Since freckles are caused by sun exposure, products that regenerate new skin and reverse sun damage are good for fading freckles. However, there are so many different options for active ingredients out there. What's the best freckle removal cream for your skin type? Read on and find out.
Why Do I Have Freckles?
Freckles, known to medical science as ephelides, are small, flat spots on the darker skin. They most commonly appear on the face, though some people have them on other body parts such as the shoulders, arms, and chest. On a cellular level, freckles are simply clusters of skin cells that produce extra melanin.
People of any skin tone can develop freckles, though they are most visible on people with light skin. Freckles differ from moles in that freckles aren't present at birth like moles sometimes are, nor to freckles have the potential to be cancerous, as some moles do. Freckles are caused by sun exposure and genetics influence how easily your skin develops these harmless spots.
Though freckles present no dermatological health danger, some people simply don't like them, and so they opt to remove them. You might feel that freckles make you look younger than you are, or it may simply be a personal preference.
Fortunately, freckles are easy to remove and prevent for most people using non-invasive measures that include certain skincare products and simple sun protection.
Before attempting to fade your freckles away, consider whether you're an appropriate candidate for this endeavor. If you have heavy freckling all over your body, it would likely be a pain to treat that much surface area, so keep in mind that it would take a lot of work.
If your freckling is very heavy or if you've had it your whole life, this could suggest that you have a strong genetic tendency toward freckling and that treatment might not help that much.
Of course, you can still try out the treatments but accept the possibility that you may not find it to be worth it in the end. If you're not sure whether your skin spots are true freckles, you should consult a doctor to make sure you get the right treatment.
How Are Freckles Removed?
A quick internet search for freckle removal methods will bring up recommendations to use natural household ingredients such as lemon juice. However, lemon juice and other similar food-based treatments are not very potent in their effects. Freckles are best removed using chemical exfoliants.
Popular varieties of chemical exfoliants include salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), retinoids, and vitamin C. These active ingredients work to remove freckles by stimulating the growth of new skin cells, which will go on to replace the old, sun-damaged skin cells.
Note that although some sources will recommend the active ingredient hydroquinone, this is one of the worst choices for freckle-removing products. Hydroquinone may be quite dangerous. Scientific studies done on rats show that it may have a cancer-causing effect. It may also disrupt the function of your adrenal glands and increase mercury levels in your body.
Since hydroquinone is out of the question, that leaves us with the classic chemical exfoliants: salicylic acid, AHA, retinoids, and vitamin C. The specific active ingredient that will work best to fade your freckles depends on your skin type. Oily skin will respond well to salicylic acid, while AHA is suitable for combination and dry skin types due to their moisturizing properties.
Among distinct types of AHA, lactic acid is best for sensitive skin and very dry skin, while Mandelic acid is most suited for acne-prone skin. Retinoids and vitamin C are popular among those with aging skin. Nevertheless, these are just loose guidelines, and you may find that your skin responds best to a different ingredient than I've indicated here.
What to Know Before Using a Freckle-Removing Product
When using a chemical exfoliant, your skincare routine may require some adjustment. Products that contain these ingredients are best applied to the freshly-cleansed skin. Except for salicylic acid, chemical exfoliants will increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun.
You should only use them at night, and in the morning you should apply sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen every morning even if it's winter, and even if you won't be spending more time outside than usual.
You don't necessarily have to apply sunscreen all over; applying it to only the freckle-prone areas may be enough. If you fail to apply sunscreen while using a chemical exfoliant, your skin will just receive extra sun damage, perpetuating your freckle problem.
The main consideration when picking out the best freckle removal cream is your skin type. Here are some of the best products available for different skin types:
CeraVe Renewing Cream
CeraVe is one of the most-respected brands in skincare in the lower price range, and the respect is well-deserved as their products are very high quality while containing no harsh ingredients. You can pick it up in almost any drugstore or general merchandise retailer.
The brand is recommended quite frequently by dermatologists for their products' moisturizing and restorative properties. Their Renewing Cream moisturizes well while delivering salicylic acid, making this an ideal moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin.
You can use it on your body as well, or layer it on top of your favorite serums and toners, including any additional freckle-fading products you want to try.
- It is fragrance-free, making it less irritating.
- Contains ceramides, which help to rebuild your skin's natural protective barrier.
- The salicylic acid unclogs your pores while regenerating your skin.
