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When I first saw fake freckles show up on Instagram a few years back I thought the trend was silly and that it was going to disappear shortly. Well, turns out I was way wrong, and the faux freckles trend is here to stay. Naturally freckly folks rejoice! As for the rest of us, who can’t manifest an adorable constellation of freckles on our faces naturally, thankfully there’s makeup.
Fake freckles can be particularly fun to play around with going into summer, and this is also the time when you can maybe fool people into thinking they’re real – assuming you draw them on well. Alternatively, you can get creative and have some fun – rainbow- colored fake freckles could be a great accent for pride month, for example!
We’ve selected the very best makeup products for creating the perfect fake freckles! We talk a bit about the history of the trend and the small controversy surrounding it. I’ll explain how to choose the right product for creating your fake freckles, then give thorough instructions on how to get the look, giving you the secret to makeup faux freckles as well as semi-permanent ones!
Fake Freckles Makeup Guide: Contents
- 9 Best Makeup Products to Fake Freckles
- When Did the Fake Freckles Trend Start?
- Why Are Fake Freckles Controversial?
- How to Choose the Right Makeup Product for the Faux Freckles Trend?
- How to Draw on Fake Freckles?
- How to Get Semi-Permanent Fake Freckles?
There are at least 9 ways of faking freckles with makeup and we present them below.
1. Anastasia Beverly Hills DIPBROW Pomade
It’s not surprising that the most popular eyebrow product is also one of the best options for drawing on fake freckles. While this brow pomade is very pigmented, it’s also super long-lasting. Don’t choose the same color you’d use for your eyebrows, as it’ll probably be too dark! Taupe or Ash Brown will likely be the best color choices for most. Buy it from Sephora!
2. Make Up For Ever 250 Extra Fine Eyeliner Brush
A good makeup brush is key for getting realistic-looking fake freckles. This eyeliner brush is perfect for dotting on faux freckles in various sizes and intensities, and it works just as well with powders as it does with creams. The brush is synthetic, but the quality is extremely high. It is available at Sephora.
3. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Color
Felt tips are awesome for drawing both larger and smaller fake freckles! This brow product from Stila makes it super easy to get natural-looking yet long-lasting freckles. It’s applied like a pencil, but with more control, and one of its big benefits is that you don’t need a separate brush. The best colors for drawing on freckles would be Medium or Dark, both of which are sold at Sephora.
4. Wunder2 Wunderbrow
Eyebrow gels are another fabulous option for creating awesome fake freckles. Both the taupe and black/ brown shades of this brow gel are neutral enough to make for excellent freckles. The formula itself is very long-lasting and it won’t smudge or move even if touched. While its application is polarizing when it comes to brows, it’s actually quite easy to dot on the skin. Pick it up at Ulta!
5. MAC Eyeshadow in Espresso or Wedge
Eyeshadows and other powder products are great for creating softer fake freckles. They’re fabulous if you’re nervous about going overboard, as they go on more softly and are easier to blend. The matte shadows from MAC are particularly lovely, with excellent texture and awesome color choices. Wedge, Charcoal Brown, and Embark are our personal favorites for drawing on fake freckles. They are available at Ulta.
6. Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour
The matte eyeshadows from Laura Mercier are also fabulous for rocking the fake freckles trend. They are super soft and pigmented but also easy to blend, so you can easily control them to get the right freckle intensity. They come in a square tin, which is easier to pack away. Cafe Au Lait and Coffee Ground are the best shades for perfect faux freckles. Buy them from Nordstrom!
7. St. Tropez Self Tan Express Advanced Bronzing Mousse
By using self-tanner you can give yourself faux freckles that’ll last for a few days, and that’ll be apparent when you’re not wearing any makeup. This self-tanner from St. Tropez is perfect for the fake freckles trend for two reasons: the color is a natural one that doesn’t lean towards orange and it only needs to sit on the skin for a couple of hours to work instead of the usual 8 hours. Below I explain exactly how to use it to achieve semi-permanent fake freckles. You can find it at Ulta.
8. Dior Diorshow Brow Styler
For some folks a pencil is still the easiest way to draw on fake freckles. You don’t need to fuss with a brush, and you might already be used to this application style. If that’s your case, then this is the best brown pencil for drawing on those little dots, because it’s tiny, pigmented and easy to control. It’s a mechanical pencil so it does not require a sharpener, and you can easily achieve small and natural-look freckles. Universal Brown is the best shade for the job! Pick it up at Nordstrom!
