What Are Freckles?
Freckles are the little brown spots that appear on the skin, typically on the face, shoulders, and arms. They’re not painful, and they can’t cause any harm to you or your skin.
No one is born with freckles already on their skin because freckles are most commonly triggered by sun exposure.
Freckles are also not the same as moles, as moles are raised, and freckles are flat on the skin. There are ways to remove both, including several treatment options for freckles.
What Causes Freckles to Appear?
As mentioned before, freckles are most commonly caused by sun exposure, but freckles can also appear simply due to genetics.
Freckles are more common as a genetic predisposition in those with light skin and red hair. There are currently four known genes for freckles, including MC1R, IRF4, OCA2, and BNC2.
The IRF4 gene is related more to where the person was born, including Iceland, Ireland, and most Northern European regions, whereas the other genes are related to physical appearance and unique attributes.
How to Get Rid of Freckles
Whether you want to completely remove your freckles or simply diminish their appearance a little, there are remedies for both!
Since freckles and sun exposure are linked, one of the simplest ways to get rid of freckles, or at least prevent new ones from appearing, is by using sunscreen.
You should be using sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 or higher. Before leaving the house for the day, you should apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes beforehand.
Reapply sunscreen as needed or at least every two hours. You should also reapply sunscreen after any exercise, such as swimming or any intensive workout routine.
If you use makeup, you should also consider using a concealer or foundation that also contains SPF. Most of these products contain an SPF of 15 and are long-lasting as well.
Laser treatment works as it can lighten freckles and has been shown to work for at least 60 percent of participants.
However, before jumping right in and scheduling an appointment, you should know that there are side effects to this option.
Side effects of laser treatments include itching, redness, peeling, and swelling. Laser treatment also has a chance of leading to infection of the affected area and may also impact and change the color of your skin.
It’s possible that before a laser treatment, your doctor may want to prescribe skin cream medication beforehand or have you stop the use of medications and skin products, such as skin-lightening creams.
It will also take upward of two weeks to fully recover from a laser treatment session.
The use of extreme cold is popular in the removal of moles and warts, but cryosurgery can also be used to get rid of freckles.
Unlike laser treatments, there is little recovery time with cryosurgery. However, the side effects can include bleeding, blisters, and hypopigmentation.
Luckily, cryosurgery doesn’t typically cause scarring, and if it does, the scarring is very little.
Use Topical Fading Cream
Topical fading creams are also known as skin-lightening creams or bleaching creams. You can get creams like this both over the counter, as well as prescribed by your doctor.
Fading skin creams lighten freckles with the help of the ingredient hydroquinone. This ingredient suppresses melanin production, which can also lighten skin in some areas.
You may experience some side effects when using topical fading creams, such as inflamed skin, dryness, burning sensations, blistering, and skin discoloration.
Use Topical Retinoid Creams
Retinol and retinoid creams are popular in skin care routines because they include a vitamin A compound and are great for replenishing nutrients for damaged and aging skin.
Retinoid creams may not help with removing existing freckles, but the cream can help prevent new freckles from forming. However, when using such creams, you may notice that your skin might become more sensitive.
Chemical peels and chemical peel treatments are the most common recommendation for people who wish to remove freckles.
A chemical peel works by removing the top layer of skin, which helps with freckle removal by removing the top layer of freckles. This can help with limiting freckle visibility but may not remove all of your freckles.
There are three types of chemical peels: light, medium, and deep peels. The deeper the peel, the longer it will take for your skin to heal. Also, the length of time between treatments will length.
Treatments like this can also be painful. Deep peels, especially, because this level of chemical peel reaches all the way into the dermis of the skin. However, this degree of treatment is effective in freckle removal.
Use Natural Remedies
For those with more sensitive skin or who want an alternative to freckle removal treatments, natural remedies can be a good starting point for you instead.
Aside from limiting your time in direct sunlight, there are other methods you can use to fade freckles and other dark skin patches.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is a soothing and cooling ingredient for every skin type and is a great option in natural remedies for those with dry skin.
Most treatments on how to get rid of freckles rely on harsh chemical treatments, but aloe gel contains aloesin, which works naturally to reduce the appearance of freckles. A nice side benefit of aloe vera is that it also helps to prevent sun damage!
Taking fresh aloe vera gel, you will want to massage it into the skin daily, letting the gel sit for at least five minutes every day. Rinse with lukewarm water, and you’re done!
Turmeric is a spice that is commonly used in cooking, including in curries and soups. However, turmeric powder contains curcumin, which is a compound that helps to reduce freckles.
You can use turmeric powder in homemade face masks or skin cleansers. Using only one teaspoon, you can combine the powder with one teaspoon of lemon juice and one or two teaspoons of milk to create a simple face mask.
Mix the ingredients together until they form a pasty consistency, then apply to the affected areas and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse, then apply moisturizer.
Raw honey specifically helps to lighten the pigmentation of the skin and can help to diminish the appearance of freckles. Of course, the bleaching agents in raw honey can also impact skin tone, so be aware of that before and during use.
