Treating and Preventing Freckles
It’s just like with your hair. If it is curly, you want straight. If it is thick, you want sleek. If it is dark, you want it blonde. This “grass is always greener” mentality applies to skin as well. Those without freckles see them as charming. Those with freckles would rather be rid of them. If you are one of the latter, there are a few things you can try to reduce the appearance of those charming little spots on your cheeks and nose.
Freckles are simply parts of your skin with a higher concentration of melanin, the pigment that makes skin dark. The skin produces melanin as a form of protection from sun. This is why exposure to sunlight can darken freckles and also explains why they are more prominent in the spring and summer. Freckles are sometimes a more serious condition. If you notice a freckle has become exceptionally dark or misshaped, it is vital you see a dermatologist to rule out melanoma. This can be a life-threatening cancer and is common in people who spend a lot of time in the sun.
Most of us will try a home remedy before running to an expensive dermatologist to treat freckles. There are some simple home remedies you can try that have also proven themselves effective for acne. They involve treatments designed to exfoliate the skin, thereby fading the freckles that sit on the outer layer. However, these treatments also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, just like any other exfoliating treatment. For this reason, you should follow treatments by apply a strong sunscreen at least one hour before going out into the sun.
The first remedy is made of lemon juice and crushed aspirin. The acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin is similar to the acids found in common skin treatments. Lemon juice is has a high concentration of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. The combination of exfoliating ingredient and antioxidant helps to remove dead skins cells on the outer layer of skin, rejuvenate skin and reduce the appearance of freckles. Apply the mixture directly to your freckles for 15 minutes before washing it off with mild soap and water. This can be done up to two times a day.
Some freckle treatments in involve yogurt, sour cream or sour milk to achieve the same effect. The lactic acid found in dairy products has a mild exfoliating effect. If you don’t mind the smell, you may want to try applying these to your freckles in the same way as recommended with the aspirin and lemon juice mixture.
From the Store
You can buy over-the-counter freckle treatments at most health stores and pharmacies. These bleaching agents typically contain hydroquinone to fade skin color and come in the form of a cream. Hydroquinone slows the skin’s production of melatonin, thereby fading freckles. Use bleaching agents only as directed because too much can cause chemical burns on the skin, resulting in irritation and scarring.
At the Dermatologist
While there are laser resurfacing treatments for freckles, they are expensive and do not always work. Some people complain that after spending hundreds of dollars, the freckles only faded and returned just a few weeks after laser treatment. Lemon juice is much cheaper to try first and may even work better.
The dermatologist can also offer you a chemical peel to get rid of freckles. This is simply a more intense level of exfoliation that you can accomplish at home. The peel removes several layers of skin, so you can expect at least a few days healing time after the treatment, longer if you have sensitive skin.
One treatment that may surprise you is the same one doctors use to remove warts. Liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze the freckled skin so that it dies and falls away. This is a painful treatment and should be reserved only for when other treatments fail and you absolutely must remove your freckles. It is probably better to come to terms with your natural beauty than to undergo a painful and expensive treatment.
If you are prone to freckles and want to avoid their return this summer, make sure you wear sunscreen every day. Even on cloudy or hazy days, the sun can cause your freckles to appear or become darker. Choose an SPF 15 or higher. A sun hat is also a good idea for those who get freckles easily.
There are also some dietary considerations that can help reduce the sun’s affect on your skin. By eating foods with dark pigments, you can boost your skin’s resistance to the sun. Foods like blue berries, eggplant and dark green leafy vegetables are all protected from the sun by the antioxidants that cause their dark color. Consuming these foods will also boost your skin’s natural sun protection.
Cover Up or Camouflage
Of course, if all else fails, there is always makeup. Most women with freckles will recommend mineral makeup to cover these unwanted spots. Get the help of a cosmetologist to try several shades until you find the right one to match your skin tone.
Some cosmetologists suggest you apply a matching foundation to your skin and then add a stick concealer to the freckled areas afterwards. Stick concealers are thicker, offering better coverage. Follow with a matte-finish pressed powder for the best level of coverage.
Finally, if you can’t beat them, join them. Try using a bronzer to darken your overall skin tone, so it will better match your freckles. You can also try a sunless tanning lotion or salon treatment for this purpose. It is helpful to get a cosmetologists advice in sunless tanning, just as with makeup, so you can choose a tone that goes well with your hair and other features.
Whether you avoid them, treat them or cover them up, try to remember that your freckles are one of the things that make you special, spunky, and fun. Try showing them off once in a while. You might even get to like it!