I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with my freckles since the days my mom would slather sunscreen all over my face—or my porcelain punim, as she so affectionately called it—every time I stepped into the sunlight. And by “love-hate,” I mean I was mostly ashamed of them for years (along with my fair complexion, which always seemed to stay the same shade of “pale” no matter how long I baked in the sun next to my olive-toned sister).
Nowadays, I appreciate sunscreen more than ever, but I’ve also grown to love my little frecks—especially by the end of summer when they’re at their most prominent. Maybe I’ve fallen more in love with the dusting of spots along my nose and forehead in part because of Meghan Markle’s wedding beauty look, or perhaps because of an uptick in the fake-freckle makeup trend.
Either way, for those of us with permanent (or seasonal) freckles, it can be tricky to know how to accentuate them rather than hide them while applying makeup. Below, find out how to successfully apply makeup while still allowing your freckled friend to shine through.
Polished, smooth skin will help your freckles stand out. "For a natural glow, exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant that has AHAs, like Sonia Roselli SexAPeel," says Megan Garmers, professional makeup artist and founder of MG Hair and Makeup.
Meet the Expert
Megan Garmers is a professional makeup artist and the founder and director of MG Hair and Makeup. She sits on the Make-Up Designory Advisory Committee. Her talents take her across the country teaching classes and speaking at the country’s top schools, cosmetic brands, and industry events, such as the International Beauty Show, the International Makeup Artist Trade Show, The Makeup Show, London Bridal Fashion Week, Wedding MBA, The Knot Pro Education Events, The Love Union and many more.
Of course, pay attention to what your skin is telling you, and adjust your skincare routine based on the season and how your skin is responding (if it's becoming irritated, cut back; if not, stop altogether while you allow your skin to heal). Typically, though, you can exfoliate two to three times a week year-round. Your complexion will be more even and glowing for it—the perfect canvas for applying freckle-centric makeup.
Moisturize and Apply Sunscreen
Yes, you still need to slather sunscreen all over (just like your mom may have urged you to do when you were younger). This time, make sure to apply an ample amount of moisturizer to your face first—Tatcha's The Water Cream is a lightweight option for summer that can work for cooler months too—and let it dry and absorb into your skin before applying SPF. If you struggle with large, visible pores, try a complexion-blurring one that doubles as a primer, like this one by Tarte—it’ll perfect your skin while still allowing the freckles to shine.
To avoid getting sun spots that could crowd out your freckles, aim for an SPF of at least 50 like this Byrdie favorite by Supergoop.
Apply Complexion-Enhancing Makeup
Next, use a lightweight concealer or foundation—key word: “lightweight”—for any dark circles or blemishes you want to conceal. The Radiant Creamy Concealer by Nars is a beauty editor favorite for a reason and works just fine without foundation, but if you need more coverage, simply try a lighter shade of concealer for under-eyes and blemishes and blend an ultra-sheer foundation like Charlotte Tilbury'sLight Wonder on the rest of your face so your freckles still show through. (This should go without saying but, if you can, avoid heavy, full-coverage cream concealers and foundations here.)
Another option that won’t hide your beloved freckles? Garmers suggests simply using a perfecting powder to even out your complexion, like this one by IT Cosmetics.
Top Them Off With Blush and Highlighter
Once your base makeup is done, illuminate the apples of your cheeks with a light blush (go double duty and try a multi-use cream product you can use on your lips too for a monochromatic look) and a bit of highlight (like this on-the-go stick from Milk Makeup) for a slightly flushed, sun-kissed look.
Finish with the Eyes
You can have as little or as much fun as you want with your eye makeup after your complexion has been taken care of, but for a fresh, natural look, you can simply finish off your makeup with a few swipes of mascara and a bit of brow pencil on your arches if needed. But if you favor heavier, bolder eye makeup, then go for it! It only took me a few decades to realize it, but gorgeous freckles go with anything—so feel free to pair with them a dramatic cat-eye, blue eyeshadow, or anything else your heart (and freckles!) desire. They’ll look amazing either way.