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Freckles: Friend or Foe?

Love them or loathe them, freckles are part and parcel of the warmer summer weather. Fading over winter, many of us completely forget quite how many freckles we have until they make their grand reappearance. But while many of us fret over our new speckled complexions, the beauty industry is embracing freckles in a big way. 

Models like Carissa Pinkston and Kokie Childers are in demand for their unique (gorgeous) appearance, with freckles playing centre stage. So should we be embracing freckles, or avoiding them?

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at what freckles are, what causes them and how we can get more (or less) of them.


What Are Freckles?

Technically, there are two types of freckles. The type most of us think of, and what we’re referring to in this article, go by the scientific name of ephelides. 

Ephelides are small spots of pigmentation, usually 1-2mm wide that appear on the areas of your body which get the most exposure to the sun – usually the face and shoulders and arms. 

The other category of freckles are called solar lentigines. These develop in adulthood, usually after the age of 40, and include age spots and sunspots. Solar lentigines tend to be larger than 2mm and, unlike freckles, don’t fade during winter.


Are Freckles Dangerous?

While freckles can be a good indicator that your skin is more prone to UV damage, they’re not a cause for concern in the same way as say, moles. 

While they might look similar, moles are very different from freckles. They’re more likely to affect people with lighter skin, but moles aren’t specifically caused by exposure to the sun, they’re actually a cluster of pigmentation cells and blood vessels. 

Neither freckles or moles are dangerous, but moles do offer a warning sign that you may be at increased risk of skin cancers and melanomas.

If you’re not sure whether your skin markings are freckles or moles, check the texture and colour. While freckles are flat and lighter in colour, moles are often raised and darker.


What Causes Freckles?

Freckles (ephelides) are created due to a combination of sun exposure and genetics. In some groups of people, exposure to the sun’s UV radiation increases melanin production. Melanin is the compound that controls skin and hair colour. 

Theoretically, anyone who doesn’t use sun protection can get freckles, but there are other factors that can make it more likely.  If you have lighter skin or are prone to burning in the sun, you’re much more likely to get freckles. 

There are other, less visible, elements which can affect how likely you are to get freckles, such as your genetic makeup. Two types of melanin can be made by the body, eumelanin and pheomelanin. If your genes produce more pheomelanin, you are less protected from UV rays, and therefore more at risk of getting freckles. 

The good news for those people who have a genetic predisposition to freckles, but wish they didn’t, is that it’s not written in stone that you’ll develop freckles. With good habits and a quality sunscreen, you can prevent them entirely.


How to Prevent Freckles

If you’re prone to freckles, avoiding them is as easy as making sure you’re protecting your skin. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 will help to shield you from UV rays and prevent freckles. Of course, even in winter the sun can do damage, so this should be a year-round habit.

If you already have freckles and want to reduce their appearance, the best courses of action are acid peels and products that contain alpha hydroxyl acids. The acids contained in these skincare products can break down the areas of pigmentation within the dermis, lightening and even removing freckles over time.

Using a peel such as the Babor Refine Cellular: AHA 10+10 Peeling Gel or Murad Resurgence Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel is a must if you’ve had enough of your freckles and want a clearer complexion.


How to Get Freckles (The Safe Way)

Of course, while many women who have freckles would rather get rid of them, they’re equally lusted after by women who wish their face had a little more character. The grass is always greener, right?! If you love the youthful, sunkissed look of freckles, but want to avoid sun damage the great news is that there are a number of methods for giving yourself DIY freckles that look incredibly realistic.

Henna is a popular product for this task; it temporarily stains the skin, so will stay in place for at least a week. However, this does make it a dangerous option if you’re still practising your freckle application! 

For a quick, easy and fairly foolproof option, we recommend simply dotting your cheekbones and nose with a brown eyeliner.

Best overall: benefit BADgal BANG Pencil

Offering 24 hour stay-proof power thanks to its waterproof and transfer-resistant formulation, the benefit BADgal BANG Pencil is a perfect eyeliner for creating safe freckles. The creamy pencil is gentle on skin and dries to a realistic matte finish. It’s also currently on offer in our Outlet, making it great value for money.


Enjoy experimenting with your new look, and remember to protect your skin with a high SPF sunscreen this summer. After all, it’s easier to add freckles than it is to remove them!

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