Freckle Tattooing: The Newest Way to Look Fresh-Faced Year-Round

Yes, seriously.
Photo via Jens Stuart/Trunk Archive,

Photo via Jens Stuart/Trunk Archive

After years of Kardashian-inspired contouring and shellacked foundation, beauty has boomeranged back to a natural look. Glossier’s skin tint, an alternative to foundation, routinely sells out, while Tarte recently debuted an “athleisure” makeup line targeted at the sporty low-maintenance set. In fact, we’ve become so obsessed with being natural that we’re not only embracing imperfections; we’re faking them.

Case in point: Faux freckles, a.k.a. semi-permanent cosmetic tattoos (akin to tattooed eyeliner) that typically cost $250 per application, have earned mega-fans in NYC and L.A. Fake freckles have even gone mainstream: CoverGirl’s newest spokesperson, James Charles, sports them — he applies his with a brow pencil — in his latest campaign.

The fad makes sense. A sprinkling — across the bridge of the nose, on the cheeks — has long been associated with the carefree days of youth. (Fake freckles — the new Botox!) But in an effort to look younger, are we really just, er, faking sun damage?

At least one aesthetician, Naomi Fenlin of Center City’s About Face Skincare, isn’t on board: “Everything we do here is to bring the skin to its healthy, natural condition.” It does seem disingenuous for those in the skin-care game (who regularly lighten discoloration and scarring) to promote sun spots. But apparently, freckles aren’t the only fountain-of-youth tattoo trend. Next up, says Fenlin, is inking semi-permanent baby hairs around your hairline. You know, the pesky ones you spent years taming.

Published as “Spot On” in the May 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.