There’s nothing more trendy in the skin care world right now than freckles. I’ve seen them everywhere, from across my Pinterest feed to in person at parties on the faces of my friends. It’s probably something to do with how freckles magically make you look healthier, younger, and like your makeup is more natural.
If you’re one of the many people who want a slice of the freckle pie but weren’t blessed with them naturally, you might be tempted to find out if there’s a way to give yourself freckles. So, here’s all the info: 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. This melanin gives our skin pigmentation/darkness/tan, and 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 the 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 can’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 now-cute freckles 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 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, 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 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! Mixing in these 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.
Be aware that there is the potential that you won’t like the result, from the way it heals or the colour it turns after. Because after all, this is a semi-permanent solution, meaning that while the results may fade over time, they also might not!
So research your artist and their results well, as how well it turns out will totally depend on them.
You should go to the appointment knowing what kind of freckles 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. 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.
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?