How To Create Fake Freckles That Look Completely Natural, From Makeup Artists
When it comes to freckles, people (usually non-freckled folk hoping to dot their features) often ask whether you can get them safely. The answer, unfortunately, is no—at least, not naturally. Sun exposure is the only thing that can cause those spots to appear, and baking in the sun is not a good idea, no matter how cute those sun-kissed speckles may be.
But just as how you can use makeup to fake a summer flush, you can easily adorn yourself with a splatter of faux freckles or embellish the spots you already have. Here, makeup artists explain how to create fake freckles and, better yet, make them look 100% natural:
Step 1: Choose your tool.
Over the past few years, "freckle makeup" has practically exploded in popularity, with liquid eyeliner-esque pens designed to paint on the spots. Or if you don't have a specific freckle pen on-hand, a waterproof eyeliner or brow pencil makes a fabulous freckle tool; for a softer speckled look, you could also use brow powder. Regardless: "You want to use whatever the longest wearing product is going to be so it doesn't smudge," notes celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin.
Step 2: Apply.
Ready to freckle up? Just make sure you've arrived at the last step of your makeup routine. "If you do them before foundation and blush, you'll probably move them around before you set your makeup," notes Irwin. And isn't the whole point to let those spots shine through?
You can dot wherever you please, but Irwin recommends sticking to the nose and top of the cheeks for the most natural finish. "That's where the sun hits and causes them naturally," she explains. Start small, then build up the pigment if you choose.
Those are the basic rules—now, let's have fun with it! There's no shortage of freckle techniques to try, whether you're gunning for a soft splatter of freckles or defined beauty marks. Find our tutorials below:
To create defined freckles.
If you'd like to highlight just a few defined spots, simply take your freckle tool and draw small dots anywhere you'd like to appear freckled. Again, you might want to stick to the high points of your face (your nose and cheekbones) so they appear effortless. "The freckles will look more natural if you target them on the points of your face that the sun naturally hits, and then disperse the dots outward for a more gradual look," advises celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, founder of Blighlighter.
To create a splatter of tiny freckles.
Perhaps you prefer a softer cluster of tiny spots that almost remains undetectable. Allow us to let you in on a makeup artist secret: "Use a clean toothbrush that's damp, and very lightly press it into a light shade of brow powder, then flick the brush hairs with your finger onto the face!" Irwin suggests. You're essentially splatter-painting the product, which creates a light dust of pigment. The closer you hold the toothbrush to your face, the more control you'll have with placement.
If that sounds way too unpredictable for your makeup routine, "you can take a pencil and make a little constellation of freckles," Irwin adds.
To disguise blemishes.
Another beauty insider secret? Let's say you wake up to an unexpected blemish—toss on some concealer, dot with freckle makeup, and, bam, it's a brand-new beauty mark. See, some blemishes are more difficult to cover up, especially if you're dealing with a larger, angrier mound. Even if you apply concealer, the area may still appear raised and obvious.
You can try to blur out the surrounding area with a loose setting powder (a classic beauty editor trick), or you can simply embrace the texture and turn it into a beauty mark. Just make sure to mask any redness with concealer first, so you have some sort of coverage before strategically dotting on the freckle makeup.
Step 3: Blend.
"A common mistake when creating faux freckles is leaving them unblended," says Greenberg. "Make sure to tap, tap, tap, any area you place them down to make them look as natural as possible and get rid of any harsh spots." As a general rule: The longer you wait before pressing, the darker the freckle will become.
Step 4: Set the look.
Finally, set the look with a powder to lock in the spots—otherwise, the freckles might sweat off or smudge midday. "Adding a sheer layer of powder over the top gives them a 'lived in' look," says Irwin. Greenberg is partial to a dust of LYS Beauty's Triple Fix Translucent Pressed Setting Powder, or you could also use a setting spray, if that's more your jam. Here are our all-time favorite options.
Final tips & warnings.
To level up your faux freckle skills, keep this expert advice in mind:
Find your shade: Freckles are naturally much lighter than you think (whereas beauty marks tend to be richer in pigment), so make sure you start with a lighter shade and build up to your desired finish.
Start slow: On that note: "It's always easier to add more [pigment] than to take away," Irwin advises. It's sound advice for most makeup ventures, fake freckles very much included.
Don't aim for perfection: "A common mistake I see is concentrating too hard on perfection," says Greenberg. A splatter of sun-kissed spots should appear breezy and effortless, so don't feel like you must use sheer precision to paint the pigment. Unlike, say, a sharp cat-eye, faux freckles actually look better with some asymmetry.
Don't forget about sun protection: Yes, freckles are fun, but let's not forget that they are technically a type of sunspot. So we suggest leaving harmful UV rays out of the equation and sticking to makeup to create a freckled look or enhance the spots you already have. Lather up with a good SPF, practice safe sun habits, and (if you'd like to go the extra mile), invest in a beauty supplement that can enhance skin photoprotection from UV rays, from the inside out.*
Fake freckles are easy to achieve with makeup, whether you want to enhance your own set or you don't have a natural spot in sight. Plus, they're not meant to be perfect, so you can have full creative freedom as you stamp on the pigment. If you really want to embrace the faux sun look, you can use your blush to sport a post-vacation glow—here's a tutorial for a beachy, sun-kissed visage.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.