Now that it’s August, summer is drawing to a close. That means we’re leaving behind summer makeup trends like bronzy skin and glossy, colorful lips and trading them in for the muted earth tones and dark, matte lips of autumn. Giving up that sun-kissed summer skin also means saying goodbye to the trend of fake freckles, at least until next summer. Which begs the question: How do you feel about fake freckles? Do you love them or do you hate them?
Fake Freckles: A Controversial Summer Trend
You’ve seen them just about everywhere from YouTube to Instagram to Facebook. Models and beauty gurus have been flaunting the cute, freckled look with incredible success. It’s fresh and summery and “natural.” Which is ironic, since by definition fake freckles are anything but.
It’s trendy for a reason, though. They look good. When they’re done well, that is. And they vibe with the undone summer makeup look: just a wash of color on the eyes, subtle glossy lips, and, of course, fresh and dewy skin. In the summertime, you don’t want to look done up. You want to look natural and glowy. It’s “I woke up like this,” Island Edition. Bronzy skin will take you halfway there but the freckles add that element of imperfection that completes the illusion.
But not everyone’s on board with the trend. For those of us who are naturally freckled, it’s an emotional tug of war. Freckles are “in,” now, and we’re not sure how to feel about that. Our imperfect spots and speckles caused by the imbalanced distribution of melanin in our skin are considered beautiful by the trendsetters and tastemakers of the beauty industry. That’s flattering, of course. But it’s also a very recent shift in opinion. We remember being teased for our freckly skin. As a life-long freckle-haver, I’ve heard it all. “Maybe if you go outside long enough, the freckles will all connect and you’ll finally get a tan.” Or “I’m bored, can I play connect the dots on your arm?” Or “Put on some sunscreen, you don’t want any more freckles.”
You might be thinking, “Ok, but now people like them. Just take the compliment.” And in a way, you’re right. It’s nice that freckles are having a moment in the spotlight. It’s even nicer knowing that I can nail the trendy faux freckle look perfectly with no effort. Some trend followers spend forever trying to achieve that haphazard, natural-looking distribution of freckles. And not all of them succeed.
The Good, the Bad, and the Vibrant
Poorly applied fake freckles will leave you looking a little like Velma from Scooby-Doo. Too harsh or too symmetrical and the illusion just doesn’t work. Natural freckles are unevenly spaced and vary in size and color. Techniques range from using eyeliner pencils to powder products to cream contour on a textured FX sponge. It might seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of tutorials to aid in your quest for the perfectly imperfect freckles.
The faux freckle trend isn’t exactly new. We’ve been seeing this look on the runways for a few seasons and it’s been seeping into the beauty industry since Summer 2017. It’s had time to evolve a little bit, as evidenced by the introduction of rainbow and even metallic freckles. Obviously, the goal here isn’t to look natural. Instead, playing with color and shape is encouraged and the final results are festival worthy and totally Instagrammable.
Freckle tattoos have also started cropping up. Like the fake freckles applied with makeup, this can either look cute and natural or like a total disaster. Unlike the makeup freckles, though, you’re stuck with however it turns out. For a less permanent result, henna freckles or temporary tattoos are also a cute option. Lower risk factor, less painful, and, you know, not a literal face tattoo.
Beauty Trends Come and Go, But Freckles Are Forever
Like many beauty trends, fake freckles are a suddenly popular reincarnation of a once undesirable feature. Thick eyebrows, full lips, big booties: they’ve all gotten the faux freckle treatment. Disregarding for a moment the racist implications of why those features weren’t considered beautiful, let’s think about the girls who spent the early 2000’s plucking their naturally thick eyebrows into oblivion. Or the girls with full lips who wouldn’t wear lipstick because they didn’t want to emphasize their mouth. Or the girls who couldn’t find a pair of jeans they could pull up over their hips. Those bad memories don’t just go away because something is trendy now. And, of course, trends are fleeting. So we are always waiting for the pendulum to swing back the other way.
That said, I’m all for beauty trends that celebrate diversity and uniqueness. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all. And I’m not the beauty police, so I won’t tell you what makeup trends to try. But as with all trends, this too shall pass, and when it does, you can wipe off your fake freckles and go back to your clean, beauty-industry-approved slate. Some of us can’t, though. So, don’t be surprised if some freckled girls aren’t impressed by this passing phase.