- Unlike some of these other products, this one doesn't help with wrinkles.
- Salicylic acid may irritate sensitive skin.
- It contains oil, which may produce a greasy finish, so it's best used before bed.
AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion
AmLactin is a cult favorite among people with rough skin on the body, but the lactic acid content means it also works great for people with freckles that they want to get rid of. At 12% lactic acid concentration, this lotion will effectively regenerate your skin and make your whole body softer.
- This is a good pick if you have freckles on the body.
- AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion absorbs rapidly into your skin. You should find that it's convenient and quick to apply.
- Aside from helping to fade freckles on the body, its exfoliating effects will also reduce the incidence of ingrown hairs, if this is a problem for you.
- Although AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion contains no added fragrances, the lactic acid formula does have its natural smell. A lot of people who use this don't care for the smell.
- Some people think it leaves a sticky feeling on their skin.
- AmLactin Moisturizing Body Lotion contains mineral oil, which may leave a greasy finish when used on the face.
Dr. Wu Intensive Renewal Serum
The Intensive Renewal Serum from the Dr. Wu brand contains mandelic acid, making it the ideal freckle removal product if you have combination or dry skin that is also acne-prone. It is meant for use on the face, so it's great for banishing that spray of freckles across the bridge of your nose.
Once you've used this for a few weeks and your skin is adjusted to it, you can layer a freckle-removing moisturizer on top. For instance, any of the three facial moisturizers I feature here will go great on top of this serum.
- It features Centella Asiatica extract, which is a plant used in traditional herbal medicines for skin conditions.
- This serum contains licorice extract, which is known to help even out skin tone which is helpful for reducing freckles.
- The formula is alcohol-free, making it non-harsh and non-drying.
- This product is a Chinese brand. This wouldn't discourage me personally from buying it, but I know some people don't trust Chinese exported products very much.
- The 18% concentration of mandelic acid might be too harsh for some people.
- It comes in a glass dropper bottle, which isn't necessarily the most convenient packaging as glass can shatter.
Amara Organics Retinol Cream
The Amara Organics Retinol Cream is great for freckled, aging skin. You'll especially like it if your skin is on the drier side, as it moisturizes with sunflower oil, palm oil, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, jojoba oil, and shea butter. Though, of course, any skin type can see freckle-fading results with this night cream. The formula is very soothing with aloe vera, green tea, and vitamin E.
- In addition to retinol, this cream also has hyaluronic acid, which is very moisturizing. It's also an antioxidant.
- The formula includes vitamins E and B5 for extra skin nutrition.
- This product is cruelty-free, which I know many of you care about. I know I do!
- This moisturizer contains palm oil. Although palm oil itself is beneficial to the skin, the production of this product is notoriously damaging to the environment.
- This moisturizer is quite heavy so that it could leave a greasy finish on your face. This is another bedtime product.
- The retinol concentration of 2.5% is very high.
Pure Bliss Night Cream Moisturizer
The very long ingredients list of this night cream might be intimidating, but the Pure Bliss Night Cream Moisturizer should give you great results. This one works for all skin types unless you happen to be sensitive to one of the ingredients. The company that makes this offers a money-back guarantee, so there's not any reason to avoid trying it.
- It is formulated with peptides, which make your skin firmer and more youthful.
- It has three different chemical exfoliants, making it effective for a range of skin types.
- The formula contains various vitamins and botanical extracts for healthy skin.
- Some people don't like the way it smells.
- It's not as thick and rich as other night creams.
- The many botanical oils in this moisturizer might acne worse, depending on if your skin is oil-sensitive (some people with acne can use oil-containing products just fine, though).
I included a range of freckle-removing products, including facial moisturizers, serums, and body lotions to give you an idea of the range of products out there that have the capacity to fade your freckles. However, if I had to pick just one of these to recommend, it would be the Pure Bliss Night Cream Moisturizer.
The fact that it has three different chemical exfoliants makes it the most versatile out of all these products. It's suitable for any skin type, so virtually anyone will see results in the severity of their freckles if they use this every night. It's a facial moisturizer, but you could also use it on your neck and decolletage if you like.
Since the Pure Bliss Night Cream Moisturizer contains chemical exfoliants, it will greatly increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, so only use it at night. Follow it up with sun protection in the morning for maximum freckle-fighting action.