This is often most effectively used in the form of a face mask or facial scrub. You can combine raw honey with sugar (granulated or pure cane) or salt (preferably sea salt). This way, you can exfoliate the freckles away, in addition to benefiting from the honey’s natural lightening properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a great option to get rid of freckles because it contains malic acid, which helps to exfoliate the skin.
This is similar to a chemical peel in that it exfoliates the skin, but while also being gentler on the skin. Its best used when mixed with honey, as the honey will offer a soothing side-effecting for uncomfortable sensations the vinegar may cause.
Lemon juice is a common ingredient in skin care remedies, including face masks, and in hair care treatments. This is because lemon juice is high in vitamin C and contains other nutrients as well.
Lemon juice is most often used for lightening freckles due to its high citric content. Use with caution, however, as it can lighten pigmentation as well. If you have fair skin, or lighter skin tones, this may be a good choice for you.
Almond oil is a type of essential oil and is one of the many used for skin care purposes. However, almond oil also contains vitamins A and E, which are crucial for skin health.
Almond oil is best used in the form of a facial tonic and can help to remove freckles, while also softening your skin.
Simply take a few drops of almond oil and apply directly with your fingers to the affected areas. Let the oil sit for 45 minutes to one hour, allowing the oil time to fully absorb into the skin.
Almond oil is safe for every skin tone, and you can leave it on overnight if you wish. Just make sure to rinse your face with lukewarm water after.
Another essential oil that helps in removing freckles is eucalyptus oil, as it helps decrease hyperpigmentation. To use eucalyptus oil, you will want to dilute it first.
Using a carrier oil (olive, sunflower, jojoba, argan, etc.), blend three or four drops of eucalyptus essential oil with the carrier oil and mix using your hands.
Apply the blended oils to your face, and let it set for 20 minutes. To remove, use a wet cloth with lukewarm water. This remedy is meant to be a nightly routine, but you can do it every other night if you have sensitive skin.
Cocoa butter is an ingredient most skin care enthusiasts and professionals alike are familiar with. That’s because cocoa butter is known for how well it moisturizes the skin. But it can also be used for reducing and removing freckles!
This is possible due to the bioactive agents found in cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is capable of balancing the melanin synthesis in our skin, allowing the reversal of sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
You only need to use a small amount of cocoa butter and apply it directly to the freckle-affected area. This works best when done at night, just before you go to bed, as an overnight face mask.
Rinse your face with lukewarm water the next morning, and repeat this routine for a month, every night.
Most ingredients we commonly use in the kitchen and in our favorite dishes can use to remove freckles, including buttermilk!
Buttermilk helps to reduce the appearance of freckles as it contains lactic acid, a common acid found in many store-bought skin care products. You can choose to use it mixed with other ingredients, but you can also use buttermilk directly and on its own.
Using a teaspoon of buttermilk, apply it directly to the affected area and let it rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Rinse the buttermilk from your face using lukewarm water.
Similar to how banana peels are used for skin conditions, eggplant can be used for freckle removal. The eggplant is known to contain antioxidants, phenolic acids (types of phytochemicals), and other nutrients useful in skin treatments.
Not only can eggplant help to reduce and remove freckles, but this vegetable can also help reverse sun damage. Take a slice of eggplant and rub the fresh slice onto the skin, using slow circular motions.
Let the juices from the eggplant soak into the skin over the course of a few minutes, and then rinse with cool or lukewarm water. This treatment is also meant to become a daily routine.
When Should I See a Doctor?
Some abnormal skin cells may appear like freckles, including moles, but could be something else entirely. If you are starting to doubt that a spot or a cluster of spots are freckles, you will want to contact a doctor to determine what the spots are.
Skin cancer may be a discussion to have with your doctor, especially if someone in your family has been diagnosed with skin cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Safe to Remove Freckles?
Yes, you can remove freckles easily and safely, but some may require intensive treatment for full, visible removal. If you are prone to develop freckles, you may also want to consider creating a skincare regime that focuses on the prevention of freckles.
Can Freckles Disappear With Age?
Only one of the two types of freckles will vanish with age, which is the ephelides. Ephelides are the regular freckles that everyone is familiar with. These often fade away as time goes on.
However, solar lentigines, or sunspots, do not disappear with time. Instead, this type of freckle persists even with limited exposure to the sun and the use of high-SPF sunscreen.
In order to remove this type of stubborn freckle, you will need to consult a doctor for the right removal treatment.
Are Freckles Bad?
No, freckles have no known health risks or health benefits, either. Freckles are merely unharmful spots of skin pigmentation.
Can Freckles Randomly Appear?
Freckles can become more prominent the more sun exposure you get. Freckles can also fade if you get less sun exposure than before.
Key Points and Takeaways
Completely removing freckles can be an extensive process, especially if you were born with intensive coverage of freckles. Before starting any type of removal treatment, remember to speak with your doctor or dermatologist to help determine the best course of action for your skin.
Everyone has a different skin type, and some remedies will be better suited for combination skin, while others will be better suited for dry or oily skin.
Removing your freckles isn’t impossible, though, and can be safely done when approached properly and treatments are conducted in moderation and safely.