The joys of summer skin: a subtle tan, a glowing complexion and that all-important smattering of sun-kissed freckles.
Freckles are having a moment in the sun, with women who once tried desperately to cover theirs with make-up — or had them lasered off — embracing their natural pigmentation.
Famous freckled faces include Meghan Markle, who ensured her wedding make-up didn’t conceal her ‘favourite feature’. She also says she hates when they are removed in photos, telling one magazine: ‘My pet peeve is when my skin tone is changed and my freckles are airbrushed out.’
Kylie Jenner and Lindsay Lohan are revealing theirs, too.
Thalia Khadi’s inspiration for having freckles tattooed on her face four months ago was her mum. Thalia is mixed race and has a few natural freckles, but wanted more
Some have taken it even further, drawing on artificial freckles, with beauty experts claiming they can lend a fresh-faced, youthful look.
And most radical of all, others — like those pictured above — are spending hundreds to have semi-permanent freckles tattooed onto their faces.
It’s a dramatic change from the days when freckles were considered blemishes, and often the focus of taunting in the playground.
Take redhead Paula Jones. Although she has natural freckles, she misses them when they fade in winter, so has them tattooed on to her nose and cheeks for a year-round look.
‘Growing up with red hair and freckles I had to cope with a bit of bullying, but as I’ve got older I’ve embraced both, particularly my freckles,’ says Paula, 33, who works in catering and lives in Manchester with her two children aged 11 and two.
‘But they’re only visible for a few months a year, then they fade, leaving me feeling much less confident.’
Perri Allington-Green, 28, is an independent hair stylist with a lovely smattering of facial freckles. But they’re not hers — she had them tattooed on a year ago
Paula has had her fair eyebrows tattooed with semi-permanent make-up since the age of 21. So she reasoned that someone must surely offer freckle tattoos.
She insists she wasn’t worried about any of the risks of tattooing the delicate skin of her face.
‘If I didn’t like them, the worst case scenario would be that they’d fade after a year or two,’ she says.
Happily, she adored the result and wouldn’t be without them.
‘The practitioner I go to also does tattooed nipples for breast cancer patients who’ve had reconstructive surgery. She’s highly experienced and understands that skin is never just one shade.
‘At my consultation, she got an eyebrow pencil and made dots where I’d asked for freckles. She then used three different colours to tattoo about 40 for a natural look. When they were fresh they were very obvious and a bit dotty but she’d warned me this would be the case initially so I was prepared. Now they’re fully settled, people assume they’re natural.’
The treatment costs around £150, depending on the practitioner, and Paula reports the tattoo needle feels like ‘pinpricks’.
‘I get so many compliments,’ she adds. ‘I don’t really wear make-up, just mascara and my gorgeous freckles. I’ll definitely have them topped up when they fade’. Usually, that would be after a year, but 18 months on, Paula’s are fine. But what exactly are freckles? They are caused by over-production of melanin, the pigment in our skin. There are two different kinds.
The more common is the ephelide — a flat, light brown mark that tends to fluctuate with the seasons. Then there are lentigines, also known as liver or age spots, where the skin contains more melanin-producing cells and typically doesn’t change with sunlight.
Practitioner Kseniia Vasileva has seen a rise in demand for freckle tattoos at her private clinic in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
‘It’s become trendy to have freckles, natural or not,’ says Kseniia, who has a degree in fine art and qualified as a semi-permanent make-up artist after the birth of her second child.
‘Some clients already have them and want more, others have none but love the look, or want to cover up skin pigmentation. Shoulders, décolletage, eyelids, cheeks and lips are popular areas.’
Of course, having anything tattooed on your face comes with risks. Anyone can advertise to apply semi-permanent make-up, so it’s vital that you check a practitioner’s credentials first.
Kseniia’s clients fill in a health questionnaire and do a patch test of the dye she uses, in case of allergic reaction. Like other semi-permanent make up, freckle tattoos are not suitable for women with conditions such as eczema, diabetes, cancer or who are pregnant.
Redhead: Paula Jones boosted her natural freckles. She says that she misses her freckles in the winter
‘Where freckles are placed and how many you have tattooed can make all the difference between a natural look and one that’s artificial,’ she says. ‘I also don’t recommend them for those with oily skin as they don’t tend to take well.’ Perri Allington-Green, 28, is an independent hair stylist with a lovely smattering of facial freckles. But they’re not hers — she had them tattooed on a year ago.
‘I don’t wear a lot of make-up, just mascara, and I have my eyebrows professionally tidied, but I loved the idea of freckles to give me a healthier look,’ says Perri, who lives in Manchester.
Perri began by drawing freckles with eye pencil for a year — and loved them so much she decided to plump for a £150 semi-permanent sprinkling last spring.
‘They didn’t take very well the first time, so I had a top-up six weeks later and they’ve lasted brilliantly,’ Perri adds. ‘The practitioner used numbing cream on my skin but it still felt a bit sore.
‘I asked for random placement to make them look natural, including on my nose, under my eyes and a few on my forehead and cheeks.
‘The therapist drew them first, to show where they’d go. She’d warned that when I first saw them in the mirror after the process, it might look like I’d got dot-to-dot on my face and I did think, “Oh my God, will they stay like this?”
Freckles are having a moment in the sun, with women embracing pigmentation. The latest trend is to have freckles tattooed permanently onto your skin
‘But after a week they’d settled down. They’ve given me a massive confidence boost and I look healthier all year round.’
Thalia Khadi’s inspiration for having freckles tattooed on her face four months ago was her mum. Like Meghan, Thalia is mixed race and has a few natural freckles, but wanted more.
‘I never used to see anyone with brown skin like mine and freckles, so I covered them with make-up when I was younger,’ says Thalia, 22, who is studying English literature at King’s College, London.
‘But slowly my relationship with my freckles changed. Part of the reason is that my mum, who has lots of freckles, is white and people often don’t realise we’re mother and daughter.
‘I realised my freckles are actually quite special. I began to love them when they popped out in the summer and missed them when they vanished in the winter.’
Thalia went to Kseniia’s clinic last January and had ten freckles tattooed on her face. Utterly sold, she returned a month later for 20 more. Each of the sessions took an hour. The total cost was £250.
‘When I told Mum my plan she was horrified,’ Thalia continues. ‘But she loves the results — and I finally look more like her.
‘I didn’t have to wear make-up during the winter either as the freckles give me such a fresh look.
‘It’s so lovely to feel summery all year round. I’ll definitely have them topped up in a year’s time.’