Once a mark of embarrassment for the likes of red heads and other sun-sensitive people, freckles have become an enviable quality. Some women wear them as the apogee of all beauty marks, and those who don’t have freckles are even going so far as to draw them on their face (seriously, there are currently almost 30,000 video results for “Fake Freckles” on Youtube).
While the move of acceptance is encouraging, freckles are a reminder of how sensitive the skin on our face is to the harmful rays of the sun.
What Are Freckles & Why You Should Love 'Em
Freckles are clusters of highly pigmented cells that darken when exposed to UV rays. Certain people are predisposed to freckles. While most people with the genetic trait for freckles are almost guaranteed to develop freckles, no one is born with freckles; they must be exposed to UV rays of the sun to ever develop them.
While loving your freckles is important, you should also see them as a reminder that the sun is affecting your skin, and that you need to do everything possible to keep your beautiful skin safe.
Save Your Skin From UVA Rays & Melanoma
For something that’s nearly 93 million miles away and 4.5 billion years old, the sun can easily wreak havoc on human hide. Some of the light that the sun casts on the Earth comes in “ultraviolet radiation,” which is a type of electromagnetic light wave that is invisible to the naked eye.
The rays that reach us on the Earth’s surface are classified as UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays have the longest wavelength of the two rays, and were not considered dangerous until recent studies within the last two decades have shown that UVA may contribute more to skin cancer than originally thought. UVB rays are a shorter wave that mainly penetrates the outer epidermis layers of skin, where skin cancer occurs.
How To Choose Skin Protection For Freckled Faces
Sun protection products in the past were only formulated to block UVB rays, but with so much more to learn about the long term effects of UVA rays, formulas are now being created to block all types of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Look for bottles that use the phrase “broad spectrum” as a product characteristic, as these block both types of ultraviolet radiation. The experts at The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, although SPF 30 - 50 is suggested for people with pale skin that burn easily (fellow freckled friends - that’s us!)
Choosing the right sunscreen for the occasion is key. For days at the beach or pool, look for water resistant “sport” formulas, like Coppertone Sport High Performance Accuspray Sunscreen SPF 50 ($10.99, 6 oz).
For slower paced days, a moisturizing formula like Aveeno Protect + Hydrate SPF 30 ($9.99, 3 oz) is a dermatologist recommended option that’s fast absorbing and noncomedogenic. High intensity athletic adventures in the sun call for a sweat resistant formula with staying power, and NO-AD Sport Sunscreen SPF 50 fits the bill (and at $0.63 per ounce, it’s also the most affordable on our list!). Since you encounter the sun’s rays every day, ideally, you should apply a sunscreen to the most vulnerable areas of skin as part of your daily routine. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with sunscreen SPF 30 ($13.99, 1.7 oz) is a great, protective option.
Summer Accessories We Love For All Skin Types
The Skin Cancer Foundation also recommends wearing clothing and hats as an extra layer of protection from the sun’s rays. We’ve found a few stylish options to protect your dainty, freckled face.
New Look Festival Fedora Hat - $25 from Asos
With a look that’s straight out of Coachella, the brim of this fedora hat will give you plenty of shade and earn you major style points.
Striped Trim Floppy Hat - $14.90 from Forever 21
This floppy hat is so sipping a cocktail by the pool South of France. Lounge chair and pool boy not included.
Under Armour Women’s Super Shade Running Hat - $24.99 from Dick’s Sporting Goods
Sprint to the finish line in this lightweight, breathable hat designed to keep you cool and protect your freckles from burning rays.
If You Don't Protect Your Skin, You're At Risk
Skin cancer is something we’ve learned a lot about over the last century, and thankfully the beauty world is keen on using that knowledge to protect the average consumer.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
These tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. Melanoma kills an estimated 10,130 people in the US annually.
Freckles or no freckles - Melanoma can affect all skin types and ethnicities
, and everyone should use proper protection when out and about in the daylight. With the information provided by experts like The Skin Cancer Foundation, we can all make informed decisions to save the skin we’re in.