Introduction Freckle or sunspot? Sometimes it’s super hard to tell the difference! Both are roundish, brownish spots that appear on our faces. Both seem to
Getting Rid of Freckles
It might shock you that some people don’t like freckles and want to get rid of them. Say what? There are people who are lucky enough to have these endearing little dots and they don’t want them? That’s crazy!
Indeed, freckles have become some kind of a beauty trend recently. People now use eyeliner and eyebrow pens to dot freckles all across their cheeks and nose bridge, taking pains to make them look au naturel and as if we’ve had these freckles all our lives. Freckles are one of those things that’s a bit of a curiosity, how is a “tarnishment” of the skin a beauty trend? The charm of freckles is precisely it’s imperfection, it gives someone character, it defies the standards of perfect skin.
But some people hate their freckles. Perhaps it’s a self-esteem thing for some, and for others, it might be because these freckles aren’t the hereditary kind that you grow up with. There are different types of freckles and some are a little less desirable depending on how you developed them. First, let’s take a look at how freckles form.
What exactly are freckles?
Freckles appear as a series of flat, circular spots that vary in shades and tones of browns, greyish-beige, and reds. They are usually the same size as a mark you would make on paper with a marker pen. These little dots are scattered over the face and are more commonly found across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. Freckles might become darker in the hotter summer months when there is more sun to be exposed to, and they may become slightly lighter during the winter season when it’s generally grey and not very sunny.
Freckles form when there is an increase in the number of melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin color. When there are more melanocytes, there will be a greater production of melanin which hence darkens the skin in the form of freckles. There are two categories of freckles: ephelides and solar lentigines.
Ephelides are what we typically think of when we think of freckles. These are usually a genetic trait that is inherited from your family and it can be found more often in people who have a fairer complexion. People with reddish hair and green eyes tend to be those with the hereditary genes for freckles. Among the ethnicities, Caucasians and Asians are more likely to have ephelides as they have lighter skin tones. There is also a gene called MC1R which can predict if you will get freckles. This gene is responsible for the production of melanin. MC1R gives the instructions for melanin production. There are actually two types of melanin: pheomelanin and eumelanin. People who produce pheomelanin tend to be those with lighter skin tones and red or blonde hair. This type of melanin does not offer protection from UV rays which is why fairer skinned people tend to burn easily in the sun. On the flip side, people with darker-colored hair and skin complexions are the ones who produce eumelanin and they tend to have better UV protection. Therefore, the type of melanin that your melanocytes produce is likely to have a big impact on whether or not you will develop freckles.
Solar lentigines are the other type of freckles. These freckles tend to be a result of sun damage and occur later in life. These are also associated with aging, liver, and sunspots. Solar lentigines often form in the areas that have been sunburnt before, such as the cheekbones and bridge of the nose just like ephelides. They are larger than ephelides and often darker. The color of these is not affected by the winter or summer and stays the same level of darkness all year round. Caucasians and people above 40 are the most likely to get solar lentigines.
Getting Rid of Freckles
So we have seen that there are two types of freckles, the type that is hereditary and the type that is a result of accumulated sun damage. People whose freckles are from sun damage are more likely to want to get rid of their freckles as these freckles will be darker and less “aesthetically pleasing”, being more of sunspots than freckles. However, some people with hereditary freckles might also feel like their freckles are a disorder and don’t like how they look with them. There are indeed ways to get rid of freckles, and although it is quite hard to do so, it can definitely be done!
1. Chemical peels
Chemical peels are one of the most effective treatments for any kind of pigmentation because they get rid of your epidermal layer where the freckling occurs. An acid of high concentration will be used to dissolve the layer of the skin in the areas with freckles. Some chemical peels might use an even stronger acid that will reach the deeper dermis layer of the skin for even more visible results. There are, of course, downsides to chemical peels including high costs and side effects. Acids can potentially burn your skin and cause irritation if not used carefully. There is also a downtime required post chemical peel due to the redness and rawness you might feel after the procedure.
Since freckles manifest in more diffused dappled spots that are lighter in color and more scattered than age spots, dermatologists may use something less targeted than a laser and turn to dermabrasion or microdermabrasion. A non-ablative device with an abrasive surface will be used to scrape over the skin, stimulating collagen production and removing the dull skin cells damaged by the sun. You will need multiple sessions and healing downtime before you will start to see visible differences.
3. Hydroquinone products
Hydroquinone is one of the most popular and effective spot treatment ingredients. It’s very strong, which is what makes it so effective. Hydroquinone works through a biological process that curbs the activity of an enzyme known as tyrosinase, which is necessary for the production of melanin. When the level of tyrosinase production falls, the production of melanin will also fall. You should see results in 8-12 weeks of using hydroquinone topical spot treatments. A prescription from a dermatologist is also recommended given its strength.
While freckles are charming, there are definitely people who won’t like them. If you have hereditary freckles, embrace this little imperfection that makes you so uniquely you! There are many people out there who would love to have a smatter of brown dots across their nose just like you.
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