6 Fascinating Things You Never Knew About Freckles

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Almost all of us have freckles, some more than others. Many of us are too dark for them to be seen, but they are very visible in those with a fair complexion. Even though they cover our whole body, most of us know almost nothing about them. Here are some facts about freckles that likely didn’t know.

1) No one is born with freckles.

This sounds false, but think of every baby you’ve ever seen: have any of them had freckles? The answer is no! This because of how freckles are formed on the body.

Freckles are caused by exposure to the sun. It’s from your skin ramping up the pigment production due to exposure to UV rays. Since babies have never been exposed to sunlight, they won’t get freckles until they have been outside.


Close-up of freckled woman's eyes
Tommy van Kessel 🤙 on Unsplash

2) They’re genetic.

The number of freckles you have is determined by genetics. It’s found in the gene that is actually connected to your hair and skin color and passed down from your father and mother.

The MC1R gene regulates how much melanin your skin will produce. There are actually two types of melanin: darker brown eumelanin and a reddish-yellow pheomelanin. If your MC1R gene is inactive, you produce more pheomelanin. These people have lighter hair and more visible freckles.


Red-headed woman with freckles smiling
Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash

3) They work as a natural sunscreen.

Freckles darken a person’s skin to protect them from harmful UV rays. That said, these freckles are no replacement for actual sunscreen.

In fact, many freckles may actually mean that your skin is very sensitive to sunlight. If your freckles tend to fluctuate based on how much you’re outside, that means you are at greater risk of getting skin cancer. If that’s you, you should apply SPF 30 sunscreen every day in order to protect your skin. Even if it’s overcast, you should apply sunscreen before leaving the house.


Hand holding bottle of sunscreen over water
Taylor Simpson on Unsplash

4) Not all redheads have freckles.

Many people associate freckles with redheads. While many redheads have plenty of freckles, that’s not true for all of them.

This is because the genetic gene associated with freckles is dominant while the gene for red hair is recessive and are completely independent of one another. It’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of redheads have no freckles at all.


Red-headed woman wearing beanie
Chris Ross Harris on Unsplash

5) Freckles are never cancerous.

Some people may worry that, because freckles are impacted by the sun, they may someday become cancerous. That’s not the case. Freckles will never cause cancer in the body.

If you do happen to get melanoma, it will appear as a mole on your body. It will have rough edges that aren’t uniform, will appear different than other moles on the body, will appear brown, and will be larger than a typical mole.


Red-headed man with freckles
Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

6) In medieval times, freckles were considered witches’ marks.

If you were a woman in the Dark Ages and you were covered in freckles, people were more likely to assume you were a witch. It was an old superstition that wasn’t based on any truth.

People with freckles are no more or less likely to be good or bad people. Don’t let this ancient superstition scare you.

Black and white close-up of a woman's freckled face
Rodrigo Pereira on Unsplash

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