Main image: Freckle tattoos by Rosie Roberts (@rosierobertsbeauty)
A trend that’s here to stay, freckle tattoos are an easy way to get a youthful sun-kissed look that lasts.
To find out more about the semi-permanent beauty tattoos, I chatted to Rosie Roberts, a makeup artist and beautician from Leeds and tattoo artist Frankie Ballerini from Manchester about all things freckle tattoos.
So, read on to find out everything you need to know about freckle tattoos including placement, pain, healing and how to pick the perfect shade for you.
What are freckle tattoos?
Whether you have freckles already and want to max out your coverage, or you don’t have any and want some, you can get them added to your skin with tattoo ink.
Freckle tattoos are small tattooed marks that look like freckles, they can be inked into the skin in a variety of shades to suit your natural complexion or in vibrant colours for a cute rainbow sprinkle look.
These types of tattoos can be created by cosmetic tattoo artists as well as traditionally trained tattooists, they can even be hand poked. Whoever you decide to get your freckles inked by, make sure to research the artist and shop before you do.
Can I get freckles tattooed on my face?
Image: Freckle tattoos by Rosie Roberts
Yes, freckles are usually tattooed on your face across your nose and cheeks. But you can also get them added to your forehead, the side of your face, collarbone - wherever you want them. You’ll be able to decide where to place your freckles with your cosmetic tattoo artist during your consultation and appointment.
The benefits of freckle tattoos
If you draw your freckles on every day when doing your makeup or apply henna for a slightly longer finish you could save time and shorten your beauty routine by getting tattooed freckles.
Time may be the most important benefit, but it’s not the only one when it comes to having your freckles tattooed on. Other benefits include:
- Your freckles will be waterproof and sweatproof
- You can get a sunkissed look without the sun damage
- They’re more convenient
- Your freckles always look the same
- You don’t need to worry about applying your freckles if you have shaky hands
- They heal lighter to look more natural
- You can choose the colours and placement and these won’t change day to day
- Freckle tattoos could be a alternative if you’re allergic to make up (please mention any allergies to your artist during a consultation).
How long do freckle tattoos take to heal
Image: Healed freckle tattoos by Rosie Roberts
As with all tattoos, healing can vary from person to person, however tattooist Frankie (@frankieballerini) explains that "healing is quick for most people. You'll need to avoid wearing makeup for two weeks but most people find they've healed within a week."
Beautician Rosie Roberts (@rosierobertsbeauty) agrees that "freckle tattoos take 10-14 days for the initial heal, and are fully healed at the 4-6 week mark."
So, it won’t be long until your new freckles are settled in and you can wear makeup with your healed tattoo freckles. Make sure to follow the aftercare advice given to you by the person tattooing your freckles and read our what to expect after getting tattooed guide for even more top tips.
How to care for your new freckle tattoo
Caring for your healing freckle tattoos is super easy as long as you make sure to follow the aftercare advice of the artist who tattooed your freckles, as this can vary.
Tattooist Frankie keeps it super simple by recommending keeping "your face washed and only using a non-scented moisturiser" on your healing tattoos.
Cosmetic tattooer Rosie gives us an insight into the aftercare she recommends to her clients:
- Wash the area twice daily with freshly boiled but cooled water, then pat dry with something clean and disposable such as kitchen roll.
- Once patted dry, apply aftercare. The cream should be fragrance free, alcohol free and not too thick.
Things to avoid when healing your freckle tattoos
Rosie also shares some activities and products you should avoid doing while your freckles heal due to the risk of infection and discomfort.
- Things that carry a risk of infection - These include wearing makeup, the gym, heavy sweating, saunas and swimming in the sea or a pool.
- Sunbeds - UVB causes damage to skin leading to fading.
- Direct sunlight - The blue and green tones in ink fade quickest in the sunlight when fresh, which brings out the bright orange and pick tones within the inkk.
- Exfoliators and chemical peels - These can cause the freckles to fade and drop out.
- Botox and highly fragranced skincare - These can irritate the skin and cause pain and discomfort.
Image: Freshly done (left) and healed (right) freckle tattoos by Rosie Roberts
Are freckle tattoos permanent?
Freckle tattoos are considered to be permanent makeup, however they’re more likely to appear to be semi-permanent.
Rosie explains that "there will always be some residue of the ink within the skin, it just may not be completely visible."
Unlike a tattoo (that’s been done well), your tattooed freckles won’t last a lifetime. They’re a more permanent freckle option than drawing them on your face every day, but you may need your semi-permanent freckle tattoo topped up every once in a while to keep them looking their best.
Frankie explains that once your freckle tattoos are healed you can help them to last "by keeping them moisturised and wearing suncream (no different from a regular tattoo)."
Also read our 7 ways to stop your tattoo from fading for more advice.
How long do freckle tattoos last?
Freckle tattoos usually last a year or so as long as you look after them with SPF as they can fade over time. Rosie explains that they last anywhere from "12 to 24 months, but this can vary from person to person."
You might find your freckles last longer if you choose a darker shade to begin with, however if you have chemical peels or use sunbeds you might find your freckles fade a lot quicker.