9. Clinique Quickliner for Eyes Eyeliner Pencil
This long-wearing eyeliner pencil is smudge- and water-resistant and another great makeup product to fake freckles. It also features a smudge tool on one end, which you can use to slightly diffuse any harsh dots to make them appear more natural. Dark Chocolate and Roast Coffee are some of the best colors to try for faux freckles. Get it at Nordstrom!
According to the Makeup Museum, from as early on the late 1800s, freckles were considered an unattractive feature. Advertisements in women’s magazines showcasing freckle-erasing creams and lotions were plentiful, and the language used in them was very disparaging. Words like “muddy” and “blotchy” are ubiquitous in these ads.
These attitudes made sense early on, since exposure was associated with being of a lower class, but some anti-freckle attitudes persisted even after Coco Chanel turned sunbathing into a bourgeois activity in the late ‘20s.
It seems as though the change in attitude took place at some point in the ‘60s or ‘70s, when freckles started being associated with youth and cuteness. The Wendy’s logo, which was created in the late ‘60s based on the image of the founder’s daughter, showed a cute redheaded girl with pigtails and a dusting of freckles on her cheeks.
In the same period, supermodel Twiggy’s freckled face was gracing all of the major fashion magazines. From here on out freckles have been considered a youthful, adorable feature, and while it wasn’t consistently desirable it was no longer derided the way it had been in the past.
I’ve already mentioned Mademoiselle Coco Chanel, so it’s worth mentioning her eponymous brand was the first one to launch a product intended specifically for creating fake freckles. This pencil, called Le Crayon Rousseur, was launched in 1995 in order to help contribute to a “little girl look” that was becoming extra fashionable at the time.
The Modern-Day Fake Freckles
In the early 2010s, faux freckles starting showing up semi-regularly on the runways, including very high-profile ones like Dolce & Gabbana, Jeremy Scott, Chloe, and Donna Karan. Despite this, fake freckles had yet to totally catch on with the average makeup consumer.
Instead, it seems like there was a small and slowly growing rise in interest as evidenced by the Google searches people in the United States were making. While freckles, by this point, were heavily associated with youth and innocence, drawing them on with makeup was still considered taboo, with R&B/ soul singer SZA coming under fire for emphasizing her natural freckles with makeup.
In 2015, ‘fake freckles trend’ started popping up as a search query on Google Trends. At the same time we started seeing makeup artists on Instagram and YouTube show their own takes on the fake freckles trend.
Since then, more and more people have been searching for the term, while on Instagram there have been nearly 40,000 posts featuring the #fakefreckles hashtag, proving that fake freckles will be an enduring makeup trend.
More recently, Meghan Markle’s light wash of foundation on her wedding day to Prince Harry did not hide her natural freckles. People all over the world rushed to mimic her look with makeup, giving the fake freckles trend an additional boost.
Before you get started putting the adorable dots all over the face, it’s important to remember that some people abhor the trend – especially people with real freckles. Those who have gotten bullied as children for their natural freckles and found themselves coveting clearer skin are often annoyed when they see others put on freckles that they can wash off at the end of the night.
On Reddit, users compared it to people who wear fake glasses as trend when they don’t have to suffer the consequences of poorer eyesight. The response is mild annoyance, rather than outrage. Some users also mentioned that they thought the fake freckles trend is a little silly: you obviously can’t have freckles showing through a full face of foundation, contour, highlight and blush!
Other users, some with freckles, said that they liked seeing what they have naturally become a celebrated trend, and that they often used makeup to enhance their freckles after they’ve put on foundation. The ruling attitude, from both the pro- and anti-fake freckles camps, is that it’s just makeup and people should be able to do what they like.
Across the board, people agree that despite some similarities in the conversation, the fake freckles trend is not even close to being on the same level as brown or blackface, which are never appropriate.
Choosing the right color for your fake freckles is a similar process to choosing the right contour color. You want to choose a brownish shade that will be a bit darker than your skin, and that will not be too cool or too warm.
Taupe and brown-based eyebrow products tend to be the right color for faux freckles, as are taupe and brown matte eyeshadows. Eyeliners tend to be too dark, while actual contour powders are not pigmented enough most of the time.
