s totally unique from person to person

In the case of freckles, it’s when our skin makes its melanin in patches rather than all over. This is most common in those very fair individuals who spend lots of time in the sun. Some areas of their skin are more capable of producing the protecting pigment than others. Freckles then appear in patches of differing shapes and sizes.

So then, why don’t we just go outside and soak up some sun and get your own real freckles?

Why you should NOT get sun exposure just for freckles

Sun exposure is bad news. It’s life-threateningly damaging for your skin and rapidly speeds up the ageing process. Plus, as you age those cute freckles now will turn into melasma and sunspots that are a lot less dainty and hard to get rid of.

Also, not everybody can make their own natural freckles – for those with incredibly fair skin or darker skin that likes to tan evenly rather than freckle, no time in the sun will make your skin do something it’s not naturally inclined to do.

And for the love of God, please do NOT use something like lemon juice which sensitizes your skin to UV light in an attempt to give yourself freckles!

So what do you do when you WANT freckles but can’t GET them naturally and safely? Why MAKE them of course!

3 safe ways to get freckles, from totally temporary to pretty permanent

If you’re desperate to get the look of freckles, but not willing to bake in the sun for it (smart), don’t lose hope yet! There are so many awesome different ways to get freckles safely. Whether you want to try them just for an afternoon or if you’re dead set for life, there’s a solution for you:

Option 1: Make freckles with makeup

Lasting time: a few hours – a day

This is the easiest and probably cheapest way to try out being a freckled babe. You’ve probably already got a product you can use, and if you mess it up, it washes right off!

Choosing the right product

You can simply use a regular eyebrow pencil and/or a pomade with the tip of a small angled brush.

If you end up loving how these freckles look, consider a product from one of the companies that have developed freckle-specific cosmetics like Get Freckd (but perhaps now just called Freck?), which was designed with creating fake freckles in mind. They’ve done the thinking for you and your results will be faster and better looking.

Choosing the right colour

One or two shades darker than your skin in a warm brown. Go light to start (like with a taupey blonde) and get darker if needed.

Placing the freckles naturally

The key to believable freckle placement is clustering and high points.

While it’s tempting to make nice, evenly spaced dots, that’s the worst possible option. There needs to be a lot of variance in your freckles’ size and shape, and how close they are placed to one another. Don’t be afraid to put two or three close together, even touching to form one larger dot.

If you’re not sure where they should go, shine a torch from directly above your face. Where the light of this “sun” hits, that’s where your freckles would naturally be darkest. This is mostly across the bridge and tip of the nose and under the eyes. Start at these places.

And some randomness and scattering – freckles of course just don’t appear on the nose and cheeks, they can and do spread onto the eyelids, upper lip, and above the eyebrows! Copying this will make it look a lot more realistic.

I’d recommend scouring the web for some photos of girls with freckles that you like, notice the randomness of where their freckles appear and try to emulate some of their skin.

Option 2: Create semi-permanent freckles using henna

Lasting time: 5 days – 2 weeks

This method gives a slightly longer lasting result than makeup, which is perfect for getting freckles that will last through something like a beach weekend or photoshoot with makeup changes.

Henna – also known as mendhi – stains the upper layers of skin through a natural dye effect of the leaves of the henna plant. You apply a pre-made paste to the skin and let it stain and develop.

Using henna is a bit of a process and there’s definitely room for error, and once it’s on there’s no way to get it off aside from waiting, so watch tutorials, go slowly, and practice on your arm first! Try to use the same application approach as above with the makeup freckles to get the most realistic results.

Getting the right shade with henna

Everyone’s skin has a different pH, hydration levels and oil levels, which all greatly affect how dark the colour turns. It’s important you test on yourself. If in doubt, go for a shorter time.

And remember that henna oxidises (reacts with the air) over the next 24 hours and becomes darker – so what you see when you take off the dye is not the final result! Don’t be tempted to leave it on until you have the perfect freckle hue, as it will get darker and darker to a very unnatural deep brown. Luckily, it is not permanent and will fade fairly soon, faster if your skin is very oily or you exfoliate.

Option 3: Go to a professional for a permanent cosmetic tattoo

Lasting time: 1 year – forever

Obviously, this option for giving yourself freckles is serious business. I’d recommend this route only if you’ve given the above options a go and absolutely love how the freckles look on you, but can’t maintain the upkeep. Not only will it be a little pricey, but mostly likely permanent too!

Cosmetic tattoos deposit ink into the skin much like a regular tattoo, but using a finer needle and not going quite so deep.

You need to know what kind you’d like (dense? scattered? big? small?), what colour and where. I recommend starting by going over any existing freckles you have to make it look as realistic as possible. Because after all, this is a semi-permanent solution, meaning that while the results may fade over time, they also might not!

Be aware that there is also the potential that you won’t like the result, from the way it heals or the colour it turns after.

So research your artist and their results well, as how well it turns out will totally depend on them. Bring reference photos (even better if they’re of your own face and cosmetic/henna freckles) and if in doubt, go lighter on the first try! You can almost always go back for more, sometimes for free, and have extra freckles added or darkened.

But done right, this is a great option for the most realistic freckles, as they’ll be there day after day, just like real ones.

Have you ever rocked fake freckles? Or do you have them naturally?


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