Do freckle tattoos darken or lighten as they heal?
Tattooed freckles appear darker when they’re freshly done but as they heal they’ll lighten. Rosie breaks down her experiences of the healing process and what you can expect:
- Days 1-4: Freckles deepen in colour as the freckles begin to scab.
- Days 5-8: Scabs begin to come away, freckles underneath appear very light in colour and almost invisible at times.
- Days 9-14: Freckles settle into their colour, they often deepen in colour from days 5-8, but will be 30-60% lighter than days 1-4.
- Week 4: Freckles will fully settle into their final colour as the healing will be complete.
Depending on how you feel, and your artist's advice, you may want to go lighter for the initial appointment and see how your freckles heal. Or you may want to go for a darker shade. It’s completely up to you.
Image: Freshly done (left) and healed (right) freckle tattoos by Rosie Roberts
Rosie offers top up sessions around the 4-12 week mark to allow her clients time to let the freckles settle into their final shade and darken any that may need it.
Choosing the colour of your freckles
Whether you’re looking for realistic freckle tattoos or a fun heart freckle tattoo, you’ll want to chat with your chosen artist about what colours work best and which will suit your skin.
It’s a collaborative process, as Frankie explains; "I ask the client what colour scheme they'd like to go for and then I pick a few colours that best match the skin tone and if the client agrees we go ahead."
Realistic freckle tattoos
For freckles that look more natural your artist, like Rosie, can "custom mix shades to suit a person's needs." She usually tattoos "three separate shades to allow the freckles to look more natural, as freckles aren’t usually all one uniform colour." For a really seamless look you can request the shades to match any existing freckles you have.
Rainbow freckles tattoo
If you’re looking for a fun, colourful look rainbow freckles are for you. Although you might want to use every colour under the sun, Frankie advises that "reds definitely don't work - anything with a high contrast or that can look like acne or bruising is a no go. But it really depends on skintone and knowing what the colour will fade to, sometimes colours can look strange when fresh but fade to look really natural and discreet, even the colourful ones.”
Want to add a cute star or heart to your freckles? Make sure to discuss this with your tattooer. Frankie explains that "simple shapes work best" and she thinks if they’re "too big they stop looking natural and just look like regular face tattoos."
So make sure to communicate with your artist and play around with shapes and placement before you make them permanent. You could even have a medium coverage of freckles in natural tones with a few hearts sprinkled in, as Frankie has tattooed.
Where to place freckles on your face
Image: Face freckle tattoos by Frankie Ballerini
Where you place your freckles is totally up to you. You may have some natural freckles that you want to expand with some faux ones, or you may be creating sun-kissed skin from scratch.
Your tattooist will discuss where to place your freckles, how many to get and the colour during your appointment. They’ll be able to tell you where to put them for a more natural look, or if you’re opting for fun shapes and colours where these will look best.
Rosie finds that the "cheeks hold the freckles better than the nose", which is something you might want to consider when you’re deciding where to put your freckles.
You might want to do some research before your appointment, or show your artist a few selfies when you’ve drawn on your own freckles.
Do freckle tattoos hurt?
Tattoos tend to hurt but the level of pain varies from person to person and the body part you’re getting tattooed. Rosie explains that "pain is subjective" and she’s had "clients who find it completely painless, whereas others have said it’s sore.
"Usually, the nose region is more sore than the cheeks as it's closer to bone and cartilage, however it’s more of an irritation feeling than a pain. Most clients report it makes their eyes water and they have the sensation they need to sneeze when being tattooed on their nose, and they just feel the vibration of the machine on their cheeks and forehead."
Rosie gives it a "low 3 out of 10 for pain". She’s done her own freckle tattoos and compares these to a "forearm or outer arm tattoo which is a 4 to 5 out of 10".
Can I use numbing cream?
If you want to use a numbing cream for your freckle tattoos you’ll need to use your own and let your tattooist know beforehand what you’ve used, when you used it and where. Out of the over 100 freckles Rosie has tattooed, only two of her clients have used numbing cream. Depending on how you react to tattoos and pain you should be ok to go without numbing cream.
How much are freckle tattoos?
The cost of freckle tattoos will vary between artists and studios but roughly they’re priced between £40-£200 depending on the amount of freckles you want and the placement. This may include free top ups, but make sure to ask your chosen artist their prices and what these include.
If you’re looking for a freckle tattoo near me, check out Instagram and your local tattoo shops. Choosing an artist near to your home could help you keep the cost down as you save on travel for the initial appointment and any top ups you may need.
Image: Freckle tattoos by Frankie Ballerini
What to do before your tattoo appointment
As with any tattoo it’s best to do a little preparation before your appointment.
Rosie shares that before an appointment you’ll want to "ensure your skin is well moisturised and you’re well hydrated". It’s always best to take a drink with you to tattoo appointments and to have a snack afterwards as well, just in case you feel a little off.
The day before your appointment you’ll want to avoid:
- Aspirin & ibuprofen
Rosie explains that this is because they can thin the blood “causing you to bleed more and causing the ink to struggle to implant into the skin.”
Make sure to read our preparation guide for more top tips before you get your freckle tattoos.