You also need to choose between a cream product like a brow pomade, a liquid product like some brow gels, or a powder product. Powder products tend to go on a little lighter, but they will also fade away a little faster.
Cream products, on the other hand, will go on a little darker and will have better longevity even if they have to be set with a powder. Some people prefer using eyebrow pencils, but I find that dotting with a pencil doesn’t give enough control or pigment, so I don’t recommend it.
Some beauty gurus use a brown-root touch-up spray that washes out to very quickly mist on that constellation of dots all over the face. The result is a very randomized pattern of fake freckles that covers the whole face. While this method is very quick and the effect looks natural, I find that the freckles all over the face can be a little overwhelming and am not a fan of this technique.
Then there are the semi-permanent fake freckles methods. These, much like real freckles, will be apparent when you don’t have makeup on but they will disappear the second you put on a foundation with good coverage.
One popular method is to apply very fresh brown henna to the face, but once again, I’m not a fan of this method because it’s hard to find good henna that’ll be safe for the face and it’s possible to end up with irritation or burns. The semi-permanent method I prefer is using self-tanner! It’s important to choose a self-tanner that is quick-developing, and to follow the instructions I outline below.
• Fake freckles are something you save for the end of your makeup look, or at least for once you’ve finished doing your complexion makeup. Everything from foundation and concealer to powdering to highlighting, blushing, and contouring should already be complete.
• Dip your makeup brush into the powder or pomade you chose for drawing on your fake freckles.
• Draw a few practice freckles on your hands before moving on to the face.
• For lighter freckles press on your hand softly, and increase the pressure to get darker freckles. Drawing on a combination of lighter and darker fake freckles will look the most natural.
• Map out where you’d like your freckles to go, and how many you want. You can draw on a single beauty spot, three, or a few dozen. You can keep them concentrated across the tops of your cheeks and bridge of your nose, or dot them all over your face. It’s totally up to you!
• The key is to draw them on in a non-uniform way, avoiding having an even number of freckles. Oddly enough, there is a pattern that makes it easier to keep the look haphazard – drawing on two freckles closer to each other, and then another one a little further away – this is an especially good tactic if you’re going for a more conservative number of freckles or beauty spots.
• If you feel like any of your fake freckles is a little too dark, go over it with a small brush covered in setting powder to bring down its intensity.
• You can also go over all of the freckles with a bit of setting powder to lend them a more natural look as though they are truly beneath your skin.
• With some cream products you might have to set your faux freckles in order to ensure their longevity.
There are all kinds of methods using henna or hair dye to try and achieve semi-permanent faux freckles, but I think they’re either a little too long-lasting or potentially risky. A self-tanner is the best product to use for creating natural-looking and semi-permanent faux freckles.
• Before you actually start, make sure to first experiment with makeup to create faux freckles. This will help you get an idea of the kind of pattern you would like, and will also allow you to practice and give your hands some muscle memory for drawing on fake freckles.
• You also want to experiment with the self-tanner itself the day before you try it on your face. Dip a small eyeliner brush into the self-tanner, and draw on a few experimental freckles on your arm.
The longer you leave the self-tanner on, the darker the freckles will be, so leave a few on for an hour, leave a few on for 2 hours, and leave a few more on for three hours. The color will continue developing for the next 8 hours, so the next day look at your freckles and see which had the right intensity for you to determine how long you’ll leave the self-tanner on your face.
• You’ll want to start with clean, lightly exfoliated skin. It’s better to have moisturized skin, but too much lotion will prevent the self-tanner from taking hold, so moisturize your skin with an oil-free lotion at least 15 minutes before you’re actually going to apply the self-tanner.
• Squeeze out a small amount of self-tanner on a plate or a metal tray.
• Apply the self-tanner to your face with an eyeliner brush, much in the same manner as you would apply fake freckles with makeup.
• Once you’re happy with the dots over your face, wait for the amount of time that will give you the intensity you liked best in your earlier experimentation.
• Remember that if you put makeup on it will cover up your faux freckles, which will end up reducing their intensity.
• Exfoliation, either chemical or physical, will end up fading your faux freckles, so avoid exfoliators if you’d like to maintain your new look.
Photos via @izzycarmeliarose, @vivis_makeup, @nikki_makeup, @ashmeredith_, @bentleylee_, @sunbeamsjess, @cmiiu