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Freckles: Are they cute or are they sun damage?

Freckles are trendy right now. They add personality to your skin and some people think that they are a sign of youthfulness. In fact, people who don’t have freckles have been known to paint them on. And those of us who have freckles would give almost anything for a more uniform skin tone. We always want what we don’t have!

What causes freckles?

You probably already know that freckles are small dark spots, usually on your face. They occur when your skin produces extra melanin. Freckles come in all sizes, though they usually measure less than 5 millimeters. They also appear in many colors- tan, brown, black, and even red. The color really depends on a person’s skin tone. Freckles are like snowflakes as well. No two are alike.

Freckles are genetic. So if your family has them, you likely will as well. Scientists have even discovered the MC1R gene is linked to freckles. If your MC1R gene is active, you will have a darker skin tone and no freckles. But if the gene is inactive, you will get freckles when you spend time in the sun.  

A study done in Iceland found another gene that is found in people with brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. This is a variant on the IRF4 gene, which is actually part of the immune system. People with this variant that the study refers to as sort of a “dimmer switch” than can regulate the amount of melanin in the top layer of their skin. It is still unknown as to why the dimmer switch is sometimes on and other times off. But scientists do hope that it’s a potential key to unlocking a better understanding of skin diseases and cancer.

Freckles have a purpose

Freckles are more than just cosmetic. They evolved in fair skinned people as a natural way to help block harmful rays from the sun from penetrating deep into the skin. Long story short, freckles are not sun damage. Even though freckles are not harmful, if you have a lot of them or they are getting darker, there is a good chance that you’ve spent too much time in the sun.  

If you do have freckles, it is even more important to apply sunscreen! Your skin is producing them to protect you, which means your body is saying “this is bad, I need to protect myself.” In other words, you’re definitely more susceptible to sun damage.

Are freckles the same as sun spots?

Sun spots are dark spots on the skin, but they are generally larger and caused by sun damage. They can be up to about 2 centimeters in diameter. They tend to appear as we get older, usually after age 40.  Sun spots are also called age spots or liver spots.  

Sun spots are not dangerous, but if you get them, it’s an indication that you’re being exposed to too many UV rays. 

Can I get rid of freckles?

Since freckles are genetic they are something you are born with. If you’re not happy with them, there are things you can do to minimize them.  

The most obvious way is by wearing sunscreen. This won’t get rid of what you have, but it can prevent new freckles. Make sure the sunscreen is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 minutes before going outdoors. It also doesn’t hurt to wear it if you are indoors but around windows.

There are also creams you can apply that can help possibly fade freckles. You can get it over the counter or by prescription. These creams usually contain hydroquinone. This suppresses the production of melanin and can lighten the skin. The cream can have side effects such as inflammation, dryness, and a burning sensation.

Retinoids are very common for anti-aging, but they can also fade freckles a bit. Various concentrations are available both over the counter and by prescription. Because retinoids work to help exfoliate the skin, they can cause temporary dry patches and redness.  

Procedures that you can get from an esthetician or dermatologist can also fade freckles. These include laser treatments and chemical peels. They work to slough off the top layer of skin and stimulate the production of new skin cells.

Embrace your uniqueness!

If you have freckles, remember that the person next to you who doesn’t have them probably wants them. They are a part of you and because they are genetic, they are also part of your family history. Rather than get rid of them, embrace them. 

No matter if you have freckles or not, sunscreen should be a routine part of your skincare regimen. Qyral’s Protect uses PhytoVie to help shield your skin. It contains a broad spectrum SPF 30 for sun protection.  Protect is lightweight and does double duty as a primer. No matter if you have freckles or not, this product provides huge benefits to your unique skin!

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