Want to look like you spent summer '16 staring at something other than your computer? Fake some freckles. According to Toronto-based makeup artist Brittany Sinclair, faux freckles aren't uncommon. "If you look at a lot of senior makeup artists, what they’ll do on even their everyday applications for celebrities is top the foundation off with a few freckles," says Sinclair. "That makes them look more youthful.”
Gabrielle Rainbow, a cosmetic tattoo artist based out of Montreal, specializes in semi-permanent tattoo freckles. “My best friend had been drawing freckles on her face with makeup for years. She got fed up with it, and one day she was like ‘I want you to tattoo freckles on my face,'” says Rainbow of how she got her start. She now boasts 21,000 followers on Instagram, many of whom she says want to get fake freckles done, but have limited access to cosmetic tattoo artists that provide the service.
"What do your freckles look like when healed?", take a look at how awesome @micahcatharsis's turned out. This is two sessions. - #youarebeautiful #cosmetictattoo #tattoo #permanentmakeup #cosmetictattooing #brows #permanenteyebrows #micropigmentation #eyebrows #eyebrowsonfleek #eyebrowfeathering #cosmetic #permanentmakeup #microblading #microbladingeyebrows #featherstrokebrows #archaddicts #freckles #fakefreckles #freckletattoo #freckletattoos
Using semi-permanent ink, Rainbow either draws on freckles where none exist or enhances client’s natural freckles by making them a few shades darker. “I try to go with the whole policy of less is more," says Rainbow, who begins with tiny dots on the bridge of the nose, then outwards onto the cheeks. "I do a little bit, but [clients] always come back within a few days and are like 'I want more freckles!'" Rainbow tells clients to expect the freckles to last one to two years if they receive an average amount of sun exposure. (The more time you spend outdoors the faster the freckles will fade, and the more you will have to get them touched up.)
Post-procedure, freckles will be dark and quite pronounced, says Rainbow, but they won't scab. Regular applications of Vaseline will help lighten the colour. “I tell people to not put makeup on for two weeks, and I tell them to use a non-scented cream and soap," she says. "And obviously, don’t exfoliate your face."
However, not everyone is on board with the idea of tattoo freckles. Veronica Tran, a cosmetic tattoo artist and owner of Toronto lash and brow bar Pretty in the City, isn't a fan. “With freckles, you’re kind of putting splatters of light brown all over your face, so when it fades, its going to look like shadows – like you have blotchy skin.” Tran also cautions against exposing your freckle tattoos to sunlight, explaining that they can fade and turn into undesirable colours. “A brown could fade into a red or even a shadowy orange,” she explained.
If you do decide to dabble in the world of tattoo freckles, Tran stresses that your tattoo artist should have at least three years of experience. “By then, you’ll have your original clients come back to see how [the tattoo freckles] have aged, and you’ve been able to work with enough different skin types, age groups and ethnicities," she says. "Because the skin on your face is a lot more thin than the skin on your body, tattooing is a lot more tricky. If someone doesn’t know what they are doing, they could go too deep, resulting in the freckle looking ashy.”
For an easier, less-permanent alternative to freckle tattoos, there’s always makeup. Below, Sinclair shows us how.
Step 1: Prep skin with foundation.
Step 2: Choose your tool. Sinclair recommends either a small, fine-tip eyeliner brush, a clean mascara spoolie or a striping tool you would use for nail art.
Step 3: Use a cream pigment, such as the Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow ($28) for the freckles. Sinclair prefers this product because it's waterproof, and therefore won't get blotchy if you sweat. She also likes Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade ($23) and Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse ($38).
Step 4: Practise dotting on the back of your hand before you graduate to the face.
Step 5: Dot the product from the outer ridge of the eye all the way across the cheeks and nose until the outer ridge of the second eye. "You don’t want to make the dots too symmetrical, or that will start to give a doll-like effect," says Sinclair. "If you’re not sure where to place them, you can always look at reference photos of surfer chicks."
Step 6: Press the pigment into the skin using your finger, so that the freckles look more subtle and natural. Using different amounts of pressure to press the product in will result in the freckles having their own unique shape. "No freckle is [perfectly] circular," she says.
Step 7: Set your freckles with translucent powder for maximum hold throughout the day. Sinclair used Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($47) here.
Step 8: Rock them!