The history of freckles goes a bit like this: at different times throughout various ages, beauty marks and freckles have been deemed both beautiful and ominous.
In 12th-century England, a beauty mark might have been used as “evidence” that the devil had successfully entered a female body. But in 12th-century France, a well placed faux-freckle or beauty spot, coined “mouches” (French for “flies”), was all the rage.
Now, we’re seeing a huge trend for enhancing or simply adding freckles on faces, using eyebrow pencils and liquid liners for those not blessed with any at birth.
Thanks to a widening of beauty ideals, the beautifully freckled faces of models like Adwoa Aboah and Instagram It-girl Beabadoobee are gracing our magazine covers and beauty YouTube tutorials. In fact, so fetishised are freckles that everyone wants in on the action. Henna freckles are now trending on TikTok – the hashtag #hennafreckles currently has 134.1million views. While henna might not be the safest method of application, other influencers, such as make-up artist Danielle Marcan, are having success going viral with her Freck Faux Freckle product, a long-wearing but temporary way to freckle up your face.
But what about semi-permanent freckles? Are they even safe?
According to Mary-Anne Hunter, founder and technical director of Pretty Permanent Makeup, semi-permanent makeup is a cosmetic semi-permanent tattoo that “stimulates natural features, such as eyebrows and freckles or traditional makeup (like lip liner and liquid eyeliner) is expertly applied and lasts up to five years.”
While semi-permanent makeup is nothing new, the techniques and trends used by modern practitioners are. In Hunter’s experience, the ideal candidate for faux-freckles is likely someone who is “already applying freckles with a pencil at home or someone who has freckles and wants to enhance them.” She also notes that she has seen a recent spike in demand. “I have been applying freckles for over 10 years, but over the last five years, there’s been a boom.” That boom, she says, is down to Meghan Markle’s freckles and the publicity surrounding her during the Royal Wedding.
Renée Cleovoulou, director of The Dermatography Clinic, who specialises in semi-permanent freckles, is a huge fan of the procedure, but says that those who are interested in it should always have a face-to-face consultation first.
“This is where we discuss the treatment, look at pictures and then I am able to give well-informed advice, as well as give clients an allergy test.” If the patient is suitable, freckles are then applied in two sessions. “In the first session, I will mark where we want them and work conservatively as we can always add more later,” she says. “This also gives the client space to see how it works and get used to how it looks and feels on them.”
Then, the client is invited for a second session, during which the treatment will be reviewed, and she will add more freckles or make any amendments. “In brief, there is no pain, perhaps a minor scratch for some and nothing to stay home for. You just need to keep the treated area clean, dry and out of direct sunlight for 14 days.”
Semi-permanent freckles flake for between two to 10 days. Initially, they will be very light and will slowly become more apparent in around two to three weeks. “In four weeks, we are able to review and sometimes add more if we want to,” Cleovoulou adds.
Why are faux freckles so popular now?
“Beauty marks are quite popular for both guys and girls for many reasons, but notably because freckles draw the eye to a specific area and, when strategically placed, can enhance our favourite features, like the eyes,” says Cleovoulou.
Hunter agrees and adds that she has seen a notable shift. “Years ago, people wanted to get rid of their freckles. But for many years now, they have embraced their freckles and see them as symbols of youthfulness,” she says. “They help some achieve a safe sun-kissed look, as well as a touch of enhanced individuality.”
Semi-permanent faux freckles don’t come cheap. Each treatment usually costs around £300, including the review session afterwards. It’s also important to note that treatments like microblading can look a little heavy for the first week. Any treated areas will also need to be kept dry until healed, while your technician should provide an after-care soothing balm to aid the healing process.
If you’re looking to achieve the faux freckles look but are not quite ready for the semi-permanent treatment, there are a plethora of alternatives to achieve the much sought-after look. There are amazing wash-off pencils, such a Pseudo Labs’s PHreckles Kit and tools, like Bronzie’s fake tan freckle stencil kit, to start having fun with.
Play around and enjoy faking it.